Sunday, 31 October 2010

Intuitive eats

This was my birthday week, so I made sure to enjoy some favourite foods. I blogged recently about just eating what I want but only when I'm really hungry and to stop before I got full. The interesting thing I found was that I wasn't tempted to overeat even though I was much hungrier and it was food I loved. I've actually been eating mostly seasonally too.

This was a rather yummy autumn combo- roasted turnip, chestnuts and leeks and brussel sprouts with a little soya cream and chilli. I ate it with black rice noodles.

The rest of the soya cream was gently heated with a little vanilla and served with an Eve's pudding (apple topped with sponge).

My birthday was a bit weird foodwise, I got a bowl of granola and soya milk, then spent the day meeting up with family and friends and going to the hairdressers, so I didn't eat anything all day, except some jitter inducing coffee. When I got home, I was far too zonked to cook but I didn't want to go out, so I got takeaway spring rolls and noodles and some delicious South African Viognier! It's not something I do very often, because I do love cooking so much. But sometimes, especially on one's birthday, a day off doesn't go amiss:) I didn't photograph the yummy but unphotogenic noodles. Here's the lovely flowers the table was set with:

As I wasn't in the mood to cook, I didn't make a birthday cake until the next day. I didn't fancy a traditional sugary heavy cake. Instead I wanted some seasonal fruit. So I made a wholemeal cake topped with caramelized pear.

Delicious with some plain soya yogurt to balance the sweetness (although it was much less sweet than a 'traditional' cake)

To aid me in my quest to rediscover pleasurable eating, I bought this book with a book voucher my brother got me as a get well soon present. Thanks bro!

I really like Nigel Slater's approach to cooking and enjoyment of food. His books are always beautifully presented. I urge you to check him out if you haven't already.
I sat outside in the sun, although it was cold, so I wore a big warm coat so I could enjoy the last of summer in the garden.

As I'll be fasting half of next week for an examination, I had cake again this evening:

Yum. Banana bread with orange/ginger chocolate chunks, served with soya custard and frozen raspberries.
I've got a col, which sucks, but hopefully it won't be too miserable, my week is already going to be a bit unpleasant! I hope you all had a lovely weekend:)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Flirting with Macrobiotics

Over the last few days, I have experimented again with macrobiotics. The main change was that I waited until I was really hungry for breakfast and ate a cooked whole grain, steamed veggies and miso broth. I also chewed really well and ate less in general. One day my lunch took me nearly an hour to eat! I found really chewing my food helps with wind. But I also found my tummy behaves best when I eat so little that I'm hungry most of the time, but I'm also experiencing a real lack of desire to eat i the last few weeks, and when I am . Obviously, that's not ideal either, because I know if I kept that up, I'd lose weight. Also, it can be quite miserable to be hungry so often, even if your tummy is much improved. However, the spell broke today and I got really bloated again. I think I ate my lunch a bit quicker today, or it could just be . The other benefit, aside from the tummy, was that the relative lack of sugar in a macrobiotic diet left my energy levels stable and my mood very calm and content (although I do usually feel more upbeat at the full moon).
I haven't been strict about one aspect- nightshade veggies. I've had tomatoes, peppers and potatoes:

I baked new (small) potatoes for my boyfriend one evening, so I had one with steamfried greens. This was a really small dinner because I just wasn't hungry, even though I hadn't eaten much all day.

I had a better appetite the next evening, I went for a brisk 4 mile walk to wake it up. This was scrambled tofu (tofu mashed with nutritional yeast, turmeric and pesto), the leftover baked potatoes chopped up, collard greens, leek and red pepper. You could make this strictly macro with baked squash chunks instead of potato and leave out the pepper (I just chucked in all the veg that needed used up).

I don't have any photos of my more macrobiotics meals (because they were eaten while at work)- it was mostly cooked brown rice or cooked oat groats, miso broth and steamed leeks, brussel sprouts and dulse sprinkled with mirin. I sprinkled on some toasted pumpkin seeds. I basically cooked a grain and veggies in the morning and nibbled on some when I got hungry mid-morning, then had more of the same for lunch.

