Day 40: Quadruple the excitement!

Four fabulous things happened today:

1. My nut milk bag arrived

2. My dad made his famous pureed spinach and I was able to have it!

3. I realised it’s day 40!

4. FREE meat!

These things might not seem so fabulous to anyone else, but for me, all four are MAJOR!

This week, and today in particular, have been exceedingly stressful at work. The team I work with is great – I really like them all, and the company itself is awesome. It’s just the damn client who’s a nightmare (isn’t that how it always goes?).

Anyway, after the stressiest work week yet, I went to my folks’ house for dins to discover that my dad had collected my nut milk bag for me. I now have all the ingredients I need to make my yoghurt, and I cannot WAIT! I’m going to try it this weekend, time permitting.

Purchased at, where they tell me it's been 'packed with love' ;-)

Purchased at, where they tell me it’s been ‘packed with love’ 😉

Then, at dinner, my dad pulled out a bowl of spinach, which he’d cooked with just salt and pepper, and pureed. There really is nothing better for an SCD belly. Plus, I’d already tested green beans for three days (Mon – Wed), but I hadn’t thought ahead to what I was going to introduce today. Voila! I was able to have the spinach without compromising my diet – in fact, it was a good thing that I was able to add something new. And it was deeeeelicious!


Now, as I typed my blog title, I realised that it’s day 40. Work has been so insane that I didn’t even write the number on my hand today. 40 really is a milestone, plus it’s nearly half way. I’m so proud of myself for having made it this far without knowingly cheating or doing anything to jeopardise my diet.

40 days, that is :-)

40 days, that is 🙂

And then there was meat

So remember a few days ago I showed you that pic of the piece of ‘metal’ I found in my venison mince? Turns out, it was a piece of buckshot. Can you actually. I mean, I love eating meat but that just brought the hunt WAY too close to home.

Anyway, the manufacturers were hugely apologetic (they said the chances were about one in a million of that happening) and to show just how contrite they were, they delivered a ‘sorry’ pack of meat to me today. This included ostrich mince, ostrich boerewors, ostrich fillet, venison mince, chicken kebabs, and entire spatchcock chicken, venison patties and two HUGE bags of biltong. I was gobsmacked. I’ve just finished loading it into our freezer and we have space for NOTHING else. I actually had to start defrosting other things!

every time you eat meat t-shirt funny tee

Unfortunately, everything except about 2 of those items contain additives like wheat, etc, so I can’t eat them. But K, an even bigger meat lover than I, is thrilled. I think that this was an incredible gesture and I’m quite overwhelmed.

So how’s the belly?

Well……………….. it’s not great today, to be honest. I ate a lot of bananas when I got home (late) after the show last night, as well as a few glasses of apple juice. This morning, I was constipated. Lately, I’ve come to rely on the regularity of my morning BMs, so I was irritable that nothing was forthcoming. This has been the trend all day, combined with – as usual – bloating. Maybe the vodka that I had last night?

My diet is becoming more and more varied so I’m hoping that at some point things will just ‘click’ into place with the right combo of fruit and veg. Maybe I need to add more fruit. Hopefully the yoghurt will help too.

I’ve also had jolting pains in my lower left quadrant for the whole day. I really think it’s stress because it started at work and I’m finding it really hard to unwind (though I really am trying).

Oh, and Eminem was AMAZING! Such an incredible performance, and he is a true legend. If you ever have the chance to see him live, grab it.


Our view from the nose-bleed seats

This is what happens when Eminem tells the crowd to put their lighters up...

This is what happens when Eminem tells the crowd to put their lighters up…

FRIDAY tomorrow guys! It’s going to be a crazy busy weekend for us. Tomorrow night we’re going to watch a band performing at a bar in Hout Bay, then Saturday is Pride (YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!), Saturday night we have a friend’s birthday party, and Sunday is the tattoo convention in Cape Town that we’re really hoping to get to. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! What are you getting up to?

Day 39: Apple juice… and vodka

As you’ll know if you’ve read my earlier posts, I started testing wine last week. It went okay but I could definitely tell that affected my gut: I had some pain and bloating, so I’ve decided that it’s something I should only indulge in moderately – like twice a week max.

