Before I start, this is a gushing post. You’ve been warned!
I’m documenting the ultimate cornerstone to my entire liquid diet journey. This post in fact deserves the biggest chapter heading in the tale of Bryony Hopkins. Last week, I had my first doctors appointment with my specialist consultant since I finished my liquid diet. The same consultant who was determined that steroids were my only option and I opted for the complete opposite – a month intense liquid diet.
I have to say I was extremely nervous for the consultation. I worked it up in my head and the very thought of it reduced me to a near tearful wreck. Why you might ask? I obviously feel 1000x better than I did before the liquid diet, but the

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At the start of the liquid diet, April 2016

fact is, that not all of my symptoms have completely 100% disappeared, like I thought they miraculously would. What I didn’t know was that this is part of a longer healing process and as my consultant pointed out to me today, I am in a million times better place than I was before. I am pain free and able to control this through my diet. I am able to work full time, I am fulfilling all my social plans AND I’m training for a 10k. Pre liquid diet, I was just about able to get out of bed without being doubled over in pain. Yet I had completely forgotten how bad things were before until I sat in front of my consultant. He said ‘last time you came here Bryony you said you couldn’t carry on like this. You were at your wits end’. And I was – I had just forgotten. I was so focused on the fact I wasn’t completely ‘cured’ that I lost sight of the journey I’ve had and the transformation my body has gone through. The transformation that I allowed my body to go through and the work I have done to get it here.
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I can still eat deliciously good food! Black bean brownie and matcha latte courtesy of Ethos Foods.

It feels amazing. I actually can’t stop smiling. After I chose the liquid diet, I was rife with uncertainty. I had absolute no clue that I was doing the right thing or just being a stubborn cow. I am just over the moon it has worked out and been recognised by the most hard to please doctor! Whilst I am still on adlimumab injections, I am wholly optimistic that one day I could be drug free. It’s hard to believe how much things have changed just through one month of pure elemental.
For anyone who also suffers with Crohns & Colitis, I urge you to give the liquid diet a try if you’re ever at a treatment crossroad. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’ll mentally challenge you in ways you couldn’t have ever imagined. Yes, you’ll be hungry and angry for a few days. But my god – is it worth it! It’s a clean way to let your body heal – no chemicals, no side effects. Just you and your willpower.
My journeIMG_3837y is by no means over. I still have many food groups to reintroduce (this has all slightly stalled since I started a new job which is completely exhausting) and I have a job on my hands to manage my stress levels to keep my pain at bay. But the point is that’s all in my hands. I’m back in control.
This makes me even more determined to raise as much money as possible for Crohns & Colitis UK in my 10k run this Sunday. If you have any pennies to spare, I would be so eternally grateful – every pound means more than I can put into words! Click here to donate.
I feel like celebrating with a gluten free and dairy free brownie!!!!!
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Apart from cooking, my other major love in life is going out for dinner. In fact, not just dinner – make that lunch, brunch and breakfast too! Yes, I am that person who Instagrams all my meals out! IMG_2812I absolutely love eating out and it was obviously a bit of a shock when I first went out to dinner after the liquid diet to discover how little I could eat on restaurant menus. It was a complete minefield – especially when you are faced with a menu of which you can barely eat anything and the waiter/waitress doesn’t have a clue either!
In my first few meals out, I was going to my usual favourite food chains. You know, Pizza Express, Cote, Revolution Bar etc and my local pubs/cafes. At first I thought it would be easy enough to just have chips if all else fails – but soon learnt that sometimes chips have a gluten batter. WHAT? Chips in my eyes are just potato and oil!! And so my knowledge of vast food manufacturers expanded and I realised that there is a tonne of hidden ingredients in a multitude of foods you eat in restaurants. I mean really – why do we need a gluten batter on a potato?
I’m still off gluten, dairy, beans & lentils and most grains such as quinoa and buckwheat. So as you can see, options are slim! After several dinners out with friends and family where there was no other option other than sit there with a side salad, it became clear I had to scrutinise every menu in advance.
Mid May, I went out with my flatmates and I (rather bolshily) said I would research all our nearby eateries and make a decision about where we should eat. Enter Pho….
PHO
Price range: £
Pho is a Vietnamese chain restaurant. I was unbelievably happy to see that their entire menu was certified gluten free by the Coeliac Society, apart from their beers and chocolate cake (this is understandable!) Their menu is plentiful, so many amazing starters including lettuce and meat wraps, vegetable rice spring rolls, crispy prawn crackers and obviously the most famIMG_3092ous dish, Pho – a Vietnamese soup dish. I ordered vegetable spring rolls and the prawn ‘Bun’ noodles, which is vermicelli rice noodles with a lemongrass and chilli wok-fried topping. Served with fresh herbs, beansprouts, veggie spring roll and peanuts. It was amazing to be able to choose out of anything on the menu!
In excitement, I returned a week after. This time I tried to order a curry – turns out these are not dairy free, containing condensed milk. So if you’re dairy free as well as gluten free, its worth asking about the curry options. Would definitely recommend for a delicious but casual meal with lots of choice and it’s not a meal that’s going to break the bank!