In conclusion, eating macro-style does seem to agree with my tum and energy levels, but I find it very restrictive, and for my dry skin I find the fat content of the diet a little too low. However, I'm going to loosely follow the main principles, as eating no sugar (including fruit) in the morning and during the working day is good for keeping energy on an even keel.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Healthy Mondays

After yesterday's chocolate indulgence, I was a little off kilter today. Weird appetites- I woke up ravenous, which only happens when I eat something sugary, and I didn't want coffee AT ALL- I made peppermint tea and had some granola. Then my tummy was upset most of the day, I knew it would be awful if I ate anything much, so I just nibbled on fruit and a scoop of hummus at lunchtime to keep me from gnawing my monitor. I drank plenty of water to try to calm my tum down. I was craving something simple when I got home, so I had made some brown rice, mmm! I had it with steamed collards and onions and a nut patty. I really enjoyed I did have chocolate brownie again tonight, without the soy ice-cream though. It was too sugary for me, and I just feel weird after. I am craving savoury things, like greens and brown rice. I'm tempted to give macrobiotics another shot, but more emphasis on adding macro food to my diet rather than take away i.e. I'm not going to make a conscious effort to eat less nightshade veggies or fruit, however I am going to do my very best to cut out caffeine and sugar.
For that reason, Maggie's article on cutting out sugar today was very timely. She also is a macro flirt and has some good ideas for healthy food that doesn't play havoc with tummies or metabolism.

Although the temperature has dropped a fair bit here, when I got home from work, I threw on my warm running gear (including my No Meat Athlete t-shirt!) and headed out the moment I got home. It was windy and started raining heavily, but I felt great! I didn't try to run to any tempo or for any distance or length of time, my only aim was to meet my boyfriend coming out of work. After running for about half an hour, we met and started walking. About ten minutes from home, I ran again to get in and out of the shower before he got home and then put the rice on for dinner. It felt so good running again, especially just for the pure enjoyment of it. I was bouncing along grinning like an idiot! I don't feel like I've lost any fitness and while I had no aims for speed or distance, I did as well as when I'd be pushing myself. I'm thinking I'll probably run this way through the winter- just set out to get my blood pumping and be outdoors. Although I really need to get back in the pool! That's this week challenge...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Indulgent Sunday

After such a nutritious evening meal, I woke up to coffee (after a big glass of water had made its way down). Oh well, it's sunday. I added a little naughty to this, a teaspoon of drinking chocolate mix (basically sugar and cocoa powder). I sipped on it and while bashing up some pre-soaked brown rice for porridge.

I stirred in a sliced banana and cinnamon sugar, and topped it with plain soya yogurt. I thought apples and raisins would have been healthier, but I was craving the creamy sweetness of banana and some cinnamon set it off wonderfully.

After a nice walk this afternoon, I called into the offlicense (liquor store) at the top of my street, The Vineyard. A colleague in work gets me to pick up Sierra Navada. Unfortunately, they were out, it's very popular because they're the only stockists in Northern Ireland. While there, I couldn't help picking up these:

I'm keeping the spiced cider for my birthday, but I had the banana bread beer tonight. It wasn't bananey at all, but it was nice beer anyway. It was a barley based beer.

After such low fat and relatively low protein meals (miso soup and rice), I was in the mood for some fat. I made some tofu scramble with a big scoop of homemade pesto to fatten it up. I added in some mixed spice seasoning, turmeric and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast to a block of silken tofu, mashed it up in a bowl, and added to the pan.

Mmm. I was naughty and had more bread. This is quite nice bread, it's choc full of flax seeds. I think gluten twice a week shouldn't do me much harm, but I can take it or leave it. It's nice to have the freedom though.

While my super hot dinner was cooling, a did a little cheaty gluten free baking. I'm still a bit unsure about gluten free flours, as vegan baking is a minefield big enough, so I tried out this Hale & Hearty brownie mix. There are instructions on the back for a vegan version, but I veganised the ordinary recipe with Orgran No Egg, sunflower margarine and soya milk. I added frozen black cherries in to the mix.

These turned out so good! Very light, no funkiness from the gluten free flours. There were little flakes of chocolate in the mix that melted completely. I topped it off with vanilla Swedish Glace and some chocolate sauce (syrup and cocoa powder and a little soya milk heated up)

I really enjoyed my food this weekend, for the first time in ages! My tummy is a bit bubbly after all that food and beer this evening, compared to after the soup last night that sat with me perfectly. But I think the pleasure of the richer food is worth the little bit of bloat it causes, as long as it's an occasional treat. Sensory/mental stimulation isn't the main point of food (that's the problem with emotional eating) but getting enjoyment out of food is deeply human, it affirms we're beings with more than just a physical experience.
All in all, it's been a very relaxing, enjoyable weekend, leaving me ready to face the week ahead!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Autumn Afternoon Walk

I haven't worked out much since early September (2 runs, a couple of walks, a hike). I haven't really felt like it, I guess it's my body's way of telling me to take it easy before I put the stress of regular high intensity workouts on my body again. Today I went for a lovely walk in the late afternoon with my sister. At the moment, that's the exercise I prefer, no goal in mind, just getting out into nature.

