Give a sentimental gift this Festive Season!

Clouded Ideas Art by Aoife Stokes. Creating custom animal portraits for the animal lover in your life!

Clouded Ideas Art by Aoife Stokes.

I am an Irish artist creating coloured pencilย  portraits, of both animals and humans.ย  I am currently having a 25% off sale on all custom portraits until 21st December 2017.

Each order is made to suit your budget! For pricing, inquiries and booking please email

Looking for a special gift for the one you love this festive season? Do they love animals? Personalised animal portraits make sentimental keepsakes of the pets in your life or those waiting at rainbow bridge. Email to book a custom portrait in time for Christmas. 25% sale now on! Shipping to UK and Ireland





Addicted to Caffeine? Time for a Caffeine Detox

It's important to restore the "factory settings" of your body once in a while, we've heard of liver detox and colon cleanses but have you considered having a caffeine detox?

I love a good aul cup of tea!

Many a cup. You know what, just let me bathe in it.

An inevitable caffeine detox has been looming over me for the last year. Ignorance and denial about the subtle and very obvious side effects caffeine was having on my body meant I was putting it off for as long as possible. At the expense of my sanity.

Let me start by saying I definitely have an addiction to milky hot beverages. The comforting habitual ritual, the soothing moment that warm drink softens your soul. Tea was my fix. Like a baby to a breast or bottle, tea was my comforter.

Which made it so difficult to even think of my world without tea. The dread meant I clung to it even more, like a child to it’s favourite teddy. You may think this is dramatic, if you’re struggling with addiction of any form it’s probably familiar.

Heart palpitations, sweaty palms, racing thoughts, anxiety and insomnia, but how could it possibly be tea? Coffee? Coffee blew my brains out. Within twenty minutes of finishing the delicious liquid my head felt like it was going to explode, nauseous and trembling. The lust had me at, “it won’t happen this time!” but it always did.

The moment I knew I had to make a serious change (this sounds much more serious than a cup of coffee, but being physically consumed by a drink is no joke, unless it’s alcohol and you’re a little tipsy. I digress…) Having a panic attack, my body was in overdrive. Shaking, trying to keep my mental state level and my breathing slow but failing. It was a wake up call.  A little Latte caught me and I finally put my brain cells before my taste buds.

The following day after sullenly drinking water after running out tea, I realised how dependant I was. The day does not begin before a sip of tea, surely? My grumpy ass stumbled through the day. It was that dreary evening I parted cash for oat milk and teabags, making my way back home to give in to my tea addiction.

Of course, within minutes, my heart was racing… with anxiety, not love. My palms were sweaty. My mind a wonderful vault of chaos.



I set out on my google exploration to find teas that tasted similar to breakfast tea – WITH milk (plant based milk though innit!) Herbal teas are fantastic for ailments but I needed comfort. After buying Rooibos tea, I skeptically made a cuppa. A hopeless tea addict, looking for a slightly healthier addiction. As much as I love to eat and drink for health, I’m not at the Matcha level yet!

Tasting Rooibos (aka Red bush) was like drinking milky liquid tobacco. As it went down a fruity note and floral aftertaste. My nostrils were offended but my taste buds were intrigued. In my opinion, much nicer than earl grey because it’s a subtle floral, if we’re really going to discuss the tea taste test. After 2 cups the tobacco smell was mellow and by my second day of drinking it, I was back to a relaxed state of mind. No caffeine, no anxiety. Lots of fatigue!

This is what it’s like to feel level headed and calm? Drinking tea since childhood was like blindfolding my body to what should have been my norm. It was like clouds parting overhead. A beautiful moment and a stark realisation, that had I not self soothed with caffeine all these years, maybe I wouldn’t have needed anxiety medication. While I still have anxiety (med free), it’s not overwhelming anymore. If I have one cup of tea or coffee, my nervous system goes into shock.

Caffeine with it’s stimulating, energising benefits is not a problem if you’re not having side effects. It can sharpen reaction time and improve performance. For long drives and athletes, caffeine has a role in staying alert. However consuming caffeine for long periods of time is counterproductive. Caffeine increases the excretion of calcium, magnesium and sodium from the body for nearly 3 hours after it has been drank. The body loses too many minerals and multiply that by the number of caffeinated beverages per day. That’s a lot of minerals going down the drain. Literally.

As caffeine leaches calcium from the body, the body’s supply becomes deficient resulting is calcium leaching from bones, a precursor for osteoporosis. If the body is too acidic, the body needs to alkalise itself by whatever means necessary.

For the average person with moderate intake of caffeine, with no caffeine sensitivity, having a morning coffee is no big deal.  If like myself, you’re a little too fond of drinking multiple cups a day or if you rely on energy drinks and pre workouts with caffeine, it might be time to find healthier alternatives. B12 supplementation is a healthy energising non stimulant, there are many oral sprays in health stores and online for the purpose.

