7 Good tips for when you’ve cheated bad

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K and I just got back from a weekend in the Cape Winelands, and boy was it awesome! We packed up the car and headed off with our good friends Gin and Tonic on Friday afternoon, bundled up against the chilly Stellenbosch weather and ready for some great food and wine.

See, Sellenbosch is one South Africa’s top wine-producing regions, and it’s also a famous university town where K studied. I knew this weekend was going to mean a little indulgence, but I had no idea how far I’d fall from the wagon.

My cheating confession

Between our pub crawl on Friday, Bastille Day celebrations in Franschhoek yesterday (Franschhoek – the ‘French Corner’ – being another renowned wine-producing area) and the fresh food fairs, wine farms, restaurants, fast food joints and craft markets we trawled, my GI system experienced an onslaught bar (n)one.

NOT the kind of sheep you should be eating on SCD/AIP

NOT the kind of sheep you should be eating on SCD/AIP

Most of my cheating took the form of copious amounts of booze – the ‘not allowed’ kinds like Jagermeister, sparkling and sweet wines, energy drinks (to make Jagerbombs – Jagerbombs!!) and tequila (though I think tequila is actually ‘legal’, as it’s made from cacti). But there was also nightshade veg (tomatoes at breakfast and lunch, and some fries), as well as an embarrassingly large amount of chocolate, including a chocolate sheep. In fact, I pretty much ‘forgot’ that tomatoes were nightshades. Did I leave my AIP brain at home?? It felt like it.

A small selection of the booze we bought...

A small selection of the booze we bought…

... and consumed this weekend

… and consumed this weekend

My ‘tips’ for cheating

This weekend was a PROPER cheat. Two days of diet debauchery. I do NOT recommend you EVER cheat as severely as this. But, if you do go hurtling off the wagon head-first into a pile of cheese, here are a few tips that I can share, purely from my experience.

1. Avoid gluten, even when cheating. My nutritionalist explained to me that gluten can take up to six months to leave your system altogether. One cheat is NOT worth undoing all that work. Have a gluten-free pizza or pasta, or have cheese or any chocolate that doesn’t contain gluten. There are ‘safe’ cheat foods and naughtier cheat foods, and then there are the cheat foods that can set you back months in your healing. Try not to have those.

2. Realise that cheating is inevitable. I cheat about once every two months or so. That’s six times a year. It’s not great, it’s not something I’m proud of, and it’s something I’m hoping will continue to decline in frequency over time. But it’s a FAR cry from where I was, and I’m making progress and trying my best. Just forgive yourself and move on (but don’t forget! And don’t eat gluten!).

3. Prepare for pain. There’s a reason you’re on the diet you’re on. Today, doubled over in pain as we drove home from Stellenbosch, I remembered just how great it feels to eat clean. Although the pain sucks, it’s also an effective way to keep the cheating to a minimum. Just remember how shit, literally, it feels to cheat. Remember this pain, nausea and desire to curl up and die.

4. Recognise when you’re in a ‘high risk’ situation. For me, it’s when my friends are buying rounds of drinks and the wine is flowing. I realise I can’t be in these kinds of situations without cheating, so I need to avoid them or keep them to an absolute minimum. It also helps to have people around you – for me, it’s K – who will remind you about your diet and castigate you for cheating. It sounds horrible, but it’s necessary and it works!

5. Stop as soon as possible. Don’t think that just because you cheated on Friday night means you should just write off the whole weekend and keep cheating until Monday – because come Monday, you’ll have another excuse to keep cheating until Friday – and hey, then it’s the weekend again! Cheat, then stop, or you never will.

6. Cleanse. Don’t stop your meds or your supplements. Don’t stop drinking two litres of water a day. Treat your body as if it’s flaring, because that’s probably how it’s feeling – sore, bloated, gassy and uncomfortable. It’s already had to do enough work processing the bad stuff, so give it a break and go back to basics. Stick to plain veggies, plain cooked meat, eggs (if you can tolerate them) and bananas. Even if you can tolerate dairy, it may be wise to cut it out for a bit – it’s known to aggravate a sensitive stomach. Also avoid coffee, alcohol and fruit juices, and stick with herbal teas and broths. You know what your body likes when it’s feeling bad, so feed it those things only.

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7. Don’t stress. You screwed up and you’ve already done damage to your body. Stressing about it will only make it worse – just think about how your stomach feels when you’re in a state of tension and anxiety. Stress will only exacerbate your symptoms and prolong your healing. Be kind to yourself.

Do you have any other tips for cheating? Or perhaps any tips to help me stop cheating?? As you can see, I could really use all the help I can get!

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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.

Easy homemade coconut yoghurt – SCD/paleo

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**Update: If you find that your yoghurt separates after refrigerating, give it another whizz with the stick blender to re-incorporate the coconut cream (which will have risen to the top in a thick, hard layer) with the gelatine. Return to the fridge for a few more hours to firm up.

