Beginning My Low-FODMAP Journey

Let me tell you something. It's no secret that in my life offline I struggle with irritable bowel syndrome. A sensitive tummy isn't attractive or appealing and I have suffered in silence like so many others for so long.

I always used to avoid telling people I had IBS because it just sounds dreadful and no one likes to talk about bowels, or poo or guts. I was officially diagnosed with IBS a few years ago and recently I have stopped shying away from it so much in order to lead a more happy and comfortable life. I try to make a joke of it when I can because it hits at the most awkward of times like New Years Eve for example! I had friends over and had to keep darting to the toilet because my tummy decided it wasn't happy with what I had eaten/drank that day. Luckily I was in the presence of my own home which made it slightly better. The funny thing was that we played cards against humanity and I was entitled  to start the game because I was the last one to go for a 'number two' (I'm sure you are probably familiar with that rule).

Despite trying to put a nicer spin on it, nothing so far has helped my bloated, painful tummy. It affects me every single day, whether I am out and about, at work or at home. Having to explain to people why you look so uncomfortable in a professional setting is really not fun and very embarrassing. I tend to just shrug it off as 'tummy ache'.

SO, after visiting the doctor multiple times, taking pills that target IBS symptoms and trying to cut out gluten in my diet, with no luck, I turned to the wonderful internet for some advice and came across the low FODMAP diet.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:

Fermentable - meaning they are quickly broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel.

Oligosaccharides - 'oligo' means 'few' and 'sacharide' means 'sugar'. The molecules made up of individual sugars joined together in a chain.
(Wheat, onion, garlic, beans)

Disaccharides - 'di' means two - this is a double sugar molecule.
(Milk, ice-cream)

Monosaccharides 'momo' means single - this is a single sugar molecule.
(Apples, pears, honey)


Polyols - these are sugar alcohols.
(mushrooms, apricots, gum)

Essentially, it's a diet that restricts high-FODMAP foods before introducing foods with higher FODMAPS to establish what your body can and cannot tolerate to improve the symptoms associated with IBS. The diet is now recommended internationally as the most effective dietary therapy for IBS and a few other nasty disorders. I will very soon be embarking on this journey as I've heard so many good things and really hope it helps! I've put this post together as a bit of research for myself but to also try and help others out there that may also be struggling like me.

To me, this is all pretty daunting as I LOVE food; I am a devoted foodie and limiting myself in this way seems almost impossible but I really need to try. The good thing about this diet is that it's only meant for short term - I'm talking 6-8 weeks, to then reintroduce higher-FODMAP foods back in to your diet to see what might be causing the problems. To help with this, I've ordered a couple of cookbooks (below) that will give me some recipe inspiration. I love that Emma Hatcher is a fellow blogger of She Can't Eat What?! and you can buy her cookbook on Amazon for £13.60.  

If you're struggling with IBS or other gut related disorders, I would love to hear from you! What do you do in your life to help manage the symptoms? Have you tried the Low-FODMAP diet, has it worked? 

Love Amber x

Living A More Minimalist Life

As I write this post, I am sat on the bed in my pyjamas listening to the wonderful Ludovico Einaudi, appreciating the small things in life that keep me calm and happy. Money has been pretty tight recently with leaving my old job to go part time in order to focus on my creative ventures. My passion is my creative work so I have made sacrifices (i.e money) for the time being. Due to this, I have been living my life like a minimalist as I haven't been spending much money at all and boy has it done me some good and I would recommend it to anyone. I hope this post inspires you to live a more minimalist life like me.

Before the changes I have made, I was getting up super early, commuting two hours to and from work everyday to a job I didn't love, with people that didn't 'get' me or endorse my skills to their full potential and I felt like I was in a rut. Yes, I was paid relatively well for a twenty-four year old and I was able to go out and party with friends and spend money frivolously on alcohol, dinner dates and make-up products but that just isn't me anymore. I look forward to bed time at 10.00pm every night with my mug of herbal tea whislt getting lost in a book ~even at the weekends~. 

