What I learnt during 100 days of SCD

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Now that I’ve reached my personal goal of 100 days on SCD, I thought I’d share my overall thoughts on this diet with all of you who’ve patiently plodded along with me!

First, check out my 90-day SCD post where I reviewed my first three months on this diet – I won’t bore you by repeating myself here.

The 7 greatest benefits of SCD (for me)

1. Reduction in inflammation. Before I started this diet in January, I’d been on Asacol for about 2 months and I still had inflammation. My most recent blood test in March revealed zero inflammation – a first for me in about 18 months. Sure, the Asacol has probably contributed significantly to that, but I have no doubt that diet helped too.

2. Creating a ‘safe’ food zone. For those of us who know that certain foods can send us into a flare (but aren’t always sure which foods they are), SCD creates a priceless safety net. It not only helps you to establish a safe haven of foods that are kind to your gut, but also a way to test, with great accuracy, which foods knock you off balance. And, thanks to our safety net, we’re able to get back on track when we do veer off course.

3. Identifying food intolerances. This is linked to the point above. Over the course of this diet, I’ve learnt that fibrous vegetables simply don’t agree with me, and I need to find a way to incorporate them into my diet in smaller amounts so that I can reap the benefits without the bloating side effects. I’ve learnt that I can’t tolerate large amounts of whole, raw nuts, but that eggs and meat are fine. At any time I can go into the kitchen and cook a meal that won’t leave me bloated, gassy or in pain.

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4. Kicking my sugar habit. Prior to SCD, I could easily eat a slab (or two) of chocolate in a single sitting. I wish I were exaggerating, but no, I lived for sugar. Rooting it out was easier than I had anticipated, and while I had some cravings in the beginning, they quickly faded and I really don’t miss it. I do however add sweetness with honey.

5. It’s taught me to understand what I’m putting into my body. I always considered myself a fairly nutrition-savvy person, au fait with food labels, kilojoules, ingredients and so on. But it’s only since embarking on SCD that I’ve realised just how damaging processed and packaged foods can be, and I take extra care to put pure, natural ingredients into my body.

6. My skin improved. Multiple people commented on my skin looking clearer and ‘better’. This might also have something to do with the 2 litres of water I’m forcing myself to drink every day!

7. It taught me that there’s more to life than food. Sounds ironic, considering that during SCD, 90% of my time was spent thinking about food, preparing food or eating food. But actually, the diet taught me that it’s possible to go to a social gathering and gave a good time even when you’re not stuffing your face with canapes and cake. That was a true revelation for me – the person who has always asked, “Will there be food?”

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Drawbacks of SCD

1. Completely unpredictable BMs. I kept a food diary throughout this diet, and yet I still struggle to see a pattern. For the first few weeks, I was completely constipated, and after that, my BMs were yellow! (probably all that carrot and butternut – after all, this is like a baby’s diet, so I guess it makes sense!).

Sometimes, I’d go for a week with the most amazing, predictable, satisfactory BMs – twice a day, well formed and complete. Other times, I’d go for days with nary a peep. And other times still, I’d have diarrhoea – but that was usually the result of something I’d eaten and cleared up within a few hours or over night. Even now, I’ve had a good three or four days, followed by a couple of days of serious constipation, and I have no idea why. I haven’t changed anything obvious in my diet, not even since reaching the 100-day mark. I can however tell you that pure, freshly squeezed apple juice seems to be great for alleviating constipation.

2. Lots of gas. I think this is due to my intolerance to so many types of vegetables, and my tendency to overdo it when I eat them. I suspect the gassiness will improve when I change the way I consume vegetables.

3. It’s difficult to maintain a social life. But not impossible. In the early phases, when I was eating such a limited variety of food and not consuming alcohol, it sucked to go out with friends and order a glass of water and no food. And yes, I’ve also packed my own food for social gatherings – trust me, nobody cares, so don’t be self conscious. As I progressed on SCD, I was able to enjoy one or two SCD-legal restaurant meals, but I didn’t actually mind cutting back on eating out – it saved a ton of money!

4. Lots of prep. I needed to put several hours aside each week for shopping and cooking. Especially at the beginning, it was really labour-intensive, with veggies that needed to be peeled, deseeded and cooked until well dead. I usually did my cooking on a Sunday and made enough for the whole week. Also, if the rest of your household isn’t eating SCD, you may find yourself cooking two different meals every night.

