Review -Bee Rested Sleep Support

It’s no secret that I suffer from insomnia. I’ve suffered for years and in comes in peaks and troughs.

Currently it’s hit a peak, I attribute this to the current Covid pandemic, uncertainty for my business and keeping my family safe. Talking to a lot of my friends there’s a lot of us feeling the same. And dreams… is it just me but dreams are really vivid at the moment? I suspect another side- effect of the current situation.

Long story short the lovely people over at Unbeelievable Health contacted me and asked if I wanted to try their sleep support capsules. Now I’ve tried meditation ( I’m just not there yet), hypnotherapy ( I laughed as it didn’t work) and I’ve upped my exercise so I thought “ Why not” and decided to give them a go.

On their website Unbeelievable describe these supplements as : “Bee rested sleep support blends 9 effective ingredients which have a soothing effect, helping to decrease tension and to promote good sleep including Griffonia seed extract (5-HTP), Chamomile extract, bee propolis, royal jelly, lavender, hops extract, Montmorency cherry, saffron and more.”

They are suitable for vegetarians and are gluten, nut and soy free. Incidentally I’d had a call from my GP ( about something else) I’d mentioned them to try for insomnia and the gp agreed. As with all supplements if you are unsure then do check suitability with a health professional first.

I love these little guys

Anyway they are easy to take capsules that are coated and I found do not leave a funny aftertaste ( always a bonus). I started to take them 1 hour before I wanted to go to sleep. The first night I didn’t notice much- still lots of over thinking for me, but by night 3 I admit I got 5 hours. That might sound like a dismal night for most but usually 3-4 is average for me.

After a week I was getting 6+ hours. Now this could be coincidence, but I do think they are definitely helping. I’ve noticed my skin incidentally has improved as well ( no break outs ) which I think is an added bonus. Anyway I’m that impressed I’ve purchased some more and will continue on them for the time being.

You can purchase these from Boots, Holland and Barrett , Amazon and Planet Organic amongst other places.

Disclaimer: This Post is a review of gifted items. All views are my own and truthful.

Guest blog post

New post today and featuring a brilliant guest blog post from Allergy Abroad and a guide to travelling to India. Have a read and enjoy. Stay safe everyone x

How to travel In India with Food Allergies

India is one of those special countries everyone has to visit once in their lifetime. Home to the world’s oldest civilization, it is known for its exceptional architecture, diverse culture, and spiritual methods. Its magnificent forts, mesmerizing hospitality, amazing handicrafts, and relaxing spirituality is sure to take your heart away.

Many people who have food allergies would see India as a high risk country and it’s true. Many local Indian places are still unfamiliar with allergies, with it being an uncommon condition. It’s even more important to do some prep beforehand so, here are a few tips that can help you manage food allergies in India.

Important Things to Consider regarding Food Allergies in India

Prepare Your Allergy Kit Beforehand

This wouldn’t be an allergy prep list if we didn’t start with the essentials. It goes without saying when packing your case, layout all your medicines anti-allergen kits – like Benadryl, Epi-pens, inhalers etc.. and always take more than you need. I always resort to Totstotravel which has an extensive list on what to carry, it might be more than you need, but they have thought of everything you could need.

Food Research

If you have anaphylactic reactions to any of your food allergies, then you know eating out is high risk. For nut allergy sufferers, Indians use a lot of nuts in their food and coupled with a lack of awareness amongst locals, it can be a recipe for disaster. If you decide to limit yourself to established restaurants, I highly recommend contacting front offices (hotels too) in advance to find out whether they can cater for your allergy. If you want to explore and learn more on Indian cuisine then you can try a cooking class with a local Indian family. That way you can see what’s being cooked in front of you and ask questions if you’re unsure about anything. Airbnb experiences has a great range of cooking classes to try.