I have recently moved to a gorgeous place for the man I love right on the doorstep of the countryside, got myself a part-time job at a beautiful spa hotel and am enjoying making new friends and rekindling relationships with old ones. I love inviting friends over, plating up some nibbles and hosting a games night - simple, fun and cost-effective. My family and friends see how happy I am right now and couldn't be more supportive with the life-changing choices I have made and that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 

I couldn't believe how much money I was spending on food - McDonalds, Chinese, KFC and eating out at fancy restaurants. SO, Stu and I have agreed to stop ordering take-aways and dining out so much, and have decided on or around the 19th of every month we will have a date night together as the 19th is the date we went on our first date. It means we have something to look forward to by having a romantic evening planned once a month and are able to put money aside in future for our next home. This also means I am having to cook more and plan meals which I actually really enjoy. I have a few cookbooks for ideas and just love playing around in the kitchen, concocting tasty dishes for Stu and I to enjoy.  

With this new outlook on life, I have re-branded my blog and illustration business with a fresh new look and my photography has taken on these changes too. I am feeling inspired and energised with so much more time to invest in what makes me happy. I can't wait for spring to arrive for more sunshine and to get outdoors more. 

I have learned to appreciate my surroundings, what I already have and that you don't need money to be happy. I had lost touch with the simple things in life like walking the dog and exploring somewhere totally new, having a candlelit bath or having a games night with friends. I was taking 'things' for granted so stepping back and looking at everything in my life as a whole to search out all the positives was so therapeutic and healthy. It's almost been like going through a life detox. 

I hope you enjoyed this post and I would love to know your thoughts on living a more minimalist life. Is this something you try to live by? 

Beauty Bits I'm Loving ATM.

It has been a long time since I wrote my last beauty/skincare/makeup post. That is NOT to say I have fallen out of love with beauty products, it's just that I wasn't really trying anything new due to lack of funds and having little to no time to mix up my beauty regime. SO, I thought it would be rude not to share the new beauty bits that I have been loving recently. 

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation (£30)
I've heard great things about this foundation and have seen it everywhere so I thought it was about time I gave it a go to see what all the fuss is about. This is a very new purchase so I've only put it to the test a handful of times. I have tried SO many different foundations from high end to low end but the colour and consistency combination have never been quite right...until now. It's perfect for my combination skin as it mattifies those annoyingly oily areas without looking too drying in other dry areas and the colour suits me perfectly with golden tones hinted throughout.

Rosie for Autograph Starstuck Contour (£15)
This is a re-purchase that I recently ran out of. The contour stick is perfect for blending contours in to my skin as it's so creamy and smooth with a gorgeous golden brown colouring. I tend to use it in the hollows of my cheeks, lines of my nose and around my hairline blended with a beauty blender. It's been giving me some much needed colour when my skin hasn't seen the sun for some time.

I was fortunate enough to be given samples of these products recently as I work for a luxury spa so I have linked the closest product to them above. I have always loved Elemis skin care products and the Sweet Orchid Body Cream is no exception. It smells amazing and feels amazing and makes my skin feel nourished and hydrated. 

Though I have only been using the sample size of the Decléor Prolagene Lift Day Cream, I am VERY tempted to buy the product itself as my skin has been loving it as my skin has been radiant and glowing. I have been recommended Decléor products to help with stubborn spots previously and it really has helped reduce the number of break outs on my skin. The day cream is also anti-ageing, which some of you may think 'I'm too young for anti-ageing products' but I have to say, it's better to start young than too late when the signs of ageing begin to appear. 

Jo Malone Red Roses Bath Oil (30ml £18)
I was bought this as a gift from Stu for Christmas as part of a set along with the Incense and Embers scented candle much to my delight. He managed to keep me guessing and it was a total surprise. I had not really used bath oils too much before however this has certainly changed my mind. The scent lasts so much longer than bubble bath and leaves my skin smelling beautiful. It was a very thoughtful and romantic gift that would also make a great Valentines present so get dropping those hints!

Another new make-up purchase which I am loving is this stunning eye palette by Charlotte Tilbury. I wear a lot of pink-y/purple-y tones on my eyes and love shimmer eye-shadows so this little palette is perfect for me. It's a little on the pricey side but it's totally worth it. When I first used the product, I couldn't believe how the smokey shades were transformed by the glittering gold shimmer shadow I put over the top; the look turned in to an instant chic evening look that I have been using time and time again.  

