Persistant Pain – Not an Issue In the Tissue?

I’ve long been fascinated by the mind-body connection and the role of the thoughts and feelings in illness.  As a nutritional therapist it isn’t always the first place my attention goes, however recently, triggered by an episode of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, or jaw pain, I have been enjoying delving into this topic further.   Chronic pain is more of a societal issue than cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease combined.

Dental Hospital
The dentist referred me to the dental hospital.  They didn’t do this at first, they x-rayed me and said that nothing was wrong as far as they could see, I later found out that I could ask them to refer me to the dental hospital and then they did.  The hospital were super interested in asking all about my stress levels.  I had noticed that when on a meditation retreat the issue had completely resolved, temporarily, and so was open to the idea of stress but also wondered if it was even possible to live a completely stress-free existence?

Physiotherapy and the ‘issue in the tissue’
I attended a group physiotherapy class.  It started with a discussion of bone & muscle strengthening exercises, exploring the full range of movement of the jaw area and gave the advice to chew on more raw carrots, nuts, and steak with the problematic side of the mouth. It then moved on to the highlighting that chronic pain is now often no longer thought to be an ‘issue in the tissue’ (I like that expression) but more of a nervous system over-sensitisation issue. Neuronal pathways that will not turn off and also become excited just by being thought about. They gave some suggestions for dealing with this (exercises) but really it seemed that research is still happening here and that it is a work in progress.  Possibly there is an actual issue, but one of the nerves and not the muscles and bones.

The NHS physiotherapist explained that most pain medications won’t work for longer than a short period of time, as pain is such a vital signal for the body to be able to receive and send. The body just WON’T have this shut down and will find another way.  It all sounded very exciting actually.  Definitely, something to make a movie about!

The Cause of Chronic Pain
I looked into this further afterwards and found this article on pain research explaining the concept of ‘central sensitisation’:

“Pain itself often modifies the way the central nervous system works, so that a patient actually becomes more sensitive and gets more pain with less provocation…..their pain also ‘echoes’, fading more slowly than in other people.”

It’s not seen as the original cause of the pain, but can be seen as the cause of its chronicity. But why does it happen to some people and not others?  This is an important question.  The article says that care for chronic pain needs to soothe and normalize the nervous system and that it is important to find a practitioner who shows some ‘sensitivity to sensitivity’, meanwhile being kind to the nervous system, making life safer and gentler. Pain is, at a fundamental level, an assessment of safety.

“Centralization of pain is the process of the central nervous system’s ‘opinion’ of the situation becoming more important than the actual state of the tissues. This is not an ‘all in the head’ problem, but a ‘strongly affected by the head’ problem”

Finally, the article links to several interesting pages and resources on pain science for manual physical therapists, including this Facebook page. It advises against deliberately rough, no-pain-no-gain treatments.

Facial Acupunture & Looking for Root Cause
Meanwhile, I was also referred to the NHS Integrated Hospital for facial acupuncture. The doctor there said that I can have the acupuncture but that it won’t do much for the root cause. She suggested I read Bruce Lipton, Biology of Belief (2016 edition, updated with epigenetics) and Dr John E Sarno. Bruce Lipton has actually been on my reading list for a decade but I now hear mixed reviews about him, as to how he wonders off from theory into ‘religion’ and so I’m feeling a little cautious there, although will also dive in.  I start with Dr Sarno…


Emotions: The Mind-Body Connection
I watched (well listened to) a documentary about Dr Sarno‘s work ‘All the rage’ and also found an interesting App, Curable, based on his work – which starts with a free lecture on the topic.  I can buy the books, but would prefer to read a review or something more concise.

Dr Sarno’s basic premise is that the mind and body are deeply connected and that repressed emotions will be expressed through the body as pain. Whilst this isn’t a new idea to me, it has highlighted that this isn’t a place where I have been recently looking for issues like jaw ache, period pains or gut pain. I have instead been looking at hormones, the microbiome etc – even more recently the nervous system. Dr Sarno particularly emphasises the need to look at lingering childhood emotions.  Yes….that old chestnut.