5. Always having to think ahead. Because you can’t just go out and grab some food when you get hungry on SCD, you need to plan ahead and always ensure that you either pre-eat (as I call it) before you go out, take food with you, or carry some bananas in your bag.

6. I had less energy than before. I only really noticed this when I worked out – but then I really noticed it, and it’s been difficult to come to terms with my weaker body. Apparently normal energy levels do return within 6 to 12 months.

I’m struggling to think of other drawbacks so I’m going to stop here. Obviously SCD is not an easy diet to do, otherwise everyone would be doing it and you wouldn’t need me to be sitting here telling you what to expect 🙂 For me, it’s definitely had its ups and downs, with BMs being one of the most frustrating factors, and eating clean (and feeling clean on the inside) being one of the highlights.

As I’ve said before, I’ll be transitioning to a more paleo diet once I return from my trip in Mid-may (I can’t get too hung up on diet while I’m in Kuala Lumpur and Bali, BUT I always eat fairly clean and healthily when I’m in the east). The next part of my diet exploration will definitely be targeting the bugbears of SCD and reducing the bloating and gas. Oh, and I’ve had NO bloody stools this entire time!

If you have any specific questions about anything I haven’t covered, please ask! I’m sure I’ve forgotten something important… 🙂

PS: Yes, I cheated – once, at around day 85 or 86. I had two sugary cocktails and a few handfuls of deep-fried onion. I was filled with remorse and vowed never to do it again. I got back on track immediately and have behaved myself ever since!

This is not a cheat day. This is a cheat *year* and you are not allowed

This is not a cheat day. This is a cheat *year* and you are not allowed

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Day 100!! Celebrating with phase 5 and pizza – cauliflower pizza that is

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100 days! I’ve reached my goal!

Today has been a whole day of celebrating this milestone, the SCD-legal way! It started with two big bowls of biltong for brunch – it’s one of my favourite delicacies but I haven’t been able to eat it on SCD, because a) it’s raw and only allowed on phase 5, and b) it’s usually covered with spices that I hadn’t introduced before now.

The butchery downstairs sells amazing biltong so I spent a small fortune there and gleefully skipped home with my bounty. Biltong is a little like jerky except much, much better and way more delicious. It’s raw, highly spiced and salted meat that is left to dry. It’s K’s absolute fave, and since she was leaving for Kuala Lampur today, I wanted to include her in my 100 day celebrations before she left – which meant I incidentally started phase 5 too.

Mmm, biltong

Mmm, biltong

Next up, I attempted to make some Larabars, which actually just turned into bliss balls without the coconut. I used cashews, dates, vanilla extract and spices, but I’m taking great care with them because of my previous bad reactions to nuts.

Finally, after dropping K off at the airport, I came home and made myself some cauliflower pizzas for supper.

The base was made of riced cauliflower (one head, steamed), mixed with 2 whole eggs and a heaped tablespoon of coconut flour. Next time, I’ll use the egg whites only, as the base tasted quite eggy. Also, it didn’t firm up brilliantly – it remained quite soggy even after 15 minutes at about 180 degrees C. I think the cauliflower – as well as the toppings – were too wet.

I topped the bases with tomato paste, dried basil, oreganum and Italian spices, and then a whole whack of fresh veggies: fresh tomato, olives, onion, garlic, coriander (cilantro) and spinach mixed with home-made tomato sauce. I baked it for a further 10 minutes, then topped it with avo slices. It tasted delicious but it was very, very soggy! Any tips for making a crispy cauliflower base without cheese?

For dessert, as always, it was a fresh batch of SCD yogurt (recipe here) drenched in honey. Life is good and my belly is HAPPY!

I’ll keep posting and over the next few days I’ll share my thoughts on 100 days on SCD.

How’s your diet going?

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Day 99: Introducing new foods & a tip for overseas travel

I’ve been wanting to add olives to my diet for a while, so today was the day! They’re not a food I eat in great quantities, but they’re a ‘nice to have’ now that I’ve introduced so many basic foods that I’m happy with.

On phase 4, olives still need to be cooked – so have them on top on an SCD pizza, or as part of a sauce, stew, etc. On a diet that can be quite bland (at least in the beginning) they provide an awesome new flavour that adds a new dimension to your same-old foods. They seem to have treated me fine.

100 days tomorrow!

Tomorrow, I’ll reach my 100 day challenge. The thought is actually quite daunting – what will I do about my diet after 100 days? Well nothing radical, I can tell you that much. I think I’ll continue to eat a mainly SCD diet, but as I’ve mentioned previously, I’ll be transitioning more towards paleo, which I’m hoping will suit me well.