Today a colleague who knows of my tummy woes asked me about other types of alcohol. Most are illegal, but one of the few that is allowed on SCD is vodka – and I’ve always enjoyed it. But I’ve also always consumed my vodka with Diet Coke, which is a big no-no for me now. I’ve tried it with soda water but that, too, causes me bloating. All gassy drinks disagree with me. So she suggested I try it with apple juice… which I’ve just done.

It seems so ironic to mix vodka with my 100% pure and natural juice, but I did and it was very tasty. I drank it about an hour ago so I’ve yet to determine any ill effects, but for now – bar a floaty head – I feel fine.


If you do choose to drink legal spirits, make sure they don’t contain any grains or potato extracts. While most forms of vodka have been distilled to the point that these elements are gone, some do still contain them.

Other than that, the food is going well. I’m enjoying my meals and not experiencing any discomfort from the food I’m eating, except for bananas. These do cause me some bloating and discomfort if I eat too many of them, or if they’re not ripe enough. I have also learnt that I can’t handle mushrooms.

Shortly, we’ll be heading off to the Eminem concert, and I’m SOOO excited. We live right opposite the Cape Town stadium, and I can already hear that the party is underway with the opening acts. The streets are streaming with people and it’s a great vibe. I can’t WAIT for the show!

Will definitely report back tomorrow 🙂


Day 38: Green beans and work blues

It’s been a stressful few days at work, which I know is not good for my gut. It’s always the first place I feel stress, anxiety or unease: Those horrible knots, the nausea, the jolts of adrenaline. I try to be very aware of it and to manage it as far as possible.


I keep reminding myself that I was offered this job when I was very happy (and successful) working for myself as a freelancer. I took it because the remuneration was attractive and because it was offered to me just as I was recovering from my last flare. I was on cortisone and I felt like I could conquer the world! No, but seriously, I thought that maybe the stability of a ‘9-5’ would be good for my health, as opposed to the uncertainty of freelance work.

So I keep telling myself that I can always go back to it. At any time, I can pack it in and return to my little home office, and to the foreign students I taught English to as well. It helps to keep me calm and to consider this a ‘favour’ I’m doing for the company, rather than the other way around (even if it’s not true!).

Does your job stress you out? How do you cope with it? It’s so important for people like us, with IBD, to find productive ways of handling it.

Oh but OH! There was one bright spot in the black hole of my work day today: One of the offices newbies asked me if this was my ‘first job out of varsity’. Considering that I graduated 10 years ago, my entire week (and possibly 30th year) was made.

But back to the food

Doesn’t it always come back to the food? 😉 The green beans are going surprisingly well. I am never quite sure after supper whether I’m bloated or just full, because I tend to eat my biggest meal of the day at night (BAD, yes, I know). I just hate feeling too full while I’m at work, or in the middle of the day. It makes me feel sluggish and unproductive.

Anyway, I had some beans at work today, and suffered zero ill effects. I’m pretty shocked that I’m handling them so well, but I’m so happy about it. It’s yet another food I can add to my diet.


And the wine?

No wine. Despite how lovely it would’ve been to knock back a glass or two after work last night and today as well, I have resisted and I must say, I can feel a difference. I don’t have any cramps or bloating. Wine is going to have to be consumed in serious moderation, and that’s okay. I can handle it.


No, not that kind of M&M! EMINEM! He’s coming to perform in Cape Town tomorrow and K got us last minute tickets! I’m beyond excited, and the best part is that we live right opposite the Cape Town stadium, so we can just stroll over when we’re ready, and stroll back home. The crazy part is that the tickets were sold for just R99, which is about $9. Originally, they ranged from about R500 to over R1000 ($50 to $100-ish), which is really expensive for us.


I’m sure the vibe is going to be INSANE and I’m sooooooo excited! So if I don’t post tomorrow, you’ll know it’s because we got home super late and with our heads full of expletives 😉



Emotional stress and the gut-brain connection

I think that most people who are diagnosed with a digestive disease spend some time trying to figure out what caused it. Doctors don’t know what triggers these illnesses, and in the absence of definitive answers, many of us go searching for our own. I think this is not only because humans are inquisitive by nature. I think it’s because we want to know that if we had any part to play in our illnesses – and in most cases, we did, at least to a greater or lesser degree – we want to be sure that we won’t keep perpetuating these actions.