But what to do with these? I can identify a lot and bring it up – but then what? How to soothe that inner little child. Mine is called Fred by the way. I guess I should get the audiobook…

The NHS Integrated Health doctor also recommended hypnotherapy and I am experimenting with this. Along with keeping up yoga, meditation etc.

Also recommended by a social worker / family therapist friend:

  • Bessel van der Kolk’s “The body keeps the score” is good on the science and treatment side of things.
  • Michael Brown – “The presence process”  Curing chronic pain by accessing repressed emotions through breathwork.  10 week programme.  Powerful and full of wisdom.

Somatic experiencing?

To be updated……


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Book Takeaways | The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k

sarah knight, life-changing magic of not giving a f**k, NotSorry, worrying, anxiety, book, self-help Our bodies need emotional wellbeing as well as nutritional fuel and so sometimes I focus on this side of life too.  Recently Sarah Knights’s ’The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k’ came my way.  I was intrigued.  Many people on my Facebook feed were intrigued by it too.  I read it.  I made some notes….

The book is laugh-out-loud funny and worth reading for the feel-good reason alone although at the same time, I did quickly tire of hearing the ‘F’ word. It’s a simple book with a simple message about saving time, energy and money (also known as ‘the holy F’ing trinity’), but unfortunately that doesn’t make implementing it simple as well!  Our minds are like little puppies that need to be trained or else they will poo everywhere, and so every little reminder to keep training them is very helpful.

Worrying What Other People Think
The main point take away from the book is this; I wouldn’t want people to feel obliged to do something for me if they didn’t want to and I can only know how they feel about this if they tell me, ideally respectfully and kindly.  Therefore most people (that care about me) wouldn’t ultimately (at least once considered) want me to do this for them either. Therefore it is up to me to express how I feel and what I want…..and don’t want.

Sarah highlights that many of us worry way too much about what people think of us, which is a waste of time.  Firstly, how can we know what people think, we often can’t even figure out what we think.  Secondly, we have no control over this at all, so again it is just a WASTE OF OUR TIME.

Thirdly, its important to remember that thinking about this shows that we care and that we are not selfish beings, thinking only of ourselves. It is important to consider other people.  That is good.  There is just no reason to keep worrying about it afterwards or not living our lives fully because of it.

Sarah suggests it is best to consider your behaviour with regards to people’s feelings, not their opinions.

Feelings vs Opinions
It is a passive stance to politely disagree with someone’s opinion.  This is allowed.  This is completely acceptable.  It is easy enough to say “I don’t share your opinion” without being rude.  It is being honest, which is important.

“Don’t like peanut butter? Don’t need to be rude. Be honest and polite and say that you don’t share their opinion that peanut butter is something you want to put in your mouth.  No skin off [your] nose if [she] walks away convinced [your] arteries are clogged with trans fats. [You] prefer a little hydrogenated veg oil in [your] sandwich”

I can’t argue with that, but as a nutritional therapist, it did make me laugh.

More examples:
“I’m sorry, I don’t have time to read your self-published novel about gnomes, but I wish you all the best with it.”
“I don’t like tea”

…..You don’t have to be sorry.  You really don’t.  Even though it can be so hard if you are a natural people pleaser.


Implementing, in Phases
Sarah calls her method the NotSorry Method and suggests starting with Phase I, ‘f**ks’ that only affect you, such as wrinkles or unfollowing (not unfriending) somebody on Facebook and getting comfortable with this, before moving on.  Phase II is ‘unreasonable drains on energy, time and money’ and covers shared envelopes at work, work events, needy friends and so on.  Phase III is things that are not always seen as socially acceptable, or where people may think that you are an arsehole.  For example not accepting a wedding invitation.  Sarah suggests sending regrets (no explanations) with a really nice gift.  So much cheaper than a hotel, train ticket and outfit; plus that doesn’t eat into precious annual leave allowance.

Worrying About It Afterwards?
This is common. Remember that you made the right decision.  Eventually you will stop giving a f**k about everyone’s opinion, but this is a process that needs training and practice.