Dive Deep Into Your Allergy Triggers

If you already know your allergies really well, then it’s a no brainer that you should be carrying a translation of your allergy. Although the national language of India is Hindi, there are over 22 languages spoken across the Indian states. Pre written translations have made communicating my allergy a whole lot easier. You can find your allergy translated in various phrases for free online, otherwise get in touch with a indian reddit community and kindly ask someone for help.

Be Alert On The Go

Don’t forget to always carry your EpiPen. Keep it with you and not in the overhead bin while you travel. Try to go for one that has slots for other medicines and can be labeled with your name and medical information.

If you’re travelling with anyone, make it a point that they know how to use an EpiPen. You can get ‘trainer’ pens and practice so that in times of need, they can be of help.

After you Reach India

A smartphone has been an essential piece of kit for travellers. If you are carrying one you should label a contact as ‘ICE.’ ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency.” As the name suggests, this person would be the contact point if something happens to you.

You can even include any info as notes or memos that you feel a medical practitioner needs to know. This might include “Asthmatic” or “Allergic to …..” Many countries are making it a practice to check this entry on patients’ phones.

In restaurants, don’t rely on the servers to ask you about your allergies, always try to speak to the manager. If you don’t feel comfortable, remember you always have the option to walk away.

What I noticed in India was nuts were too expensive to be used for everyday cooking. So, the majority of the restaurants only garnish the delicacies with the nuts at the top, but this is of course no guarantee.

It’s always better to familiarise yourself with the local versions of the foods that you would need. Even the same dish can have variance in its recipe around India, so don’t get complacent and not check for your allergy. If the long bus or train trips are a part of your travel plan, pack a lunch with you. Otherwise, you can also get packed food at the roadside dhabas selling different eateries. These can sometimes be good spots, if you can see what and how they are preparing the food.

If you’re staying at a hotel where english is well spoken, you can discuss things with the hotel staff, and they may help ends meet. Or you it’s also very easy to make friends with a cook at any local dhaba. Just buy him the ingredients, offer some money as a token of gratitude, and you should be good to enjoy your favorite food in India also – that too, without any fear of allergy!

In the end, it all sums up to the phrase that one should eat to live, not live to eat. Read the labels of every food item very carefully and take the utmost caution while eating out in India. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to rock your trip to India. Don’t forget to share your experience with us in the comment box!

How We Are Coping With Lockdown

Hello to you all, it’s a slightly different post from me today but quite frankly I’m a bit bored, and I find writing therapeutic so I thought I’d pen my thoughts on how we are fairing in the current UK Covid-19 lockdown.

Unprecedented- this is a phrase that’s used a lot at the moment, and the truth is it is. It’s huge, we are in the middle of history books of the future right now, and I for one have a million and 1 thoughts and feelings on the whole situation. I think ( from what I can make out) we are all having good and bad days. For the record it’s ok to have those bad days. I kid you not the other day I cried…. a lot. I was overwhelmed by boredom and constant bombardment of covid-19 info from all angle- it was just too much, and break down I lost certainly did.

I joked a few weeks ago that divorce lawyers would be clapping their hands after lockdown- I still stand by this. All of a sudden you are thrust together ( and not in a good way) and the pressure builds. For the record I won’t be getting a divorce but we’ve had words over things that have never bothered us before. It’s so intense and suddenly you find loud chewing or not picking up a plate really winding you up. – This is all normal, take some time out- go for your hours exercise together and things look brighter on your return ( well hopefully anyway).

Other things I’m learning from lockdown- you will put weight on. Food and eating are one thing you can still control. It’s ok, enjoy a treat, or. Are that banana bread – the gyms will open at some point and you can get back to it. I’ll also add here I’m yet to make sourdough bread…. give me a week or two and I’m sure I’ll start.

The imaginative amongst you may have also discovered that you can socially distance in a queue to the supermarket but your friend might just be the person in front or behind you. It helps honestly, the mundane task suddenly becomes your day’s highlight and gives you a lift.