For me, I know that poor diet was most likely a contributing factor. But having carefully traced the course of my ulcerative colitis, and having worked closely with a skilled nutritionalist, I came to realise – with shock but not surprise – that the onset of my disease, as well as my dermatological issues (psoriasis/eczema) coincided with a very unhappy period in my life when I was under intense and ongoing emotional distress as the result of a bad relationship.

But why does stress have this kind of effect on the digestive system? I did some digging because I’m a bit of a curious cat myself. There are thousands – maybe millions – of pages online chronicling on the brain-gut connection and stacking up the scientific evidence supporting the theory that our gut is our ‘second brain’. It is a system that is actually able to perform its functions independently of the brain, but which is also vulnerable to its own emotional, hormonal and physiological upsets. Here, I want to focus particularly on the emotional element.

Explaining the link between brain and gut

In a fascinating piece published by Harvard Medical School called The gut-brain connection, the author explains:

“The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.

“The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so intimately that they should be viewed as one system.

“This is especially true in cases where a person experiences gastrointestinal upset with no obvious physical cause. For such functional GI disorders, it is difficult to try to heal a distressed gut without considering the role of stress and emotion.”

For myself, and I’m sure many of you, this last paragraph in particular resonates. Doctors tried to find a root cause of my ulcerative colitis, but came up with nothing solid. I hadn’t been ill. I hadn’t been on any treatment that may have caused it. I hadn’t contracted a parasite (despite my father’s insistence that I must’ve caught something in India in 2009!).


Which is why I kept searching for a cause. And, when I put the pieces together, only one thing made sense: The skin problems started 3 months into that relationship. The bleeding started a year in. It was the most emotionally fraught time of my entire life. To put it plainly, it was an emotionally, verbally and psychologically abusive relationship out of which, a friend told me recently, she was surprised I’d come out of alive.

In his article entitled How stress wreaks havoc on your gut – and what to do about itpublished on, Dr Mercola says,

“Hippocrates once said that “all diseases begin in the gut,” and it’s also widely known that stress is a trigger that causes multiple chronic disease processes to occur. These two health dogmas are actually intricately intertwined, as stress is detrimental to your gut health, and together stress and a damaged gut can contribute to multiple inflammatory diseases and conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic skin conditions, kidney problems, urinary conditions, allergic and atopic conditions, degenerative conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and inflammatory bowel disease.

“To put it simply, chronic stress (and other negative emotions like anger, anxiety and sadness) can trigger symptoms and full-blown disease in your gut.”

So what can you to mitigate the effects of stress?

We all experience stress every day, and not all stress is bad. Think about it: If you didn’t feel stress, you wouldn’t feel compelled to get out of bed in the morning and get to work on time. You wouldn’t study for exams and for me personally, I’d never hit a deadline! Stress is integral to daily life, and for many of us, it spurs us into action and ensures that we get stuff done. The problem is when it’s the kind of stress that keeps you up at night; that causes your hair to fall out and propels you into the loving embrace of fried food.

We all know that kind of stress. It’s the kind that makes your tummy twist into knots, gives you cramps, leads to diarrhoea (even people without any known GI issues experience this) and keeps you in a heightened state of anxiety and nervousness. It’s when you feel like you’re always on edge, and you can’t switch off the nagging worries in your mind. Maybe you binge on food, alcohol or drugs. Maybe you cry. Maybe you fall apart. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or even a gastroenterologist – to know that this kind of stress is Super Bad For You.


Okay so, everyday stress = okay. Major, ongoing stress = not okay.

The good news is that you DO have the ability to manage the stresses in your life. Like school and work and traffic. Even abusive relationships at home or at work, or financial worries. And while there are many types of major stresses we can’t easily overcome, there are plenty that we can.


