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We saw in the New Year at Sky Gardens – a day I felt good and it was bloody brilliant.

I’m not sure if it’s too late to say Happy New Year, but seeing as this is my first post of 2018, I feel it’s appropriate to say!
My new year started with a bit of a bump, as all of you who follow me may know I have Crohns Disease, which I write about quite regularly. This little hiccup has really reaffirmed to me that all I ever really want each year is good health. Health to be happy, good health to live my life and good health to enjoy every day to the fullest.
I’m sure many of you fellow Crohnies will relate to knowing that you’re really operating at 50% and so, I have compiled a list of 10 things it’s okay to feel when you’re going through a bad patch with your chronic illness.

  1. It’s okay to stop and admit you feel like s**t
  2. It’s okay to lean on your friends and family
  3. It’s okay not to be strong all the time
  4. It’s okay to cry
  5. It’s okay to be angry
  6. It’s okay to want to talk about it, over and over again
  7. It’s okay to look after yourself and be antisocial
  8. It’s okay to research and understand every single treatment and medication possibility
  9. It’s okay to jump to the worst conclusion and mentally prepare
  10. It’s okay to be frustrated when people don’t understand

 These are some mantras I’ve had to keep reinforcing for myself recently, particularly as my body is fighting so hard; I am sometimes too exhausted to be rational (cue literally tears about everything, putting slippers on wrong way, jumper back to front.. you get the jist!) Although, I think the above could apply to many life situations and I think it’s important to remind each other that we don’t have to have a brave face, everyday.

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31st December 2017. Always sparkles. Always optimistic.

So although 2018 hasn’t started as I wished (sick days, hospital appointments and spending too much time resting), every bump on the road reminds me what to be grateful for and helps me remain positive that the blip will pass – and the year will continue with ease. These mantras help me hold onto the good days – and try to forget the bad days.
It really is true, that the greatest wealth in life is health.
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full Of

Eating all the gorgeous food and new beginnings.

A Belly Full of has been considerably quiet the past few months – and a lot has changed for me. My career has changed so dramatically in the past few months, it’s taken me some time to adjust to my new working world. I have had so many people asking me how it’s going, how I came to be a freelance journalist and what my journey has been. I am finally taking the time to sit down and reflect on the past six months, on the platform that sprung me to where I am today.
If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, you’ll know that by day I am a journalist, working primarily at BBC World News TV. Back in June, I was a full time member of staff at the BBC, working under intense pressure in the newsroom. I loved my job but I lost my mojo for finding a story and so in June, I took the wild jump to a completely different sector. I thought it was what I wanted and so I moved to the third sector to work as a Content Producer.

Bryony Hopkins at Bafta, A Belly Full Of

Back at the BBC and having drinks with lovely colleagues. At BAFTA, Piccadilly.

I spent a mere four months there, before I realised my heart was in journalism. During this time, I was excitingly approached by the Metro to produce original content and foodie pieces for them. (See the Metro tab to read my pieces!) I was SO excited – but utterly terrified about taking the plunge into the freelance world, which was really my only option. Imagine leaving a full time journalism role, to only realise you want to go back to it! I’ve always fantasised about being freelance and finding my own opportunities, balancing multiple projects and sniffing out content and stories that I love. But the prospect was terrifying. Financially terrifying, especially when you’re sub 26 and living in London.
As I became increasingly unhappy in my charity job and craving the fast paced nature of the BBC Newsroom, which I loved, I quit – after just four months. People have asked me how you know when to leave a job so soon. I tell them you just know – something deep inside your gut and heart will tell you. I barely made the decision on my own though, I had SO many pep talks from my friends and family – my Mum used the phrase ‘jump off the bridge!’ too many times for me to count (metaphorically speaking, of course…)
I have been so incredibly lucky that BBC News opened its doors to me as a freelancer (despite leaving a full time role only 4 months ago!) and now I plug any gaps they have in the rota. It still means working weekends and anti-social hours, but having some control over how many days I work is amazing for my health. Although having said that, since making the leap to freelance just four weeks ago, I have worked every single day of the week!!

Bryony Hopkins at Woody Bear London, A Belly Full Of

Still making time to visit amazing places in London. Cocktails on London rooftops at Woody Bear London.

