Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food | Australia

The beauty of flying longhaul is finding idyllic spots like this. Taken at Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island

There isn’t anything much more stressful when you have food intolerances than giving your total trust to someone who is serving you food – which is essentially what you have to do for the entirety of any flight you took. It obviously doesn’t help that the the is aircraft travelling 35,000ft above the ground, so you really don’t have anywhere else to turn!

Flying 23 hours to Australia is probably the longest I’ve ever had to trust that what was being served to me was ok to eat – and over the course of many other long haul flights I’ve defos learnt the dos and don’ts. Essentially kids, it’s all in the preparation. Because let me tell you, there is NOTHING worse than being hangry somewhere over the ocean!

Find below my 10 tips to flying longhaul with intolerances!

1. Look online to see the meal options as soon as you’ve booked your flight.

Often they will have ‘vegetarian’, ‘gluten free’, ‘low lactose etc’ and if you only have one intolerance, or low severity, this actually might be you sorted. Unfortunately in my experience, airlines are pretty rubbish at catering for double intolerances (dairy AND gluten is a nightmare!) Having said that, I have found that the gluten free meals are generally MOSTLY dairy free too. So I usually select gluten free and then call the airline, as described below…

2. Call the airline ahead of time

It’s not unreasonable as a passenger to request your needs to be catered for, so explain your intolerances and ask what they can do. Unfortunately sometimes they will only offer you a very bland option – on a very memorable 11 hour flight to San Fran I was only offered fruit, because that was the only totally safe DF & GF option (that was Virgin Atlantic…!) If so in this scenario head to number 3…

3. Pack snacks. Literally, all the snacks

As many as you can fit in and of variety! Even if you have selected an appropriate meal – you never know what might actually end up in front of you. Always best to have yourself covered so you don’t starve.

4. Know the rules

It is worth knowing that countries like the US, New Zealand and Australia do have a restriction on what food can be bought into the country. The US don’t allow meat and dairy products for example, whilst Australia also prohibits grains, nuts and seeds. Quite annoying if you have packed snacks but they do sometimes check bags into the airport – so always best to leave any leftovers on the plane (sorry!)

Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food | Australia

The famous Bondi Iceberg Pools – a slice of heaven!

5. Pack homemade sandwiches and teabags

Homemade sandwiches are really easy, are filling and you have the peace of mind knowing you made them. You can take these on your flight out to your destination and also on your return. If you can get a lunchbox going, then that’ll protect any squashing! Would also recommend bringing on any soothing teas you find help your tummy, like peppermint tea. The plane will always have hot water available and this can be a really comforting thing to do when you’ve been in the air for a long time.

6. Explore the supermarkets

Don’t forget to explore options in supermarkets in your destination! You could find lots of other good options which you could take on the flight back.

7. Be sensible kids

This is a boring one – but try to avoid alcohol and drink LOTS of water. Altitude can have a funny impact on the stomach, as well as you will dehydrate quicker. Avoiding alcohol & drinking water can definitely help sooth the stomach.

8. Travel with your medication in hand luggage

If you have Crohns like me, or IBD or any other serious medical condition, you absolutely MUST carry your medication in your hand luggage. Even if you have medical sharps or injections, it’s essential it is on your person and not in the hold. Not least because you probably need to take it over a period of 24 hours anyway! I will be doing another blog post on travelling with medication – but make sure you have all your meds on you.

9. Essentially always prepare with provisions & make sure the airline are aware.

AND ENJOY IT! I always try to see a long haul flight as ‘me’ time with no distraction. Listen to podcasts, watch movies, write in your journal – make it time that feels good. And don’t forget to get some shut eye to try and get ahead of the jetlag!

Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food | Australia

The Oriental Gardens at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

We flew Singapore Airlines to and from Australia and I was honestly so impressed. I opted for a gluten free meal and it was almost 70% dairy free too – I even got vegan butter with my GF roll and soya milk! Would highly recommend this airline for comfortable longhaul flying.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts and stories. What are your experiences flying longhaul? Share your stories in the comments or over on my Instagram, @bryonyehopkins.