If we’re to heal, and at the very least ensure that our bodies are no longer subjected to the onslaught of negative stress, we need to find ways to manage the stresses in our lives. So mitigate the ones you can. Wherever possible, limit your stress or manage it better. Because when you’re faced with a sick child or a financial collapse, it’s going to be hard to control your stress response. But when you’re sitting in traffic and a driver cuts you off, or you’re standing in a queue and someone cuts in… let it go. Trust me, I know this is hard! I get worked up SOOO easily. But I know I owe it to myself, and my health, to try, and I am making the effort.

As I like to say: stay calm, stay positive, reduce stress. If you can do that every day – or at least try to – you’ll already be well on your way to giving your gut a much, much needed break from the crushing effects of stress. Oh, and kick that abusive relationship to the curb. Whether it’s a boss, a partner or a family member, there is no negotiation. Trust me, you’ll never look back.


Day 37: 5 awesome things I can eat right now

I want to show you that being on SCD, even at this early stage in the game, is not impossible or even very difficult. It can be boring, sure, and it can be time-consuming, definitely. But with a little imagination (another essential element on this diet), you can make your meals pretty damn enjoyable.

Tonight I introduced green beans. I’m feeling a little gassy, I can’t lie, but I’m not uncomfortably bloated or anything. Plus, I had such a full plate of food tonight that I realised I can start mixing up my meals and alternating my veg. Which is what brought me to this post 🙂

So here are 5 pretty delicious things I can (and do) eat at the moment:

– Egg omelette with garlicky tomatoes and green beans (will try it this weekend)

You can get really creative with your omelette fillings. Use any veg that you've already phased in and that agrees with you, like spinach, mushrooms or peppers

You can get really creative with your omelette fillings. Use any veg that you’ve already phased in and that agrees with you, like spinach, mushrooms or peppers

– Grilled chicken with avo and boiled zucchini or carrot sauce

– Banana ‘ice cream’ (chop a few bananas, freeze them, them dump them into your food processor to make ‘ice cream’ – such a treat!)

– Gem squash with tomato and garlic sauce (one of my current favourite meals)

– Steak with avocado, butternut and mushrooms (if mushrooms agree with you)


– Bonus: Very ripe bananas or ripe avo. I list these as bonuses because they require no preparation (they are the only raw things I can eat thus far) and are absolutely delicious even on their own.

A note about avos

Avocado can really transform your meals so if you can tolerate it and you like it, try to introduce it as early on in phase 2 as possible. I adore the creaminess, especially combined with meat (it takes the place of sauce wonderfully), and it’s a fantastic, filling snack on its own. The healthy fats are phenomenally good for you and a great addition at this stage of the diet.


Other things you could phase in right now on Phase 2:

– Honey

– Pineapples, apricots and plums

– Peppers, spinach, cucumber (de-seeded and cooked), asparagus and pumpkin

– Nut milks (homemade)

I think that after green beans, I’ll add pineapple, pepper and SCD yoghurt made with homemade nut milk, before moving on to Phase 3.

How are you progressing so far on this diet?

Day 36: Let’s try that again

So I got a bit ahead of myself yesterday. Today is day 36 🙂 Either way, it’s going well.

Today I spent around 3-4 hours cooking. That’s the thing with SCD. It’s not just a psychological commit; it’s a time commitment too. There’s no ‘quick grabbing’ of snacks – unless you’re talking about bananas (which I eat in unashamed abundance – and even bananas need to be bought in advance to ensure they’re ripe enough).

You need to have at least one day a week, but preferably two, when you can set aside at least a few hours to cook. And while it sucks at the time, you’ll thank yourself when you get home late from work in the middle of the week and most of your food is already prepared. Here’s what I cooked today.


These guys are a mission because you need a lot of them to yield a fairly small amount of workable food. I cooked up 2kg today. I started by dunking them in boiling water for about a minute, to make it easy to peel off the skin. Once the skin has been removed, you need to cut them open and remove the seeds. It took me almost an hour to get through 2kg (but I’m pretty pedantic). That said, the results were worth it.


Because I’d already tested garlic, I tossed the peeled, de-seeded, chopped chunks of tomato into a pot with some chopped garlic and boiling water. Cooked for about an hour on med-high heat, then pureed with a hand blender. It makes a beautiful sauce that goes fantastically with meat and veg. I froze some and have about 3 days’ worth in the fridge.

