Let me put this plainly – I am not a runner. I hate running. In fact, I’m not really a fan of any sporting activities unless it involves dancing in a nightclub or maybe Zumba.
So when I decided to take on the British Vitality 10k, it was a big undertaking for me. Not least because I don’t enjoy running, but also because I’ve never pushed my my body to that kind of physical limit. The idea came at a spa (obvs, running and being fit and beautiful seems like a completely achievable goal when you’re at a spa), after Christmas, when I was drawing up my list of New Year’s Resolution. The resolutions were as follows:

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FYI – I am going to Bali and my nails are in good shape… I’m working on the others

I signed up with my boyfriend, Josh, in January and I was quite swift at getting the training going. IT WAS SO HARD. Given that I genuinely had never run further than 500m in my life, I found the first month gruelling and frustrating – my general fitness was extremely poor. I kept plugging away though and by March, I was able to comfortably run 5k in just over thirty minutes – SUCCESS!
Then came the Crohns flare up and the liquid diet – my training drew to a complete and utter standstill. Just getting to and making it through the day at work became my main priority pre liquid diet and once April came and I was on all liquid… well, hunger isn’t much of a motivator!! I did go for one run and well… it was interesting. Click here to read about it! Day 14: Halfway baby!
I managed to get back into it again by June, but by then I was only one month until race day and I still hadn’t run further than 6k. Furthermore, every time I ran I was experiencing really bad stomach ache – something that was definitely slowing me down! My Mum joked that because I didn’t have any large intestine, everything had more room to be thrown about. I think she was probably right! I resided that adrenaline would get me through the day and I would just keep running 5k as practice and hope for the best on the day… a risky strategy I appreciate.
We woke up at 0630 on the morning of the run to get to the starting line in central London for 0900. I honestly have to say that it was one of the best days of my life.
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Feeling spritely at 2k

The atmosphere on the day was incredible and to run with thousands of other people was just exhilarating. Of course the real motivator was the huge amount of money I was able to raise for Crohns & Colitis UK and I was truly blown away by the generosity of family, friends, colleagues and fellow ‘Crohnies’!!
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Feeling the pain at 8k

When I had to walk for a bit during the run as my stomach winced with pain, someone screamed ‘GO ON CROHNS AND COLITIS!’ It was all I needed to keep going and make it to the finishing line in 1 hr 7 mins – my best ever 5k time, twice over.
The feeling crossing the finishing line was just incredible and to have Josh run alongside me – I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
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Crossing the finishing line at 10k!!

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has sponsored me so far. I thought of you all and the thousands of people in the UK who suffer from Crohns or Colitis every step of the way.
It gives me great pleasure to say, at time of writing, I have raised an incredible £1,430.00 for Crohns & Colitis UK! But never fear, there is still time to donate. Click here to see my Justgiving page. (One final plug is allowed!)
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bryonyhopkins

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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bryonyhopkins

Rewind six years and I was a fresh faced fresher arriving in earnest at university. First time living away from home and I didn’t have A CLUE how to cook. No, seriously, I could just about to do baked beans on toast. In fact, on one particular occasion I managed to burn a jacket potato to a crisp in the microwave. The first ever dish I ate with my new flat mate (and now best friend), was a stir fry. And I didn’t even cook the stir fry!! From that moment on, stir fry was my staple meal and I genuinely ate it about 3-4 times a week! I was all about pre chopped veg, egg noodles and packet sauce though. Hey, I was a lazy student!IMG_3705
Stir fry has continued to be my comfort meal but since my culinary skills have expanded, I use fresh ingredients and a wide range of my favourite vegetables. I absolutely love this recipe – so many super food vegetables AND it’s gluten and dairy free! Your golden ingredient here are the Tamari sauce. It is extremely similar to soya sauce in flavour and texture and it still derives from the soy bean, but it’s wheat free. Winning! The sweet peppers also add colour and a sweet kick to the dish.
This recipe is so super simple! Perfect weekday dinner and still gorgeous if you reheat for lunch. It is gluten free, dairy free and vegan! This recipe could be LOFFLEX friendly if you replace some of the vegetables.
Ingredients  – Serves 2
2 garlic cloves – crushed/chopped finely
Thumb of ginger – finely chopped
3 tbsp Tamari sauce
Half a red chilli – finely chopped (more if you like it spicy!)
Brown rice noodles
Mixed sweet peppers (I like different colours but pick up what’s available!)
100g pack of asparagus – chopped in half
One large pak choi – finely chopped
Large handful of kale
Half a pack of mange tout
Half a bunch of coriander – roughly chopped for garnish
Method
Start by putting a pan of salted water on to boil – get this ready for your noodles.
On a chopping board, finely chop your garlic, ginger and red chilli, and put to one side. Then chop your asparagus in half, roughly chop your pak choi and slice your sweet peppers into slithers.
Once your water is boiling, add your noodles. Now heat a large glug of olive oil in a wok. Wait until your oil is hot and add your crushed garlic and ginger. Bring the heat down to a medium level and stir for a minute.

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Look at those colours!

Then add your mange tout, asparagus, red chilli and peppers. Give these a couple of minutes, before adding the pak choi. Stir these all together until the pak choi has started to whilt. Now add your tamari sauce and watch it sizzle! The kale comes last, as it cooks extremely fast. Stir everything together and let your veggies sizzle in the tamari sauce. Your noodles should be done by now, so drain these and add them to your wok. Stir through. If it’s looking a bit dry, add a little more tamari sauce.
 