Home education – the thing that sparks fear in parents everywhere. Relax it’s fine – you’ve all got this. You don’t need to recreate school, do what’s right for you as a family. Remember a hour of one to one with a child is equivalent to a couple of lessons as it’s more focused learning. Don’t worry they’ll catch back up on any missed bits when school starts back. Enjoy the extra family time.

So there we go…. we’ve not yet gone insane and living each day one at a time. How are you all coping? Let me know in the comments below.

Virtue Drinks Review

So how are we all doing? Staying at home and keeping safe I hope. If I’m honest I’m finding the current Coronavirus lockdown physically and mentally challenging, I’m missing my family and friends, I’m missing my patients and a lot of the normality that goes with everyday life that we take for granted. Hang in there troops the good days will return.

Now I document fairly often about my awful sleep patterns. I’ve been an insomniac for years and some weeks are worse than others. I find myself often turning to caffeine to help with that afternoon slump. I tend to avoid the high sugar energy drinks…. because of the sugar content, and usually opt for a beanies flavoured coffee or similar. The lovely people over at Virtue Drinks offered to send me some new drinks to try that were high if caffeine but zero sugar. So here they are, and here are my thoughts.

Virtue describes the drinks as :
“Yerba mate is a magical energising ingredient from South America. It’s the traditional uplifting drink of choice in many countries in the region; the yerba mate drinking ritual represents unity as it brings people together. Yerba mate is an antioxidant powerhouse, with essential vitamins & minerals and amino acids. Yerba mate is naturally high in caffeine, one can = one cup of coffee (80mg natural caffeine).”

Brilliant I thought… and try it I have. There are 2 flavours Peach and Strawberry & Lime. Both have very subtle flavours- I like this as they are definitely not sweet and overpowering. Both flavours are pleasant although peach probably takes my favourite crown. They remind me a bit like Purdys just without the sugar and calories. The big bonus is that if any of you are following either weight watchers or SlimmingWorld etc then these drinks are acceptable on both diets.

The caffeine hit worked as well, perking me no end. This is another bonus for those of you who don’t actually like coffee. ( if these people exist?)

So would I recommend these drinks? Yes I would, delicate flavour, caffeine hit and zero calories. Really what’s not to like?

Have you tried these drinks yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Note- I was sent these products to try, but all thoughts and opinions are my own and truthful.

Home Schooling…. You Can Do This

As we are fast hurtling into a Coronavirus lock down here in the UK, the inevitable is happening families are in 14 day isolation and I think we are on the brink of school closures. These closures aren’t going to be like your typical snow drama, oh no, these are for potentially longer periods of time… and I can sense the dread of parents all over the country.

STOP THERE. Don’t worry you are all going to do a great job. This is a slightly different post from me but some of you may know I have partly home educated kiddo for 3 years. ( we flexi school but I won’t confuse you with that). I thought I’d try and offer some advice in helping you impart wisdom to your little poppets.

Your school’s will call it home schooling – I’ll quash that first myth for you. You don’t need time tables and plans ( do a loose one if you can be arsed but they’re very dull to do). You don’t need to sit your kids down and shout at them to work for the 6 hrs a day… you’ll get nowhere only into an argument and everything counterproductive.

When you are one to one with a child there’s no distractions, no hustle and bustle of class rooms, no “ Sit Still, stop talking “ it’s just you and your kids and 20-30 minute chunks are fine. Then have a break, get outside ( gardens are ok in isolation) go on a nature walk or bike ride if you all feel ok ( PE and science covered).

Try not to give endless work sheets, I find kids find these dull, quite frankly I find them dull. Do some experiments you can find some fab ones Here these are engaging and fun and gets children thinking and coming up with questions.

Play games like scrabble ( good for English and spelling) or monopoly. For those of you with Minecraft mad kids get the education version and do some coding etc.