Green beans

Now this is a real test. I’ve suspected for years that green beans don’t agree with me, but when I went through the list of foods to introduce on Phase 2, this was one of the remaining few that appealed to me. I topped-and-tailed about 6oog of green beans, sliced them into about inch-long pieces, and boiled them for an hour and a half. They smell amazing when they’re cooking! I’ll be testing them from tomorrow. I made enough for the next three days, plus some have gone into the freezer.



I peeled and de-seeded three medium-sized butternuts, and cut them into small blocks. I also removed as much of the ‘stringy’ bits in the bulb part that I could, just because I want to limit any possible digestive hurdles. Once chopped, they only take about 45-6o minutes to cook (and less if you’re cooking a smaller batch). I’ve also found that you can cook pre-chopped butternut in the microwave and it only takes about 12 minutes. Of course, you can cook butternut with the skin on, but I find that it’s harder to peel them when they’re super soft. Again, I put enough in the fridge for about 3 days, and froze the rest.

Green beans, butternut (at the back), tomatoes and a bowl of cooked gem squash. Plus the freakin awesome kettle my sister bought us when we moved into our new apartment. It lights up in blue when it boils!

Green beans, butternut (at the back), tomatoes and a bowl of cooked gem squash. Plus the freakin awesome kettle my sister bought us when we moved into our apartment. It lights up in blue when it boils!

Gem squash

I cooked 5 gem squash, for about an hour. I always scrape the skin out of the shells for easy eating 🙂 It makes about 3 days’ worth of fare, depending on how much you eat at each meal. I LOVE squash so I could probably get through two whole (small) ones at each dinner.


Venison meatballs

I bought about 1kg of venison mince and divided it into 14 patties. I seasoned the meat with salt and pepper, but nothing else. Weirdly, while I was shaping them into patties, a small metal ball fell out of the meat. I took a photo and sent it, along with a very displeased email, to the manufacturers. It could’ve caused serious problems! If I’d bitten it I could’ve broken a tooth, and if I’d swallowed it… it’s not even worth thinking about. So let’s see what they say.


Anyway, the problem with venison, as I’ve said before, is that it smells terrible when you’re cooking it. In fact, we’ve just returned home from being out for several hours (at the most awesome gay comedy gig where K performed – have I mentioned she’s a comedienne? 🙂 ) and our small apartment reeks of it. I’m not sure what the solution is. But I do love the taste.

…And the one non-SCD thing I baked today

I haven’t baked in ages, and I miss it. This morning, I grabbed a bunch of ingredients, including a chocolate muffin mix, instant caramel pudding, milk, oil and eggs, and threw together a batch of chocolate-caramel brownies. I don’t know who I intended them for. K is supposed to be eating healthy. But I convinced her to have one, and she said they were ‘the best brownies I’ve ever eaten’. Yay! Except now I have an entire batch of chocolate brownies just hanging around my kitchen. Plus I got a good talking-to from K about contaminating my SCD area!


My choc-caramel brownies – VERY SCD-illegal!

How do I feel on day 36?

Mostly fine. I do concede that I’ve had some bad bloating these past few days, and I’m pretty sure it’s the wine. Then again, it could be the tomatoes. So what I’m going to do is cut out the wine for the week, and keep eating the tomatoes. If it doesn’t improve, I’ll cut out the tomatoes. So it’s kinda like ‘backwards’ testing, I guess, but I think it’ll work. Or, as I like to think of it: Inception testing – a test within a test (within a test…) 🙂

I’m also constipated. I HATE being constipated. Of course, diarrhoea is awful. Being (figuratively) chained to the toilet for months on end is awful. The bleeding, the dehydration, the anaemia, the just-plain rawness, is terrible. But constipation… in my mind, it’s almost as bad. I hate feeling like there’s gunk inside my body that needs to come out but won’t or can’t.


I’m still taking all my supplements, including magnesium, and I’ll keep trying to add foods that can aid in better bowel movements.

Overall, I feel good. I’ve lost about 3kg and my jeans are all hanging off my butt. My butt is always the first to go. But I love that my clothes don’t feel like they’re constricting me.