 

I LOVE my SCD coconut and cashew yogurt (recipe here), which I eat most nights after dinner, drizzled with honey. However, when my nutritionalist instructed me to start following the autoimmune paleo protocol, she said that nuts were out (sob!).

I knew this was going to be a tough transition and I especially didn’t want to give up my yoghurt. However, she did recommend that I try to eat coconut milk every day. Very quickly I decided to try to make the yoghurt without the cashews, and after a failed attempt or two, I think I’ve finally perfected it.

It has the right yogurt consistency as well as the sour tang that indicates that the probiotics are active. For some this is an acquired taste, but for me, it is reminiscent of one of my long-lost loves, cheese cake 😉

Remember to factor in 24 hours for incubating and refrigerating.

Homemade SCD/paleo coconut yogurt

Equipment

  • Blender
  • Nut milk bag, cheesecloth/muslin or a clean, unused stocking
  • Mesh sieve
  • Yoghurt maker

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • Boiling water
  • 1 x 10g sachet of gelatine powder + 1/4 cup room temperature water
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 5 probiotic capsules/ 1/8tsp live yoghurt cultures (lactose free if need be)

Method

Place the coconut into your blender and fill with boiling water (you should aim to use about 1 litre of water).

Blend for several minutes, pulsing at first to break up the mixture (it gets quite lumpy).

Place the sieve ‘into’ the nut milk bag (so that the sieve is covered), place over a large clean pot, and pour the blended mixture through. The aim is to capture all the milk and none of the pulp.

Allow to drip until cool enough to handle, and then with clean hands, squeeze the remainder of the milk from the pulp. It will look a little like you’re milking a cow.

Mix the gelatin with 1/4 cup of room-temperature water. Allow to sponge for five or ten minutes, until firm.

Add the vanilla extract, honey, probiotics (open the capsules and pour the powder out) and gelatine to the milk, and blend very well with a stick blender.

Pour into the sterilised bowl/container of your your yoghurt maker, place it into the yoghurt maker, and allow to incubate for 12 hours.

After 12 hours, give the yoghurt a good stir as the gelatin tends to clump up. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours to set.**

Serve with grain free cereal, add to curries, soups or smoothies, or simply enjoy on its own, drizzled with honey.

** If you find that your yoghurt separates after refrigerating, give it another whizz with the stick blender to re-incorporate the coconut cream (which will have risen to the top in a thick, hard layer) with the gelatine. Return to the fridge for a few more hours to firm up.

SCD coconut yogurt

SCD coconut yogurt

Fruit smoothie with homemade coconut yoghurt (SCD/paleo)

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I recently read about the ‘rule’ for eating fruit – how it should be consumed on an empty stomach, between meals rather than with or directly after them. You can read the article here, which Pure Ella posted on her Facebook page this week – thanks Ella!

This was news to me, as I often have fruit for ‘dessert’, right after eating – I love to complete a savoury meal with something sweet. And while I do think that everyone has to find a way of eating that works for them (I’m sure some people can eat fruit whenever they like with no ill-effects), I thought I’d give this theory a bash since I struggle so much with bloating, cramps, gas and discomfort.

Because I sometimes eat quite often throughout the day, it’s hard to find a two-hour gap where I haven’t touched any food – so for me, if I’m to eat fruit on an empty stomach, breakfast makes the most sense.

So this morning, I whipped up a super easy, nutrient-packed smoothie with fresh ingredients and my own homemade coconut yoghurt (recipe here), which adds a little healthy fat and some probiotics too. During the week as I’m dashing off to work, I probably wouldn’t have time to do this, but it was a great ‘treat’ for a Sunday morning.

Fresh fruit smoothie with homemade coconut yoghurt

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized ripe banana
  • 1 kiwi fruit
  • 3 large strawberries
  • Handful fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen)
  • Roughly half a cup of yoghurt (I used home-made SCD coconut yogurt)
  • A drizzle of honey (optional)

Method

Chop all the fruit into smaller pieces and add to your blender or the measuring cup of your stick blender together with the yoghurt and honey. Blend until smooth and serve immediately.

Fresh fruit smoothie with coconut yoghurt

Fresh fruit smoothie with coconut yoghurt

It couldn’t be easier, healthier or more delicious, and if you struggle to get the right amount of fruit or vegetables into your diet, this is a super easy way to get your recommended daily amount in one yummy burst. Enjoy!

Sink your teeth into this, AIPs!

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Rump steak, fresh avocado and stir-fried vegetables

There are few things I love more than a juicy rump. I’m also a big fan of a rare steak, so I was pretty thrilled that K chose to fry up this bad boy for us tonight.

For carnivores, it’s the ideal paleo, autoimmune paleo or SCD meal: rump steak seasoned with fresh garlic and black pepper, trimmed of fat and fried in a dab of olive oil, served with perfectly ripe, creamy avo and lightly stir-fried veg seasoned with salt, pepper, a touch of lemon juice and a sprinkling of apple cider vinegar.

Such a simple but delicious meal that really hits the spot, and provides a solid dose of healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Plus, it takes just a few minutes to whip up. Win!