Worry is a common issue that people seek help with.  NHS services are now available to support with various cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques.  A common one of those is The Worry Tree, a flow chart to help guide the user through their worry and decide what to do.  Often the branches of this tree will arrive at the statement ‘let the worry go’ and Sarah’s NotSorry Method fits in perfectly here as a way being energised and supported to do that.

‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**K’ 
was inspired by Marie Kondo’s ’The Life Changing-Magic of Tidying Up’, which Sarah and her husband greatly benefitted from.  they took the ideas a step further to apply them to mental tidying up. Sarah also has another book out called ‘Get Your Shit Together: how to stop worrying about what you should do, so you can finish what you need to do and start doing what you want.  This sounds like another good read.



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Pasture-For-Life: Grass-Fed Accreditation

pfl-cert-mark-720x200Grass-fed, Organic, Pasture-for-Life? How do these terms differ when talking about meat? In the UK, the words ‘grass-fed’ can be used to describe food (beef, lamb, milk, cheese, etc) from cows that have spent only part of their life grazing in the fields or eating dried grass. The rest of the time they will have been fed other less natural feeds, such as cereals or food-manufacturing waste (often from bread and biscuits).

Unfortunately ‘grass-fed’ has become a fashionable marketing term to add to labels. If you want to make sure the meat and dairy products you are buying have come from animals raised purely on pasture, look for the ‘Pasture for Life’ logo. This food is guaranteed to have been produced to the highest welfare standards and truly pasture-fed.


Often people think that all cows are fed on grass anyway and so are a bit puzzled by these new labels, but it is actually a rarity these days to find animals that graze on pasture with no other additional feed. In fact I hear that the supermarkets are concerned about starting to promote the ‘Pasture for Life’ accreditation label as it raises an awkward question in the mind of the consumer – ‘but what are the other animals fed?’

So not yet really on sale in supermarkets, although with a few exceptions. For example I have seen some National Trust lamb on the fresh meat counter at Sainsburys recently. Or I saw the poster at least, they didn’t actually have any in stock and the staff behind the counter didn’t know what it was talking about or what grass-fed or pasture-for-life was referring to!

Pasture-for-Life meat IS available from farmers markets and online orders.

Finally many ‘Pasture for Life’ farmers also have organic certification, the two labels compliment each other well. However being organic only requires 60% of the animals’ feed to come from fresh or dried grass, which means that up to 40% can be derived from concentrate feeds such as soya, maize or wheat.


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Tigernut Flour Biscuits | Autoimmune Paleo & Paleo Friendly Recipe

Tigernut, biscuits, cookies, autoimmune paleo, paleo, aip, fodmap, gluten free, grass-fed gelatine, dairy free To celebrate successfully making it through 28 days of The Low Fodmap Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) elimination reset, I thought I would do a little AIP baking.

These biscuits are made with tiger nut flour.  Tiger nut isn’t a nut, it is a tuber, a root vegetable.  In Spain it is known as chufa.  Combined with arrowroot and a little maple syrup as binders it makes a great gluten free biscuit.


80g tiger nut flour
60g arrowroot powder (available in supermarkets, but comes in bigger more-affordable bags from places such as Goodness Direct
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
50g coco-olive spread (or a 50:50 mix of coconut oil and olive oil), gently melted
20-30ml* maple syrup
1/2 tbsp grass-fed gelatin

Makes 12 biscuits

*With 30ml these are quite sweet, but the maple syrup also helps with the binding. Baked with 20ml these cookies are a little more crumbly.


Tigernut, biscuits, cookies, autoimmune paleo, paleo, aip, fodmap, gluten free, grass-fed gelatine, dairy free


Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare a baking sheet with greased paper.

Sieve the tiger nut flour, arrowroot powder, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt together into a bowl.

Take the melted coco-olive spread  and mix in the maple syrup.  Sprinkle the gelatine powder on top of the liquid and ensure it is all mixed in well.

Pour the oil mixture on top of the dry ingredients and combine with a wooden spoon to form cookie dough.

Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out small portions of the dough.  Roll it between your hands to make a ball and then gently flatten into a biscuit shape.