 
PING PONG
Price range: £
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Keeping with the oriental theme, my next recent favourite is Ping Pong, a chain specialising in dim sum, cocktails and chinese tea. I was at some midweek after work drinks with a friend, when we started getting seriously hungry. IMG_3320Ping Pong was next door and initially, I just thought no. No way, there won’t be anything on the menu I can eat. I thought dim sum and thought instantly gluten. However, on further investigation, it turns out they have a
selection of gluten and dairy free options.Granted, the list wasn’t as expansive as Pho, but their menu was clearly marked. They even gave me a special ‘dairy free menu’, which also had gluten free options marked off. I was so impressed with this. Especially as I’ve been given so many ‘nutrition charts’ in restaurants where you have to work out each individual ingredient in each dish.  I went for the Seafood Dumpling and the Har Gau – so delicious!! Find Ping Pong chains across the UK.
 
MAE DELI
Price range: ££
Mae Deli is the brain child of Deliciously Ella – an extremely prominent health and food blogger. Deliciously Ella believes in a gluten free and vegan way of life and I loved creating some of the recipes in her book. So I was really excited to find that her deli was only twenty minutes from work! I ventured there on a day off in centraIMG_3233l London. The deli is small but the range of products on offer is amazing. They have a wide range of salads and hot dishes, all made of completely natural and whole ingredients. Although I have to be honest, it wasn’t this that got me excited. It was the MASSIVE RANGE OF CAKES! I hadn’t eaten a proper cake in eight weeks when I went in there and I completely zoned in on a strawberry and coconut cake, resembling a victoria sponge. There were numerous options on the drink list too – a whole smoothie bar in fact. I went for a matcha latte to go with my cake, as I’d never tried one and opted to have it with coconut milk. The cake was delicious, as was the latte. I even purchased a couple of cacao and nut energy balls for a snack later! I would definitely go back to get a takeaway salad or sample some of the hot dish for dinner. Be prepared to spend the dollar here though – a cake and a latte came to £8. Which in comparison to your usual coffee chains, is fairly pricy. At the moment there is only one deli in London – find the address here.
ETHOS FOODS
Price range: £££
IMG_3296 (1)On my exploration for gluten and dairy free dining, I found Ethos Foods. A completely meat free restaurant in the heart of central London, serving a wide range of dairy free, gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free options. The spread was amazing – more breathtaking than Mae Deli. Massive bowls of salads, humous, fresh dips, fresh bread, hot dishes and a HUGE STAND of sweet treats. It wasn’t just the quantity of options on show, it was the creativity of the dishes. Delicious sweet potato scotch eggs and miso aubergine, potato and pesto salad. DAIRY FREE FRESH PESTO! The cake stand was another level, full of energy balls, cookies and huge chocolate cakes. The idea is you take a plate it and load it with whatever you want. Although at £2.80 per 100g, it does work out quite expensive. I filled my plate and had a fresh juice, with the bill coming to £14.09. Having said that, Ethos is by far the favourite restaurant I’ve visited. It is worth the journey if you’re coming into London and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. YUMMMM!
 
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bryonyhopkins

I’ve been shamefully quiet here for the past week and for that I must apologise. I’ve just started a new job and I feel like I blinked and missed this week passing! I have however still managed to get in the kitchen and experiment with more gorgeous gluten free and dairy free delights – of which I will be sharing with you soon!
Apart from starting the new job, I have just got involved with a really exciting project. Some weeks ago, during the liquid diet fandango, I was invited to get in touch with the GCASFM team. gcasfmStanding for ‘Give Crohns a Slap From Me’, the project works to raise awareness and money for Crohns & Colitis UK through articles by contributing writers, as well as art, culture and music events. Founder, Matt Strutt, created GCASFM in a eureka moment during remission (he told me!) when he received 2000 UPS postal labels from a friend in the US. With a keen interest in graffiti and street art, he sent the stickers across the globe to artists, inviting them to create a sticker (‘a slap’) to raise awareness of Crohn’s Disease.
Two years on and the project has gone from strength to strength with many contributors. So I’m really excited to now be one of them! Have a read of my first article, just click here. The article also features an interview I did for BBC News two years ago – something I haven’t yet shared on this blog!
bryony bbc news
Keep your eyes peeled for more delicious recipes to come! See below for GASFM social media sites.
GCASFM online
GFASFM Twitter
GCASFM Facebook
GCASFM Insta
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bryonyhopkins

It’s been one whole month since I started eating again. ONE WHOLE MONTH! It’s alarming how fast the time has gone. It’s been a while since I’ve written a health update and some of you have been asking how I’m getting on.

