This blog post has been in the pipeline for a few weeks now. Well, since my gastro consultant told me for the first time in my entire life that I’m in ‘clinical remission’ from my Crohns Disease. Big announcement. Big two words – two words I wasn’t expecting to hear, AT ALL! (See below for what remission means)
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be in remission and how my body feels and I think it’s important I share this. Let’s rewind quickly first though… why was being told I’m in ‘clinical remission’ such a big deal – yet such a surprise at the same time? I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease at the age of four – which now at the age of 25, is a staggering 21 years ago.

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Loving the liquid diet life back in April 2016…

I recently candidly told my story for the first time for World IBD Day, which was featured in the Huffington Post. You can see the article here.So 21 years of fighting, dealing with medication, being cut open time and time again… until spring 2016 when I found myself in the middle of ANOTHER FLARE. All I could think was geez, not this s**t again.I was told outright I needed to go on high dose steroids to get things under control and I just couldn’t do it. I made the decision to go on a four-week liquid diet – which turned out to be a massive turning point in my entire Crohns journey. You can read about my liquid diet journey here.
So fast forward a year, and I’m sitting opposite my consultant who has seen me through thick and thin since I was 17. He’s a straight talking man, but a man I know has a lot of time for me (it’s a personal challenge every single appointment to make him crack a smile! I succeed every time, obvs). We run through the usual things and out of nowhere, he says ‘well, it looks like to me you’re in clinical remission’. There was a long pause, until I said, ‘well, nobody has ever said that to me before!’ Cue the smile from Doc and he said I’m by far the healthiest he’s ever seen me. He let me go after agreeing to reduce my adlimumab injections to every fortnight and told me to enjoy the summer.
I walked out the hospital in a complete state of disbelief. CLINICAL REMISSION – WHAT THE F**K? How did that happen? How did I not even see that coming? I still suffer stomach pain, bloating and fatigue. Whilst I’m not passing blood, I still have to manage my lifestyle to contain my symptoms. I evaluated the past year since the liquid diet and it finally dawned on me. This remission isn’t a result of adlimumab , a drug I have taken for over 7 years now. This remission was a result of me changing my diet and lifestyle. As I travelled back into London from my specialist hospital in Oxford I thought – I BLOODY DID THIS. And how have I gone 21 years without anyone telling me to evaluate my diet and lifestyle sooner?!? I felt weirdly elated yet frustrated that I could have done something a lot sooner if I had known what impact a year of change would make.
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I continue to feel extremely lucky that I’ve reached this point in my life, but I still won’t be lured into feeling secure. I have had a few people say to me now ‘oh you’re in remission? Well brilliant, you’re alright forever now then!’ Well no, that’s not quite how it works. As we all know, IBD (I’m talking Crohns & Colitis here) is a chronic condition and can rear its ugly head at any time. A fact that I’ve been conditioned to never forget (although I wish I could!) Additionally, being in ‘remission’ doesn’t mean I no longer feel pain, bloating and extreme fatigue. I still have to very carefully manage my life and diet. Eating one thing that disagrees with me, being too exhausted or stressed can quickly send me in a little downward spiral. Self-management and self-care doesn’t stop at the phrase ‘clinical remission’… the journey never ends!
Having said that, the biggest lesson I have learnt is that the medical professionals don’t always know EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the incredible support from my Gastro team at the John Radcliffe in Oxford, but it was my decision to do the liquid diet and make a lifestyle overhaul. That being said, it’s not always easy and there may be a lot of trial and error. What I’m saying is try different things, do your research and know that you can make a difference to your illness.
And for me – I’m going to live life the fullest and continue sharing the journey with you!

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Sunning in Marbella with my favourite people and smiling because I can!

**So what is ‘remission’? Achieving remission means stopping symptoms as well as inflammation. Another way to think of remission is as a span of time when your disease becomes inactive or quiet.**
As always, I’d love to hear what you think.
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BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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I posed this recipe on my Instagram recently and it went down so well, I thought I’d share this super easy recipe. I find this quite a comfort food, whilst being super tasty and nutritious. It also happens to take under 20 minutes – RESULT! DF, GF and could be adapted to vegan & low residue.
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Serves 1. Gluten free and dairy free. Vegetables could be swapped in for low residue options and salmon replaced with tofu for a vegan dish.
Ingredients 

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed or chopped
  • 1 tspn chilli flakes
  • 3 tblspn tamari sauce
  • 2 tspn rice vinegar
  • Thumb of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 medium size aubergine, cut into chunks
  • Handful of mange tout
  • Shiitake mushrooms (as many as you fancy!), chopped in half
  • Half a red onion, chopped finely
  • Handful of spinach
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Handful of brown rice noodles

Method 

  1. Put your ginger, chilli, garlic, rice vinegar and tamari sauce in a bowl and mix together. Slip your salmon fillet into the bowl and marinade.
  2. Chop up all your vegetables, whilst heating a little sesame oil in a wok. This oil adds great flavour!!
  3. Slip your marinaded salmon fillet into the wok and let it sizzle for around 6-7 minutes. Then add the red onion, mange tout and aubergine. Feel free to add more tamari sauce if it’s looking a little dry.
  4. Boil a pan of water and slip in your rice noodles and simmer according to the packet.
  5. After 4-5 minutes of your veggies sizzling, add your mushrooms. Drizzle everything in more tamari sauce for flavour!
  6. Drain your rice noodles and add spinach to your vegetable mix. Your salmon is cooked once it flakes naturally. Serve the vegetables on top of the noodles, and top with the salmon fillet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve!

