Last day of Phase 1, last day of Phase 1! Wooo hoo!
This feels like a major milestone even though nothing will change in terms of the pace of phasing in foods and testing each one. But it means that over the coming weeks, I’ll be introducing:
– cilantro (dhanya/coriander – this fresh herb isn’t on Pecanbread.com’s list of stages but I’m going to take a chance and try to phase it in anyway because I love the taste and it’s really going to add a new dimension to my meals).
– And a bunch of other delicious things
But first, I want to give a summary of my experience of Phase 1.
How hard was Phase 1?
It was challenging but not impossible. I’m lucky in that I can eat the same old food day after day without growing tired of it, and that’s a real benefit on SCD. Especially in the early phases, you run the risk of getting extremely bored with the same limited foods every day, but try to remember that it’s just a few weeks.
I had cravings from time to time, and even though they weren’t pleasant, they weren’t insurmountable either. They passed, as did each day.
What did I do right in Phase 1?
I didn’t knowingly cheat in Phase 1 – not by a morsel. I had two cups of rooibos tea (legal) which may have contained flavourants that aren’t legal, and which I didn’t know about until after I’d consumed them. I’ll stay away from them in future.
I rotated my meats quite a bit, and cooked them as recommended for Phase 1 (ie: broiled or grilled).
I cooked all my vegetables until they were completely soft, although I didn’t necessarily puree them every time. I always pureed my carrots, but with the gem squash and butternut, I cooked them until very soft and then ate them. Pureed is great but not essential. If your symptoms are still very bad, puree your veg (my symptoms were under control).
I introduced one new food every 3-4 days.
I drank at least 2 litres of water every day.
I didn’t drink coffee, alcohol or any other liquid besides water and rooibos tea.
I exercised moderately, though you should exercise with extreme caution if you’re in a flare. Limit it to walking or yoga.
I took supplements, including a probiotic, various vitamins (B, C, D), calcium, magnesium (for constipation) and krill oil. I take calcium because I’m lactose intolerant, and don’t get any calcium from dairy. Don’t take anything without consulting your doctor or nutritionalist first.
I kept a daily food diary, documenting everything I ate, how it made me feel, and what my BMs were like. It’s very useful to look back at this, even in this early phase, and see that right from day 1, bananas were causing me some problems. Which brings me to…
What did I do wrong in Phase 1?
I ATE WAY TOO MANY BANANAS. Bananas are my downfall! I’ve always had a sweet tooth so I think that’s the reason why – bananas were the only easy, sweet thing I could grab whenever I felt like it. The fruit purees are tasty but apple made me bloated and pear is a mission to prepare, so I only made one batch.
Bananas also don’t need to be prepared – they’re the only food you can eat raw in Phase 1, as long as they are very, very ripe and have brown spots. I didn’t always wait until my bananas were ripe enough.
I also continued to eat bananas every day, sometimes up to 7 or 8 times a day, even though I know they don’t always agree with me. They cause me bloating, gas and that gurgly bubbly feeling in my tummy.
I didn’t always prepare food in advance, which meant being ravenous at times (and hence grumpy) and then filling up on… more bananas!
I didn’t always take enough food to work, or to places I went out to for extended periods of time.
I made the mistake of trusting a restaurant – here’s how that experience went. I have another restaurant trip planned for Valentine’s Day but I’ve already spoken to the restaurant and I feel more confident this time.
I stressed about silly things, like cooking a vegetable incorrectly or perhaps-accidentally-unknowingly consuming a spice (at that damn restaurant!). Stress is SO bad for anyone with autoimmune disorders, so don’t sweat the small stuff! Don’t even sweat the big stuff if you can help it. As I like to say: Stay calm, stay positive, reduce stress.
I smoked. Not often; not a lot, but I did. Don’t do it. Super, super, suuuuuuuper terrible for your health. Okay, lecture over 🙂
How do I feel at the end of Phase 1?
I’m not completely satisfied with my BMs. Before I started SCD, they were reliable: every morning and often every evening, without any struggle. They were well formed and I always felt ’empty’ afterwards.
As I’ve mentioned before, my UC symptoms were completely under control when I started this diet – but it was because of the Asacol I’m taking. My reason for starting this diet is to (hopefully) get off the Asacol in due course, as I don’t wish to spend my live on chronic medication.
My tummy doesn’t feel amazing YET, but I’m not too concerned. I can pinpoint the exact reasons (and probable remedies) for my two main gut concerns right now:
– constipation: Not enough fibre and fat in my diet at this stage. I’ll be adding more of both in Phase 2, and hopefully this will help.
– bloating, gas and cramps: Too many bananas, and bananas that aren’t ripe enough. No bananas = no pain, bloating and gas = happy belly. Easy to remedy and I’ll be replacing many of my bananas with other foods in Phase 2.
I DO feel that my digestive system is beginning to heal. How do I know? Well, I used to feel bloated after every meal. Now, I can eat foods that used to bloat me (such as eggs or vegetables) and feel fine afterwards. I believe this is evidence that the damage is slowly mending.
How do I know I’m ready to move on to Phase 2?
There’s no specific timeline for each phase, as everyone’s progress is different. I’ve often read that two weeks is a rough guideline, but it really depends on how long it takes you to phase in each food, whether you have setbacks, and how many items you choose to phase in. Don’t move on if you don’t feel ready, but don’t spend a whole month eating only 5 or 6 foods.
I have phased in most of the foods recommended for Phase 1, and I feel strong enough and ready to move on to Phase 2. I spent 19 days on Phase 1, which I’m satisfied with. I also desperately need to introduce some new foods so I can start phasing bananas out! I won’t give them up entirely but I need to limit them.
Intro, plus nearly 3 weeks on Phase 1, has helped me to build a solid, reliable foundation, and I feel prepared for Phase 2.
Essentials for Phase 1 (and every phase)
– an SCD buddy: either someone who is also doing the diet, or someone who is prepared to support you at every step. For me, my partner has been the most amazing SCD buddy, even though she’s not doing the diet herself.
– a trustworthy meat supplier.
– large cooking pots, lots of storage containers (freezer safe) and clean, SCD-friendly chopping boards, utensils and counter space (must not be contaminated with any gluten).
– time to cook. Even half a day once a week is enough, but you need to set it aside.
– careful planning to ensure that you always have enough food. Take food with you when you go out.
– a thick skin. People (who don’t know about your journey) are going to ask you time and again about why you’re not eating this or drinking that. You don’t have to go into the nitty-gritty of your illness, but you can have a simple explanation planned, like, “I have a digestive ailment and I have to be very careful about what I eat,” or something along those lines. I’ve been caught off-guard so many times and ended up explaining way too much about UC, which wasn’t necessary and left me feeling uncomfortable (even though it shouldn’t).
– enough sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours a night. Sleep is the best healer there is.
– patience, a sense of humour, and the space to forgive yourself if you fuck up. It’ll happen, no doubt. Accept it and move on.
– reliable online SCD resources. Whenever I was in doubt about something, like whether I could eat black pepper or drink rooibos tea, I took to the net to find RELIABLE sources of information.
The SCD Lifestyle book, Surviving to Thriving, is an absolute must-read before you embark on this diet, and if it were a virtual book, I’d have dog-earred mine to pieces by now! Also find yourself some reliable websites and blogs that you relate to and can trust, like Pecanbread.com. They’ll be full of the kinds of information you’re looking for.
Am I ready for Phase 2?
Oh HELLS YES! Bring it ONNN!