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It’s Thursday 19th May and it’s World IBD Day. A day of raising awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Even if you don’t know much about it, chances are you know someone who suffers from it! Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, affecting more than 300,000 people in the UK – that’s a lot!! To learn more about IBD and Crohn’s Disease, click here Day 13: Let’s get medical.
Of course – I’m doing my bit to raise awareness (apart from always writing about it!).In July, I will be running the London British Vitality 10k for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. It’s not a marathon, or even a half marathon – but given everything my body has been through, it’s a pretty big deal to me! If you have a penny to spare, visit my Justgiving page- Bryony & Josh run 10k.

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Find more information of IBD at Crohns and Colitis UK, website above

Today we’re facing the truths of the LOFFLEX Diet. I’ve been back on solid food for nearly three weeks now, yet I am ploughing through the LOFFLEX diet at a snails pace. Literally. The LOFFLEX Diet stands for Low Fat Reduced Fibre Diet, so we’re talking bland. Bland bland bland. The plan initially was to just stay on the LOFFLEX diet for two weeks after the liquid diet (elemental is still living strong btw!). Here’s a snapshot of my current yes list -foods that I’m tolerating well:
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I am totally coco for coconut at the moment

  • White fish and salmon
  • Prawns and crayfish. All other shellfish okay
  • Chicken
  • Olive oil
  • Lightly salted kettle chips
  • Vegetables – carrot, kale, courgette, green beans, butternut squash, ginger, red cabbage, aubergine, herbs (dry or fresh)
  • Salad – lettuce, cucumber, pepper, avocado, beetroot
  • Soya butter
  • Rice cakes, rice, rice based thins, rice noodles
  • Tamari (wheat free soya sauce)
  • Humus
  • Potato – mashed, boiled, jacket, fried
  • Sweet potato – jacket, baked
  • Coconut milk, yogurt and coconut pieces
  • Cacao
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Seedless jam
  • Mint tea

Foods that haven’t gone well so far:

  • Quinoa flakes
  • Apple
  • Alcohol! 🙁

As I sent this list of to my fabulous dietician auntie ahead of our catch up, I knew I wasn’t ready to start trying the more difficult foods (we’re talking dairy, gluten, oats). As she rightly pointed out, I hadn’t even tried half the other foods included in the LOFFLEX diet manual (lamb, beef, duck etc). For the full diet booklet, click here.
‘Are you scared?’ she asked me. I suddenly realised I was. Having now experienced first hand that I have some control over whether I am in pain, I am EXTREMELY reluctant to try anything new. Because let’s face it, when is actually a good time to have terrible stomach pain? This is a fairly ridiculous way to continue, I’m scared of food??! I didn’t see that one coming – given the volumes I would consume before. In light of this severely low fat diet, I have also lost 5 lbs. Whilst this may signal a woohooo for many – this is not a good sign. Especially as I train for a 10k run! So the elemental intake increases! And I have been tasked with trying four new things: tomato, garlic, lamb and a boiled egg. I know – my life is pretty rock and roll right now.

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Does this girl with A BIB on look scared of food?!!?

So the roller coaster continues, and I’m still having good days and bad days. Despite the blandness of my current diet, it has forced me to be creative with what I can eat. Look out for the next blog post where I’ll be sharing some of my LOFFLEX hints, tips and recipes.IMG_3107
 

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If you’ve been following my journey through the liquid jungle since day one – you’ll know that I’ve started to completely change my attitude towards diet and the role it plays in my life. It’s incredible to see the difference the liquid diet has made and I am determined to maintain this state of health beyond the days of elemental. I have gone through my entire life relying solely on drugs, surgery and the doctors advise without ever making any massive changes to my lifestyle. I continued to eat ready meals, takeaways, processed foods, I continued to drink alcohol more than twice a week, I have continued to have a jam packed social life with little time to rest. And I’ve only ground to a shuddering halt when my body has screamed ‘STOP!’, in the form of some flare/virus/bug/severe fatigue. (Let me just say, I don’t regret those decisions. I was a child/teenager/university student – I was LIVINNNGGG!)
But clearly my body needs a little more help than most. And since I’ve realised what it feels like to actually feel good (I have felt rubbish for too long to even remember), I am pledging to do everything I can to look after myself. There are actual things I can do to help! And I start with juicing. Welcome to my juicy epiphany.
Yesterday I spent the evening with a friend, Aisling, having my first juicing lesson. She’s been juicing for years and had some amazing tips – and equipment!

super fast Philips juicer and Nutribullet (juicing and smoothies are not the same!)

 
Below is just a selection of the ingredients we used to create 3 delicious juices – all including vegetables which had proven anti inflammatory powers. Juicing is an amazing way to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals the body needs in a easy digestible form – the juicer does the work so your body doesn’t have to! Essentially the same as my Elemental.. But a lot more delicious.

