Gluten Free Flour Blend

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This is my go to gluten free flour blend that I keep mixed in my pantry ready for all my baking needs.

Makes 4 cups

What you need:

Mix together the below ingredients (I use a whisk to mix everything together well) and store in an airtight jar in the pantry.

  1. 1 1/2 c white rice flour

  2. 3/4 c brown rice flour

  3. 3/4 c tapioca flour

  4. 3/4 c corn starch

  5. 3 tbsp potato starch

  6. 1 tbsp guar gum

My Eye Journey - Part One

My Eye Journey - Part one

Sarah Brittain

If you’ve seen some of my Instagram stories you’ll would know that I’ve been trying different treatments for my dry eyes. I thought I’d write a blog post to fill you in on my journey and give you an insight into my current eye regime.

One of the ‘hallmark’ symptoms of Sjogrens syndrome is dry eyes. ‘There are two main causes: decreased secretion of tears by the lacrimal (tear-producing) glands and loss of tears due to excess evaporation. Both can lead to ocular surface discomfort, often described as feelings of dryness, burning, a sandy/gritty sensation, or itchiness. Visual fatigue, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision are also characteristic of dry eye’. https://www.sjogrens.org/home/about-sjogrens/symptoms/dry-eyes

From my early teenage years I started to experience dry eyes and I was quickly referred by my primary Sjogrens specialist to a Opthamologist. They advised to put in various different types of lubricants (eye drops) throughout the day. I also had punctual plugs put in when I was about 16 to reduce evaporation (these have fallen out over the years but I have had them replaced). Over the years I had various flares which resulted in me ending up in at the eye hospital on various occasions, being put in dark rooms, prescribed short term steroid eye drops and at its worst , developing cornea ulcers. 

My eyes can go from 100 to 0 in a matter of minutes - I find it hard to explain to people as one minute I can see totally fine then the next it can be sooo blurry- I put an eye drop in and they can be okay for for a few minutes and then straight back to being blurry. It can be exhausting, it gives me headaches and I find it really effects my mood as not only I can’t see properly at lot of the time its also really painful. 

However, nothing could have prepared me for what was to come over the past months. My eyes had been pretty bad leading up to coming home from London to renew my Visa but I hadn’t had too much time to think about it I was just trying to solider  on as I was so busy and trying to tie up loose ends before coming home for a month. As soon as I got on the plane my eyes deteriorated  - the air con completely dried them out and no amount of eye drops were making them better or providing any relief. I was straight off the plane and into the eye hospital as was worried about developing a ulcer. I was given antibiotic drops and told to come back in a week. A week later with no real improvement I was put on steroids to help settle them down. This helped slightly and after a few weeks my vision was slowly returning. I had been back to my specialist a few times who really didn’t provide many more suggestions other than ‘to up my eye drops’ and ‘she didn’t have a magical pill’. A few weeks later my eyes started to deteriorate again - super dry, very sensitive to light, seriously blurred vision and all the eye drops in the world weren’t helping. It was relentless, I was taking pain killers every 4 hours, couldn’t drive at night and barely could drive during the day. I couldn’t look people in the eyes when talking because looking up involved looking into too much light and couldn’t leave the house without a cap and sunglasses (even if it was raining). Most days I would end up crying to myself as I struggling to see how it would get better. 

After some serious research, finding a new Opthamologist - who is AMAZING!! Yes he still tells me the main thing to do is put in ALL the drops but he’s also trying some new things. He believes I need to just throw everything at it. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing and will continue to do. I’ve also been trying some new holistic approaches (below is my current eye regime). I feel like I’ve finally turned a corner and my eyes are in a better position. My goal is to keep the inflammation in my eyes under control and continue my eye regime so they never get to this state again. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic pill (yet) to cure it but my goal is to keep my inflammation in my body down, try and keep my eyes under control with my eye regime and hoping they don’t end up in that state for as long as they were.

My approach to my eyes is a combination of traditional medicine and natural approach. 

Current eye regime:

Eye drops: I use a variety of eye drops throughout the day (including eye drops made from my blood) and at night that range in thickness (aka vary in how they effect my vision) - at its worst I put in them in every 10 minutes or so, when my eyes are on their A game - its about once hourly.

Hot compressions: I sit with a hot eye wheat pack on my eyes for 5-10 mins ( I usually meditate during this time) then apply pressure around the around the top and bottom edges of my eyes to get my oil glands moving before washing them thoroughly with sterilised eye cleaner.

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL): I’ve had two of a three round treatment and it has a cumulative effect so I’m not expected to notice a difference until after the end of my third treatment. ’the treatment has been shown to help relieve dry eye symptoms, particularly when associated with congestion of eyelid glands (Meibomian gland dysfunction)’ https://www.eyeinstitute.co.nz/About-eyes/A-to-Z-of-eyes/Treatments/Dry-eye-treatment 

Long coarse antibiotic / anti inflammatories: I’ve taken a coarse which is a slow release over 3 months which is supposed to help with my eye health and assist in reducing the inflammation in my eyes. Its too soon to say if this has had any impact yet.

Sunglasses: Even if it isn’t sunny you’re find me wearing sunglasses - this is to help protect my eyes from sunlight (they are super sensitive), wind and dust.

Moisture chamber glasses: These are normal glasses with added silicon that wraps around your eyes. This helps to  retain tear moisture so that your eyes remain more lubricated, and also protecting them from environmental irritants like wind, dust, air-con and heaters.

