Autoimmune paleo vs SCD: How I’m feeling after 3 weeks

Excellent advice - if I could follow it!

Excellent advice – if I could follow it!

It’s been just over three weeks since my nutritionalist recommended I start following the autoimmune paleo (AIP) protocol, and I’ve noticed many differences between this diet and SCD – some great, some not so great.

As a side-note, I’ve discovered through my research that you are only supposed to follow the AIP diet for 30 to 60 days. My nutritionalist hasn’t discussed this with me, but it’s certainly something I’ll chat to her about next week when I see her. If it’s only 30 days, I can definitely put my back into it a lot more than I have been! (keep reading to see how I’ve cheated…).

Here’s how I’m faring after three weeks on AIP.

The food

After SCD, you’d think I’d be pretty accustomed to cutting food out of my diet. However, the advantage of SCD was knowing that every few days, I was adding to my diet, so I always had new foods to look forward to (bad gut reactions notwithstanding).

After 100 days on SCD (which I now realise is much too short), I had re-introduced all legal foods into my diet. But on AIP, I’ve had to cut many of them out again: the nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potato, etc), nuts, many spices and certain seeds. I must admit that a diet void of tomatoes, spices and nuts is very, very hard. Nuts are an amazing snack, and tomatoes are used in almost everything. I don’t mind cutting out spices so much, but it makes it exceptionally hard for others to cook for me.

I’ve been creating a lot of my own meals and really enjoying them, but I’m a nightmare when it comes to eating out. Like on SCD, I often take my own food with me. My nutritionalist has said that if I must cheat, I can have some gluten-free pizza or pasta, which I’ve done once (and I gobbled that pizza down in about 5 minutes flat!).

I eat a lot of eggs, meat, vegetables and fruit. I’m trying not to eat so many dates and bananas, because they’re so loaded with sugar. I’m still wrapping my head around making my meals more protein-heavy because I usually bulk up with veg.

BMs

Prior to seeing the nutritionalist, the only thing regular about my BMs was constipation. This was an especially frequent complaint during my 100 SCD days. However, when my colon found out that I was about to pay thousands of rands to a nutritionalist for appointments, tests and pills, my BMs (miraculously) started normalising, about a day or two before my first appointment.

Since then, I’ve had very good daily BMs – often twice, three times or even four times a day. Generally, they’re a 3 or 4 on the Bristol chart, which is incredible for me, because usually when I’m this regular, I’m at about a 7!

I do also attribute these improved BMs to the fact that I’m eating more. I seem to be consuming significantly more food than I did during the early phases of SCD, and I definitely think that makes a difference (as a note, I also experienced more frequent and regular BMs when I was overseas in May, which I too attributed to a more substantial and lenient diet).

Bloating

Oh, bloat, my old frenemy. Sometimes I think that the only way to stop getting bloated would be to not eat at all – even a glass of water can cause my stomach to blow up like a balloon. I think that one day, when they lower me into the ground, I will be the first corpse to be buried with a bloated stomach.

So clearly, I’m bloated very often, and I do get gassy from time to time, the latter of which I usually attribute to cauliflower! Interesting, my nutritionalist explained that when a person suffers from leaky gut (which she suspects I do), it’s not necessarily that a specific food – like cauliflower or tomatoes or cheese – causes bloating, but that the overall poor state of your gut causes a bloating reaction at random. This has been quite a revelation for me, and it would explain why I sometimes get bloated after eating eggs, or bananas, or meat, and other times I don’t.

Cheating

I’ve tried to be as fastidious as possible with this diet, but I have knowingly cheated on a couple of occasions. I have eaten food that was seasoned with potentially ‘illegal’ seasonings; I have had a bite or two of nightshades (ie, a pimento-stuffed olive) and I have, on one occasion, eaten raw chocolate. I have also, on several occasions, eaten nuts. This is proving to be my Achilles heel! I have not cut coffee or alcohol out of my diet.

However, I’ve only recently discovered that this diet is only supposed to be short-term. If that is the case, I definitely would like to start from scratch and do it 110% perfectly, like I did SCD.

Overall

It’s still very early days so I’m definitely not in a position to make a fully-formed opinion of autoimmune paleo. What I’d say is that I love the fact that my BMs have improved so markedly – no one likes feeling like an over-stuffed rubbish bin.

It’s difficult to snack without breaking the rules (I’m looking at you, nuts) or relying purely on sugar-laded foods. And it’s hard to cook full meals without so many ingredients I’ve come to rely upon. But I do love how healthy, clean and surprisingly tasty my meals are.