I have to say, it was pretty tough being so close to so much lush food!

The juices we made were all red cabbage based, a vegetable which has a proven healing track record with IDB (See Jason Vale’s Super Juice Me).Click here.

Aisling’s first recipe was: half a honey dew melon, 2 apples, cucumber and 1/2 red cabbage.
We washed the veg first before chucking it all in the super fast juicer. I know what you’re thinking – red cabbage in a juice?? Are you sure? I have to say I was sceptical too. But it actually tasted delicious (OK- yes, I had a teeny tiny sip) I really liked the sweet taste of the apples with the freshness of the cucumber. Surprisingly, I couldn’t taste much cabbage!

The second juice we tried was: 1/4 red cabbage, coriander, half bag of spinach, stalk of lemongrass, half of honey dew melon and cucumber

I found the taste of this juice a lot more savoury and to be honest, it didn’t suit my palette at all. To counter this, we added 2 apples for flavour and that definitely gave it the lift it needed for my tastebuds!

a proper green juice (froth is good!)

The third Crohn’s tailored juiced we tasted was: 3 apples, 1/4 red cabbage, thumb of ginger, half bag of spinach and half a cucumber.

This was my favourite! (OK I had teeny tastes of all 3!) The apples, cucumber and spinach were refreshing once again and then the ginger gave it a gorgeous kick. I am obsessed with the taste of ginger and has excellent anti inflammatory powers.

another purple monster

And the best thing about juicing? You can freeze! So now I have 6 gorgeous juices that I can drink when I’m able to. Ais also showed me many of the staples in her cupboards that she uses in various smoothies and juices, which is when I realised how much I have to learn. But everyone has to start somewhere, right?
If you also have a form IBD, I’d urge you to try a recipe from above or any other juice for the matter – they can only do your body the world of good. And if I’m not able to enjoy them properly at the moment, someone should be able to!
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Just one week until I can start eating again and I feel great. It’s funny, people keep saying ‘yes definitely let’s go out for dinner when you’re feeling better’. Although I’m not eating and drinking, I am not ill. I feel the best I have felt in months and it’s really an incredible feeling. Granted, it’s not ideal that this has been induced by not eating and if I’m honest, I don’t know how things are going to go when I start introducing food. But I’ve done three weeks. Twenty whole days of fighting through sheer hunger, foul moods, tears (there have been many), frustration and I’m feeling truly fabulous. (And I’m only really thinking about food 75% of the time now!)

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Feeling totally ab fab

So you’re feeling great sure, but are you symptom free? For now… yes. My symptoms are completely at bay. I haven’t been in pain for days. I feel confident to say I’m in remission now. Take that steroids – I didn’t need you. I did this on my terms!

Today I went to watch the London Marathon and it was honestly the most inspirational day. Over 39,000 people running 26 miles across London for thousands of amazing charities. For friends and family that have been lost, for loved ones struggling with debilitating illnesses. And that’s when I realised where true strength lies. Inspiration and power lies in those 39,000 people who were literally battling through blood, sweat and tears for a bigger and better cause. That is real testament to determination and willpower.

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And that is why I enter the last week feeling great. Next Saturday I will have my first meal (before we all get overexcited, it’ll probably be a plate of easily digestible mash potato) and then I will slowly start to introduce foods, until I find a diet that works for me. This process takes around 4-5 weeks but I feel wholly optimistic I can crack this by being completely vigilant about what I put into my body. If Deliciously Ella healed her PTS and Kris Carr fought back after cancer with diet – why can’t I?! And as my new motto goes, believing is healing!
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In July I will be running 10k for the fabulous charity, Crohns and Colitis UK. It may not be a marathon but is a big feat for me, having literally just recovered from a flare. If you want to put a penny in, please visit my Justgiving page here.
 
 

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Since starting this liquid diet and this blog, I have had so many conversations with friends, family and colleagues – many of whom have said the same thing to me time and time again. ‘Wow. Four weeks not eating? I could never do that!’ I completely understand this rationale – it’s unimaginable to think about giving up such an integral part of day to day life. But I firmly believe that anyone could do it. Absolutely anyone. Because life throws s**t at every single one of us and we deal with it. The human brain is an incredible thing – when you think how much adversity it can process, deal with and compartmentalise, when the right time comes to do so.
I have been completely inspired this week by a book called ‘Mind over Medicine’, by Dr Lissa Rankin. She talks at length about the mind-body relationship, and how our thoughts and feelings can translate into physiological features. She also talks about the stress and relaxation responses within the subconscious mind, both triggered by various elements of our lives. For example, negative thoughts could exacerbate a already raging disease – whilst scientific studies have shown that patients with a sense of hope, belief and positive thoughts ingrained in their deep subconscious mind, are more likely to heal quicker.