By the canal near my parent's house

Field with a pheasant (that you won't be able to make out, probably)

Newly ploughed field

My pet rabbit in camoflague

I was really hungry after this walk! But I was craving something brothy and healing. I made black rice noodle, nori and collard miso soup (with onion, celery and LOADS of ginger). I used King Soba noodles, they are great! Such a fab selection, I would love to try the pumpkin and ginger brown rice and the millet and brown rice but I haven't found them in a store near me. Hurry up and sell direct from the website! I would buy loads, they're a convenience food I'd happily buy and eat.

Anyway, here's my soup. It's a bit murky because I used quite dark brown rice miso and I cooked the noodles in the broth rather than boiling separately, rinsing and adding to the broth. I want the starch in the noodles to thicken the soup, which they did. The nori broke down a lot making the soup a bit cloudy. But it was really tasty, comforting and nourishing.

I finished up the day with a slug of Floravital (the gluten and yeast free Floradix). I find it quite enjoyable:)

Resurrect the Foodie

It's a beautiful saturday lunchtime in mid-October, candy blue sky, golden light on the last of the roses. There's nothing left to do in the vegetable gardening but weeding, because I didn't plan ahead for a winter supply, kale, hardy salads and the like. Since I'm putting off the weeding to the afternoon, I'm inside with a heap of my favourite cookery books. I haven't opened some of them for quite a while. That's because the devoted foodie in me hasn't been given much liberty to enjoy herself.

Confession- I used to be a cheese snob. Blue goat's cheese, Cornish yarg, real Roquefort, dulse-spiked cheddar. Unfortunately it's off the menu, even if I wasn't vegan, because I finally got my milk allergy test done, and it was positive. This makes sense, because I had a Starbuck's milk poisoning a while back, a few sips of what was supposed to be a soy misto, and I thought I was getting the cold.
There's nothing like IBS and pancreatitis to kill your desire to eat. And yet I love food, or at least I did, and I want to get that back. Noticing my neglected cookbooks on the shelf when I was packing my Floradix, brown rice miso, rice and nori to stay at my parent's for the weekend, I thought, what? I realised I have stopped eating food because I love it, and more because it won't give me pain. Granted, I still eat hummus and dark chocolate, and all manner of fruit and vegetables. But something must have gone wrong when I opened the miso jar (I hate the smell) instead of a Nigel Slater cookbook. So along with all my socially exclusive foods, I packed six of my favourite cookbooks. I mightn't make anything, although I brought them to find something to make for my mum, as it's her birthday today. However, I reckoned I definitely needed a break from poring over nutrition books. I need to let the foodie out, and begin to enjoy eating again. I'm sick of functional eating, because no-one wants to join in, it's lonely. And that only stresses me out more. I know I posted an IBS management strategy this week, but I'm beginning to wonder if switching the emphasis to enjoyment might help (getting plenty of fluids, exercise and taking a probiotic won't interfere with that I think). It's high time I started reading my cookbooks, making tasty winter dishes in my Le Creuset, baking cakes and visiting my local farmer's market more often- even if that means catching myself looking longingly at the cheese stall...

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Getting up in the dark:(

Even though my birthday is in October, I don't really enjoy the month, for one reason- it's really dark in the morning. In fact, I was in work a good half an hour before I saw the street lights go off. Does anyone else find getting up in the dark a challenge? I know I do, because in the summer I wake at 5, wide awake, and can't wait to get the day started. In winter, anything before 8 seems cruel.

I have been working through my IBS list. This is the water bottle I use. I fill it twice a day, first shortly after I get into work, and then again about midday or lunchtime. When I get home from work, I drink another half litre worth of teas (usually peppermint or black tea).

Not that it seems to do a huge amount to ease my constipation. But I reckon being well hydrated certainly won't make it worse.

Look at my creepy dead person's hand(!) I really ought to get some Floradix. As you see, I wear warm jumpers (sweaters) in work. I get really cold sitting at a desk!

