This is a skill that I have been forced to learn – and boy, has it taken some years. Arguably, learning to listen to your body is the most important step to keeping

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I was completely in tune with my body when I decided to take on the liquid diet. I knew it was the best option for me over steroids.

your body and soul happy and healthy. Yet most people I have spoken to admit they do know their body and the warning signs when things are about to go south – but they struggle to actually do anything about it. Listening to your body is completely useless unless you actually respond to it. Responding is pivotal- and really can work wonders (I am living proof of this!) Let me explain.
What do you mean when you say ‘listen to your body’?
Listening to your body is being in tune with your physical and emotional needs, and learning what you can do to feed and nourish them. On a basic level, this is eating when you’re hungry; sleeping when you’re tired. Yet there are so many levels above this and learning to hear them is a source of great power. It is fact that your body will always give you signs when it is struggling. That niggling cold for example, is the first sign that your body is in distress. Those tears you shed, is a sign that your soul is sad. Equally, it will also tell you when it is flourishing – those endorphins when you see the person you love or the excitement at an upcoming trip or event. Whilst this may seem blindingly obvious – why do we so often ignore these signs? The answer is one word – life.
Life is busy. Too busy. We work hard and long hours. We are constantly tapped into the digital world; social media, work emails, news outlets and celebrity culture. So it is unsurprising that amongst all this noise, our bodies are ignored. It’s boring to rest/take downtime/acknowledge home truths that require unwanted action.
I will hold my hands up and admit I have been the queen of ignoring my body in the past – particularly during university. This has resulted in some disastrous outcomes – including weeks laid up in bed due to fatigue, surgery, flare ups and on one particularly memorable occasion, contracting Mumps (despite having had the jab!!) My body was tired and vulnerable. Unfortunately, that is just through working hard and having a social life. A home truth which I still find extremely hard to acknowledge.
How do I respond to my body?
On feeling warning signs it’s important to evaluate what you can do to stop things escalating. If you have the beginnings of a cold, take time to rest and make sure you get lots of sleep. If you’re feeling tearful – acknowledge why you’re feeling sad and what you can do about it. Unhappy in your job? Find ways to love it or move. Unhappy in your relationship? Address it or leave. Find something that gives you some ME time – yoga, mindfulness, running or cooking. Whilst my examples may be extreme and you probably won’t end up having surgery if you ignore your body, you may end up getting sick, physically or emotionally – and why let it get to that?
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Taking time out on holiday is one my fave ways to unwind and refresh (unfortunately, my bank balance doesn’t allow this to happen as regularly as I’d like!)

I now know that I have to rest when I start getting warning signs – and sometimes I still get it wrong. I have just had to take four days of enforced rest as my body started rejecting all my food – a tell tale sign for me that my body is at breaking point. Utterly exhausted, I knew that if I had pushed through it (which I so often did at university), I would have ended up in a far worse position than just a couple of days off work.
The first step
Is to figure out what makes your body tick and what your body needs to bloom. This could be SO MANY THINGS! It could be a particular diet or exercise. It could be a hobby or spending time with particular people. It could be working a job you love, going on an amazing trip or having a social media detox. In deciphering this – you will also find the things that your body struggles with.For me, it is relentless work and social plans, meaning I have to prioritise how I spend my energy and know when it is time to stop. It is also eating foods that work for me and knowing that my health is THE most important thing. Even more important than the party I really really want to go to!
 
Believe me – I don’t say any of this lightly. It is difficult – but so worth it if you can find your body formula.
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bryonyhopkins

