I’m nearly at the half way point… and I wish I could give some really poignant words at this point about how normal not eating has become. Unfortunately, I am still hungry. And food is still leaving a gaping hole in my life. The biggest pizza shaped hole.

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I still can’t get on board with the fact this is my dinner. And lunch, and breakfast! And it makes a rubbish Insta pic..

Despite this, physically I am feeling so much better. Whilst some of my symptoms continue to niggle, I am barely in any pain. Which really is amazing after spending the past 6 months pretty much in constant pain.

Since writing this blog and opening up this part of my life, I’ve found people have so many questions – what exactly is Crohn’s? Are you really sick? Is this liquid diet a cure? Being such an undignified illness in so many ways, people are often afraid to talk openly about it, but with 300,000 people in the UK suffering from IBD, it’s time to start talking. So I thought today’s blog should be dedicated to all things medical. To answer all the who, hows and whys of Crohns Disease. I hope you come away feeling educated after this post!

What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disease. This means your body attacks your own healthy cells during the digestion process. Crohn’s Disease falls under the umbrella of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (often referred to as IBD). The disease can cause inflammation and ulceration anywhere in the digestive tract – from mouth to rectum. The areas of inflammation are often patchy, and can be a few centimetres long to a whole length of the gut (for example, the whole large intestine). Every persons disease will be completely different. Ulcerative Colitis is another form of IBD which you may often hear referred to along with Crohns. Colitis is very similar – the symptoms are almost identical, however Colitis will only affect the colon (large intestine).
What are the symptoms?
Typical Crohn’s symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhoea, loss of blood, fatigue, severe nausea, sickness, loss of appetite and weight. Someone with Crohn’s may suffer one or all of these during a time of relapse and symptoms will range in severity depending on the intensity of the flare up.
Is there a cure?
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic illness, which means it’s ongoing and lifelong. A person may experience periods where they have no symptoms at all, when they are in ‘remission’. A relapse or ‘flare up’ could occur at any time and there are a number of drugs and surgical procedures which can provide people with longterm periods of wellness.
Why do people get it?
Unfortunately, it isn’t known why people get it! Bad pot luck I guess! Whilst scientists have poured time and money into lots of research with no definitive answer, it is thought there may be a genetic predisposition to the illness plus an abnormal reaction of your immune system to certain bacteria in your intestines.
How will this liquid diet help?
The idea of the liquid diet is to give my intestine a rest. At the moment it is tired and inflamed; drinking pre-digested shakes means my gut has to do absolutely no work whatsoever. All the nutrients are being absorbed straight into my digestive walls and into my body, meaning my body has time to heal. Imagine it like a cut on your hand. You cover the cut with a plaster to protect it from the world to let it heal. If you take the plaster off or itch your cut, it gets angry and sore and the healing process takes longer. That’s exactly what’s happening inside my body – this liquid diet is my plaster.
What happen’s once you’ve finished the liquid diet?
To be completely honest… I don’t know yet! I am continuing to take Adlimumab – a weekly injection I have been on for the past 5 years (which has, until now, kept me well!) At the same time I started this liquid diet, I also started azathioprine. A slow acting long term drug – that would, if it worked, keep me well beyond finishing this liquid diet. However, on discovering in the last few days that these tablets contain lactose and being severely lactose intolerant.. I am in a quandary of how things will move forward now. There are a few drugs left I could try…yet, I’m feeling uplifted and excited about the possibility of finding a diet that keeps me well. Whether that is juicing, elemental, vegetarian, gluten free… vegan! If this elemental can work so efficiently, I’m convinced drugs aren’t the only way. This is a another long (and hopefully exciting!) journey I’m embarking on…!

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Need I say anymore!

Here’s a list of resources:
www.crohnsandme.com
www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk
www.crohnsupport.com
www.crohns.org.uk
Keep following my journey, as I attempt to eat myself well…
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Two weeks is turning to four… and that’s okay. Whilst I’m already feeling so much better in myself, I’m not completely out of the woods yet. Here’s hoping one whole golden month will do the trick!

