Thursday, 12 April 2018

how i fixed my digestion & healed my gut naturally

last summer i spent many months having the strangest digestion, it wasn't balanced at all. one day i would be in pain in the bathroom, the next day i would be in the bathroom many many times, and then i wouldn't be in the bathroom for days. i would have gas and really bad bloating.

it hadn't always been like this, i'd usually been a pretty regular kind of girl. but, i'd had to take a course of antibiotics for some mastitis symptoms in the May of last year, and after that my system got out of whack. BUT i hadn't appreciated it could be the antibiotics that had cause it until my mother asked if i'd taken any back in May before the symptoms started.... so i'm very grateful to her for having highlighted that as the cause.

so, if you do suffer with digestive problems, maybe have a think back to when it started and think about whether you took antibiotics - it may even be a very long time ago, but it has depleted your body of the essential probiotics it needs for a healthy digestive system.

so, once i realised that was the course, it was quite easy to set out a gut-healing plan for myself, and it became much better really fast! here is the list of 5 things that i did to improve my digestive health, and continue to do, with the exact details of what i did and what i took.

1. taking really good (live) probiotics
this was probably the MOST important thing i did - because after it being out of balance because of taking ANTI-biotics, i needed to replenish my body with PRO-biotics. so, i bought the best ones i could find (and it cost about 40euros!)

even if you can't find this particular brand, what you want to be looking out for is probiotics in the FRIDGE, because probiotics cannot survive on a warm shelf. you want to check that the probiotics are multi-strain and don't contain any unnecessary extra ingredients.

i started taking probiotics last august, and took one every two days for a week, until my body system started being regular and comfortable again. it didn't take long and i couldn't believe i'd spent so many months in pain when the answer was so simple. since that week, i only take one of these strong probiotics when i feel like i'm out of balance again (i've taken about two since last september).

of course, you can also add in yogurt to your diet, but i don't find it's strong enough to fix a situation as fast as one of the good pills will because of the amount of probiotic strains you'll find in it. however, i do have yogurt a few times a week to keep things moving and it does work - i have soy yogurt or coconut yogurt instead of dairy though.

so, i noticed another shift in my digestive system after i stopped breastfeeding my son in november. my once enormous appetite had depleted by about half, and it was taking a while for my brain to catch onto the fact, and my body to rebalance my gut once more. so in february, i started doing a few more things...

2. having a green juice week, and lemon water
the best thing that i did was to detox with green juice for a week. i borrowed my mums juicer - just a basic one - and followed this recipe every day for a week.

detox green smoothie
3-4 celery sticks
2 apples
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 a cucumber
a handful of mint
a thumb of ginger
1/ 2 a lime

add all these things to the juicer, one by one. enjoy!
the more you experiment, the more you'll know how much of what you prefer, but this is a good basic recipe to start with.

i only had one every morning, and it wasn't in replacement of anything, just alongside my regular meal plan. just be a bit prepared that this stuff makes for a strong detox! so you may want to do this on a week when you can be resting at home and near to a bathroom perhaps.

3. learning to stop when i'm full, and eat when i'm hungry
since i was little i was always of the mindset that it was important to eat everything that i was given, and i always had a big appetite, that only increased even more whilst i was breastfeeding for 19 months!

actually it was quite a big deal the first time i didn't finish my plate. i literally couldn't finish it. it was like i suddenly realised that if i ate all of it i would feel sick, not just for that evening, but for the following day too. i would feel foggy and sleepy and low in energy. so i just had this mental block in place of finishing it when i could feel my body had had enough.

and i swear since then, i've eaten much less and i've felt SO much better. and on the occasions that i eat too much (usually emotionally), i do feel awful for a couple of days, and it's pretty intense pain in the bathroom, as well as lots of time.

unfortunately, because this is really just a result of a hormonal shift, i don't have much advice for other situations, other than to be mindful of your senses, and probably eat more smaller meals and less gigantic ones - you know, the sensible stuff we hear all the time, but is harder to put into practice. LISTEN to your body - you shouldn't feel tired after a meal! the post-sunday-lunch nap is simply a result of too many calories, and it shouldn't be glorified as a sunday ritual, or any night of the week for that matter!

having said that, i think it's also really important to eat enough quantity, because without eating enough quantity your digestive system doesn't need to be used as much and can get out of a regular routine. sometimes you need to push it all through with a bigger meal - like a big bowl of soup and a large sandwich or a huge salad with a cup of mint tea after.

4. identifying foods that don't seem to digest well
one of the other things you will learn by eating lighter and more consciously, is what foods don't sit well in your tummy and take ages to pass through your gut.

for me this includes: baked goods with refined flour and sugar (even when i make them myself), meat (pork & turkey in particular have always made me feel super rough), and dairy (which causes me to have acne as well, so i steer clear for that reason too!).

i think everyone has different foods that trigger it, and that makes sense, because everyone lives in a different part of the world with access to different types of foods. what triggers indigestion for me might not for you, so you'll need to hear what your body is trying to tell you after you eat.