Place on the baking tray and bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Tigernut, biscuits, cookies, autoimmune paleo, paleo, aip, fodmap, gluten free, grass-fed gelatine, dairy free

This recipe has been adapted from a wonderful creation by A Squirrel in the Kitchen

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Day One: The Low-Fodmap Autoimmune Paleo Protocol

AIP, autoimmune paleo, low fodmapI’ve been warming up over November and December, getting my head around what I can eat and not eat, trying out different recipes, then happily forgetting (mostly) all about it over the Christmas and then also the New Year family celebrations… but now its January 2nd;  time to go with the Low FODMAP Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) 28 day protocol.

I’ll explain what this is and why I am doing it in another post….but right now I am thinking about;

Staying Focused

Red Grapes are the New Chocolate
I have my ‘Avoid’ and ‘Eat’ checklists on the fridge, but the thing I am concerned about is loosing focus and eating something on impulse that I am not supposed to, probably something sweet, and swallowing it before I have even had time to think about the fact that I am not supposed to be having that food this month!  To prevent this happening I am keeping stocked up with emergency red grapes that I can graze on (red grapes are the new chocolate!), as and when I want something sweet, and bananas as well.  I’m not used to eating that much fruit, but seeing as grains are out, nuts are out and even a lot of starchy carbs like butternut squash and sweet potato are out – then I’ve decided I am not definitely going to worry about fruit consumption this month.  I’ll just give my teeth a little extra TLC.

White Ribbons
I’ve tied white ribbons around my wrists so that if my cheeky little fingers reach out for the non Low Fodmap AIP treats then I will get a visual reminder of what I am doing and hopefully be able to restrain myself.  I also have post-it notes on the cupboards and on my computer – lots of little reminders around the house and the office to keep me on track.

80 / 20 is for wussies!
Normally the 80/20 rule is a good one to adopt.  This means that you eat what your protocol recommends most of the time but not completely rigidly, so you might take Sundays off or have the odd treat throughout the week.  However the idea with the AIP plan is that you follow it 100% for 30 days, because if you are having autoimmune reactions to foods then these can last for a long time, I guess as long as the antibodies survive for in the body.  This makes sense but also makes it a lot more important to stay focused.  I saw yesterday that, as a joke, somebody had created a batch of t.shirts with the slogan on ’80/20 is for wussies.’

AIP, autoimmune paleo, low fodmap

Batch Cooking
Today I am doing a huge batch cooking session for the freezer, so that I am stocked up with supplies; soups, smoothies, burgers, plantain flatbread and other bits and pieces.  I’ve surrendered to, and then also found comfort in, the idea that I might eat the same thing pretty much every other day for a while.  This seems the easiest way to keep organised and also get into a rhythm.  More ideas will come with time.

I have another batch cooking date booked in the diary for two weeks time, as I know that if I don’t schedule time to keep up with this protocol then life will take over and I will run out of back-up meals.

Any society is only three meals away from anarchy
Its been interesting to observe that I feel much more secure with a freezer stocked full of AIP meals and that without this I can feel a niggling anxiety that I might not have anything to eat.  On the surface this seems silly, I live in a 24 hour city with 5 supermarkets on my doorstep, so I could just push the feeling away but actually I think it is something to really listen to and act upon.

Food security is absolutely vital.  There is a famous saying ‘any society is only three meals away from anarchy’ – take away enough meals and the looting, stealing and chaos begins.  We want to feel that we don’t need to worry about food, so planning and batch cooking especially at the beginning of a new dietary regime is essential.


I’ve scheduled mutual-support telephone check-in sessions with friends who are getting into their own dietary regimes for January, again mainly to help keep the focus on what I’m doing, but also for ideas…and just for fun.

Guides & Online Community
I have the 28 Days of Low-Fodmap AIP guide ebook by Christine Feindel.  I also have the Autoimmune Connection Youtube videos to keep me company.  I listen to them while I am deep in batch cooking and kitchen hibernation.