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Showing the Elemental some love

In light of this news, I’ve made a very comprehensive list of the pros of not eating (surprisingly, there are quite a few!)

Pro’s of not eating

  • I’m saving a tonne of money – I literally haven’t spent a penny since Sunday. In central London, this is astounding
  • I am giving my body a total detox and rest
  • I am curing my own pain… which is a weirdly satisfying feeling
  • I am testing my willpower to the absolute MAX – after this, I reckon I could do anything
  • Did I mention I’m saving a load money?
  • My bikini bod is going to need very limited work (this is probably a good time to say that for the record, I am not doing this diet for weight loss reasons! A few pounds shed is merely a bonus)
  • This blog – despite the subject matter, I am actually really loving writing this blog
  • I am raising awareness for Crohns and Colitis – and helping people understand these cruel conditions. (No, I did not get Crohns because I eat badly! Yes, someone has actually asked me that.)
  • Oh yeah, and I’m saving loads of money.

Unfortunately, there are also some cons to not eating…

  • Not eating is actually quite a major con in itself
  • As is not drinking (especially Starbucks and alcohol)
  • People keep asking me ‘Are you ok?’, with a sympathetic head tilt that you reserve for people you feel sorry for. It gets rather annoying after a while
  • I keep accidentally staring at people when they eat. Strangers, colleagues, friends… anyone really. Which has resulted in some very awkward eye contact moments.

So really, there are actually more pros than cons. Apparently…

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No, that’s not a typo. I’m talking about the hunger induced anger – the hanger. It’s probably the most volatile anger out there, when you’re grumpy because you need to eat. And I am experiencing this on another level: specifically around mealtimes. Lunch time or dinner time, I’m one grumpy girl. Hanger is also prompted by delicious treats which make their way into the office.

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I mean… SERIOUSLY!!

Stepping away from delicious patisserie treats, I watched an amazing documentary this weekend given to me by a friend from work. ‘Super Juice Me’ documents 8 individuals, with 22 diseases between them, follow a strict 28 day pure juice diet. Living at ‘Juicy Oasis’, owned by Jason Vale, they underwent a fitness and wellbeing programme to help cure their medical problems. These ranged from obesity, heart disease, asthma to Crohns Disease. Whilst they struggled at the beginning, by day 28 they all looked amazing, felt great and more impressively, were weening off their medication. A young girl, Sarah, with Crohns featured in the film and took adalimumab, like me (a injection widely used by Crohns patients). By the end of the 28 days, she was off the injections and completely symptom free… I think that result speaks for itself. To learn more about Super Juice Me – click here.

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I further started reading up on Deliciously Ella – a huge London food blogger and writer that cured her Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, another autoimmune disease, with diet. Overnight she eliminated meat, dairy, sugar, gluten and any processed foods with additives – and now eats all plant based foods. Over the process of a year, she ate herself to full health, and continues to keep her condition under control with her diet. More about Ella, click here.

It really got me thinking about what I’m going to eat/drink when I finish this diet. I’ve always been aware of what I eat, which is why I completely eliminated dairy, after finding it to be an irritant. As a child, I tried eliminating all sorts, to no particular avail. Despite having 3 major abdominal operations for bowel obstructions, this is actually the first active Crohns Disease I’ve had in my gut since I had my large intestine removed when I was 12. Surely there must be an answer in diet?! Watching the results of Sarah and Ella has filled me with optimism – if I can feel so much better in 7 days, surely there must be a fix that isn’t big drugs with hideous side effects and surgery.

And here’s something really weird… I’m now craving kale, avocado and courgetti!! I have a feeling my journey will continue past this liquid diet…

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To learn more about my Crohns story, click here!