So I’m pretty much working more than I have ever done in my life, but I am so insanely happy to be in a position where I am working in so many different capacities. Don’t get me wrong, this process hasn’t been easy and I am SOOOOOOOOOOO exhausted. But I feel so proud of the decisions I’ve made (does that sound cocky? I hope not!) and really believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t regret leaving a full time role at the BBC and trying a different sector, because I followed my heart at the time. It turned out not to be right, but that turned out to be one of the biggest life lessons I’ve ever experienced.

Bryony Hopkins, A Belly Full Of

Spending a Thursday at the spa. Unreal! Gorgeousness at the Macdonald Berystede Hotel.

I am writing this on a Thursday afternoon, after spending an evening at a beautiful hotel at a press event and spent the morning working by an open fire in the countryside. Is that even real?
So whilst I don’t know what I’m going to be working on into the New Year, I do believe that everything will be okay.
If you’re reading this and wondering how it can be possible to make your dreams a reality and take a gamble, you should know that there is never a good time to take a risk. So don’t let that be your excuse. There are many horrible things in life we don’t have limited control over, like your health, but there are other things you can change if you’re not happy. It’s also okay to make mistakes, and learn from them.
So with that in mind, I’m really excited to add lots more content to A Belly Full Of in the coming weeks and hope you’ll continue to follow me on my journey. I’ve eaten in so many fabulous free-from places recently, made some amazing blogger pals and been to some amazing events.
And I can’t wait to share it all with you.
In the meantime, feel free to have a browse of everything I’ve been working on in my blogging quiet spell here.
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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I’ve been lucky to take some incredible trips already this year, and I am so excited to share them with you! I’m going to start with Copenhagen, the land of hygge. I remember my Mum & Dad talking to me about this word about 2 years ago, and I honestly had no idea what they were talking about. They kept telling me they felt hygge when they sat in the garden – but what the hell is hygge?? Pronounced ‘hue-gah’, it is essentially acknowledging a moment which is special, precious and warming – whether you are alone or with friends. This isn’t a process of buying something to achieve hygge, it is literally a moment of warm loveliness and being aware of it. Sounds pretty lush right?
So when my boyfriend booked a weekend trip to the Danish capital, I was over the moon. I’d never visited any of the nordic countries before and was extremely intrigued. And I have to add – it is beyond beautiful. Definitely one of the cleanest, friendliest capital cities I have ever visited… not to mention the food! I’ve packed all my Danish knowledge into this punchy twelve top tips – so when you go (not if, because you HAVE to go!), you will be fully armed with the information to have the weekend of a lifetime.

  1. Pack for all weather types. Like the UK, the weather in the nordic countries can be extremely hit and miss. We took our trip in June, and I packed for rain, sun, cold, storms – the lot! In the space of 72 hours we experienced an all day thunderstorm and a heatwave. So pack smart – and make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes!
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    Walking through the parks in the heatwave!

  2. You can do a 72 hour trip because the city is tiny. You can walk across the city in under an hour and so it is possible to see a lot in a small amount of time. The flight time is only around an hour and a half from the UK, which means you can fly on a Friday morning and be back on Sunday, and still see so much!
  3. Book an Air BnB. Denmark is on the more expensive side – think London prices, plus a little more! For this reason, I recommend booking an Air BnB instead of a hotel. The city is packed with apartments, crammed on top of each other, but they are all beautiful and make excellent use of space. Additionally, it’s worth staying in an Air BnB to get a vibe for the danish interior design – which is just to die for. We stayed in a beautiful apartment in Norreport, with a dreamy kitchen. The Danes love the healthy lifestyle and our apartment was full of vegan and gluten free treats. AMAZING!
  4. Eat everything at Torvehallerne food market. The best part of staying in Norreport was the INSANE food market which was right on our doorstep. Torvehallerne food market is packed with over 60 stands of unique food sellers flogging the most amazing fresh goods. Literally everything you could imagine -from artisan coffee, to massive chocolate eclairs and numerous juice bars. And the best part? SO MANY DAIRY AND GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS! I enjoyed gluten free muffins, dairy free chocolate mousse and so many types of chia seed pudding. This seafood platter was another bonus – we enjoyed this for lunch twice over the weekend!
  5. Enjoy the parks. The green spaces are the bread and butter of Copenhagen. I always thought London did well for beautiful parks and gardens – but Copenhagen trumps us to another level! I would definitely recommend having a stroll around as many as you can. Orstedparken is beautiful, with a river running through it and right next to Torvehallerne food market – so perfect for a luxurious picnic. The gardens of Rosenborg Castle Gardens are also absolutely stunning and the Kastellet gardens will lead you right to the famous Little Mermaid statue!
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Rosenborg Castle Garden