Bryony Hopkins | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food | Australia

Living our best life – Blue Mountains, New South Wales

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Bryony Hopkins | Travel | Australia | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food

This was our Maui campervan for 4 weeks in Australia! We drove over 2000km up the east coast in this badboy, we called her Cami the Camper!

‘How are you coping with camping with tummy troubles?!?’ is probably the most common question I got in my DMs whilst I was in Australia. And for good reason, camping can entail being far away from a bathroom, navigating to said bathroom in the dark & not having the comfort of privacy and facilities you would usually have at home.

This blog is the first of a mini series of posts I will be sharing with you after spending 6 weeks travelling around Australia – and each blog post addresses the most common questions and queries I got in my DMs whilst away. One of the most resounding questions I got, as mentioned above, was asking me how camping was possible with IBD or IBS. If someone had said to me 10 years ago that I would be camping on the other side of the world for 4 weeks, I honestly would have laughed. (You can learn more about my Crohns story here.) I have never enjoyed or entertained the thought of camping – but now having spent 4 weeks in a campervan, I have realised it is more than possible. The secret is really identifying your anxieties and making sure everything is planned to minimise those concerns.

Bryony Hopkins | Travel | Australia | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food

The beauty of driving a campervan is the freedom to stop wherever you like and find the most secluded spots. Taken at Hellsgate, Noosa Heads, Queensland.

I think these simple top tips will really help & also reassure you that whether you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, there are ways you fulfil a travel dream and enjoy a adventure in the great outdoors, like I did.

1. Ok full disclaimer here, I got a campervan with a onboard toilet.

Yes, a proper flushing toilet. And I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it without having that reassurance. They do cost a little more but I honestly think it’s so worth it. Navigating to the toilets if you get up at night can be stressful – and this just eliminates that anxiety.

I should add that obviously this means you have to empty the toilet yourself too – and I want to also reassure you that this also really isn’t as bad as it sounds! They are usually equipped with a self contained toilet container and are full of chemicals – so really you are just disposing of chemical fluid.

We booked our van through STA – who talked us through what the best option was for us.

2. Book a campsite with proper camping facilities – and I mean, private toilet cubicles and showers.

95% of our campsites had really decent bathroom facilities. If you go for a campervan or tent with no toilet facilities – don’t be afraid to ask for a camping spot near the amenity block. It seriously helps in the night!

Whilst in Australia we booked all powered sites – which means you can plug the van in and have full working electricity and this cost around $30-$40 (Australian dollars) per night, which is around £20-£30. We booked a huge amount of sites through Big4.

Bryony Hopkins | Travel | Australia | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food

Beautiful views at every stop of Australia’s East Coast. Town of 1770, Queensland.

3.  Which brings me to number 3 – always pack a really decent torch. Campsites get alarmingly dark at nightfall and this will be your saviour!

You can also use it to spot some pretty amazing wildlife in the campsites – we saw possums, koalas and kangaroos at night with the torch!

4. Often camping involves lots of travel and time on the road – another time you could be away from a bathroom.

Bryony Hopkins | Travel | Australia | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food

On one of our longer drives we stopped off at the Town of 1770 to see where Captain Cook landed when he discovered Australia. Freedom to find spots like this, is why driving yourself in a camper is so amazing.

Plan your route and suss out petrol stations enroute. They will all have toilet facilities! We were lucky we had a SatNav onboard that told us when we had petrol stations coming up and I found this such a relief.

5. Make sure you have enough of any meds you take for your tummy.

And be reassured even in a campervan without a flushing toilet, you will often have running water which means you can make peppermint tea/take meds when you need to.

It’s quite amazing that even the smaller vans will have running water (which again, you have to fill up yourself at campsites!) and this is very important not only for being able to cook basic food like pasta or rice, but keeping hydrated and being able to take medication too.