The best paleo cauliflower soup – dairy/grain/refined sugar free and vegan

Paleo cauliflower soup

Paleo cauliflower soup – dairy, grain and refined sugar free

My sister made this amazing soup for me last week, and I instantly fell in love with it. Why is it so special? It’s filling, easy to make, and it doesn’t feel like it’s ‘missing’ anything despite having no dairy or gluten. It’s also a great way to get more broth into your diet (if you’re not vegan/vegetarian). Oh and it’s delicious!

I recreated it tonight with a couple of tweaks, though I still think hers was better – kind of like how coffee always tastes nicer when someone else makes it for you 🙂

Thanks C for this amazing recipe!

Easy cauliflower soup – dairy, gluten and refined sugar free; vegan

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 large sweet potato (for SCD, omit or use butternut)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock*/chicken stock/bone broth
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • Garlic salt (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

“I let the ingredients fry while I chop the next thing. I think it makes a difference to the flavour to let it fry a while,” advises my sister.

– Chop the onion and add to a large pot with the coconut oil. Fry on medium-high heat.

– Chop the garlic and break the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot. If the pot becomes too dry, add more coconut oil or a splash of water.

– Add the cubed sweet potato and chopped coriander to the pot and season everything well with salt and black pepper, and garlic salt if desired.

– Pour in the stock/broth, then fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

– Remove from heat, blend with a stick blender and serve.

It’s that simple! I say it serves four to six, but if I’m eating it, it probably serves two to three 😛

*Most shop-bought stocks aren’t suitable for those of us following healing diets. Make your own vegetable stock by simply reserving the cooking water when you boil veggies on the stove.

Why alcohol is the worst thing for a healing diet – but not for the reason you think

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Any of us with IBD or other digestive problems know that alcohol is anathema to a healing diet. It’s highly inflammatory which basically means it can make your horrible symptoms a whole lot more horrible. But that’s not my problem with alcohol – not my primary problem, anyway.

I am in remission and while I took alcohol out of my diet completely for my first month on SCD, I reintroduced wine and vodka slowly – which is okay to do if you’re in remission. I often enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings, and occasionally vodka mixed with juice. But what happens when it’s more than a single drink in one night?

Willpower + alcohol = diet disaster

I don’t think there are many people who find it easy to follow a strict diet, be it SCD, paleo, autoimmune paleo or something else. This means that every day, you need to make an active decision to eat properly, and every day is a concerted effort to avoid the foods you’d love to eat. For me, it’s a daily battle of wills, and most days, I win. Most days, I’m not two or three glasses in.

When I’ve had more than a drink or two, it becomes infinitely harder to fight the voice of temptation in my head. Because alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions, it’s means that not only do you sing louder than usual or propose to strangers, but also your usual steely reserve – at least when it comes to your diet – starts to crumble.

Your brain on booze: The drunken munchies

Fast forward two, three glass of wine, and suddenly you’re cured of your lactose intolerance and gluten really isn’t that bad. The angel on your shoulder has given up the ghost, cracked open a beer and is chilling with the devil on the other side – probably taking bets about how long it’ll be before you termite your way through your girlfriend’s treat cupboard.

Cookies, chocolate, burgers, cereal, pure lumps of sugar – nothing is safe from my greedy, sugar-seeking paws when I’ve had more to drink than I should. I don’t even bother bargaining with myself – I pre-forgive myself and reason that it’s been so long and I’ve been so good.

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The last time the booze-binge monster came out to play… and the time before that

Last Friday we played a zombie-themed board game at a friend’s house. Board games are not my bag at the best of times, and zombies bore me to tears. So, I played halfheartedly while knocking back glasses of wine. We all were; it was merry!

But when I got home, the booze-binge monster was raring to go. Luckily, I only had ‘healthy’ food to binge on – but it didn’t stop me clocking a bag of cashews (I shouldn’t be eating them) and several handfuls of dates (a big hit of sugar) before managing to get myself under control.

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The time before that, however – about a month earlier –  the binge included several chocolate eggs left over from Easter, 12 chocolate chip cookies and several lemon-flavoured ones – all from K’s cupboard, and all within a space of about 5 minutes. I was out of control and reasoning that it’d been so long since I indulged, but also that we’d just got back from Bali and I’d eaten like mad so I was still kinda on that vibe, but also they’re just cookies and tomorrow is a new day… blah, blah bloody blah. It’s all boozy bullshit.

For K

Dear K…

Testing your own reactions to alcohol

We all react differently to booze. I don’t actually dance on bar stools or propose to strangers. I don’t do daring or stupid or crazy things when I’ve been drinking. I talk a lot – but I do that when I’m sober too (so I feel pretty sorry for those around me). And I eat ferociously. If this sounds like you too, then you – like me – need to limit or restrict your alcohol consumption. We work so hard to control our diets, that it simply isn’t fair on us to let our drunken selves destroy the solid foundation laid by our sober selves.

Do any of you experience these kinds of booze-food binges on your diet, or do you avoid alcohol altogether?

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