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Who knew it was possible to lie awake thinking about how hungry you are. I’ve always been lucky enough to go to bed with a full stomach (a luxury I’m aware many do not have). Last night I lay awake until 12.30, until I decided enough was enough and I had another shake. It was categorically the most unsatisfying midnight snack I’ve ever had.
I then spent the whole night dreaming about food. In all different guises – sometimes I was eating, sometimes I was watching others eat – in one dream I was serving food! It is unsurprising, that I woke up today absolutely ravenous.
If that wasn’t a enough of a loony way to start the day – I got into work and shouted at someone who looked like they were carrying a plate of cakes to my desk. ‘Don’t bring that anywhere near me!’ I exclaimed. He looked utterly confused. It turned out to be a book with a make up powder puff on stop. I could have sworn I saw a chocolate eclair.
 

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A eclair as divine as this

 
So I’m hallucinating. I am seeing greasy cheeseburgers and pizzas instead of people’s faces. But that’s ok, right? I mean, it is only day 2. And they do say hunger does weird things to people…
I went to work carrying a super chic cool bag today carrying my food for the day – 5 delicious elemental cartons. The cool bag was debatably socially acceptable (you can make up your mind with the pic below) – unfortunately elemental are best drunk cold. I thought taking a bag of ice to work might be a step too far…(and the BBC doesn’t have a freezer)
 

Why don’t Mulberry do cool bags???

Today I’ve drunk 6 cartons and I can’t get over how hungry I feel. I’ve also felt pretty faint at times – THIS GIRL NEEDS CARBS! I am supposed to drink 9 cartons to maintain my healthy BMI – but I feel like I haven’t eaten in weeks, not days! I’m told my stomach will shrink in time and I’ll feel full with the shakes in due course. WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN?!!?

If you’ve had a bad day – just imagine me shouting about non existent eclairs.

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I would just like to say on record, I love food. I don’t like food, or eat to solely survive… I really really love food. Breakfast is the first thing I think of in the morning, no sooner have I consumed that I am thinking about my 11 o’clock snack before considering lunch… you get the drift. I really love food. I also, really like drinking. I love socialising – the taste of a cold glass of white wine and a cheeky shot of tequila on a night out. This is just a snapshot of my Instagram… yes, I am entirely guilty of shamelessly Instagramming food.

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Breakfast heaven

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Yes that is lobster. And yes, it was unreal

Imagine how you feel when food is one thing that gives you pain. Not just mild stomach pain, but crippling, can’t stand up or sit up straight, want to curl into the foetal position and lie in a dark room pain. We all eat food, like carbs and proteins, to keep our bodies running. Our digestive system absorbs all of the necessary nutrients and gets rid of all the waste. When you have Crohns, your body attacks healthy cells during this digestive process – causing inflammation. Hence, if you take out eating food and replace it with pre digested shakes, your body has no reason to attack itself.

So…. for the next fortnight (at least!) I will be replacing all meals and food with 9 of these Elemental 028 shakes. And, no alcohol. No tea. And worst of all.. no Starbucks!

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Three boxes of eighteen delicious Elemental 028 drinks. Flavoured Orange & pineapple, Grapefruit and Summer Fruits.

Don’t they look DELICIOUS!

I found out about 2 weeks ago this would be the next course of treatment.A few days later, I saw Crohns and Colitis UK post this link to a Cosmopolitan article written by young writer Tess Koman. Her depiction of the liquid diet was inspiring and so accurate – it was really what I needed to read at that moment in time.  Read Tess’ article here: What I learnt from not eating for a month. After sobbing into a dinner at Pho with my boyfriend on the day I learnt this was happening, I realised I needed to remember why I am doing this. To get my quality of life back.

So I write this the day before I start the diet and I am beyond hungry. Completely psychological I’m sure – but I have eaten everything in sight. (Currently digging into kettle chips and guacamole. It would be rude not to have a feast tonight.) Is it possible to be more hungry when you know you’re not going to eat for a while?? I suspect I will feel far less rational tomorrow as I dig into a carton of Summer Fruits Elemental for breakfast, instead of some delicious marmite toast… 

Sorry – I have to go and eat the contents of my fridge now. (Fajitas are the final meal of choice) With everything else I have for dessert…

More tomorrow!

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