Caffeine, as a nervous system stimulant and phychoactive substance, should be enjoy in moderation so if you’re having triple shots in your coffee, think about the effect it has on your whole body, not just your energy levels.

What are your favourite caffeine free drinks? Leave a comment to help others who might be searching for alternatives! ๐Ÿ™‚

Heal Your Colon Naturally – Things to Avoid for Healthy Bowels

What to take and what to avoid if you have bowel problems such as IBD or other gut dysfunctions. A healthy bowel keeps the immunity strong. Diet and lifestyle directly effect the health of your colon.


Colon and pancreatic cancers are on the rise and while we are far superior in some areas to our ancestors, our diet isn’t really much better.

Processed foods are every direction we look at the grocery store and you’ll be lucky to find a two word ingredient list. The wholefood, fresh food aisles are smaller. The meat fridges are full of red meats that have gone through their own preservative process. So many bargains on brightly coloured snacks. It’s hard to resist the temptation of a the baked goods too.

Approximately 70% of your body’s immunity is in the gut. What does that mean? The vast amount of  immune cells are in your gut lymph tissue alongside 80% of plasma cells. Your body is fighting disease from your gut everyday. It’s fighting the toxins from the food you eat and the medications you ingest. The intestines of an adult are on average 8.5 meters long. That’s 7 meters for the small intestine and 1.5 meters for the large intestine! A lot of surface area for bad bacteria and toxins to feed and re-absorb if we’re not careful!

We put ourselves at risk for diseases such as colon cancer, Diverticulitis, Irritable bowel diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis or Chrohn’s and various autoimmune diseases. We expose ourselves to pathogens because the food intake doesn’t nourish our bodies and our bowel movements become irregular as a result. Maybe you’re constipated or have diarrhea. Although they are common complaints, common does not equal normal.

We are responsible for the way we treat our bodies, when we neglect our nutritional needs our bodies can’t be expected to run well. Sometimes you might not be aware of your diet until you get pains or fatigue and you’re wondering why your body is treating you like this?

You can check to see if you’re meeting your daily intake of vitamins by using the free website  Cronometer.   The branded food product database is limited however you can get accurate results by entering ingredients. The website / app helps you identify the most nutrient dense food you are eating and shows the areas you are not hitting the RDA. It has a full break down of macros including all amino acids. Fitness Pal is a more accurate app when it comes to scanning barcodes however it’s only measures a few vitamins.


Cronometer breaks down each vitamin and mineral as well as your macros.

Things to AVOID

Red Meat  The heme iron in red meat sets off a process that causes inflammation in the body. Cooking meat at high temperatures degrades the proteins and muscle creatinine making it carcinogenic. Never mind all the antibiotics and diseases that may have been present in that animal before slaughter.

Sugar If you want to give bad bacteria something to feed on, sugar wins. Avoid added sugar and stick to fruits. Fruits have sugar but the fiber means they clear the gut.

Synthetic Folic Acid Studies have shown an increased risk of colonic adenomas in those taking synthetic Folic Acid, especially over a long period of time. Try not to take the supplement form, eat your greens!

Alcohol and Tobacco Promotes carcinogenic activity and decreases the absorption of minerals and vitamins, especially B vitamins which are essential for overall health.

Gluten and Dairy You may not have an intolerance to either, however they both cause inflammation in the body.

Obesity Low intensity chronic inflammation. A result of slow metabolism from insulin resistance and hormone imbalances.

Lack of exercise Physical activity moves the gut and get the lymph moving in your body. If you’re not moving, neither is your lymph! In turn there will be internal inflammation.


Nourishing Foods and Habits

Folate (B9) Reduces risk of adenomas unlike Folic Acid and is commonly deficient in those with IBD. Low Folate levels can enhance colon cancer cells in cancer patients. You can supplement Folate in oral pill form or make green smoothies with kale and spinach.

Sibibinin A herbal supplement extracted from Milk Thistle used as a supportive treatment for many cancers, especially bowel cancer.

Turmeric The curcumin in the spice Turmeric helps inhibit DNA mutations, cancer cell multiplication and inflammation in the body. Turmeric can be made into a hot drink with water and milk. Since dairy milk causes inflammation I suggest using plant based milk such as oat, almond or cashew milk.

Probiotics  Good bacteria is essential for a healthy gut. You must take probiotics if after finishing antibiotics or if you take medication daily to restore gut flora. Keep your probiotics in the fridge!

Vitamin D3 increases the production of anti-microbial molecules and helps with inflammation. There are many Vegan D3 liquid and capsule supplements, my favourite is Solgar Vitamin D3 2500IU

Vitamin E an antioxidant that decreases colon damage in studies referring to IBD. Almonds, spinach and sweet potatoes are high in vitamin E.

Quercetin is a flavanoid antioxidant mainly found in dark fruit and vegetables – Spinach, Kale, Berries, Peppers and Citrus fruits.