5. load up on vegetables and soup-y meals

this one might be obvious to any of you who know me, but i eat a LOT of veggies - i make sure at least half my plate is vegetables, and often i'll make the whole thing just veggies. it's my go to when i'm feeling sluggish or run-down - "oh, i just need more veggies" you'll hear me say.

of course there are also a lot of vegetables that are "prebiotics" - which help digestion also. things like garlic, onions, leeks, jerusalem artichokes, chicory and asparagus. i don't make an effort to eat these all the time, but i very often cook with garlic and onions as they can be kept/grown throughout the seasons. prebiotics work in that they don't digest fully in the stomach and ferment in the colon by the gut microflora (read this useful article for more on prebiotics).

and the other thing that works really well on keeping your system flowing is soup-y vegetable meals, like curry and chilli and ratatouille. because all that good moisture will help the food to digest. which is why you should always make sure to drink cold drinks before your meal and warm or room temperature drinks with your meal, and hot ones after (just like the italians do with a coffee).

so, if you're stuck and need to keep things moving, get the veggies in, you'll definitely be getting SO much more fibre and you will therefore be going to the bathroom more frequently and it will make all those visits easier too. i'd always recommend having fibre in its wholefood form, rather than taking fibre supplements or "fibre cereal".

other things to keep in mind:
- drink lots of water
- chewing your food is VITAL to making it come out smoothly the other end with no gas in the middle. so make sure to chew more than you think it needs and swallow only when it's a really good pulp.
- exercising a little bit each day keeps everything moving - for me, all i do is make sure to walk each day for 30 mins. that is enough to keep my system fresh and working.
- caffeine can help in some situations - because it can often stimulate things to move. but it can be addictive - both the actual drink and the ease with which it helps bowel movements. you might even hear my grandmother say that she needs her morning coffee to help with her morning bathroom visit. i think it's a helpful tool if you overate the night before and your feeling blocked up, but with the above tips, i don't think that should be a regular occurrence if at all.

so there you have it,my top tips on how to improve digestion and get a healthy digestive system. i feel so much lighter and happier since i implemented these things, and i know it will do me so much good in the long run too!

i also did a little video, for those of you interested to watch instead of read:

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

our family holiday in mallorca

we've just come back from our week-long trip to the beautiful island of Mallorca, and although i've already shared a vlog of the trip over on my YT channel, i wanted to share some photos of the trip here too... just like old times.

♥  when we arrived at the hotel, i was blown away with how beautiful it was - for the price we were paying, we were getting a lot! we stayed at the Inturotel Sa Marina in Cala d'Or - i would recommend it

food in Mallorca is OK, it's definitely different than Spanish food, but also it is influenced by it. and there's also an influence from outsiders too, so things like meat pie is a big thing, as are croissants - so it's a bit of a melting pot in a way - which i guess is just the nature of a sunny island. below is a pic of a dulce de leche croissant - really really sweet!

the beaches and coves are DIVINE. clear and sparkling blue water - the stuff of dreams. such perfection.

much of the coast is lined with boats, both pleasure yachts and fishing boats - and it's really set up for being an island that spends a lot of time on the water.

one of the cutest 'tourist' things we did was to go to Artestruz, an ostrich farm. and we got to feed the ostriches as well as just learn more about them - did you know that they can run at 80mph, and that they have the biggest eyes known to man?

on Good Friday, we went into Palma, the capital. we saw the Passion of the Christ performed on the street - or well, we saw part of it, because it was quite slow and in Spanish, and we couldn't get a good view so the toddler got quite bored and upset. but we enjoyed the bit we did see!

one night we partook in the buffet dinner at the hotel, and it did not disappoint! the seafood was especially excellent - i ate my first razor clam! (pretty much the same as a regular clam)

we also enjoyed some tapas one day: goats cheese, baked squid, spicy squid, manchego, croquettes - standard mallorquin fare.

the view from our room was gorgeous, watching the sunset each evening from our balcony with a glass of wine, snuggled under a blanket - it was the most relaxing evenings the husband and i have spent together in a long time.

last but not least, we spent an afternoon driving up Sant Salvador and enjoying the view from on high - the ride up was a little unnerving as i'm not a huge fan of edges of things, but the view was worth it!

overall, the holiday was THE most relaxing we've ever had, the weather was great (17-23c at the end of March!) and the scenery was stunning! we will definitely be going back... maybe next Easter again.

if you want to see what we packed for the trip, don't miss out on my last post.

thanks for reading! have you been to Mallorca? would you like to?

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

traveling with a toddler: essentials checklist

we've just come back from a gorgeous, relaxing, week-long holiday in Mallorca, Spain, with our 2 year old (we just celebrated his birthday a month ago!). but it was made more brilliant by having been prepared and bringing all the things we need to keep him happy, safe and entertained!

below is the toddler holiday packing list, with annotations, so you can know which brands we use and why we love them. but if you're just after the printable list, click here to be taken to google docs.

of course, it will depend on what sort of holiday you're going on as to what sort of clothes you need, and whether you'll need additional items like extra sunscreen or snow boots...

here’s our ultimate toddler packing list:

Foldable Travel Stroller - we have a GB Pockit (UK/US), which we've used since he was 8 months old, and we LOVE it. it folds small enough to fit under the seat in front of you on the plane, so you don't have to check it at the door. i've done a full video review over on my YT channel if you're interested.
Travel Car seat - we just purchased an Urban Kanga (UK/US) for this holiday, because we've had some really bad car seats in rental cars, and it should save us money in the long run also. the Urban Kanga is small enough to carry onto the plane, but we chose to put it in our main luggage, ready to take out the other side. stay tuned for a full review of this!
Travel Cot - though we didn't need one for this trip, when we take our car to family, friends or on holidays within the UK then this is an essential for us. we have the BabyBjorn cot (UK/US) and love it - well worth the investment for how easy it is to put up and away.