What beauty bits have you been loving recently? I'd love your recommendations so please leave me a comment below or get in touch with me on my socials. 

Five Tips For Night Time Self Care

Bed time, you and I have not always seen eye to eye but I finally feel like I am getting somewhere when it comes to looking after myself to ensure I get a better nights sleep. I now know to listen to my body and mind when it's telling me it needs a break. 

Now that Christmas is over, I don't think I am alone in saying that I would like Winter to hurry up and to start welcoming spring so that I can enjoy the sunshine and warmth again. The dull, cold winter days and dark early evenings can be tempting to forget my whole self care routine, jump straight in to my pyjamas and binge watch Netflix all evening in bed. Sometimes this is perfect but most of the time I need my time to be spent reading rather than watching, sipping herbal tea rather than eating and sleeping rather than thinking. 

So, as we still have a little of winter left, I thought I would share my favourite tips and tricks for a better nights sleep and my night time self care routine, especially for this time of year. 

| Wind Down |

The most important part of my night time self care routine and something I don't do enough of is winding down. The amount of evenings I spend pinning ideas on Pinterest, binge watching Peaky Blinders and scrolling through social media to then wondering why I can't sleep is beyond me. Though, the answer is SO obvious. I need that time for my mind to wind down before expecting it just shut off before I go to sleep. 

In order to do this, I have been turning off the TV (if it was up to me, there wouldn't be a TV in the bedroom!) placing my phone on silent across the room and do things like read a book in low light if I'm not quite tired and it's really helped. 

| Pamper Yourself |

Something I need to do more of is pampering myself before I go to sleep. I find that I sleep so well after a hot, Lavender infused bubble bath and then I get all cosy in clean fresh bedding. An evening pamper routine could be as simple as face-masking, moisturising or just cleansing and toning. I find going to sleep after I have cleansed and pampered makes all the difference. 

I have recently started working at a Spa part time as an office administrator and have come across some lovely products that I have splurged on to include in my night time pamper routine. One of which is the Ragdale Hall Spa Time to Sleep mist which reminds me so much of the This Works Pillow Spray as it's Lavender and Chamomile scented but a fraction of the price at just £5.00. You can buy yourself some from the Hall itself or Marks and Spencer. I am finding that I use it more than I did the This Works version due to the price which makes it a lot more effective.

| Write It Down |

If you're anything like me, ideas and thoughts pop into your head when you are trying to switch off and get some much needed Zzzzz's. There is nothing more annoying than having a genius idea the night before but finding that you didn't document it because you didn't want to tempt yourself by putting them in your phone. So, I tend to write my ideas down in a notepad I keep on my bedside table and have easy access to a low lit lamp. Much better for keeping your brain switched off. 

I have also recently started a Bullet Journal where I write down all of my tasks for the next day so that I don't go to bed thinking that I need to remember something as it's all written down.

| Home Comforts | 

For me, fresh bedding is a must and I notice the difference in my sleep when the bedding isn't clean. After time, the sheets get baggy and the bed feels clammy which I can't stop thinking about when I am trying to get comfortable. And as much as I love my cushions, they really are just for show so they get thrown off the bed so that there is more space to wriggle around in during the night. 

I also love to burn a candle before bed which keeps the light low and gives a cosy atmosphere. My favourite at the minute is the Yankee Candle All Is Bright. I know it's a Christmas themed candle but we are still in winter and it's got quite a fresh smell to it. 

| Get Some Sleep | 

This may sound obvious but ensuring you have the time you need to sleep is so important. There have been many mornings where I have got around 5-6 hours of disturbed sleep and have woken up feeling so groggy with a headache. Not a good idea for my self care or for anyone I come across that morning for that matter. The issue is I am a night owl and most definitely not a morning person. So, I ensure that I will have enough time for a solid 7-8 hours sleep and then I feel much better the following day. 

My surroundings also play a big part on whether I get a good night sleep or not. If I go to sleep with a messy bedroom I am a lot more likely to wake up through the night. A tidy room really does equal to a tidy mind.

What do you do to wind down? Do you have a favourite evening ritual? 

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