Punctal Occlusion: A surgical procedure where they temporarily or permanently close off the tear drainage channels, to retain as much of my own natural tears. I’ve previously had only had this done temporarily with punctual plugs but I’m in the process of having them lasered closed permanently.

Acupuncture: I’ve had 6 sessions so far and I think its really helping. My acupuncturist does a serious massage around my sinus and then puts needles in my face and various other points around my body. I also have been taking Chinese herbs given to me and I am have noticed a positive improvement.

Omega’s: Taking fish oils daily

Steps I take to settle my stomach

Hot water with lemon and ginger

After I posted and got so many lovely comments on my bloated photo on Instagram I’d thought I write a blog post and share what I do when my tummy is upset.

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When my stomach is upset, bloated or I’m just feeling average I will turn to the steps below to help settle it and give myself some relief

  1. Drink peppermint tea

  2. Hot water with lemon and ginger

  3. Pineapple anti-inflammatory drink, find the recipe below

  4. Up my bone broth intake (I aim to drink at least 1 cup daily)

  5. Doing some gentle exercise - a slow walk or some yoga. I love the yoga for digestion by Adriene. Find the link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbguV_f6XOo

  6. Not being too hard on myself / stressing about ‘eating too much that doesn’t agree with me’. Stress often makes its worse!

  7. A lie down / rest with a hot water bottle or wheat pack

I often alternate between all of the above drinks during the day to help and don’t limit drinking them to only when feeling “off” - these are drinks I often consume daily. X

Hot water with lemon and ginger

Pineapple anti-inflammatory drink

From Good Magazine

Pineapple skins contain protein bromelain, that helps digestion & healing. Simply boil pineapple skin, preserving the medicinal properties & add ginger & turmeric. This refreshing tonic takes 25 minutes & is a great substitute for a glass of wine.

Serves 10

1 pineapple peel, crown, scraps
1 piece turmeric
1 knob of ginger
Water, enough to cover

Place everything in a medium pot & cover with water. Simmer on a medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Cover pot with a lid & let it infuse for 25 more minutes. 

Strain everything into a jar & place it in the fridge until cold. Serve cold with plenty of ice or you can also enjoy it hot

Like this post? Why not check out my tips for eating out while being low FODMAP here

Low FODMAP Tips: For eating out

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1) If you have time before hand, check out the menu of the café/restaurant you’re going to, to suss out what options are available. If your friends happen to suggest a venue where you can’t eat anything, try suggesting a few alternative places

2) When deciding what you can eat, ask what ingredients are in a particular dishes (especially with sauces) to decide what you can eat or what’s easily adjustable - places these days are starting to label their menu items GF &DF, which makes it helpful!

3) When it comes to placing your order, make sure you’re friendly when explaining what you have to avoid or if you’re wishing to change ingredients. I've found that they’re usually super understanding and happy to adapt a meal to make it Sarah friendly. If not, I would suggest never going back!!

4) Too embarrassed to make a fuss in front of a date/work colleagues or friends? Go to the 'bathroom' and find your waiter on the way and explain your order to them / double check that it fits with your dietary requirements.

5) Sharing with friends? Suggest items which you can eat, if there aren’t enough options you can eat, order something extra specifically for you (I sometimes just order my own meal to make it easier).

6) Know what you can and can’t touch and your individual FODMAP limits. The things you can enjoy a little bit of and the foods you can eat without any trouble.

Eating out should be an enjoyable and relaxing experience with friends, family and colleagues. So don't stress out about it!! Focus your attention on all the delicious food you can eat (not on what you can't). There is usually something on the menu for everyone to enjoy (even if it requires some adaption).

Enjoy dining out! Sarah x

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Like this post? Why not check out my favourite low FODMAP sweeteners here

5 facts about Kiwifruit:

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  1. Kiwifruit is native to China, the seeds were introduced to New Zealand in 1904. They were called ‘Chinese Gooseberries’ until the 1960’s
  2. They are considered FODMAP friendly 
  3. The skin is edible
  4. High in Vitamin C - kiwifruit contain more vitamin C than an orange
  5. Contain Actinidin which can help with digestion. ‘Actinidin is a protease found in kiwifruit, which breaks down proteins and facilitates gastric digestion. This natural enzyme has the ability to break-down a wide range of food proteins more completely and faster than our natural digestive enzymes can do on their own’ http://www.zespri.com/nutritious/digestive-health.  Thats why you can get a funny feeling on your tongue if you eat too many because of all those enzymes. So if you’ve having problems getting those bowels moving, try eating a few kiwi fruit on an empty stomach. 

Sources: http://www.5aday.co.nz/facts-and-tips/fruit-vegetable-info/kiwifruit-green/ http://www.zespri.com/nutritious/digestive-health Monash University Low FODMAP app

Small changes to reduce my carbon footprint 👣

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Everyday I’m trying to make small changes to help reduce my carbon footprint 👣  I’m constantly learning and it’s a work in progress but I thought I’d share some of the small changes I’ve been making: #sustainability ♻️💚

  1. Taking my @keepcup reusable coffee cup everywhere I go ☕️☕️
  2. Using a reusable water bottle 
  3. Taking reusable shopping bags when doing my weekly shop
  4. Choosing fruit/veggies not wrapped plastic and not putting them in plastic bags using reusable bags instead @paperbagpantry_elana 
  5. Shifting towards more enviromentally friendly products @ecostorenz
  6. Saying No to single use plastic straws and opting for a reusable options @caliwoods_eco