In Australia the tap water is of the highest quality – so you don’t need to worry about only drinking bottled water.

6. You can also cook some pretty simple & delicious meals with really basic camping cooking equipment.

Bryony Hopkins | Travel | Australia | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food

Enjoying a proper camping supper, made on our pull our BBQ! After it fell dark, the stars shone so brightly you could see the Milky Way. Incredible!

In our van we not only had running water but a 3 ring stove inside and a pull out barbecue on the outside. We also had a toaster, microwave and a kettle – which meant we could actually cook some really simple meals all with our own equipment. When you’re travelling it can always be a bit hit and miss eating out, and I don’t know about anyone else but I get a great source of comfort eating food I’ve cooked myself (not least because I know what’s in it!)

We ate a lot of simple tuna pasta with sweetcorn, with gluten free spaghetti and also barbecued fresh fish and meat which we served with fresh salad or even rice bags which we slung in the microwave. The smaller vans also have this type of cooking equipment.

7. Go with someone you trust. Because generally that just makes the whole thing easier!

Maybe this is obvious, but make sure you are travelling and camping with people or someone you trust. It means if you do have any issues, being open and honest about it will make it a whole lot easier.

Bryony Hopkins | Travel | Australia | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food

Freedom is sparkling seawater and smooth sand. Taken at Burleigh Heads, Queensland.

8. Boring but essential – make sure you get good travel insurance that’ll cover your medical problems.

It might cost a lot, especially with IBD – but it’s worth it. I used Medical Travel Compared to get a really good price for this trip (it still hurt how expensive it was, but for peace of mind it was worth it!)

9. If you have Crohns or Colitis and you’re going away for an extended period of time, it is probably worth telling your specialist consultant.

I had lengthy chats with my IBD nurse ahead of my 6 week trip, to make sure I had the right medication and also documentation for those medicines. I also asked their advice of what to do if something went wrong whilst I was away and more than anything, they reassured me that my health insurance would cover any disasters.

10. ENJOY IT! The beauty of a campervan is the freedom & flexibility to stop anywhere, see untouched natural beauty & watch the stars.

Your tummy shouldn’t get in the way of that.

Bryony Hopkins | Travel | Australia | A Belly Full of | A Belly Full of Food

The trip was the adventure of a lifetime – and I hope this inspires you to see you can fulfil your travel ambitions too!

What are your tips you’d add to this list? DM me and I might feature you on my Instagram!

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Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of, Sadhana Yoga

The outside of the studio had a very on point message. Sweat. Chill. Repeat.

With a really frantic few weeks moving into my new flat, when I got a mail in my inbox inviting me to try a class at Sadhana Yoga studio, I thought – YES BLOODY PLEASE! I need all the zen in my life. When I found out it was close to where I had just moved into, I really did think Christmas had come early.

So what’s the deal with me and yoga? Well, yoga has been part of my life on and off for many years. I was actually first introduced to it by my Mum back when I couldn’t have been older than 12 years old, when I desperately needed some distraction and relaxation. She took me to a class at a local leisure centre and I loved it – I had never felt such a serene feeling sweep across me when I was in the class. I loved the breathing, the feeling of totally letting go of stress from the day and just having that sacred five minutes at the end of the session to focus on your breathing and relax.

Since then I have never quite kept up consistent yoga practice, even though I know I love it. I have taken some yoga classes at various places and done a couple of beginners courses of 6 weeks – but it always seems to fall off my radar. When I saw that Sadhana was located so close to where I lived and was a studio dedicated to all different types of yoga classes, I thought yesss, this is when I can get back on this horse!