Anyway, for now back to my batch soup making…. kale & celeriac soup with bacon.  It’s ready!

low fodmap autoimmune paleo (AIP)


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Carrot Cake Mousse | Fodmap Friendly Autoimmune Paleo Recipe

Carrot Cake FudgeA curious little recipe, that turns out a real treat.  Steamed carrots are already pretty sweet and so they just need a few little magic ingredients to turn them into a dessert.

These are a wonderful option if trying out the autoimmune paleo protocol and avoiding cacao.  They are also fodmap friendly.


Carrot Cake Fudge


  • 3 carrots, weighing around 250g, peeled and diced
  • just over 1/4 cup coconut oil, gently melted
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • optional other spices or variations: ginger, cardamon

Makes 4 little pots.



Steam the carrots until soft.  Process until smooth, in a blender with the other ingredients.

Pour into little pots.  I used the 90g speciality ingredient pots from the supermarket.

Allow to cool and then set in the fridge.


Recipe inspiration from cats in the kitchen

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Vogue | “Spoilt Rotten” – Fermented Foods Feature

fermentation, fermented foods, gut, microbes, bacteria, nutritional therapist, nutrition, “On hearing fermented foods were in Vogue, Susie Rushton dusted off her kilner jars and stocked up on kimchi”.  In ‘Spoilt Rotten’ Susie tells how she came to visit nutritional therapist Katie Clare to learn how to make “fluffy, sour, crunchy, mildly effervescent and coloured a pale aqua-green” sauerkraut and also shares Katie’s recipe. … Continue reading

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Instagram: KatieClareNutrition

fermentation, fermented, gut, healing, repair, Cyrex Array 2, intestinal permeability, leaky gut, sauerkraut, nutrition, nutritional therapyFollow me on instagram for visual healthy meal and snack inspirations and encouragement, plus lots of fermented foods ideas.  Continue reading

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Recipe: The Lemon Meringue Pie

Whey - Lemon Meringue PieYesterday evening’s sauerkraut-making session somehow managed to transition into making a martini, but still in collaboration with beneficial bacteria! The main ingredient in this cocktail is organic whey, the tart tasting, lactobacilli -rich element of yoghurt or kefir.

Continue reading

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Recipe: Cacao Cashew Fudge

cashew, cacao, fudge, butter, coconut, vital protein, vanilla, cream, sugar free chocolate, i quit sugarThis treat of a recipe is not sweet as such, but the ingredients still melt in the mouth in that glorious chocolatey way.  If you are happy to eat cashew nut or coconut butter from the spoon, and are looking to substantially reduce your sugar/sweetener intake, then this could be heaven in a moment for you!

Adapted from a fudge recipe by Sarah Wilson’s I quit sugar.

I have recently been working to reduce almost all sweeteners and sugars in my diet, but I didn’t want to loose out on the healthy fats, like cacao butter, at the same time.  I’m therefore super happy with this creation! There is just a little thaumatin from the protein powder in this recipe.  I have other ideas on the hob for a recipe with plain protein powder, so watch this space for updates.

cashew, cacao, fudge, butter, coconut, vital protein, vanilla, cream, sugar free chocolate, i quit sugar


2 x 170g pots of Biona cashew nut butter
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup Vital protein powder, vanilla
1/2 cup of coconut cream
Use a healthy brand, as Biona.  It helps if you put the can in the fridge so that the cream solidifies.
1/4 cup cacao butter
1/4 cup coconut butter
Pinch of salt


Line a tray with greased baking paper

Sieve cacao powder and protein powder together and set aside.

Gently melt both the coconut butter and the cacao butter in a bain-marie

Meanwhile gently warm the cashew nut butter in a pan. Stir in the coconut cream and the sieved powders, plus salt.

Add the melted coconut butter and cacao butter, take off the heat and stir thoroughly.

Pour into the lined tray and freeze for 30 minutes.

Remove fudge from the tray and cut into individual squares. You can wrap each in cling film or paper if you wish.

Keep in the fridge or the freezer


If you find that this recipe is too bitter for you then you can reduce the cacao powder (cacao is bitter) and instead add more coconut cream.

cashew, cacao, fudge, butter, coconut, vital protein, vanilla, cream, sugar free chocolate, i quit sugar


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