Sites I find Useful

Corbett Maths

If you are after GCSE maths help this is a must visit. All the videos and work sheets are free and the kids seem to respond well to it. There are worked answers as well- great for those of you who waved goodbye to algebra years ago. Have a look Here

Twinkl

I love this site it’s handouts and lesson plans are fabulous, they’re fun and colourful and kiddo enjoys them ( no moaning = less likely for you to need wine). Even better to help with the current situation the generous people on the site are offering free membership for a month to parents who are finding themselves at home and teaching their children. I’m overly excited about this, can you tell?

Sign up Here and put the code UKTWINKLHELPS in to access the offer.

Beanstalk


Beanstalk
has your little ones covered and offers interactive learning material for children aged 1 to 6.
During the COVID-19 threat, they are offering full access for FREE. They offer live classes and ‘on demand’ classes.All you need to do is sign up Here

BBC Bitesize

This is a great site that is free, has good content and things like quizzes etc that makes learning a little bit more fun. It also covers all ages- including 16+

Teach my Monster

This is an app you can download. It’s usually £4.99 but currently free. It’s brilliant for those of you with younger children who are learning to read. It’s a colourful game format that gets them reading without then struggle.

Scholastic

https://www.scholastic.co.uk/

Click on the link above for free resource packs for KS1 and KS2

Some of my last pearls of wisdom are that remember not all learning needs to be done in a class room- kids are incredible and have the ability to learn outside the hours of 9-3pm. Use the opportunity to teach life skills, how to cook, how to change oil in their car, plant some seeds and how to appreciate the world around them. Use your time not as a chore, but as an opportunity to learn and bond together.

These are really weird and unprecedented times and we need to embrace the positives. Yes there’ll be tension ( get your wine in now) yes you’ll be frustrated at not being able to go places but we’ve all got each other, and like the age old parenting mantra states “ This is a phase- this too will pass”

I hope this has been useful is you need any more advise or pointers please free free to message me. Keep checking this post- I’ll update with extra links when a few more pop into my head.

Review- The Box Bakery

Having survived all 732 days of January, we are now in the midst of days on end of soggy, breezy weather ( Thank you Ciara for the tree that came down) . It’s cold, wet and a bit dismal- so what better excuse did I need to stay in the warm and do some baking.

Now I’m ok at baking, apart from bread. Even before my Coeliac diagnosis bread was never my strong point ( one loaf even the birds refused to eat). It has always been my nemesis, and I’m determined to sort this issue out. The lovely people over at The Box Bakery got in contact with me and sent some products to try. I was very optimistic…. surely this is one loaf that I couldn’t mess up?

Anyway this clever product it called so because you bake the bread ( or cake) in the box the mix is packaged in. No mess either, this is surely a good thing.

You peel back the top cover, that says “Lift here” to reveal a stopper. Remove this and pour water in to the box, add the stopper and give it all a good shake. Next remove the top layer completely and give everything a good mix with a fork, this will stop any dry bits of bread mix which will alter the appearance and texture of your loaf. Brush oil over the surface of the bread mixture and place it in the oven. ( follow the instructions on the pack).

Fast forward a couple of hours for cooking and cooling and look what I baked. It’s crusty, and smells divine and cuts like a dream.

It was no good, I had to try it. It doesn’t disappoint. Unlike some gluten free breads, this loaf doesn’t have a dense cardboard like texture, and unlike my usual attempts, this loaf is very much edible. I like the seeds it gives a lovely taste and slight crunch to the loaf. It also lends itself well to both toast and as a sandwich etc.

I can honestly say I’m so impressed with this bread. It’s the first time I’ve successfully accomplished and edible loaf or bread. With these results it won’t be the last loaf either.

I was sent these products as a gift to review, however all opinions are my own and honest.

Why I’m doing Dry January

Hello, happy new year to you all, and welcome to January- all 732 days of January. Yes, yes I know I exaggerate a bit but it’s a month that seems to go on forever. So why the heck am I doing Dry January??