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It’s been one whole month since this amazing jacket potato moment!

Well – I’m still introducing food! I have been quite brave in the past couple of weeks, introducing more meats and garnishes (hallelujah for garlic!) and even started testing eggs. I EVEN HAD A STEAK! It was totally delicious. My daily food diary has become a lot more diverse and I’m absolutely loving trying new things in the kitchen – I feel like I’ve found my calling! I have also enjoyed dining out at many of the lush dairy and gluten free cafes near work – central London perks! Look out for a blog post on this soon.
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Unbelievable start to the working week with this plate of loveliness from Ethos Foods. ALL vegan and gluten free – winning! 

I am of course, still 90% LOFFLEX and I haven’t even started trying more challenging food groups, such as gluten, dairy, oats, barley etc. I have been completely dairy free for over two years now, so I doubt I will even touch that in the introduction stage. I am so looking forward to working some more grains and breads into my diet though, if I can tolerate them. I love rice, but there are only so much rice products I can take!! (Rice Pasta, rice noodles, rice cakes, rice bread- rice rice!!) In my kitchen adventures I have found a few ways to make the LOFFLEX diet more interesting – and quickly! Click here for some simple LOFFLEX recipes.
Here’s what I’ve been eating on an average day so far:
0730 – Carton of elemental
0930 – Berry, spinach, peach and almond milk smoothie
1230 – 2 carob rice cakes (with a mint tea)
1330 – Lettuce, rice pasta, garlic, basil, prawns, spinach, roasted peppers and tomatoes.
1500 – Coconut curls
1700 – Carton of elemental
2000 – Crispy butterfly chicken, garlic greens and chive mash Click here for recipe.
2130 – Rice cake with soya/jam/honey
Rice making a strong feature as you can see – as well as the Elemental. It’s incredible how much my day to day life has benefited. I am no longer bloated, I am no longer in constant pain. I can move freely and wear jeans without worrying they’re going to be too tight on my stomach. These are all things I had considered to be ‘normal’ before – yet now, I don’t have to worry.
Unfortunately, there is a horribly harsh reality that I’m facing. Some of my most niggly symptoms still persist – we’re talking blood. Whilst I am basically pain free, there is still active Crohn’s Disease in my gut. To say I’m out of the woods would be a lie! And this is something I am still struggling to come to terms with – despite changing my entire lifestyle (conscious effort to sleep more, exercise more, drink less, eat lots of veggies!), it’s not budging immediately like I thought it would do.
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The elemental lives on!!!

I’ve also had to invest in a set of scales. Low fat living = weight loss. Weight loss + Crohns = bad news. Whilst I am secretly enjoying a flatter beach stomach, my consultant would scream if he saw I’d shed 6 lbs. (I am only little anyway!) In light of this, I also have to consciously make an effort to up my elemental intake to fill my body with more nutrients. Whilst my body continues to fight the disease (albeit, painlessly), I need as many nutrients as I can get!
 So what’s the plan for the active disease? Well – I don’t know yet. I am still taking a weekly shot of adlimumab and will continue to do so. At the beginning of the liquid diet the plan was to take Azathiaprine to keep me well in the long run. Unfortunately, this tablet contained a large amount of lactose that my stomach simply couldn’t tolerate. My next appointment with my consultant isn’t for a couple of weeks – so until then, I am keeping optimistic and hoping my new lifestyle will slowly work its magic. Whilst also reminding myself that I have made huge leaps and bounds since pre liquid diet, and improved my day to day life a thousand percent! GO ME!
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Luckily for me, I’m still well enough to socialise with my gorgeous friends. Things really cannot be that bad when you’re hanging out with beauties like this!

The last thing I wanted to address was something in the news earlier in the week – an article on ‘clean eating becoming a fad which is seen as cool’. Chef Ruth Rogers, founder of The River Cafe, worries young girls see clean eating as a ‘cool diet’ and will be excluding food groups without knowledge of what they’re doing and why.
Read full article Daily Telegraph article here.
I have to say, that even though I’ve taken on many elements of the clean eating/paleo diet, I do agree with some of the things she says. Excluding food groups shouldn’t be done because it’s seen as cool or ‘current’ – it’s about what feels right for you. It worries me that young girls might be afraid to eat a donut because ‘it’s not cool to eat gluten’. I would eat all the donuts in town if it didn’t give me awful pain!! It’s all about balance, moderation and getting enough nutrients from all your food groups. This includes carb and protein – as well as vital vitamins and minerals. Having said that, I absolutely adore my food and I am also enjoying the feeling of a pain free life. If clean eating is helping me get there, then I am not ashamed at all! Choosing what you eat is about feeling good and doing what is right for your body. NOT BECAUSE IT IS COOL.
Feel I got a lot off my chest there 🙂
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bryonyhopkins

HELLO strangers! This post is well overdue – as I promised the blog will live on, and it does! It’s been a roller coaster two weeks to be honest, with my birthday falling slap bang in the middle of it and so I have been entirely consumed with enjoying my new found zest for life (and eating, obvs).

