A JRA Update and Personal Thoughts on Healing…

family-photographer-surrey-berkshireDenise-Balyoz-portrait-photographerThis week, we went to London to see Phoebe’s eye specialist at Great Ormond Street. What an eye-opening (please forgive the pun!) experience…and what a lesson in the pro’s and con’s of Western medicine….

It has been 18 months since JRA (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) came into our lives…and just over a year since her uveitis was discovered. Since then, we’ve been on a difficult journey. Some of which I’ve shared here on the blog.

photographer-windsor,-ascot,-sunningdale,-virginia-waterFrom the beginning, my goal has been to help heal Phoebe using as few drugs as possible. My preference was to find and address the underlying cause of her illness than mask over her symptoms with drugs…drugs that carry a whole host of possible side effects.

Choosing this route has been immensely hard. None of Phoebe’s Western doctors offered any support. Their view was that drugs were the ONLY option. They even suggested that I was harming my daughter by not giving her the medication. They told me that her dis-ease could be managed. They did not believe she could be healed. Even harder for me…some of my friends and family pushed me to give the drugs.

photographer-windsor-marlow-henleyTreating her holistically, with food, supplements and alternative care, came at a BIG cost to me in money and time…an investment that I knew I would need to maintain for quite a while.  Alternative healing doesn’t happen quickly. It takes months, and sometimes, even a year or more to see results.

The results are starting to happen for us now. I am so grateful for this. But even with these good results, I’m having to stay on my toes.

fine-art-portrait-photographer-ukSo now, a little story:

Two weeks ago, because of the complexities of the NHS, we saw another eye specialist. After looking through the scope, she frowned and said that Phoebe’s inflammation was back. Her eyes were flaring and please would I increase her steroid eye drops. Instinctively and consciously, I ignored this advice. I didn’t think Phoebe needed more steroids.

On Thursday, Phoebe’s specialist looked through the scope and smiled. “All clear!” he said. And…please would I reduce her steroid drops. :) When I asked him about the other results, I learned that Phoebe’s eyes show residual signs of past inflammation. Some doctors try to suppress this. The choice of treatment is very much down to interpretation by each individual doctor.

lifestyle-photographer-berkshireThis little experience was confirmation, again, of all that I have learned this year:

1. Trust your gut. Always. Deep down, you know what is right for you….and for your child.

2. Recognise your fear. Fear of the disease and its effects. Fear of long-term damage and the worst possible consequences. Fear of the ‘what if’ of NOT taking the drugs.

Parenting a child with an illness is SO hard. Having to make decisions for them and their body is harder than making decision for just you. But know that what your fear is telling you is not right. This is not your gut speaking. Recognise and let go of your fear. (Trust me, easier said than done. And this might take time. Be gentle with yourself as you learn to let go of your fear…)

3. Believe in health. See health. Speak as if you and your child are already healed. Last winter, I started visualising Phoebe running in the field. I started visualising her eyes clear and bright. I speak to her with words consciously chosen that reflect ‘health’ and ‘getting better’. We developed a little mantra and (when no one is around) we march around the park proclaiming that her eyes are better and she is inflammation free.

4. And last, but not least…Get the RIGHT doctor for you. Every doctor is different. Search. Question. Demand referrals until you find someone you trust.

Wishing you and your children and very healthy week…

baby-child-photographer child-family-photographer

Food on Friday: Breakfast and a Snack…

gluten-free-breakfastBreakfast. We’re breakfast girls in my house. We wake up hungry and we are not afraid to eat heartily to start our day. But what do we eat if we are wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free?

Our breakfasts usually happen in two parts. We start with a green juice followed by an un-porridge porridge. Though we used to be completely Paleo, we have started to have quinoa, amaranth or rice at breakfast 4-5 days a week.


I made this Lemon – Coconut Brown Rice porridge this week. It was wonderful!

Yields: 2 servings
Preparation time: About 10 minutes
Cooking time: About 20-30 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • flaked raw almonds
  • pomegranate seeds or blueberries
  • coconut oil
  • lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
  • desiccated coconut
  1. Rinse the rice under cool water. Add to pot & cover with boiling water from the kettle.
  2. Leave the pot uncovered simmer on the lowest setting for 15-20 mins. Once the water starts to absorb, add the coconut milk and cinnamon and continue to cook.
  3. Once most of the liquid is absorbed, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the rice sit for 5 minutes more before dishing out.
  4. Sprinkle with berries, almonds, lemon zest and dried coconut. Top with 1 tsp coconut oil. (this will melt into the rice). Add more coconut milk as desired.
  5. I like a lot of cinnamon and usually sprinkle more on top. Mmmm…


Once breakfast is out of the way, I will say that we’re all about the snacks.

Here’s one I made today. And bonus…Phoebe (obviously) loved it too….


My Green Banana Ginger Avocado Smoothie

1 large (or 2 small) frozen bananas

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 handful raw almonds (soaked if possible)
1/4 avocado
small piece of ginger (Note: since I was making for my daughter, I used less. When I make for me, I use more)
1 dash tumeric
2 dashes cinnamon
water – start with 1 cup and add more to reach desired consistency
Super food Additons:
1/2 tsp bee pollen
1 tsp macca
1/2 tsp chlorella and spirulina greens powder
Toss the chia seeds & almonds in the blender with the water so they can start to soften. Add everything else to  the blender. Blend until smooth. (A note on sweetness: The banana, bee pollen and macca all help to sweeten this smoothie. If you need more sweetness, feel free to add a teaspoon or two of raw honey or real maple syrup…or a drop or two of liquid stevia.)
As you can see, this was well received as a snack! I like to use this as an after dinner treat for me or even for a quick meal when I’m too rushed to cook for myself.
I’d love to hear what you think. Happy eating!