Breakfast is by far my favourite meal of the day and pre diet revolution I was a fry up fiend. Given the unbelievable breakfast offering at my work canteen, I was regularly consuming eggs, bacon, sausage, beans and hash browns (oh godddd it was so good!). It was my utter guilty pleasure.
The only thing I love more than breakfast is brunch. Get me eggs benedict, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and a well ingredient-ed omelette and I am on happy girl.
So when I started my new diet, I had to find ways to satisfy my breakfast obsession. I’m going to share with you three of my favourite recipes – the vegetarian fry up and two blissful smoothie bowls. God bless the smoothie bowl!!
The clean fry up
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This recipe is vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free.
Ingredients (Serves 1)
Handful of cherry tomatoes
One gluten free bagel/muffin
One egg (or two if you’re hungry!)
One avocado
Handful of kale
Hanful of chesnut mushrooms
One garlic clove
Olive oil
Method
Start by peeling your avocado from the skin and mashing – put this to one side. Then slice up your cherry tomatoes and mushrooms and shred your kale from the stalks. Finely chop a clove of garlic.
Fill a saucepan of water and put it on the hob to simmer. This is for your poached egg – so don’t let it boil!
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Take a fresh egg and pour it into a cup or ramekin, so the White of the egg swirls around the yolk.
Whilst your water warms up, add a glug of olive oil to a frying pan on a medium heat. Allow the oil to warm, before adding your chopped garlic.
Now your water should be simmering at a steady level (turn the heat down if needed to prevent boiling). Pour your egg into the water and put 3 minutes on your timer.
Now add the cherry tomatoes, kale and mushrooms to the garlic and oil mix in your frying pan. Lightly sauté.
Pop your muffin or bagel in the toaster. After three minutes your egg and tomato/kale/mushroom mix should be done! Take all off the heat.
Top your toasted muffin with the avocado, and use a slotted spoon to ease your poached egg out of the water. Put this on top of your avo muffin.
Serve with the garlic-y mushroom, kale and cherry tomatoes. YUMMMMMMM!
The very berry smoothie bowl
I only discovered the smoothie bowl post liquid diet and I genuinely found it revolutionary. I am a huge fan of smoothies, but often don’t find them filling enough. I also love crunchy granola and fruit salad, but often find them dry or plain now I can’t have yogurt. The smoothie bowl combines all these elements and makes an extremely filling breakfast. IMG_3929 (1)The trick is to make a thick smoothie and to balance the heaviest ingredients on top, to create a pretty pattern (not that this is essential for taste.. but it looks nice!) The best part is also that you can basically put WHATEVER YOU want on it – possibilities are endless. Here are two of my favourite combos.
Ingredients (Serves 1)
This recipe is gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
For the smoothie:
300 ml almond milk
Large handful of frozen berries (bag from supermarket)
One banana
Honey
For the toppings: Kiwi, gluten free granola, physalis and blueberries.
Method
This is so super simple. Whizz up your smoothie ingredients in a blender (I swear by my Nutribullet). Slice up your kiwi into medium slices. Pour your smoothie into a shallow ish bowl (not necessary – but helps with toppings sinking!). Arrange your toppings on top – sliced kiwi on the edge as it is the heaviest, follow up the sharp physalis, the crunchy granola and the blueberries. The best thing about this smoothie bowl is the combo of flavours and textures. A total winner!
The tropical smoothie bowl 
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This smoothie bowl will make you feel like you’ve done a one stop shop to the Caribbean! You’ll notice it uses many of the same ingredients as before – showing it is easy to make smoothie bowls on a budget by mixing and matching, whilst still creating new flavours.
Ingredients (Serves 1)
This recipe is gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
For the smoothie: 300ml almond milk
One banana
Large handful of frozen mango
One kiwi
Tbspn honey
For the toppings: strawberries, physalis, blueberries, gluten free granola and desiccated coconut.
Method: Same as above! Whizz together and arrange toppings on top of the smoothie. Start with heaviest on the outside and enjoy the gorgeous kiwi/mango smoothie with a taste of Caribbean coconut!
Let me know what you think!
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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

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

When I first started the LOFFLEX DIET diet, the first recipe in the recommended food booklet was potato cakes. I absolutely loved these and started having them for breakfast, lunch and even dinner! I also love sweet potatoes and wanted to crack a recipe which was similar. I adore the naughty crunch after you fry these – just like hash browns (which are another guilty pleasure of mine!) This is a lovely lunch or a light supper – the chunky avocado and tomato salsa providing a refreshing counterpart to the rostis.
This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and vegan! The rostis and spinach are recommended in LOFFLEX diet – watch out for the lime and the tomato skin in the salsa though if you are in the early stages of food reintroduction.
Ingredients – this makes about 3-5 rostis (depending how big your sweet potato is!) and a small dish of salsa. Double quantities for more!
For the rostis:IMG_3380
One large sweet potato
One clove of garlic
1 tbspn olive oil
Tbspn rice flour
Salt & pepper
For the chunky salsa:
2 ripe avocados
2 large ripe tomatoes
Juice of 1 lime
Bunch of coriander
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 small red chilli (add to taste)
Method 
We’re going to start with the salsa! Take your ripe tomatoes and chop the green tops off. Scoop out the pips (I do this as I don’t tolerate pips well, but feel free to keep them in) and chop into small pieces. Add to a bowl. Scoop out the avocado from the skin and chop into chunky medium pieces – add them to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the juice of your lime, large glug of olive oil, half your bunch of coriander (chopped), your red chilli if you like it spicy and season with salt and pepper. Mix together and your salsa is ready! Cover and put to one side.
Now for the rostis. The critical point here is to get rid of as much moisture as you can. Peel your large sweet potato and chop in half – it’s just easier to grate this way. Grab a large bowl and grate your sweet potato into a tea towel. Once you’ve grated, squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Now add to a bowl. Add a tablespoon of rice flour, a large glug of olive oil and a finely chopped clove of garlic. Season with salt and pepper before mixing together.IMG_3384
Heat olive oil in a frying pan until it is extremely hot. Gather together a ball of your sweet potato mixture and form a little patty. Add to the hot oil and repeat until you’ve used all your mixture. If you find that your mixture isn’t sticking together very well, add more olive oil. Fry your rostis for three minutes on each side (keep the heat high), until they are slightly charred on the outside. May need to fry for longer if your patty’s are thick. Try not to poke around with them too much so the mixture falls apart – just flip when one side is done!
Serve on a bed of spinach or rocket, with your salsa! Yummmmmm.
BRUNCH IT! Add an fried egg and place on top of the rostis to make this a gorgeous brunch. The runny yolk is delicious with the avocado and the sweet potato.
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bryonyhopkins