A day in Brighton

I went to Brighton last weekend and I completely fell in love with it. There is something quite calming about walking to the station on a Sunday morning and not seeing anyone – I love that feeling of being up before anyone else! I got to London Bridge and got myself a coffee and hopped on the train to read my book “Spectacles” by Sue Perkins. I don’t normally like train rides but this felt so calming and almost like I was just relaxing at home.

Brighton is so pretty and quaint to walk around it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday. I love little independent shops and Brighton is brimming with them, I bought some little goodies as Christmas presents for some friends. I definitely felt like I could have spent hours in all the shops though so I think I’ll need to make another trip soon!

Brighton also has the highest concentration of vegan and gluten free restaurants and cafes I have ever seen. We had a roast dinner at a place that did vegan roast dinners (as well as meat ones) and all the sides were plant based. I honestly couldn’t believe it!! There are so many cafes that I want to try, there seemed to be such a huge range of places unlike some areas of London!

The Christmas lights were also up and they were so lovely I really began to feel Christmassy!

We had a wander around the Pier and it was so good to look out to the sea and see such a huge open space. I was sad to get back on the train in the evening but I also felt so contented coming back to a warm flat after a chilly walk back from the station.

Perfect Sunday ❤

 

 

 

 

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Living Grateful #14

Hey guys! How are you doing? It’s been quite a busy week work wise so most of my gratitude comments for this week come from this weekend which has been truly lovely!

1. Spending some time at home

I went home for a day and night this week and it was SO nice to spend some chill time at home and of course have cuddles with my baby!

 

2. Columbia Road Flower Market

I wrote about wanting to go to this flower market in August and after 4 months I finally made it! It was so nice to go this time of year as it is so Christmassy and there were SO many Christmas trees for sale – it took a lot of self control not to come home with a huge one!!

 

3. Brick Lane Market

This has been a favourite of mine since I went back in August and I’ve been meaning to go back for ages (there’s a theme here I feel…) I found a stall that does vegan and gluten free pancakes – they were absolutely incredible! I honestly can never believe when I find things I can eat in markets that I can eat and this honestly didn’t disappoint!

 

4. Kahaila Cafe

Scott and I stumbled into this cafe whilst walking down Brick Lane. It is probably the best coffee I have been had and also all profits go to charity. If you’re in Brick Lane then definitely pop in!! They have a great selection of cake as well!

 

5. This view on our walk home

On our way home from Brick Lane we came out of Rotherhithe tube station and were confronted with this view. Amazing! The sky was so beautiful.

What have you guys been grateful for this week?

What is the FODMAP diet?

FODMAP. The diet that more and more people are being prescribed by Drs. But what really is it?

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FODMAP is a diet which excludes certain types of foods. The term FODMAP is an acronym, derived from “Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols”.

According to the handy source that is Wikipedia “FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. They include short chain oligo-saccharide polymers of fructose (fructans) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS, stachyose, raffinose), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and sugar alcohols (polyols), such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol.” (This makes no sense to me either so for me and you it’s easier to look at a list of excluded foods to make sense of it.) These foods include onions, garlic, gluten, some dairy products, artificial sweeteners, apples, pears, cherries, green peppers, peas, beans, chickpeas, cauliflower, asparagus, honey, agave syrup, fruit juice and more than one glass of wine. (This is by far not an extensive list but a quick Google search will give you a list – these are just be foods I can rattle of the top of my head!)

I also minimise the amount of sugar I eat as although it’s not on the high FODMAP list I know my body doesn’t handle a lot of sugar well.

Foods are categorised into high and low FODMAP foods. The idea is that you avoid the high FODMAP foods for a period of time and then gradually reintroduce the foods back into your diet. Often not re-introducing garlic, onion and gluten though.

When I started the diet, coming up for 2 years ago, hardly anyone had ever heard of it. I told Drs and family and they looked at me blankly, waiting for an explanation on why I was telling them I was on a diet with an odd acronym.

Fast forward 2 years and I’ve heard more and more people being prescribed the diet for IBS type symptoms. I’m not sure I agree with this sudden prescription of the diet without ruling out other issues first. It is massively restrictive and therefore can have a massive impact on your quality of life if you don’t know how to manage it properly. It’s also true that if you don’t follow the diet properly it’s likely to have no positive effect. Therefore for a lot of effort and stress, it might not give the health results you need or want. I think that Doctors need to rule out all other possibilities before prescribing the diet and then follow up with support to ensure it is a worthwhile endeavour for patients.

For me, I have followed the diet very faithfully for coming up 2 years. I haven’t eaten dairy for over 10 years anyway, and I’ve been on and off gluten for years as well as sugar and various other foods, so making a change to my diet wasn’t new to me. I haven’t eaten gluten, wheat, onions, garlic, apples, pears or artificial sweeteners for 2 years now (and dairy for 10 years obviously!) The other foods, like chickpeas, green peppers, beans, peas, asparagus and various fruits don’t have such an extreme effect on me so if I have them once in a while (often because I have no other option if I’m away or at someone else’s house) I don’t have such a bad reaction. If I was to eat them on a constant basis however I would get very ill.

The basis of the FODMAP diet is that you are meant to be able to re-introduce foods again but I have found I can’t do that. When I have accidentally eaten onions or garlic I have been SO ill it’s not even worth thinking about trying to eat them. I even have a reaction now when there is cross-contamination with any of the main foods I can’t eat.

That is one of the downsides with the diet, I find that as soon as I cut something out I have a more extreme reaction to it. I think this is because my body has got used to not having to digest or deal with those foods so as soon as I do my body has an awful reaction. I think this is why my reactions have now progressed to if there is cross-contamination with the foods I can’t eat with the foods I can eat.

In terms of managing the diet on a day to day basis, I don’t find it difficult at home. I have to cook everything from scratch and make sure I am incredibly organised. I have to take my own lunches everywhere and snacks as well. This of course does make me feel like a bit of a freak when I whip out my homemade lunch rather than being able to join in on a lunchtime trip for food. But it is so worth it for me in the benefit it has for me health. I think the complicating factor for me is that I also have hypoglycaemia so I absolutely have to eat every few hours otherwise I get so nauseous and dizzy that I faint. It’s always worse in the morning and so I have to make sure I have plenty of snacks with me to prevent an onset of symptoms.

The hardest part of the diet is eating out and going away. Eating out in the UK tends to be okay as all restaurants have to have an allergy list (although onion and garlic aren’t included in this annoyingly!) I do have to work a lot around menus and take a lot of foods out the dish, but it’s not the end of the world! I steer clear of Thai, Indian and Chinese restaurants as there is no way I can eat anything there.

Going on holiday is a bit harder as I have to be very organised with when I’m going to eat food, what snacks I need and where I can eat that will understand the foods I can eat. I spend a lot of time researching where I can eat before I go away! It does sometimes take the joy away from holidays a little bit but again, my health is the most important thing and if I was to eat something I couldn’t eat it would then ruin the holiday anyway! I’m very lucky that the friends and family I go away with are so understanding. I really am grateful for them!

I’m always looking for new foods to incorporate into my diet, new recipes and new snack ideas. Almond butter is currently my best friend!!

I hope that the FODMAP diet is a bit clearer for you now. If you have any questions please comment away! I would also love to hear from anyone on FODMAP or a similar diet and how you handle it?!