Today was the first day since last winter that I pulled my chair up against the radiator in the evening. The temperature has dived noticeably in the last two days! I'll soon be taking hot water bottles to bed.
In the search for warmth and comfort, I had a bowl of mash for dinner last night:

Yum. I boiled the potatoes and stirred in some parsley and (toasted) pumpkin seed pesto made with hemp oil and a heap of nutritional yeast. I poured a little heated tomato puree over the top. I'm trying to eat less complicated dinners, although I don't want to keep this up too much, otherwise I might sacrifice good nutritional balance. I guess I should try to concentrate on different major nutrients at different meals.

I can't wait for the weekend! The dark mornings make me so tired.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Results Update and and an IBS management strategy

The coeliac screen came back negative. It was really strange I found this out today, because I had bad bloating and wind after lunch today, even though it was just spinach, gluten free pumpkin scone and a little hummus. So obviously going dairy and gluten free have not been the miracle cure I was hoping for.
I got the result when I was seeing a gastroenterologist today. He's pretty sure I have IBS and nothing more sinister, although he has booked a sigmoidoscopy and small bowel series. I've also still to have an MRI and he wants me to see a dietitian.
All in all, I'm feeling pretty depressed about my guts at the moment. I guess I was hoping I would have an issue with one particular food because I wouldn't have found giving up gluten or anything else difficult. I sort of feel like I'm no further on in finding relief for my symptoms, something I resolved in January I was going to do something about, however, this thing really is beyond my control. I've made plenty of changes to my diet and other areas of my lifestyle, but I suppose there is still more I could do. I just hate that I have to go so far out of my way to not have to think about my guts.
I can't say I'm looking forward to enemas, barium meals, and tubes up my rear end. But I suppose I have gone down this route now, I may as well see it through, even though it'll not tell me anything I didn't know already.
For my own comfort, I'm going to take another look at the changes I've made and try a little harder to implement some more.

1. Drink 2 litres of plain water a day. I always hit this if I'm exercising. I might only get 1.5 if I'm not, but I'm going to try to get this everyday, because sometimes I'm not as good with this at the weekend. It's easier at work where I have a routine of filling my litre bottle first thing in the morning, and again at lunchtime, and sipping away all day.

2. Have a good look at my diet, by way of a food diary. Experiment with different types of fibre and see if certain kinds cause problems.

3. Take a daily probiotic. My gastroenterologist recommended VSL3, which sounds great, but it's too expensive for me to take long term. I might take it for a while, then switch to a less potent (and cheaper) probiotic.

4. Stop eating a large evening meal, instead eat two small meals after work, one around 5 and one around 8. This is something I only do every now and again. I think it might help.

5. Eat wholefoods as much as possible. By wholefoods I mean very few ingredient, minimally processed things, so I count cold pressed unrefined oils, tea, coffee, natural nut butters, sugar free jam, tinned tomatoes, stoneground gluten free flour, tamari, miso, and other organic soya products with no artificial additives, as I find tofu and especially plain soya yogurt very easy to digest. This means being really well prepared, and setting aside a sizeable chunk of my weekend to prepare food.

6. Have another look at my exercise routine. I haven't done very much for about 6 weeks now, so I need to sort something out anyway. I plan on cutting way back on what I was doing before I got sick. I'm thinking going swimming 3 times a week, and running twice at the most. While I walk most days, I don't count it, I'm talking about exercise as in breaking sweat, but that doesn't mean "hardcore". I think a scenic run or a nice hike at the weekend will be the way to go, rather than covering a specific mileage in a certain time, i..e, taking the stress out.

7. Improve my posture and do some yoga poses to support the bowel. I spend too much of the day hunched in a bad chair.

8. Once all my tests are over, get a colonic. I keep meaning to do this!

Typing that has made me feel a bit more optimistic about the whole thing. No one thing works, and there's a different set of solutions of every IBS sufferer. But you won't get anywhere unless you try things out and stick with what works.

Tonight's dinner:

Sunshine burger, pureed tomatoes and steamed cabbage with lots of black pepper. That's a sneaky brown bread roll- a two fingers to gluten...I'm not sure where I am with gluten at the moment. I might eat some small amounts every now and again. We'll see.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Living the Gluten Free Life

Autumn is here! I harvested my buttercup squash at the weekend:

That put me in the mood for Autumn food, keep reading for squash scone and (homegrown) apple crumble.