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Birthday joy

Since my last blog post, I have been slowly weaning myself back onto food. I have been on something called the LOFFLEX diet – Low Fat Fibre Reduced Exclusion Diet. This diet was developed by nutritional researchers at Addensbrooke University in Cambridge, and excludes foods which have been found to aggravate Crohn’s. You are recommended to follow this diet for two weeks after finishing the liquid diet, before introducing other foods. The LOFFLEX excludes all the staples that I used to eat – goodbye wheat, goodbye all oats and grains, goodbye citrus fruits and goodbye all fortified sugars (ALL SWEETS AND CHOCOLATE!) Of course that’s totally doable, but I also cannot eat any nuts, dried fruit, any gluten free products, eggs, sesame… basically anything fun.
Here is what I’ve eaten on a typical day: 
Breakfast – 1 carton of elemental. 2 ricecakes with seedless jam/honey/soya spread
Morning snack – Mint tea or elemental. 2 more ricecakes if hungry!
Lunch – lettuce, cucumber, avocado and prawn salad. Drizzled in olive oil.
Afternoon snack – 1 carton of elemental
Dinner – mash potato or jacket potato, with olive oil or soya spread. A piece of white fish and veg (carrots/kale/courgette peeled)
So as you can see the elemental lives on… and I think it will do for a while. I’ve come to find it to be my security blanket when I’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with me. It’s also the only thing I feel 100% safe about putting in my body – it’s amazing how much trust I have in it. I’ve focused a lot on the positives throughout this blog and I can’t lie, the benefits have been tenfold. I want to get real for a moment though – for all the fellow Crohnies out there who have been following my journey through the liquid diet and who may go through the same themselves. It’s not all roses the garden. What I’m coming to understand is that Crohn’s are is far more complex than I ever could have imagined. It’s clever and it’s fierce – and it reacts to the things you least expect…
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Currently living off veg, veg and more veg

I have been keeping a strict food and symptom diary to document how my body reacts to various foods. Since introducing food 13 days ago, I have had 3 ‘elemental days’. These have followed a day where I’ve consumed something that clearly isn’t my friend. As you can see above, I have kept it pretty bland – but on days where I’ve felt brave, I have introduced something new. Last week, I decided to introduce a fresh fruit juice for my breakfast – one of the juices I prepped in my previous blog post – Day 23: The juicy epiphanyIt was delicious – so refreshing and filling. I followed it with lunch and dinner that I had trialled and tested before…
Later that day I experienced a solid 4/10 pain. Let me put this into context – this is NOWHERE near the pain I was getting before. I was easily on 8/9 before I started the liquid diet. However, I’ve gone from, no pain, to some pain. Hmmm. Looking back at the LOFFLEX I realised apple was a known irritant and the juice contained 3 whole apples. I had the culprit. I followed this with 2 elemental days – where I reverted to feeling grumpy and fed up. The pain did ease though.
Furthermore, yesterday I had a gorgeous breakfast of quinoa flakes, soya yogurt and maple syrup. It was unreal to eat something with actual flavour. Whilst on my sugar high, I experienced a 6/10 on the pain scale. Hmmm!! I will have to go back to figure out which element of that breakfast was the irritant (praying it wasn’t quinoa!) And so, you see, the trial and error continues. At times it is frustrating – especially when I am eating the same things day in day out and I am feel nervous about what to eat. I haven’t even reached the reintroduction stage where I try the more difficult foods – I’m still hopscotching around step 1!
Revamping your diet is HARD. It’s a total lifestyle change. I know it will all be worth it though. How do I know I hear you ask?! The proof is in the pudding (or lack of pudding…). Watching this totally gave me the boost I needed – Kris Carr Super Soul Sessions with Oprah
Life is for LIVVVINGGG and last weekend I enjoyed my 24th lap around the sun in the best possible way. Just five weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been equipped to celebrate in any way. Least of all with one dinner, two lunches and a night dancing in a club! So while I still can’t eat a plethora of interesting foods – at least I am eating. I am LIVVVINGG with the power in my hands. I can take some control some of my healing process.
BUT I HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN! Anyone embarking on a dramatic diet will vouch for this – it’s overwhelming at times. I hope that following my journey will help many of you. I’ve read tonnes of books where I’m told to eat this/eat that but I just end up asking myself, HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? I am learning, condensing and translating for you.
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