A Different Approach

A few blogs back I posted a ‘yearly’ update where I informed (all four) of my loyal readers of my recent set-backs. I want to elaborate on one particular element of this post and that is my health. A doctor in the UK diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and suspected that this was triggered by the Epstein Barr virus. Chronic Fatigue diagnosis can be vague, an umbrella term for a broad range of symptoms with no obvious solution or treatment. Some people are affected by this debilitating illness for life, whilst others experience Chronic Fatigue in the wake of a virus, injury or mental breakdown. Personally, I struggle with long periods of intense activity, and am prone to ‘burn out’ with very little stamina. Holding a full-time teaching position was an inappropriate career for me physically, it meant long days on my feet and constant, chronic stress. As a perfectionist I have a resistance to rest when I am focused on a project and find it impossible to achieve balance, I am either exhausted or I am ‘unstoppable’.

Well-being is a nuanced topic; a complex interweaving of physical, mental and emotional factors. One of those key factors is diet. Now, it might seem unnecessary to state it but I quite like cake. Cake and coffee. Cake and coffee and cosy afternoons baking bread…I could go on. I like baking because it is good for my mental health, it comforts me. Baking, for me, is mindful. But I’m also a conscious sugar-eater, aware that excess sugar and caffeine can adversely affect my energy levels and my gut health. For a long time I have sung the praises of a lower sugar diet. Ideally, my only added sugar consumption should come from my home baking, though this doesn’t always ring true when I’m spontaneously offered cinnamon buns.

However, there has been a further development of late, and that is the revelation of the low FODMAP diet.  I’ve suffered a long time with stomach cramps and fatigue after eating and somehow the ‘healthier’ my diet is, the worse I feel. Lots of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and fibre are recommended to keep us healthy and functioning long-term, but I am not the only one who needs a different type of balance, a bespoke diet according to my gut. I am not a nutritionist, I am merely someone who has long been dictated to by her body and I am, of course, always looking for a lifestyle that will allow me to do the things I want to do.

There is a lot of information about FODMAP’s online, including what foods this diet includes/excludes and detailed explanations of the acronym. All that my ‘sentient readers’ need to know if that, for the time being, I am avoiding gluten, wheat, lactose and honey. If you follow my Instagram, you might have already seen a few of my dairy free and gluten free creations. My blog already features some recipes that are naturally gluten free or vegan so I’m not anticipating my mind set will be too hard to alter. I am, however, aware that a lack of gluten can alter the consistency of many baked goods and that gluten free flour alternatives tend to promote crumblier, drier bakes. Almonds work beautifully in a sticky Kladdkaka or a batch of chewy macaroons, they don’t work so well in bread or crackers without a lot of help. I’m not keen on getting complicated and bringing in the likes of xanthan gum or tapioca starch, although I understand why they are commonly used. I intend to work as closely with natural grains as possible, including oats, polenta and ground nuts.

I’m always up for a challenge and I’m determined to keep baking a comfortable and enriching part of my life. Keep a lookout for gluten and dairy free recipes in the coming months and, please, any suggestions, sites or recommendations are welcome! Check out some of my previous gluten and dairy free recipes below.


Nussmakronen (Hazelnut Macaroons)        Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Muesli       Almond and Apricot Cake        Kladdkaka (Swedish Sticky Cake)        Dark Ginger Brownies (Vegan)



  1. Freddie and I (well all of us actually) are super excited about more gluten free baking ideas… we had noticed on your instagram page.
    We hope you feel better in yourself too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhh big thanks to all the Gould’s for the support! I eat mostly gluten free these days so baking can be tricky. My biggest saviours are oat flour and buckwheat flour. As soon as I discovered I could just blend oats into a flour and make cookies, cakes and pancakes with it I was so happy. It’s cheaper than ground almonds, healthy and not as dry as the shop-bought mixes. My recipe for instant mug cake is up this weekend and I make mine with buckwheat flour ☺️


  2. Oh, boy. I’ve sat on the bed all morning reading your wonderful blog. I too suffer from invisible illness (fibromyalgia, cfs, hypermobility and O.A) SO I completely understand and how you feel. I too, am prone to ‘overdoing it’, despite knowing I will probably suffer the next few xays… As a lifelong ‘busy person’ it’s difficult to balance and accept these illnesses. I was a chef and I had to give up my job for much the same reasons you did.
    My diet has altered radically in the past few years, gf, wheat free, dairy cree, caffeine free, I stay away from added sugar as much as possible but, my Dr. now telsl me I am pre-diabetic 😢(boooo.) But there’s nothing wrong with reading about food and devouring scrumptious images!!
    So, thank you, Amber for your beautifully written, colourful and (as a photography student) beautifully shot blog. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading my blog! I totally hear you, it’s an absolute nightmare sometimes combining health and baking. ‘Invisible’ illnesses are the worst, it’s an achievement just managing to enjoy the small things in life! Lovely to hear you’re a photography student – I myself use to teach photography in England before I moved to Germany. Wishing you the best for your studies 🙂


      1. True. I accept that I have it, but just can’t accept the limitations it brings to my once busy, and fulfilling life 😔 I know there are worse things… as a chef, I worked in a hospice for 5 years, but it still doesn’t help you feel, some days that you cant bear it any longer. Luckily, the love of my life is the most positive person, and will always help me look for silver linings. He’s endlessly understanding and caring, and I know how blessed I am.
        I have found that creativity helps me on negative days; knitting, crochet, drawing, journaling, cooking.. well just making really. You’re a knitter too 😁
        I’ve spent another morning indulging in your delicious blog. Bliss.
        You taught photography? Wow 😁 …I have just signed up for level 2 starting in Jan. Sadly our totally awesome (and I dont use that word often) tutor is leaving us to work as a technician at Kingston Uni. So, we’ll have a new tutor, but even if she’s half as good, I’ll still enjoy the course, I’m sure.
        Are you in Germany for work?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I just found your blog, and I am so sorry to hear of your health diagnosis. From the brief glimpse I’ve gotten of what you write here, you seem like a thoughtful individual with a razor sharp intellect and a compassionate grasp of what makes us human (nostalgia, memory, culture, science). I especially appreciate your thoughts on the western preoccupation with morality via health and the contradictions of limited medical knowledge, conventional wisdom and your own lived experience. Bespoke gut indeed! I’m right there with you. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ali, thank you so much for all the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed reading. I’ve always wanted to write a book, particularly a cookbook but it just seems that we live in an age where we’re saturated with beautiful cookbooks and blogs etc. It’s hard to find the motivation (or the money to self-publish) when it feels like ‘everyones at it’!


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