Bali, baby!

So I’m off to Kuala Lumpur on Friday, and Bali next Monday. It’s going to be an amazing trip and I LOVE Eastern food, so that will be interesting too. In fact, I’m even considering doing a cooking class while I’m in KL.

Eastern food really agrees with me and I find I have little trouble when I’m visiting that side of the world. That said, I did ask my doctor for a dose of cortisone, just in case. If you’re travelling abroad and aren’t going to be back for a couple of weeks, it’s a wise idea to have some back-up steroids with you.

You may not have flared in months or even a year or two, but you never know what could happen when you’re away from home and out of your regular routine. Our guts have a mind of their own, after all, and it would be terrible to be stuck in a foreign country and flaring! So back-up meds are a MUST – rather safe than sorry, after all 🙂

Breakfast in Koh Phangan, Thailand, 2013. My kind of food!

Breakfast in Koh Phangan, Thailand, 2013. My kind of food!

Day 98: What to eat (and what to avoid) when you’re having a ‘bad GI’ day

After everything my poor GI system went through last night with the nuts, it was still feeling very fragile today… and the legacy of the assault remained. I spent more time than I’d have liked to in the bathroom, but I didn’t panic, unlike the times before.

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There’ve been about three occasions on this diet when my stomach has reacted quite violently to something. The first few times I freaked out, thinking that it was a sure sign of a flare. Slowly I came to realise that a) sometimes your system just has an ‘off’ day, due to any number of factors from food to stress to hormonal imbalances or state of mind, and it doesn’t mean you’re flaring, and b) there’s no point stressing about potential flares – you’ll only make your symptoms worse.

Instead, it’s about eating (and drinking) right on those days to ease the symptoms instead of exacerbating them. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you, and if your GI system is out of whack, treat it delicately to help restore it to health.

What you should and shouldn’t eat when having a ‘bad GI day’

Let’s start with a list of foods to avoid:

  • Avoid foods high in fibre like fruit, nuts, high-fibre vegetables (beans, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc) and lentils
  • Avoid dairy, as it can aggravate an inflamed gut
  • Avoid fruit juice (too much fibre) and carbonated drinks (can cause bloating)
  • Avoid nut butters
  • Avoid any foods to which you know you react badly
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid any foods you have not yet introduced to your diet – now’s not the time to be adventurous.

What you should eat:

  • Bone broth soups, which help to restore the body, especially after a bout of diarrhoea. They’re highly nutritious and packed with vitamins
  • Herbal teas – add ginger to soothe your belly
  • Starchy vegetables like squash, pumpkin and butternut
  • Your ‘safe’ flare foods
  • Plenty of water – aim for 2 litres
  • BRAT foods – this works very effectively for some people (Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast)

While it’s frustrating cutting back on an already limited diet, it’s worth it for the day or two that you feel so, well, crappy. If you’ve been through your fair share of flares already, you’ve probably established a group of ‘safe’ flare foods. For me, it’s basmati rice (which I craved SOOO badly today but I wasn’t prepared to cheat so close to the end!) and eggs. I used to find that crackers were also very soothing, before I had to cut out gluten.

All things being equal, your bad bout should pass within about 24 hours, if it was just something that you ate. If it doesn’t abate or if you start bleeding, suffering from bad cramps, nausea, night sweats or joint pain, it might be a flare and you should contact your doctor ASAP to get it under control.

No.

No.

Day 97: What the f@#!, nuts?

So, it’s pretty much official: my gut hates nuts. The whole kinds, anyway. It seems to tolerate nut milks and yogurts, but when it comes to actual pieces of nuts, it goes, well, completely nuts.

Last night K and I headed out for drinks with colleagues and friends after work, and we only got home at around 9. Neither of us was hungry enough for a meal, so I ‘just’ had a bowl of almonds (unblanched – silly), and some cashew pieces.

Soon after, I felt distinctly faint, and I broke out in a cold sweat. I headed straight to the bathroom, where I remained for about half an hour, wishing for death. The GI symptoms where horrendous: severe cramps and diarrhoea, and an intense nausea that had me hanging my head over the bath at the same time (though I couldn’t vomit for some reason – I think that’s psychological). Plus I was completely light-headed and drenched in sweat.