Baby Monitor and Charger
Cot Sheet(s) - there isn't always one provided in hotels
Baby Carrier and/or Wrap - although our son isn't really into his any more and he'd prefer to walk, every other holiday we've been on before our Ergobaby (UK/US) has been an essential part of making sure he's happy all day visiting the sites
Cotton Muslin(s) - perfect multi-purpose holiday items, for snuggling, for shade, to sleep, for cleaning up messes
Blanket and/or Toddler Sleeping Bag
Nappies/Diapers - see my favourite biodegradable eco-nappies in my latest blog post
Biodegradable Nappy Bags - an easy switch to an eco option ;) (UK/US)
Baby Wipes and Tissues
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Toys and Books
 - Small balls
 - Favourite letter books
 - Stacking cups
Washable Bibs - we love the Close ones, that are full sleeve and have both poppers and a tie - and the designs are really cute, and they've come out with even more styles since we bought them a year ago (UK/not yet available in US, similar here)
Sunhat/Winter Hat - ours is a Briar Handmade one in Natural Stripe (UK/US)
Snacks & Fruit Pouches
Stainless Steel Containers for Snacks - we have the Kids Konserve trio (UK/US)
Bathing Suit
Swim Nappies/Diapers & inflatables
Boots or Indoor Shoes
2 x Outfits per day:
 - trousers/shorts/dungarees
 - t-shirts/tops/shirts
 - jumpers/hoodies
 - socks


Change of clothes
Milk/Juice/Water & Bottle/Sippy Cup
Washable bib
 - Raisins
 - Popcorn
 - Mandarins/satsumas
Nappies/Diapers (enough for 36hrs)
Biodegradable Nappy Bags
Wet Wipes
Hand Sanitizer
Travel Changing Mat
Sandwich Bag
Plasters and other medication
Toddler Backpack
Toys & Books
 - Toy cars
 - Mini Animals
 - Busy Book and/or Lift-the-flap Books
 - Crayons & Paper
 - Pipe Cleaners
 - Stickers
iPhone, iPad and headphones - i got a tip from a friend to pre-download his favorite CBeebies shows onto the iPad, so we could watch abroad and on the plane without wifi

for a printable version of the toddler travel checklist, click here.

we usually take two big suitcases for the hold, one small one on the plane, and then two backpacks and the pushchair. this makes it just about doable when you need to catch a train or bus afterwards, as it's not too much for the hands that we've got, and it's easy enough to push the GB Pockit with just one hand.

our baby packing list isn't that different, just fewer toys & snacks and more nappies & onesies!

when traveling with a toddler here are some of our most useful tips!:
  • remember to take more snacks and toys than you think you need! these can calm and prevent some tantrum moments from the overwhelming excitement of traveling.
  • remember to download his/her favourite television programs onto a tablet/device
  • try and organise the time of a flight to be at a time when you know your child has enough energy to cope with the excitement, rather than scheduling it for naptime. we always try and schedule him to sleep on the way to the airport. and then he sits in the pushchair until the gate when he can get out and run around a bit before the flight. this trip we had a lunchtime flight and he did nap on the plane on the way back... but it wasn't easy getting him to sleep!
  • if you're planning a road trip, plan it to be crossing naptime, so he/she sleeps some of the way
  • plan regular stops, either in the car or when traveling on short plane journeys - it's important to stop the business of travelling and give your child some of your attention and focus so they can play and learn and have fun! you can't expect them to sit down for a whole day long! we make sure to break up really long drives with an overnight stay if we can. 

  • acknowledge that traveling is naturally exhausting and you will need to plan in a good recovery day with lots of naps to help them be at their best for the rest of the trip.
  • if you've got a child that's used to regular long naps in the day like ours, make sure to allow these at least every other day, in spite of how much YOU want to see everything on the trip! they can nap in the car, but it's not the same level of rest, and it won't help them to be their happiest.
  • don't overdo it on the food, and don't expect them to eat as much as at home! "out of routine" means out of the routine of eating and understanding good portion control, so be mindful that you may need to intervene if they're eating too much ice cream (or in our case, drinking too much orange juice!). 
  • plan to stay in an apart-hotel, with rooms with a small kitchenette, OR choose somewhere with a good full-board service that caters to kids tastes - sometimes bland foods or mum-made foods on holidays are JUST what you need to keep your child full and happy. 
most of all, relax and have fun and enjoy showing your toddler the wonderful sights of your destination!

any tips that you have to add, please leave them in the comments below x