Today was a perfect example of how eating gluten free and vegan without making bad health choices is not that really do have to prepare.
Breakfast was my usual (starting to get a tad boring) plain puffed rice with frozen berries and soya yogurt, eaten in a rush as with most Mondays. I hadn't time to make lunch, there was nothing to hand to eat my hummus with, I hadn't time to cut up a salad. So lunch today was two fruit soya yogurts and a Cocoa Orange Nakd bar mixed in, and I snacked on little apples and a banana. Even though I was hungry, I didn't fix myself a quick dinner, instead I got prepping for the next few days. First I made Gena's sunshine burgers, replacing the brown rice with brown lentils and the carrot and celery with leek. I didn't shape the mix, just stuck it in the fridge for tomorrow's dinner. I also made her foolproof tofu burgers at the weekend; so quick to throw together, super tasty, nutritious, and easy to digest. Gena, you're the Burger Queen!

Next I made my pumpkin scone, for the first time gluten free.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scone (adapted from Nigel Slater's Tender: Volume 1- an excellent cookbook)
All quantities are double the original to fit in my big frying pan
600g steamed pumpkin (I usually use butternut squash, this is roughly a whole one)
280g flour- I used 200g brown rice flour, 50g gram flour and 30g gluten free oats)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
50g sunflower oil (instead of butter or margarine)
1 tsp Orgran egg replacer
180g plain soya yogurt
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
lots of fresh black pepper
additions: 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
sunflower oil for the pan

Heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 for a fan oven).
Rub the sunflower oil into the flour, bicarb and salt until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Mix the soya yogurt with the squash and the egg replacer. Mix the squash mixture into the flour, grind in plenty of pepper, add in the thyme and nutritional yeast.
Spoon the mix onto a hot, preheated lightly oiled frying plan that is oven safe. Cook on a moderate heat until the underside is golden, it usually takes ten minutes. Then, with the help of an oiled dinner plate, flip the scone over and cook the other side, it will probably take slightly less than the first side.
Put the scone in the oven for ten minutes to cook through.
Serve with greens, or it's good for lunch with a dollop of hummus and some salad.

A very poor photo of what's left for my lunch tomorrow:

Another good pumpkin recipe: Pure2Raw's pumpkin socca

Once the scone was in the oven, I decided to make some dessert. It is Monday after all:)
I sliced up four of the apples from my Dad's tree, layered them with cinnamon and demerara sugar, then made this topping:
60g almond flour
40g brown rice flour
30g oats
30g sunflower oil
30g brown sugar
25g toasted pumpkin seeds
Rub the flours and oats with the sunflower oil until it's like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and seeds, and top the apples. Bake at 160 degree fan for 45 minutes, until golden brown. The apples will be nice and mushy underneath.

We ate it with Alpro soya Caramel pudding.

Before I go, I tried Oats in a Jar for the first time yesterday. A good way of using up all the PB scraps that a knife can't budge. I topped mine with more PB (as there wasn't much left in the jar) and sugar free 'jam'.

I also enjoyed a new tea, one I bought in Toulouse way back in May. It's called Mon Cherry (cherry and chocolate black tea)

Look at the lovely colours! I had mine with a splash of vanilla soya milk.

Time to get back in the kitchen to make some coco banana gluten free granola!

Friday, 8 October 2010

First Week Back Over

I got my first week back over with, the week sure does go in quickly when you're working! I am pretty tired this evening though.
I haven't had anything more than trace gluten this week and in the last day or two my tum has settled down. The only annoying this is October is the month where it is really dark in the morning for getting up for work. At least when the clock changes at the end of the month it'll be bright again for a little while. I find it *really* hard to get up in the dark!

After hearing from my doc that my serum ferritin (iron stores) were low, I got my haemoglobin tested at work (I work in the Blood Transfusion service here in Northern Ireland) and it's very good (13.7g/dL, normal range 12-15). My iron stores could have always been low, or they could be going down because I'm not eating enough iron, not absorbing enough or losing blood. In any case, it's not a bad enough situation to start taking iron tablets at the strength normally given for full blown anemia (when iron stores are low AND haemoglobin drops below 12g/dL). I'm seeing a GI doctor in two week's time, so if there's any malabsorption or GI bleeding that should be found out pretty soon. I'm just going to make sure in the mean time I'm eating plenty of iron rich foods- pulses, brassicas, pumpkin seeds, quinoa and amaranth.