 
Serve with roughly chopped coriander on top and some fresh chilli if you like it spicy. Delicious!
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The best thing about this recipe is versatility. Swap up the vegetables to your taste – in this dish I used green beans instead of asparagus and mange tout – still just as yum!
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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!
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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

A Low Fat Fibre Limited Elimination diet may not sound particularly tantalising – but there are LOTS of ways to eat some yummy tasting food that is also good for your stomach in the early stages of food reintroduction. Here are some tips & recipes I’ve learnt to add flavour to the LOFFLEX way of life! (For full LOFFLEX diet booklet click here.)
All of the below are gluten free, dairy free, egg free! 
Rice cakes are versatile!
Rice cakes currently make up a large chunk of my diet. They are so versatile and so easily digestible. Here are a few of my favourite rice cake combinations

  • Smashed avocado and basil. This is currently my favourite weekend breakfast. Mash avocado and basil with a touch of olive oil in a bowl and top your rice cake. By far my favourite topping.IMG_3111
  • Humous & roasted jarred peppers. A delicious savoury snack and a great alternative to my previous beloved crisps and dip. I either dip the rice cake straight into the humous, or spread on top with some roasted jarred peppers (these are super soft). The peppers do have skin on them – check with your dietician before trying these, in the very early days the skin may be an irritant.
  • Tomato and basil. Get yourself a big plum tomato and pit of all seeds. Chop into small pieces and pile on your rice cake with basil. So simple but yummy! Again, check with your dietician re skins.
  • Keep it classic with seedless jam or honey. This is perfect for a breakfast or something to get a sweet hit. Hartley’s do an amazing seedless raspberry jam.

Jacket potato is your best friend
I am currently eating a jacket potato at least 4 times a week. It’s my completely safe option and I adore the softness of the potato with the soya spread. My absolute fave is the green jacket – crispy kale with avocado. 
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First pre heat your oven to 180c.
I do my jackets in the microwave for speed (I’m just too hungry to wait after work!!) Prick your potato with a fork a few times and put in the microwave for around 8-10 minutes, depending how big your jacket is!
Once you’ve stuck the jacket in, cover a baking tray with kale and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Stick this in the oven for 8 minutes, until the kale has gone gorgeous and crispy!
Smash an avocado with some olive oil in a bowl and put to one side.
Take your jacket out of the oven and pile with avocado and kale. The combo of textures are SOOOOO GOOD.
Also try other root vegetables if you get bored of the classic jacket – a melt in the mouth sweet potato jacket or even a large roasted butternut squash. Cook the squash in the oven on 180C with a large dowsing of olive oil for around 45 mins- 1 hour, depending how big your squash is. I like to stack some green veggies or crispy kale on top.IMG_3073
On the go salads
When you’re reintroducing food and you’re still working, prep is IMG_3122essential. There have been a couple of evenings where I have been too tired to prep and I’ve tried to grab something for lunch in nearing eateries – near impossible, unless I was prepared to shell out. So now I’ve formulated my go to salad combination – lettuce, avocado, a selection of other cold veg, some kind of carb and prawn/chicken. 
For the carb: New potatoes (peeled and boiled) with a little olive oil and chives. Try rice mixed with spinach until it wilts, rice pasta or cold rice noodles. Cold roasted sweet potato or other root vegetable also works well – butternut squash, parsnip etc.
Salad: lettuce, cucumber (peeled), avocado, beetroot, green beans (blanched and served cold), tomato peeled and a little fresh herb. Basil is my favourite.
Chicken/Prawn: Optional. I like to butterfly my chicken breast and fry until crispy, then slice onto my salad. Or find yourself some juicy king prawns. Crayfish is also a yummy addition.
*(Grains such as buckwheat, quinoa can be tried in isolation later on. If tolerated, these would make great additions!)
Find your replacements
The hardest thing about moving onto this diet is not being able to eat so many of the things you ate before you started the liquid diet. My best piece of advise here is to findIMG_3010 a replacement – whatever you miss, head into a whole foods shop and you will be able to find an alternative. I am going totally nuts for all coconut products at the moment. I’ve replaced milk with coconut milk, my morning porridge (oats aren’t well tolerated at this stage) with coconut yogurt and my big crisp fad with these gorgeous coconut curls. All products you will be able to find in a whole food store or even your local supermarket! Look for your ‘Free from’ aisle to see the amazing alternatives. Other good alternatives: soya products, almond milk/yogurts, cacao or carob instead of chocolate, rice pasta, tamari sauce instead of wheat filled soya sauce.
Blend, blend, blend
It’s important to get your 5 a day in the reintroduction phase, as I’m sure your dietician will tell you! I urge you to try smoothies to help boost your vegetable intake – AND help your body digest the gorgeous nutrients, without having to do much work! I have a Nutribullet and I have used it everyday since I’ve used it for a breakfast smoothie.
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Here’s a quick recipe to try. Spinach & berry blast
Serves 1
Half a mango
Half a banana
Handful of spinach
Big handful of frozen berries
300 ml coconut water
Add all to the blender and whizz! Enjoy straight away.
I hope you enjoy these tips as you start on your new food adventure! Follow my blog on Bloglovin’ or WordPress to see more fabulous recipes to come!
*I should add that these are in addition to the LOFFLEX recipe booklet – click here to have a read. The above are additions I’ve created in my kitchen, that I am finding a lot quicker whilst balancing a full time job!*
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bryonyhopkins