If I’m honest, I’m so over it. I’m so over restricting what I eat all the time – and, more than that, having to pay so bloody much for foods that are now considered ‘cool’ to eat (thank you, hipsters-who-aren’t-really-gluten-intolerant. Really, thank you). I’ve never been a particularly unhealthy eater and even if I could eat anything I liked, I wouldn’t be shoving McDonald’s burgers down my gullet every day. But being so restrictive is making me dream about chocolate all the time. And say what you will – not even the most delicious clean treat will ever taste like Nutella cheesecake.

The other thing that’s hard is knowing that  I can eat whatever the hell I like and my Asacol takes care of it. Of course, I don’t want to stay on Asacol forever, which is why the clean eating is essential. But it really is hard when you have this amazing suit of armour for your colon, and you know that you could consume a three-ton cake made purely out of butter, gluten and Nutella and your body would process it like it was nothing, because of the Asacol.

Obviously, I don’t want to put that kind of food into my body, but the point is that it’s hard to keep depriving yourself of Kit Kats when the drugs make you feel completely normal and healthy, regardless of what you eat. It’s all about willpower for me, because unlike other people who have immediate, noticeable and unpleasant reactions to the foods they shouldn’t eat, I just have to trust that all these restrictions are going to help me heal.

Don’t worry, I’m sticking with it! And I’m going to keep reporting back. I’ve still got some ways to go with my nutritionalist, and I definitely want to see whether this diet could put me on a path to an Asacol-free existence.

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4 thoughts on “Autoimmune paleo vs SCD: How I’m feeling after 3 weeks

  1. Hello. I have a quick question: Does the AIP diet have an “intro” phase like SCD? I have been 95% paleo since March of this year, and am on day 6 of the SCD intro diet. I have never had a problem with eggs, that I know of, but I may try giving them up for a short period (ugh), and do an AIP whole30. I have googled my face off, but cannot really find an answer to this. Do you just start eating the foods on the allowed list? Any info you could provide on this would be greatly appreciated. 🙂
    Thanks!

    Kelly

    P.s.- I would post this question on the whole30 board, but I still have not received the promised email that allows me to confirm my registration. (3 requests made).

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    • Hi Kelly

      My apologies, for some reason I’ve only just seen your comment – I’m so sorry! I’m sure you’ve passed this point by now. AIP doesn’t have an intro phase per se, but my nutritionalist recommended I avoid all nuts, seeds and nightshades for the first 30 days, and the slowly test/re-introduce them (like on SCD) to figure out if I have any intolerances. Yes, you are also supposed to cut out eggs for this period too, but as my diet was so limited, she advised me not to. If you were doing it ‘by the book’, however, you would do. Two great websites to use as resources are thepaleomom.com and autoimmune-paleo.com. Again, I’m so sorry that your comment slipped through the cracks. Please let me know how you’re doing 🙂 all the best, Debby

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  2. i’m just curious… how did you decide to try either of these diets. I was diagnosed with celiac’s and crohns’ in may of 2012, and am also on asacol and 6MP for the chrohn’s. I suffer from severe GERD, and am constantly bloated/gassy. one doctor has even suggested that I have IBS as well. yay me. while I agree that asacol takes care of things, im beginning to wonder if I might feel even better if I were to restrict my diet. as it is I eat minimal dairy, but am addicted to chocolate and sweets and of course celiac friendly carbs. what is the hardest part about following either the SCD or this autoimmune paleo?

    Sarah

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    • Hi Sarah, thanks so much for stopping by. When I found out I had UC, I started doing research about it and soon discovered that lots of people use food as a way of healing their bodies. It made sense to me, and the SCD diet was the one that popped up most frequently, so I decided to try it. Even though I felt okay on the Asacol, I felt that my bad eating habits may have contributed to my condition (diets, binges, etc). I also found out that I was lactose intolerant (it’s an easy test and well worth it), and I cut out dairy. Dairy was a big contributing factor to my diarrhoea and flares, I believe. SCD wasn’t ideal for me, so I went to see a nutritionalist who recommended autoimmune paleo, followed by paleo. My partner has GERD and certain foods really cause her so much discomfort, so I know what you’re talking about. Cutting back significantly on carbs has helped a lot. I think the most difficult part about following these diets is cutting out the sweet stuff. I have a MAJOR sweet tooth and my cravings (and daydreams!) were sometimes hard to overcome. But they do get better as time progresses. It also takes longer to prepare your food. BUT I do believe the results are worth it. If you’re curious about these diets, try them. For me, chocolate is a big no-no and sweets can also aggravate your symptoms if you have any yeast/candida issues. I miss chocolate and cake sooo much (I can’t lie), but I also didn’t want to keep harming my body by eating things it clearly didn’t like. Not everyone needs to embark on a healing diet, so my completely non-medical, non-expert opinion would be to try it for a set period of time (at least 30 days), keep a food diary and note your symptoms too, and see how you feel on it. SCD and AIP/paleo are both great diets, so read up about them and see if either of them sound appealing to you. All the best – let me know how it goes 🙂

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