Sadhana Yoga and Wellbeing studio is based near Clapham Junction and is literally walking distance from the main train station and bus stops. The choice of classes is vast – everything from Bikram Yoga, to Vinyasa and even ‘Dynamic Body’ yoga. I had a look at the class descriptions on the website before deciding which one to go for – and decided that I would push myself out of my comfort zone and go for something different. So with that, I booked into the ‘Dynamic Body’ class, which was described as a core muscle work out, with strength building in the upper and lower body. The class will culminate deep stretches to encourage the body to open and release any lasting tension’.

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of, Sadhana Yoga

The outside of Sadhana, on what was a bit of a rainy day in London. Immediately forgot about the weather as soon as I stepped in the door!

I arrived on a Saturday morning for the 1030 class and the interior of the studio were just beautiful.  The vibe was very relaxed and the front staff were really helpful, giving me a short form to fill out. This is of course quite normal for a yoga studio, so they have your next of kin details and also can be made aware of any injuries you have.

I had looked up on the website the night before to see if I needed to bring my own mat – which they did advise, although you can rent a mat if you need to when you’re there. I headed into the class five minutes early and it was already quite full. People lay with their eyes closed and it became clear that people came to Sadhana very regularly – these people looked utterly relaxed just lying with their eyes closed, whilst we waited for the teacher.

The instructor was Letitia Wilkinson, a professional dancer and what I quickly found out during the class, was this was very much about core strength – of which I massively struggle with due to so much abdominal surgery! Letitia was a fabulous teacher though, very gently motivating as we moved our bodies into many strength positions – from the plank to balancing on tip toes. I realised about 10 minutes in that the reason everyone else was just in yoga pants and a sports bra was because this is a SWEATY class. It really did push my body.

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of, Sadhana Yoga

Internal scar tissue in my stomach means I really struggle with core strength exercises – but the instructor was very patient and encouraging. Which is always nice!

I am always weary of my core strength when I enter into classes like this – because mine is disastrously weak in comparison to other people’s. Lots of scar tissue has meant I’ve consistently never engaged that part of my body, always opting for work outs which focus on my lower or upper body instead. There was no where to hide in this class when it came to core strength, and Letitia was totally patient and encouraging. I spoke to her after the class and she gave me some fabulous tips about how to engage my core better in the plank and other core based exercises, and I walked away feeling like I had some tangible tools to move forward, whilst also feeling good that I can completed a very challenging class.

I can’t wait to try some of their other classes next and I would definitely recommend this yoga studio, offering  such variety and also something different in their strength and movement classes. Sadhana means ‘disciplined and dedicated practice or learning’ – so I guess I will just have to keep on going!

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**I was gifted the class for free, but was not paid to write this post. All reviews and opinions completely honest.**

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Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of Food event

I will forever look at this photo and wonder how I look so awake at 7am. (Photo: Emma Parlons

In early July, I was absolutely delighted to host my first ever A Belly Full of Food event. This has been something I’ve been keen to launch for a while and I was so excited when everything began to come together for it. I kept it super small for my first event (I’ve never even organised something like this before!), and so I really wanted to write a little about it so I could share it with more of you and hope you will be able to join me for the next one!

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of Food event

Rhiannon Lambert & I mid gut health talk!

For anyone who follows me or reads this blog, you’ll know that I am a HUGE foodie and also mega passionate about educating people on living with IBD. As a journalist by day, I am hugely motivated by getting evidence-based knowledge out there and educating others about how food can play a role in a disease of this nature. I find the online world hugely frustrating at times, when I see influencers advertising products, which are not necessarily based on evidence and the messages out there are confusing and conflicting. This is something I was really keen to address in my first event, and I was so delighted that Registered Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert came to speak and share her nutritional knowledge (more on this below!)

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of Food event

The gorgeous spread of brightly coloured fruit outside

A Belly Full of Food breakfast mingle came around when I stepped into the doors of the gorgeous Panzer’s Deli, in St Johns Wood and met the amazing team there. We worked together on hosting this first gut health foodie event under the A Belly Full Of brand (eeeeek!)