Beautiful Girl

Every once in a while, look back to the beginning and remember what it was that made you fall in love…Denise-Balyoz-Child-portraits-Berkshire-Surrey

And little Miss L makes three…

Though she is only tiny, Little Miss L came into the studio with buckets of personality. She knew what she wanted and when she wanted it…and she wasn’t afraid to put her little foot down to get it! As a result, she kept us on our toes and laughing. 
baby-photographer-virginia-water-ascot-surrey-windsor baby-photographer-windsor-ascot-sunningdale-surrey newborn-photographer-windsor-berkshire-surrey newborn-portraits-london-berkshire-surreybaby-family-child-photographer-windsornewborn-photographer-henley-marlow

Food on Friday: Our Un-pasta Pasta

Several times a week, I am asked, ‘But…what DO you eat?

You see, last year, my daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. To reduce the inflammation in her body and to heal her immune system without drugs, we eat an unusual and very healthy diet.  No wheat, gluten, dairy, nightshade (tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers), sugar and (until recently) eggs or grains. Though it might sound like there is nothing else left to eat, we seem to always find yummy things on our plates.

Because so many people have asked, I will start to share a bit of our food journey here on The UK Mama. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m also not saying this diet would be right for you. But perhaps some of  what we do might sound good and inspire you to try new things for you…and for your children.

Bottom-line, I’ve never felt healthier or lighter. I also never struggle to get my daughter to eat. Perhaps its because I eat the same meal with her. Or perhaps she just thinks this food tastes good. And rumour has it, her teachers covet her lunches!

Anyway, Food on Friday is born. I hope you sharing this little delicious bit of our lives. Feel free to drop me a line with any questions, comments or your very own alternative recipes. :)

Denise-Balyoz-Carrot-Courgette-pastaPasta! Every child loves it, and I missed it when we gave up grains. But then I found this….Super easy. Great hot or cold. Serve with a sauce for dinner or cold for lunch.

Courgette – Carrot Pasta

You will need 1 courgette & 1 carrot per person. Peel with a peeler to form the pasta strips. Blanche briefly in boiling water (30 secs – 1 minute).

So many ways to serve:  top with a traditional bolognese or pesto sauce. Toss with olive oil, lemon and chopped herbs. Serve hot for dinner. Save the left overs and serve cold with olive oil and hemp seeds for lunch. Feel free to make with just carrot or just courgette. Nothing could be quicker or easier.


While we are on the topic of quick and easy, I love this super easy salad. The original recipe is from Kris Carr, though I’ve changed it slightly to suit me.

Quinoa, Kale, Broccoli Salad

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups kale chopped
  • 1/2 broccoli head, chopped
  • 3 tbsp flaked raw almonds
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice + lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • handful chopped coriander
  • sea salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

In a small pot over medium heat, add quinoa and water and bring to a simmer. Toss in chopped broccoli. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Add chopped kale to the quinoa and cover for a few minutes until kale wilts. Toss kale and quinoa with remaining ingredients. Serve warm as a side for dinner. Great cold for lunch or snack.

Have a great weekend. Happy and healthy eating.

The Not So Boring Corporate Headshot

Once upon a time…a long, long time ago, I used to work in IT. And I had my requisite black-suit-white-shirt-rather-stiff corporate portrait. It was a decent portrait, but yaaaawn. Nothing special.

Though I don’t talk much about it, from time to time, I do corporate portrait work. Give me a willing client and I will do everything I can to get creative with the environment, the light and the posing.

Last week I was in London with a team of software engineers. This is what happened.

Portrait-Photographer-Berkshire-Surrey-London Denise-Balyoz-Portraits-London Denise-Balyoz-Corporate-Portrait Denise-Balyoz-Corporate-Photography Denise-Balyoz-Business-Portraits Denise-Balyoz-Business-Headshot-London


Oh yes, and one more reflection…


If you would like to get creative with your corporate portrait, give me a call. I would love to help.

Corporate Headshot or Fine Art Portrait?

Any of you who follow me on Facebook, know that I had a corporate portrait shoot in London this week. This team of software engineers are (self-admittedly) quirky and geeky and fun. And so, in addition to a the traditional  corporate portraits, I had a little play with London, the light, reflections and a software engineer, or two. I’m still editing the session, but just had to share this one. More to come…


Portraits on the First Day of School

The first day of school. I remember when that sounded so foreign to me…and so far away. And today here it is and she is ready. Perhaps it is obvious to her that I am not so much. Yesterday she said, ‘Don’t worry, Mama. Even when I’m 18, I’ll still be your baby.‘  I think she thinks that 18 is very far away. I suspect it will be here before we know it.

All that matters now, though, is that she went off happily and proudly. Here we go into the next chapter of growing up….

denise-balyoz-photography-berkshire denise-balyoz-photography-windsordenise-balyoz-photography-child-portraitsdenise-balyoz-photography-school