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Highly recommend this read for anyone battling an illness or anyone wanting to understand more about the mind-body relationship

Whilst this is just the tip of the iceberg of what she talks about – it really got me thinking about how I’ve approached various Crohns treatments and what I’ve felt during that time. Did I really believe that the medication would work? Did I have trust in my doctor?  Did I truly understand what was going on inside my body? Was I breeding positive or negative thoughts about it all in the very subconscious parts of my mind? The part of your mind that can influence you or affect your body without you even being aware of it…
I think this is a good time to tell the story of how this liquid diet came about. After countless tests since November last year, my consultant discovered I was experiencing a bad flare up. The first actual active Crohn’s Disease I’ve had since I was 13. After trying a mild form of steroid, a drug called Budesonide, which barely hit the sides, the consultant presented me with one option. Prednisolone. A extremely aggressive form of steroid which can result in some really nasty side effects. Extreme hunger, rapid weight gain, mood swings and depression being just some of the side effects I experienced when I took the drug as a child. It is seen as the most efficient and quick working drug for Crohn’s, as it modifies the body’s immune response and therefore decreases inflammation. It was actually me that put the liquid diet on the table. I did it as a child and I knew it worked. I had faith in it. I believed in it and I was dedicated to it. It felt a much purer way to cleanse my body of the disease and despite every hunger fuelled emotional outburst, I still firmly stand by my decision. I felt empowered that the decision over my health was coming from ME. And it’s working – I was right.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that life throws us all kinds of crap. Every single one of us. We are constantly processing and dealing with a mix of positive and negative feelings about all kinds of things. Yet we carry on – we persevere. Believing in something is the first step to making something happen. And that is why anyone could do this – because if you had to, you would.
life is tough darling
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(Betcha didn’t expect a preachy post like that today!)
For more information on Crohn’s and IBD, read Day 13: Let’s get medical

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It’s day 14 and I’M HALFWAY BABY! The worst part is over (apparently) and the only way is up! The only way is to the food that will be filling my belly in TWO WEEKS! To celebrate, I went for a run. I know, I really know how to party.

I’m not going to lie, given the recent hunger situation, I was very apprehensive a run was a good idea. Before telling my flatmate to send out a search party if I didn’t return – I stepped out on my first run since everything with my health went a bit pete tong. I signed up for a 10k run in January, when I was feeling post Christmas optimistic and fabulous. Let’s just put this into context – I don’t run. I have never run. I am not a natural runner. So I really was starting at zero. By end of Feb I was running 5k pretty comfortably… I ran 5k today and it was HARD. I left the house having consumed 7 cartons, which at 215 calories a pop, is 1,505 calories in total. So that’s enough to last a run on right? Let me talk you through it…

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At the beginning of the run – I’m a running machine!

Start of run: Right, this is great. I feel great. I am a one woman running machine. I am the queen of running. I can run whilst not eating, totally.
10 minutes into run: OH GOD I am so hungry. How is it possible to be this hungry?
15 minutes into run: HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO FEEL SICK AND FEEL HUNGRY? Maybe I should stop.. oh wait, is that a burger van? I could just run to that..
16 minutes into run: oh no, that’s just a large white van. No burgers. Keep running.
20 minutes into run: Let me just fill my mind with the amazing dinner I’m going to eat when I return. Oh wait..
25 minutes into run: I really feel quite faint. Maybe 1505 wasn’t enough calories to set off on. Hmmm, should have packed a shake in my bumbag
26 minutes into run: Except I don’t have a bum bag. Do people wear a bumbag when their running? Do people still wear bumbags full stop???
28 minutes into run: Still thinking about bumbags and whether I should invest.
30 minutes into run: Oh god I think I need to stop. Really am going to pass out.
35 minutes into run: Final stretch. I CAN DO THIS. Someone line up a shake at my front door!
38 minutes into run: I can see my front door.
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So hungry on my return, I was eating my lip.

40 minutes into run: SOMEONE GET MY DINNER, I WILL EAT ANYONE AND ANYTHING.
I have just inhaled 3 cartons consecutively – topping me up with another 645 calories. I can categorically say, it’s no where near as satisfying as a proper post run dinner (my fave is Lean in 15 prawn thai green curry – yummm)
To keep me motivated (to run and to not eat!), I will be running the British Vitality 10k run for Crohn’s and Colitis UK– a really fantastic charity that funds vital research into IBD. A shameless plug here but any spare dollar feel free to visit my Justgiving page. Bryony and Josh run 10k (first ever share!). It may not be a marathon, but would mean the world to me to raise as much money as poss!
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Crohn’s – I’m kicking your arse.

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