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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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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As I woke up this morning and walked to the fridge for breakfast, I had three tantalising options. Summer Fruits elemental, Grapefruit elemental or Orange & Pineapple elemental. On face value, that doesn’t sound too bad does it? A delicious fruity drink to start the day…
Unfortunately, I have remembered these shakes with complete rose tinted glasses. They are vile. I mean, they really are disgusting.

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For dinner, I had Summer Fruits. As you can see, I was delighted

These are the things they are not:

  • Not like a juice
  • Not like a milkshake
  • Not like a smoothie
  • Not like squash
  • Not an enjoyable beverage
  • Not enjoyable full stop.

Because this isn’t the first time I have been on a exclusive liquid diet. Twelve years ago I featured in the very cool (!) teen mag, Mizz. The headline was extremely dramatic and I was interviewed at home with a friend from school.

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I told you it was a dramatic headline

Back then, it was harder still, as I was required to drink even more of the shakes to aid my body through puberty. The volume of liquid I had to consume was so large, I had to have half of it passed straight into my stomach, via a nasogastric tube. This is a tube that is inserted up your nose, down your throat and into your stomach. In the photo above, I was 10 years old. I had to keep the tube in constantly and it tickled my throat. During the time I had the tube, I remember watching CBBC and some exciting S Club 7 news (they were my fave) came on the television. I leaped up in so much excitement, the tube completely slipped out of my nose. We went straight to A&E to have it reinserted.
Luckily this isn’t on the cards this time around. Now I’m a responsible adult (ha!), I am able to consume all the required shakes – 9 250ml cartons a day. *Gulp*…
People said to me at school, ‘why did you decide to write in and tell your story?’ I remember distinctively staring at them like it was completely obvious. ‘I’m miserable and hungry! I may as well make some money out of it!’ I wish I could remember what I spent the £150 on (probably more Mizz magazines), but it was hugely exciting.
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Mizz was the coolest magazine to read when you were 11 years old in the 90’s. (I also did enjoy the ‘Four cute poster boys’)!

Raising awareness of Crohns Disease and IBD is extremely important to me. Every 30 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with Crohns or Colitis. 1 in 4 of these people are under 16. A diagnosis of this kind is life changing. If you want to learn more about Crohns, Colitis or IBD in general, you can find more information on the Crohns and Colitis UK website here – All about IBD.
To find out more about my Crohns story, click here.
End of day 1 and I’m hungry… no surprises there. I’m going to leave you with something one of my oldest friends said to me today.

‘Remember, solids are for chumps’. Katharine, April 2016

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