The aim of the event was mainly education – to learn about gut health, including IBD and IBS and also gathering together some foodies to eat some amazing food! I was so lucky that Panzer’s Deli put on an amazing spread, which catered for gluten, dairy free and vegan, including the most insane fruit salad, fresh berries, coconut yogurt and artisan coffee made to order. Everyone gathered to eat the delicious food, before I introduced the special guest, which was the lovely Rhiannon Lambert of Rhitrition.

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of Food event

How epic is this gluten free and vegan spread at Panzer’s Deli?

Rhiannon was absolutely focal to the goal of my event, as a Harley Street nutritionist, she knows everything there is to know about food, nutrition and gut health, and would never say anything that wasn’t rooted in evidence and research. Together over half an hour, we discussed IBS, IBD, Coeliac Disease and some gut health basics. Along with the huge support from Panzer’s Deli, a wonderful friend Sarah from BTempted Cakes bought along her brand new vegan and gluten free cupcakes for the goodie bags – what a way to start the day!!

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of Food event

Feeling so excited to have the first event go so well and gives me so much pleasure to announce that this isn’t the only A Belly Full of Food event. I can’t wait to share the details of the next one with you – a much bigger event which won’t start so early in the morning! I’d love to hear any other health topics you’d like me to look to cover in the future – not just gut health, but anything! This concept is really about educating on a wealth of health conditions and topics. Hit me up with your suggestions below (or via Twitter, Instagram or email). I really would love to hear from you!

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full of Food Events

My beaut GF girlies bought me flowers and it was just the loveliest moment. GIRLS SUPPORTING GIRLS

Bryony Hopkins A Belly Full of Food www.abellyfullof.com

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Edinburgh, travel guide, scotland, arthurs seat, A Belly Full Of

Climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat and being blown away of the views of Edinburgh!

Over the Easter weekend I spent a glorious 72 hours in Edinburgh with my partner in crime Josh, and wow, what a gorgeous city. I switched off my social media for the weekend to truly enjoy this incredible city and now I am sharing my top tips for eating gluten and dairy free, and what to see and do, in this city.

Scotland, Arthur's Seat, Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full Of

That fresh air makes one very happy!

It helped that I was absolutely inundated with suggestions of great places to eat and drink, and for a relatively small city, we were absolutely spoiled for choice! Having said that, most of our finds were on the hoof as we explored, so I hope these gems add to the ever-growing list of allergy friendly places to eat in Edinburgh.

Friday PM and Eve

Edinburgh streets were just gorgeous. This taken on Victoria Street.

So after settling into our gorgeous Air BnB (see below for my tips on accommodation in Edinburgh!), we went on a wonder in the city and came across the pizza parlour Amarone, recommended by the lovely Gluten Free Gatherer and I just had my heart set on pizza for dinner, so we booked ourselves in for that eve. We were also famished, so we stopped off at a brilliant little coffee place called Fortitude Coffee where I had a sticky toffee loaf, which was vegan and gluten free with a black filter coffee. Delissshh and easy to miss, although that loaf was the only allergy friendly option.

Black americano and sticky toffee loaf. The icing was YUM!

Onto dinner and I absolutely loved Amorone (recommended by my pal, the Gluten Free Gatherer!). I went for a chicken and pepper number, without cheese and on a gluten free base and was very impressed. None of this rubbery or tasteless base business, this was extremely crispy. Definitely would recommend!

Unfortunately no vegan cheese, but still delicious with a tomato base

Saturday
The morning started in the search of breakfast, and having been recommended Urban Angel a 1000 times, we tried to grab a table. Unfortunately, they don’t take bookings and we were too hungry to wait 45 mins so ended up in a closer café, which wasn’t great for GF or DF, but did do black tea and a veggie fry up! Luckily we stumbled across a market where I found Missy Vegan Cupcakes and picked myself up a vegan and GF chocolate tiffin, which was HUGE.