6. Go and see the Little Mermaid… but don’t expect to be overwhelmed.  Fairy tale Hans Christian Andersen wrote the original version of The Little Mermaid and there is a statue on the Copenhagen waterside to honour this. The Den lille Havfrue is a must see, but it is tiny!!
7. Tivoli Gardens is a MUST visit. We were told by many friends that we HAD to go to Tivoli Gardens – but having taken the name at face value, I was just expecting another green space. Oh no – Tivoli Gardens is another world of it’s own. Think beautiful garden with restaurants/theme park/park/open air theatre. It’s all of these and so much more!You could easily spend a day getting lost here, although be prepared to spend some money and queue for rides. We enjoyed just strolling around and didn’t choose to eat there, though there were certainly a wealth of food options. Very touristy, but definitely worth the entrance fee, just to absorb the atmosphere and admire the pretty gardens.
8. Take a lot of spending money because it is expenny. Think exclusive and think London prices. We paid around £7-£8 for an alcoholic drink (Aperol Spritz or beer) and more for food. FYI they operate in Danish Krona – not to be confused with Swedish krona or Norwegian krone.
9. Everything is fresh and seasonal – which explains the prices! The food is to die for and would definitely recommend sampling their fresh seafood. They are also crazy for rye bread – which unfortunately us gluten free folk can’t tolerate, but my boyfriend loved the healthier bread option
10. Drink by the harbour in Nyhavn. This is one of the most iconic spots in Copenhagen, and the one you’ve probably seen on Google images and on postcards. The harbour is stunning, leading out to the open waters of the sea and there are hundreds of bars along either side, with blankets and heaters outside when it’s cold, and umbrellas for when it’s warm. The atmosphere is buzzing and many locals come down with a crate of beers and drink on the waters edge. This was my favourite place to come and people watch – and they made a mean Aperol Spritz!IMG_7339
11. And you can drink their tap water! This was pretty revolutionary for me, as I as standard drink around 2 litres of water a day, even more when it’s hot and we’re walking across the city! Denmark is a land enriched by water and they take pride in helping it enhance their lives. For this reason, Denmark has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. They believe it’s the richest and most important resource they have – good on them!
12. Walk up the longest pedestrian road in Europe. Strøget is the longest pedestrian road in Europe and is full of designer and high street shops. In the later afternoon and evening, you can find street performers attracting large crowds and people pulling around vast amounts of shopping bags. A shopaholic’s dream!
For more of my Copenhagen photos, see my Instagram @abellyfullofbryony.
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This Friday 7th April is World Health Day – but what does it actually mean to be healthy? For me, being healthy is having a handle on practical things you can do to make your life easier and make you feel better about yourself. If you feel better about yourself, your body and your emotions, then surely that is a one way ticket to feeling healthier.  So where should you be looking to feel healthier? You should be looking at YOU!
Perhaps you could start by asking yourself some of the following questions…
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Okay maybe this is an alarmingly obvious question, but often we neglect to ask ourselves. How is your health? Are you on an even keel, or are you particularly tired? Are you in any pain or rundown? Are you feeling in good shape? Are you feeling happy with your body? There is often no easy ways to answer these if you have a chronic condition. Like me, suffering from Crohn’s Disease, I’m never quite sure how my health is! But I can recognise when I am over worked, over tired and stressed and I know that these are vital keys which can unlock a whole host of problems for me! It might be worth also giving my Listening to Your Body article a read, to help you get more in tune with your body! Answering all of these honestly will get you straight on the path of figuring out what tweaks you need to make to your lifestyle to start feeling healthier.
What are you eating? Is it making you feel good?
This can be a hard question to answer but I think it’s vital to start working out where you’re at with happy and healthy eating habits. Essentially – it’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about how you feel about eating. Our emotions are strongly linked to our eating habits – I think we’ve all reached for chocolate or ice cream when we’re feeling low.