Simple!!
BRYONY HOPKINS, A BELLY FULL OF BRYONY

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This Friday 7th April is World Health Day – but what does it actually mean to be healthy? For me, being healthy is having a handle on practical things you can do to make your life easier and make you feel better about yourself. If you feel better about yourself, your body and your emotions, then surely that is a one way ticket to feeling healthier.  So where should you be looking to feel healthier? You should be looking at YOU!
Perhaps you could start by asking yourself some of the following questions…
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Okay maybe this is an alarmingly obvious question, but often we neglect to ask ourselves. How is your health? Are you on an even keel, or are you particularly tired? Are you in any pain or rundown? Are you feeling in good shape? Are you feeling happy with your body? There is often no easy ways to answer these if you have a chronic condition. Like me, suffering from Crohn’s Disease, I’m never quite sure how my health is! But I can recognise when I am over worked, over tired and stressed and I know that these are vital keys which can unlock a whole host of problems for me! It might be worth also giving my Listening to Your Body article a read, to help you get more in tune with your body! Answering all of these honestly will get you straight on the path of figuring out what tweaks you need to make to your lifestyle to start feeling healthier.
What are you eating? Is it making you feel good?
This can be a hard question to answer but I think it’s vital to start working out where you’re at with happy and healthy eating habits. Essentially – it’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about how you feel about eating. Our emotions are strongly linked to our eating habits – I think we’ve all reached for chocolate or ice cream when we’re feeling low.

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I switch to really easy foods when my stomach is playing up – like this simple turkey noodle soup

So really this question is about honestly asking yourself if your food choices are making you PHYSICALLY happy. Sure, chocolate may feed an emotion, but how do you physically feel after? For me, I love cheese (like, really love cheese), but it was making me so bloated and giving me terrible stomach pains. Despite the fact I loved it, I knew I had to cut it out and it turned out that it was dairy entirely which was causing me problems. Sure it takes willpower to cut out something you love, but if you feel better afterwards it’s a no brainer! I discovered this by writing a food diary and documenting all the things I had eaten that day and how I felt afterwards/later at the day. I think this is a fabulous way to get in sync with how your body is reacting to what you put in your mouth. Evaluating and understanding what you’re eating and how it’s making you feel is the first stop to feeling better and healthier about your diet.
Are you exercising?
We are absolutely barraged with advice on how we should be exercising these days. Running, weights, HITT, yoga, Pilates… but really you need to find w

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Me pre yoga at The Life Centre, in Notting Hill, London

hat works for you. I find it completely overwhelming sometimes, and that’s even before people have started telling you what they do to stay fit! You have to go with what feels right for you and not what everyone is telling you. I have friends who do PT sessions – but I sure as hell couldn’t think of anything worse! Instead, I signed up for a beginners yoga class and learnt the basics. It’s good for all of us to exercise – but there’s no point doing a fitness regime you hate.
Are the people around you making you happy?
Another hard question to answer, but it’s worth considering what your support network is like around you and do they actually make you happy?! This could be a colleague you always talk to or a friend who drains the life out of you… if you’re not getting anything out of a relationship, is it a relationship worth having?
How do you relax?
Arguably, I think this is the most important question of them all! How do you get your ‘me time’? It might well be exercising – or it could be reading a book, watching your favourite TV programme, meditating or practicing mindfulness.  Whatever it is, make sure you’re making time to actually do it! A relaxed soul is a happy soul – and a happy soul is a healthy soul!
Happy World Health Day 🙂
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bryonyhopkins

When I was a child, we used to go on camping holidays to northern France and play in the gorgeous french sunshine. I have so many happy memories of exploring northern France, in particularly Brittany, where we would ALWAYS round off the day with a crepe (or actually, sometimes start the day with a crepe!)
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Since I’ve gone dairy and gluten free, I don’t think I’ve eaten a crepe or a pancake. When eating out, there has never been the option for a flour or milk free crepe – and so it seemed clear that I needed to get in the kitchen to create one!
This recipe is absurdly simple – the main ingredients being just banana and eggs. The cacao replaces the chocolate that I used to gorge on when I had a chocolate filled crepe in France – and the pomegranate provides a wonderfully sweet crunch.
Ingredients 
This recipe makes six pancakes. They are dairy free, gluten free and vegetarian. 
For the pancake:
3 eggs
2 bananas
1 tbspn desiccated coconut
2 tspns raw cacao powder
Coconut oil/olive oil (1-2 tspn)
For the toppings:
Date syrup/maple syrup/honey
Pomegranate seeds (I bought a ready made packet of them from a high street supermarket)
Method

  1. Take a medium sized bowl and mash up your bananas  with a fork, until they form a sticky pulp. Try and get the pulp as smooth as possible – but a few little lumps do add a little texture!IMG_4541
  2. Add your 3 eggs, tablespoon of desiccated coconut and two teaspoons of raw cacao powder. Mix everything together – this is your pancake batter!
  3. Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil (or you can use olive oil) in a medium frying pan on a medium to high heat.
  4. Once your oil is hot, fill a small ladle of mixture and place into the frying pan. If you hear a big sizzle, then turn your heat down a little. (A small sizzle is expected!)
  5. Fry for about a minute to 2 minutes on each side – or until they are turn brown. The cacao powder will mean they naturally brown them, so monitor closely so they don’t burn!
  6. Repeat this process until you have finished your batter, and begin piling them in a stack on a plate. Don’t worry if they are all different sizes – that’s part of the fun!
  7. Once you’re done, now it’s time for toppings! I sweetened mine by drizzling over date syrup, but you can also use honey or maple syrup. Now take your pomegranate seeds and sprinkle all over the pancakes – the more the better!
  8. Tuck in and enjoy!! 🙂

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*Created for Inghams Foodie Finds campaign!*

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