This was essentially the fuel that got me to the top of Arthurs Seat! Which I definitely recommend as an activity in Edinburgh – it’s a surprisingly hard climb but absolutely worth it. The views from the top are just insane!



After such a wild trek up to Arthurs Seat (it had been raining all weekend so was a rather treacherous climb, absolute mud bath!), we needed some proper sustenance so found ourselves in a lovely little pub called High Street Number 1 on the Royal Mile. At first glance, it didn’t look like they did much allergy friendly, until we spotted the gluten free fish and chips! Served in GF batter and fried in a separate fryer, this was a GF dream.

It would have been rude to visit Edinburgh trying some of the local booze (I mean, we’re only human!), so we walked a little further up to the Royal Mile where we tried some of the gin offering at a small pub called The Albanach. Edinburgh Gin (this is an actual brand, not just gin from Edinburgh!) was an absolute find. So many gorgeous flavours, so good paired with Fever Tree Tonic. My fave was Rhubarb and Ginger. SO GOOD.


 

Sunday

After waking up with a slightly sore gin head, we were on the prowl for one thing only, BRUNCH! We headed this time towards Leith, as our apartment was just positioned in perfect walking distance between Edinburgh city centre and Leith on the coast. The Roseleaf was positioned just past the canal and WHAT A GEM! Disguised as a rustic pub, this spot did the best brunch skillet I’ve ever tasted and the menu was extremely well labelled for allergens. I went for the vegetarian breakfast skillet, served with a toasted gluten free muffin. The real stars of the show were actually the choice of juices and hot drinks. First we went for the ‘Red Cappuccino’ – a twist on a classic chai latte but infused with more cinnamon and ginger. I had mine with soya milk and it was beautifully rich and creamy. Then we went onto the juice menu (because you know, holiday) and particularly loved The Heartbeat (pomegranate, apple and raspberry) and the coconut crush (pineapple, coconut water and apple). Would definitely recommend this gem!

For dinner we headed to an incredible artisan Italian deli that was right next to our apartment called Valvona and Crolla. Think high ceilings stacked with wines, cured meats, pastas, sauces and fresh vegetables. They had a whole row of fresh Italian gluten free pastas, so we picked up some bits for a night in at the apartment. Served with a bottle of red it was the perfect (albeit) unusual Easter Sunday dinner.


Monday

With only the morning left we had to fill the time the best way possible, BRUNCH! We headed to Urban Angel which I had been recommended by near enough everyone for a great gluten free brunch! We had to wait 40 minutes for a table, but the delicious gluten free bread did not disappoint. I mixed and matched, with smoked salmon, poachies and Portobello mushrooms on the plate paired with one of my fave hot beverages, turmeric latte. Gorgeous.

Travel (London to Edinburgh)
So there is much discussion about the best way to get to Edinburgh and as it was our anniversary weekend (5 years!), we splashed out on first class tickets on Virgin Trains and I honestly couldn’t recommend this form of travel enough. You literally hop on at Kings Cross and it’s only four and half-hours into the centre of Edinburgh. Complementary beverages and sandwiches are included(unfortunately not GF or DF), so make sure you stock up on snacks from Waitrose or M&S at Kings Cross. We probably paid about £150 each for a first class return, which was definitely worth it for the space and free wifi!

Accommodation


I really didn’t know anything about Edinburgh before this trip, so wasn’t sure what or where to go for in terms of accommodation. However, Josh & I are massive Air BnB fans (honestly best places I’ve ever stayed in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Marbella etc), so we booked an apartment about 8 mins walk from the train station on Brunswick Street. The apartment was gorgeous and owned by the friendliest couple, Pat and George. They left milk in the fridge (for Josh obvs), cereal and the place was immaculate. Perfect location to walk into the city centre, as it was only about 15 minutes. Check out our apartment here.

Would love to hear if you use any of these travel tips in your future travels to Edinburgh!

 

Check out my Pitstop Guide to Copenhagen for more travel tips!
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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