Well firstly, those of you that know me really well, will concur that I’m fond of a drink or two… I mean let’s face it, if it looks and tastes like champagne or gin then I’ll happily sip away. I’m also very stubborn, and when it was mentioned to I ” would never in a million years be able to complete Dry January ” I had a literal hold my drink moment, al long with right I’ll show you lot. And how some friends have laughed at the mere suggestion but never the less it’s now day 4 and I’ve not faltered…. I will say today I could have caved…. but see further down ( I had a g&t substitute to help). Today I’ve felt groggy, my skin isn’t brilliant and I’ve not been firing on all cylinders…. I partially put this down to going back on the healthy eating plan after the Christmas binge as well but it’s still not helped.

Secondly not every week, but some weeks I do drink over the recommended 14 units. See more info from the NHS Here. With that in mind I figured it would do me some goo in stopping for a month, and then changing my drinking habits. I also see the reduction in calories from not drinking wine an added bonus. I started a weight loss charge last year, ( 3 stone lost so far in case you were wondering) and would like to continue with that.

Lastly I did think I might struggle sometimes during the next month so to help me not cave I signed up to cancer research’s Dryathlon. I’ve pledged to raise £150 by not drinking alcohol…. I’ve got sponsors… I will not be letting them down. I also think it’s for a good cause, I lost both my grandparents to cancer, my friend has recovered from breast cancer and my cousin is currently on chemotherapy…. it affects everyone in their lives in one way or another… I’m just trying to do my bit. The link to my fundraising page can be found Here

So how am I going to manage I hear you all ask? Well I’ve got some cunning plans to help me. There’s more and more options in the shops of alcohol free drinks ( and I’m not just talking squash and water).

My current favourite is this

It’s not sweet, and tastes like weak G&T, which if you have in a gin glass, with ice and imagination almost tastes like the real thing…. it’s great. M&S also have a version, which I’ll get and update the post when I’ve tested it.

The very exciting new kid on the block is Free Damm which is both gluten free ( yes you read that right) and alcohol free. I’ve not been much of a larger drinker….. but some fell in my trolley and I’m giving it a go. You can buy this from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose ( that I’ve seen them in so far anyway)

I’ve also tried this de-alcoholised red wine…. it’s by Torres Natureo, and I really liked it. Not as full-bodied as a Pinot Noir, or the like, but not a bad substitute if you’re struggling without that glass of vino in the evening.

I’ll be adding more finds to this post as the month goes on…… stay along for the ride, I’d love it if you did.

My favourite Gluten Free Products of 2019

Well we are nearly at that time again…. New Years Eve. And before the champagne starts flowing and the fireworks start their infernal banging it has got me thinking- just what have been my favourite free from Products of this year?

It’s been a mixed year in the free from field. We’ve lost smaller companies, and seen an expansion in the larger supermarket ranges. “May Contain” warnings have got me on my soap box a lot this year( I’m looking at you Sainsbury’s and Rice Dream) , but on the whole it’s been pretty, especially for those of us that are gluten free.

So to finish off the year I thought I’d share with you my favourite products of 2019.

My absolute favourite of the year has to be the selection of pastries that have hit the market. Croissants have been hit or miss but I love the Marks and Spencer choc chip twists, the apricot danish is pretty good as well. We also cannot forget the Tesco cinnamon swirls that launched last month. Seriously they are amazing.

In Marks and Spencer I’ve been impressed with both the pork pie ( dairy free and no nut warning either), and the spring rolls. Both delicious and great to have some new savoury items on the market as well.

Let’s not forget this from M&S as well👇🏻 this accidental find is both gluten free and a bargain at £2 a jar.

Nomo is my favourite new brand of the year, standing for No missing out they make chocolate that is dairy, gluten, egg, peanut and tree nut free. It is honestly the best dairy free chocolate I’ve tasted. Even better was they made an advent calendar this year. Kiddo was over the moon. It was the first year she’s had a decent chocolate calendar, whoops all round in our house I can tell you.