I got all my other results today, except the celiac screen. My B12 and folate levels are normal, and my thyroid function is normal too. Yay! My vegan supplement (contains B12, all the B vitamins and folate and also iodine and vitamin D and selenium) is doing a good job.

I made my buckwheat pancakes (I omit the egg white, add one flaxmeal egg, and use soya milk) and used them for lunches and dinners this week.

Buckwheat pancake with nut burger and beetroot, orange pepper and romaine salad (hemp oil and apple cider vinegar dressing)

Pancake sandwich with refried beans and guacamole, and leftover salad.

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

First Blood Results In

Yesterday I started back at work. I had my bloods taken in the morning before going in; celiac screen, thyroid function, iron studies, B12 and folate, full blood count.
The first day was fine, although I was tired in the evening. Luckily I wasn't horrendously busy, my work was kept on top of by my colleagues. I made myself the pumpkin cornbread I saw on HEAB and Lil Runner as a convenient lunch.

Yesterday I had it heated up with a big heap of romaine, grated carrot and beetroot, yellow pepper and pumpkin seeds with a hemp oil and apple cider vinegar dressing. Today I had with with a big gob of PB and fruit spread (ie no sugar jam).

Breakfasts have been berry yogurt combos, with either puffed brown rice or some cooked oats. The last few night's dinners:

Sauteed black kale, yellow pepper and homegrown yellow summer squash. I rounded it out with my last lump of bread before my blood test.

Kale, runner bean and coconut curry with brown rice noodles

Steamed cabbage and soba noodles with roasted summer squash and onion (and lots of thyme)

Speaking of which, I got a call from the surgery today to pick up a prescription. When I got there I found out my ferritin (iron stores) result was back already, and it's low, so the prescription was for iron tablets- I'm anaemic. This is interesting news for me, because in my 12 years of vegetarianism, I have always had excellent iron levels. As dairy isn't a great iron source, cutting it from my diet can't be responsible for my iron issues. Training could have done it, although I was eating more to compensate. Another thing could be coffee drinking, yes, I have been drinking more, but I have gone through periods of drinking a lot of coffee before. Given my periods have stopped, and they used to be heavy when I had them and my iron was ok, it all remains a bit of a mystery, although of course it could be malabsorption because my gut isn't happy.

Anyway, I am really not keen on taking the iron tablets (side effect is constipation), but I'm equally concerned about being anaemic. I'm going to speak to my dad until I get to see my GP and at least take a good dose of vitamin C with the iron tablets to both increase the absorption and counteract the constipation. The good news is my full blood count came back normal, so there's no infection or anything nasty.

I'm digging into some lovely iron rich orangey dark chocolate right now:)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Back in blogland

On the top of the 8th highest mountain in Ireland, Mount Brandon. Covered in mist for all but about 50 days of the year.

I got back from Dingle yesterday evening. After unpacking, I read through all the posts from the blogs I follow (well most, I think I had 148 unread). I found lots of great gluten free things to try (especially HEAB's cornbread and gluten free experiments).

I did some walking, but not huge distances, and despite bringing my swim suit and trainers, I neither ran nor swam, I wasn't well enough. I ate lots of bread and wheat-based cereals. The most prominent symptom was a lot of sharp upper abdominal pain but in the centre rather than to the left as with the pancreatitis. It got worse and worse as the day went on and most nights I couldn't sleep, but it eased off by morning and then started up after eating. The good news is I am getting a heap of blood tests on monday, I was supposed to have an MRCP scan when I was away but will get in rescheduled soon, and my dad has asked a gastroenterologist friend to see me. So while the pain is really depressing, I am trying to stay positive because hopefully I will get some relief soon.

I am so sick and tired of eating wheat, and I ate very little fresh vegetables when away, that I am craving big heaps of greenery and berries. After monday morning, I am going gluten free for a week to give myself a rest, and plan on trying out lots of the new recipes I've bookmarked. I'll also drink plenty of water, take probiotic tablets, eat no refined sugar or sugary fruits (just apples and berries) and plenty of beans, seeds and vegetables. I am going up to my allotment soon to have a look at my kabocha and buttercup squash, I think it'll be ready for picking, and maybe the fennel and carrots will be ready too. I have lots homegrown cooking apples to get through, so I imagine I'll be making plenty of comforting apple and squash recipes over the next while. I think I might cut down my coffee drinking a bit as the gut pain could be inflammation, and coffee could be irritating it. I'll just stick to redbush and peppermint.

Some more pictures from the holiday