It’s gay pride week in Cape Town and I’m sooooooo happy! I’m very out and proud, but being part of an actual week dedicated to it, contrived as it may seem, brings out the happy tears in me. There’s an incredible feeling of togetherness, which is unusual because the gays are such bitches most of the time (men and women). This coming Saturday is the Pride march in the city centre, and I can’t wait to paint my face, dress in pink and march with people from all over South Africa and other parts of Africa. It makes my heart swell. And in my opinion, what makes your heart happy makes your body happy 🙂

PS: I just got changed into my PJs and my tummy is bloat central. I don’t know what it was but I’m guessing the booze wasn’t completely innocent. Back to clean tomorrow.

Day 35: How far I’ve come

We’ve just returned home from a long day of socialising and fun activities. As we walked through the front door, K said to me, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” This is an old habit: Until a few months ago, I’d have to race to the bathroom as soon as we got home from being out, whether it had been for half the day, like today, or just an hour or two. It made me feel so good to think of how far I’ve come, and how much more controlled my UC symptoms are at the moment.

That said…

I did feel bloated for most of the day today, and constipated. I felt like I needed to go all day, but just couldn’t force much out. Plus I know forcing is bad – but I really hate that feeling so much! I think I ate too many bananas early in the day (confession: Four in a row), and also, I’ve been drinking wine every day for five days. From tomorrow Monday, I’m going to test how I fare without wine, since I’ve done more than enough testing to see how I fare with it!

Plus salad is still illegal right now...

Plus salad is still illegal right now…

Letting go of food

Today we went to the first birthday party of a good friend’s baby. The spread included mini hotdogs, mini cheeseburgers, single-finger Kit Kats and cake. CAKE. Cake. CAAAAAAAAAAKE. Yes, I drank three (small) glasses tumblers (it was a kiddies’ party after all) of wine during our few hours there, but I hardly batted an eyelid at the food, and didn’t once feel like I was missing out, even when the cake was cut and everyone around me was digging in with delight.

comiccakecopyI think the difference between telling yourself you really shouldn’t have something (ie when you’re dieting) versus telling yourself you really CAN’T have something is enormous, and makes a huge difference psychologically. In fact, telling yourself you shouldn’t have it often just makes it all the more appealing.

We had such an interesting talk with my friend’s gran, who is 81. What a lovely woman with a fantastic sense of humour, and so open-minded. She told us that she hates to cook, doesn’t like meat, and isn’t particularly fond of food. To her, she said, the perfect meal is a ‘good cookie and three cups of coffee’! She said sometimes she just eats a box of chocolate cookies for dinner. And you know what? If I make it to 81, fuck the gluten. I too will eat chocolate cookies for dinner. Because if you can’t do it 81 – and I sure as heck can’t do it now at nearly 31 – when the hell can you?


Drunk shopping, picnicking and open-air theatre

We then headed to Cavendish Square, a swanky shopping mall in an upmarket area, where, fuelled by my three goblets of wine, I spent a disgusting amount on a faux leather jacket. I’m embarrassed by how much I dropped on it but guys, it’s just so the-best-thing-ever. Plus I estimated that it’s roughly how much I’ve saved on chocolate in the past 36 days 😉




Next was Maynardville, where we had a picnic beside a beautiful lake. Packing for a picnic can be challenging in the beginning of the SCD, because you can’t really take hot food, and most cold snacks are off limits. I took some thinly sliced roast beef that I bought at the supermarket (tasty, though I think it had some illegal spices on it), some bananas (no surprises there) and an avo.

It was such a perfect, delicious meal and I didn’t feel I was missing out. The setting was absolutely breathtaking. We really are so lucky to have such beauty on our doorstep. Here’s a pic of our shoes and some young Egyptian geese gobbling up K’s popcorn. We sincerely hoped that popcorn isn’t harmful to birds.


The play was Richard III, which was good but to be honest, we couldn’t understand much of it (and I have a degree in English!). We left at interval because it was already late, we were getting cold, and K was falling asleep.

I tested tomatoes again today, for lunch, and I had no problems (from what I could tell over and above the bloating I already had). I haven’t decided what I’m going to test next, so I think I’m going to head on over to right now to figure it out!