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Times this by 100, and that’s how my head felt

When I was finally able to get off the loo, the furtherest I could manage was the bathroom floor. AND I’M A TOTAL GERMAPHOBE. I hate bathroom floors, even my own, but at that moment, it was heaven. The cool tiles helped to ease the sweating and I eventually managed to drag myself into the shower.

Guys, I have never felt like that – not even during the worst of my flares. It was scary. I even considered that my drink might have been spiked at the bar, but that had been a few hours before. How can I deny that it was the nuts – especially since this is not the first time I’ve had an adverse reaction to them?

Nut allergy vs nut intolerance

I always thought that if your body couldn’t handle nuts, you would just die. But that was silly of me. Having done a little googling, I’ve found a few reputable sites that tell me that a nut intolerance is different to a nut allergy, and can cause all the symptoms I experienced last night (but not death – even though it felt like my last moments had come).

The strange thing is, I’ve never had a problem with nuts of any kind before. But I’ve also learnt that a damaged gut may react to foods that it never used to – doh! Also, adults can develop intolerances over the years – like I developed lactose intolerance due to the fact that, as an adult, my body stopped producing lactase enzymes.

The strange thing is that my body only reacts to whole nuts, as I’ve mentioned. Not even my foray in nut butters a few weeks ago had this kind of effect on me, so it must be that my gut simply can’t break them down.

So nuts – at least in their whole form – are out. Sigh.

Seriously, what the fuck, nuts? I thought we were friends!

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Look how happy that bugger is

 

Recipe: SCD/paleo burger patties with guacamole & steamed vegetables

Here’s the recipe I promised you for the AMAZING burger patties I made the other night. They’re SCD/paleo/GAPS, super easy to make an they’re knock-your-socks-off good! How do I know this? K said, “I feel like I’ve just eaten at a restaurant” after finishing hers – which, let me tell you, is high praise!

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Bear in mind that the bun and chips aren’t SCD or paleo. The plate on the left is 100% SCD/paleo/GAPS

Ingredients

  • 800g mince (I used half ostrich and half venison; I haven’t tried these with beef)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 small tin (50g) tomato paste
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander, stems removed and leaves chopped (divided)
  • A good shake of ground nutmeg
  • A good shake of ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mixed veg of your choice
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • lemon juice

Method

1. Add your onion and garlic to a pan and soften for a few minutes. This is not essential but it’s a good idea for anyone who requires their veg fairly well cooked.

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2. Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients, minus 1 handful of coriander, into a large bowl and add the onion mixture once ready.

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Get in there with your hands and work all the ingredients together, mixing well. I asked K to add a few more dashes of salt and pepper as I mixed.

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3. Now shape your meat into patties. I made 6 big patties, but you could easily turn these into 8 or 10 smaller ones. Place them on a lined chopping board or plate, and allow to firm up in the fridge for a few minutes. This probably isn’t essential, but I gave mine 20 minutes of chill time.

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4. While the meat is chilling, make your steamed veg. I used carrots, zucchini, green beans and broccoli. If you don’t have a steamer, simply put your veg into a colander and place it over a pot filled with about 3-4cm of boiling water. Cover the colander with a lid and steam until desired doneness. I usually cook mine for about 10 mins. Just be sure the water doesn’t evaporate, as you’ll burn your pot! (I’ve done this more times than I care to admit!)

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5. Add a drop of coconut oil to a pan, heat to medium, and add your patties. I fried mine in two batches. Because I hate using oil (it makes me a little queasy), I added dashes of hot kettle water to the pan whenever it needed moisture. I know that purists would recoil in horror at this, but it kept the patties so moist while still allowing them to brown. Cover with a lid while cooking, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

Guacamole

While the meat is cooking, make your guacamole. Place the avo and coriander in a bowl, drizzle with lemon juice and add a good crack of salt and black pepper. Mash it all up together with a fork.

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And voila! There’s your 100% SCD/paleo meal, super healthy and (I promise) totally delicious. Place 1 – 2 patties on each plate, top with guacamole and slices of gherkin, and serve with veg. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance, go ahead and add some cheese to your burger too 🙂

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K’s plates always look a little more fun than mine!

If you’re always hungry, you’ll totally get this

I’m a bit of a Buzzfeed addict and when I read this one, I found myself nodding along vehemently to each one (but especially number 18!)

’26 Struggles only people who are constantly hungry will understand’ is definitely true for me – and hilarious. Enjoy 🙂

http://www.buzzfeed.com/samstryker/struggles-only-people-who-are-constantly-hungry-will-unde

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