My top seasonal finds were from Sainsbury’s who this year actually produced a chocolate Yule log AND a Christmas pudding without a nut warning on them. No exaggeration I was so happy I nearly cried… more of the same this year please Sainsbury’s ( I’ll buy some waterproof mascara)

Finally kiddos pick of the year was the mermaid cupcake kit from Tesco, apparently the colours were just too funky

So there we have it, my top picks this year. I’m still hopeful for a gluten free battenburg cake in 2020 ( looks eagerly at Mr Kipling) and for someone to master the croissant. That said, if I find them you’ll be the first to know.

Happy New Year you lovely readers, here’s to a great 2020.

Back To School…..

So it’s looming, Augtember is nearly over and that first week of school is starting to wave at me- do you know what? I hate it.

I mean hands up all of you who have a heart attack at the cost of the uniform- yep me to. I’m still trying to dissuade mini me from the god awful Lilli Kelli numbers she has her eye on, in swap for the slightly less bank balance haemorrhaging Clarks pair. Good luck with that one I hear you all cry.

I also despise the morning rush, and routine, I have crippling ( slight exaggeration) insomnia so getting up after about 3 hrs sleep is never fun.. Mostly though is that we have fun over the summer, and getting back to the grind stone is difficult for us all. There’s some parents who count down the days to school going back- I’m not one of them, mind you I’ve only got the 1 munchkin, if I had more I might think differently.

Good luck to all you reception Parents, have your tissues ready- you’ll need them. Mine skipped in, didn’t look back and gave it her all, I was proud but a mess obviously. Have that glass of wine in the evening, you deserve it.

Good luck if it’s the first time entering the playground as well. My goodness that was/is a minefield. Not only do the children have to navigate their way through new friendships and meeting- so do you, but with the parents. To those of you who don’t know anyone, seize the moment and say hello. Most people are great, ignore the scurry of gossip ( there WILL be some) and make your own judgement of people.

To the allergy parents, you’ve got this to. I won’t lie reception was the worst for me, I mean I’m always by my phone but that first year I checked it all the time. But we made it with no major incidents….How?? Good planning. My advice is get your child’s care plan in place and get the school staff familiar with it. I went in on the teacher training day to explain to the staff the signs and symptoms to look out for if L is having a reaction.

She has a medical box at school ( Epi pens, antihistamines, eye spray) she also has a safe treat box as well, just so the teachers can use treat if needed ( birthdays etc) and no one is excluded. It works well.

L has grown into a few more Allergies since starting, she’s now having to avoid gluten, dairy and latex is looking more likely. I get a lot of phone calls, and early pick ups, we now flexi-school her to help but it works, and the staff are managing her allergies. Just remember communication it key.

So there you have it, my advice to you all.

Enjoy it, it’s a stage in their development, they are growing up, they are learning. Embrace it, build each other up.

You’ve all got this

Welcome to the school run years……..

Hello 2019

Good bye 2018, and for the most parts good riddance. Although not as horrid as 2015 ( my annus horribilis if you will) there are some parts of last year that I’m glad to be leaving behind us.

That said it’s not been all bad- I’ve also learnt to ride the ups and downs and go with the flow more. We also made some great memories as a family, and things like this little blog have continued to grow which amazes and excites me all at the same time.

Also we have made another year without having to use an epi pen on mini me. It came close ( cheers mr insect) but never the less a year without an anaphylactic shock is always a positive, especially as we’ve all had the epi- pen shortage issues as well, I was like a bloodhound at one point trying to track one down.

Other positives are we had a great family holiday, fabulous days out and plenty of fun in the glorious summer heat wave.

My little blog- this little blog that I started a few months after L’s first reaction, has grown, and continues to grow with followers which amazes and humbles me at the same time. Thank you to you all.

This year I’d like to obviously carry one with my usual content of recipes, advice and the odd review but I’d like to share with you all a bit more about our lives, how we manage Type 1 diabetes, Coeliac disease and food allergies, a bit about what we all get up to, and why ( for my own sanity) I think I’m going to start a bullet journal. Well try to anyway.

So there we go, thank you for sticking with me- now let’s see what 2019 has to offer.

Over and out for now xx