Green Tea / Mint Tea some people find Green tea has an anti-colitic effect. Mint tea helps to reduce bowels spasms if you have IBS.

Get moving! 30 minutes of intense physical activity or 60 minutes of moderate activity everyday is essential. It lowers insulin levels, increases your sensitivity to insulin and decreases inflammation. Your lymph is moving, you’re sweating and that’s releasing toxins.  It doesn’t mean you need to go to the gym. Get a skipping rope or do some simple HIIT training in your back garden. Practice simple yoga poses or pilates while watching TV. Bring your dog for a walk, even sweep your yard and wash the windows.

Sleep You might think sleep is just this thing that you’d love more of but it’s not priority. Well start taking sleep seriously! Lack of sleep messes with your circadian rhythm. Sleep between the hours of 11pm and 2am is the most important for hormones. It’s been shown that Nightworkers are 50% more at risk of disease because their DNA repair is not taking place at a time their body naturally wants to sleep. Eating right before sleeping means the body is digesting far more than it should be at times when it needs to rebuild.

Colonic Irrigation Having a machine clear you out to start fresh, sounds a little intimidating but it’s a pain-free option if you’re in a bad way. Personally I’ve never tried this option but for someone suffering with bowel problems or as a preventative measure, it would be beneficial.


If you have any suggestions for gut health and products you use that have helped, please leave them in the comment section ๐Ÿ™‚

The Importance of Self Care

The Importance of Self Care when life is hectic, you're too busy or stressed. Self care should be a priority, you can't do your best or give your all if you neglect your health and wellbeing.

When life is hectic and you can barely find the time to eat and sleep, the last thing you’re thinking about is taking care of yourself!

If you’re having a tough time, too often your well-being is put on the back burner. Sometimes there’s too much junk food and not enough nutrition, other times it’s too much caffeine and not enough sleep, or maybe the last thing you want to do is move partake in physical activity after a long day.

It’s easy to make excuses but your health must be a priority. How can we do our best, in important areas of our life like school, work or relationships if we do not take care of ourselves first? Self care is the epitome of a good life. Why? It starts with self respect, knowing you are worth investing the time in, knowing that self love is not selfish and making yourself feel good from the inside out boosts self esteem and confidence. Who doesn’t want that?!

It’s important to make daily efforts to practice self care.ย  I’m not talking about a candle lit bubble baths, they certainly are one way to unwind (hello Lush bath bombs…) There are so many ways to look after yourself. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming, if anything two minutes of “me time” will take some intensity off and make stressful moments a little easier to handle. Whether it’s gathering your thoughts or completely emptying your mind, having a cup of coffee in garden before work or locking yourself in the bathroom to catch a breath away from screaming children.

I like to breakdown my self care into categories and give TLC to the areas that need the most attention!

Mental Health (emotions, feelings, thoughts) :

  • Write down your thoughts and feelings, on paper or a computer. Get them out of your head! (Too often we just feel the feelings and don’t evaluate why we are feeling that way)
  • Keep a positive affirmation list to remind yourself who you really are and who you aspire to be
  • Talk about things that mean something to you with someone you love
  • Learn – research, explore aspects of yourself and your relationships with others in our life
  • Understand and acknowledge difficult times, don’t attach to an outcome
  • Turn the TV, phone and external distractions off and sit with your thoughts
  • Light a candle and read a book if you’re having trouble dwelling on negative thoughts
  • Seek a therapists help if you need more guidance with your thought process. Sometimes we can get too tunnel visioned staring at one problem for too long.

Physical Health (activity, nutrition, hygiene)

  • Stretch or foam roll – stretch your limbs, release tight muscles and loosen up
  • Unwind with activities like walking, swimming or yoga
  • Energize with high intensity cardio or get empowered by lifting weights
  • Food is either the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison – so which do you choose? Prepare meals ahead of time, make enough dinner to eat for lunch the next day. Make smoothies / juices and keep them in the fridge.
  • Nourish your immune system and nervous system – (eg. probiotics and magnesium)
  • Find out what vitamins you are lacking by inputting what you eat into Cronometer
  • Take time for grooming like a weekly pamper evening
  • Keep up with your hygiene
  • Have an annual check up, smear test or relevant health examination
  • Keep your space clean – grime, pollutants and dust don’t make for clean air

Spiritual Health

  • Get outside in the fresh air and practice mindfulness
  • Meditate or at least empty your mind and focus on breathing only
  • Plant flowers or try growing herbs in a window box


  • Set aside time for the people you love and don’t reschedule
  • Disconnect from distractions and have quality one-on -one time, this could be a walk / hike, conversations over a coffee, an indoor picnic
  • Uphold boundaries you have, saying no when you need to


I hope this list gave you some inspiration for ways to prioritize your well being. Of course, you don’t need to do everything in one day. Just remember to take a moment every day to care for you.

Leave your self care tips in the comments section! ๐Ÿ™‚