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I switch to really easy foods when my stomach is playing up – like this simple turkey noodle soup

So really this question is about honestly asking yourself if your food choices are making you PHYSICALLY happy. Sure, chocolate may feed an emotion, but how do you physically feel after? For me, I love cheese (like, really love cheese), but it was making me so bloated and giving me terrible stomach pains. Despite the fact I loved it, I knew I had to cut it out and it turned out that it was dairy entirely which was causing me problems. Sure it takes willpower to cut out something you love, but if you feel better afterwards it’s a no brainer! I discovered this by writing a food diary and documenting all the things I had eaten that day and how I felt afterwards/later at the day. I think this is a fabulous way to get in sync with how your body is reacting to what you put in your mouth. Evaluating and understanding what you’re eating and how it’s making you feel is the first stop to feeling better and healthier about your diet.
Are you exercising?
We are absolutely barraged with advice on how we should be exercising these days. Running, weights, HITT, yoga, Pilates… but really you need to find w

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Me pre yoga at The Life Centre, in Notting Hill, London

hat works for you. I find it completely overwhelming sometimes, and that’s even before people have started telling you what they do to stay fit! You have to go with what feels right for you and not what everyone is telling you. I have friends who do PT sessions – but I sure as hell couldn’t think of anything worse! Instead, I signed up for a beginners yoga class and learnt the basics. It’s good for all of us to exercise – but there’s no point doing a fitness regime you hate.
Are the people around you making you happy?
Another hard question to answer, but it’s worth considering what your support network is like around you and do they actually make you happy?! This could be a colleague you always talk to or a friend who drains the life out of you… if you’re not getting anything out of a relationship, is it a relationship worth having?
How do you relax?
Arguably, I think this is the most important question of them all! How do you get your ‘me time’? It might well be exercising – or it could be reading a book, watching your favourite TV programme, meditating or practicing mindfulness.  Whatever it is, make sure you’re making time to actually do it! A relaxed soul is a happy soul – and a happy soul is a healthy soul!
Happy World Health Day 🙂
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Happy Monday gorgeous gang! This has been a jam packed year already and I’m super excited to use this post to make a few announcements – all blog related of course. Thank you to all of you who have been reading and enjoying my posts so far – it’s given me such joy to develop recipes, review my favourite eateries and share my Crohns story with you!
First off – A Belly Full Of now has its very own Instagram account!!
I’ve already reached over 100 followers in just three weeks, which has been just brilliant (everyone loves a food pic!) Give @bryonyehopkins for loads more recipes, food inspiration, Crohns updates and tips on living and managing IBD.

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Find me on Instagram! @abellyfullofbryony

Secondly – I’m starting a Nutrition course tomorrow!
This is something I’ve been thinking about starting for months now and I finally found a good’un at The College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. I’ll be taking a short course in ‘Nutrition for Everyday Living’ and will be feeding all my new found knowledge back into my posts! a138890e4646fecda59789f343ebc053The course syllabus is going to offer me a wealth of nutritional knowledge, recipe and wellness ideas – particularly focusing on food as medicine. It feels like the natural step to take this blog further into this hugely competitive market – aside from the fact that I personally want to understand more about IBD and diet! It still surprises me how much what I put in my mouth impacts the way I feel.
Thirdly – I begin my yoga journey, tonight!
Again, this is something I’ve wanted to do for years, but something I’ve always put off because I’m too busy/stressed/poorly etc. I’ve done a few ad hoc yoga classes and found them hugely strenuous on my delicate belly – being cut open 6 times doesn’t do great things for your stomach muscles! So I did my research and signed up for a fantastic Beginners Course at The Life Centre in Notting Hill, London. I felt learning under a basic environment would give me the chance to learn at a pace that is comfortable for me and my stomach. I’m really looking forward to sharing my experiences with you!
That’s all on the announcement front, but I hope you’ll check back in soon. It’s such an exciting time for my passion project and I really hope sharing my experiences benefits you too! If you have lived with IBD for a long time, have been newly diagnosed or just enjoy a healthy lifestyle – I hope my journey to health will inspire you to give something new a try.
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