An overview of 7 different healing diets

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When it comes to healing diets, there are a number of popular options that have proved effective for people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease or various digestive complaints. If you’re looking to help heal your gut through diet, it’s a great idea to pick one of these tried-and-tested options – but which one?

Here’s a (very high-level) run-down of each of the main healing diets to help you decide. Bear in mind that, just like medication, different diets work for different people, and you’ll have to try them yourself to discover which one works best for you. Also remember that you’ll need to tweak and ‘engineer’ whichever diet you end up selecting – that means adding, removing or limiting things based on your own unique set of food intolerances, sensitivities or allergies. Each of these diets provides a great path towards health – you just need to pinpoint your exact route!

SCD – specific carbohydrate diet (long-term/indefinite)

I started this blog to document my 100 days on SCD – a diet aimed at helping to heal IBD and other GI complaints by removing grains, starches, processed sugar and processed food from the diet – food that are known to irritate the gut and promote inflammation. Many people claim to be medication-free and in remission thanks to SCD, which is why I initially attempted it. It works in phases: You start by removing virtually everything from your diet except for eggs, meat and carrots, and gradually re-introduce foods slowly, week by week, month by month, until you know what your body can and can’t handle. It is an extremely slow process that gives your gut a chance to heal and recover from months or years of damage. SCD offers amazing results for some people and ‘meh’ results for others – simply proving that every ‘body’ is different and requires different approaches.

SCD wasn’t the perfect solution for me, but I’m very glad I did it, if only for 100 days. Here’s a summary of my experience on the SCD diet. You can visit the SCDLifestyle.com site for loads of info about the diet, or view the stages of the SCD diet here.

Paleo (long-term/indefinite)

Paleo wasn’t intended to be healing diet per se, but many IBD sufferers have adopted it due to the fact that it cuts out many foods known to cause inflammation and aggravate the gut. Like SCD, paleo focuses on ‘clean’ eating that is free of refined/processed foods, sugar and grains, but unlike SCD, it also prohibits dairy and, depending on how strictly you follow it, honey. Like SCD, the paleo diet consists mainly of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, unprocessed/organic meat and eggs, as healthy oils. Unlike SCD, you don’t have to take a phased approach to the diet, which has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that you can enjoy all these foods right from the get-go, but the disadvantage is that if certain foods on the paleo ‘legal’ list are causing you gastric distress, you won’t know which ones they are due to the fact that you aren’t testing them individually.

Paleo has gained massive popularity around the world in recent years, because more and more people are wanting to remove unhealthy processed foods from their diets. This also means that more restaurants and grocery shops are catering to this diet and it’s easier to change to a paleo lifestyle.

AIP – Autoimmune Paleo diet/protocol (short-term/indefinite)

AIP is a healing diet aimed at restoring the gut and immune system. It’s based on the same principles of the paleo diet, but it has the added bonus of having many of the problematic foods removed, as well as the opportunity to test these foods and either reintroduce them slowly or cut them out altogether if your body doesn’t like them.

AIP is not intended to be a lifelong diet. It’s recommended that you follow it for a maximum of 60 to 90 days to help repair intestinal damage, which should theoretically give your body enough time to recover sufficiently for you to progress to a paleo diet. Things that aren’t allowed (particularly at first) include nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, many spices, dairy, eggs and various other foods.

I have followed the AIP protocol and I can tell you that it is very, very hard, but worth the effort. Knowing that it’s only temporary does make it easier, and from my experience, I do believe that it can be effective in the healing process. Here is a full list of foods you can and can’t eat during AIP. You can also take a phased approach to reintroducing them to see what your body can and can’t tolerate.

GAPS – Gut And Psychology Syndrome diet (long-term/indefinite)

GAPS isn’t as well known as SCD but its principles are similar, in that the underlying belief is that diet can aid in not only digestive disorders, but conditions like autism too. The foods consumed are almost the same as on SCD, but often dairy is excluded. It also takes a phased approach by removing and then reintroducing foods, and it is recommended that you follow it for at least two years, if not longer. Read more about GAPS here.

FODMAPS – Fermentable Oligo, Di, and Mono-saccharides And Polyols (long-term/indefinite)

This is another healing diet that you’ve probably come across during your research, but it’s less well-known than SCD or paleo. It’s also been designed to help relieve chronic digestive complaints, and many people swear by its effectiveness (I’ve never tried it). As with the other diets, it’s worth researching it and reading about the experience of others to figure out whether it might help you too. Get an overview of FODMAPs here.

Gluten-free/wheat-free/egg-free/dairy-free (long-term/indefinite)

A lot of people don’t have a digestive disease but do suffer from food intolerances – the most common of which include dairy, wheat, gluten and/or eggs. I am lactose intolerant and after discovering this fact, the only thing I removed from my diet was, obviously, dairy. I only later discovered that I had ulcerative colitis and that led me to change lots of other things too.

If you don’t have IBD or a digestive disorder, it might not be necessary for you to follow a healing diet, but simply to remove allergens/irritants from your diet. I have friends who, based on their intolerances, have removed those foods from their diets without actually following a specific eating plan. They’ve found a way of eating that works for them, and that’s great! They don’t need to follow an actual healing diet. If you don’t have IBD but suffer from something like IBS, for example, it’s well worth having yourself checked for common food intolerances. You might find that removing just one thing from your diet – like dairy for me, or wheat or eggs – might be a big part of the solution.

‘Rice’/‘White food’ diet (temporary)

This goes against every other diet I’ve covered above and it’s not even a ‘real’ diet. Plus, it’s also meant to be very, very temporary! Basically, this is my flair diet. When I’m flaring (which hasn’t happened in a year!), the only foods that seem to agree with me are white rice (with a bit of lemon juice), white bread, white pasta – all that icky refined stuff that I usually avoid. Plus starchier, low fibre veg like peas and carrots (cooked).

It’s well documented (maybe not scientifically, but certainly among sufferers!) that highly refined starches can actually help soothe aggravated GI tracts. That said, it should only be temporary solution because you can’t live on white rice, pasta and bread! I remember going through a phase some years ago when that’s exactly what I did – and I thought it was okay; that my body just ‘preferred’ these foods. It should in fact have been a HUGE red flag. If you have chronic diarrhoea and bleeding, white foods are NOT the solution. Get to a doctor!

That said, if you’re flaring, white rice and pasta can be very soothing, so if you can’t keep anything down/in, give it a bash. It works for me.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the healing diets out there, and as I mentioned at the beginning, any of these (or others that you choose) should be altered and tweaked over time to suit your body’s specific needs and sensitivities.

Please feel free to share your healing diet experiences, tips or advice in the comments 🙂

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Healing foods to eat if you can’t afford supplements

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Having a GI disorder like ulcerative colitis is expensive. There’s the traditional medical route and all it entails – doctors’ appointments, blood tests, colonoscopies, gastroscopies, specialist appointments, hospital stays and medication – and there’s the functional/natural medication route, with nutritionalists’ appointments, tests, supplements and special diets.

If you, like me, have been willing to try virtually anything to heal your gut, you’ve probably found that the damage to your bank balance can be pretty extensive.

When I started seeing a new nutritionalist about three or four months ago, I was pretty upfront with her about the fact that while I was willing to undergo any tests she thought necessary, and willing to try any supplements she recommended, there was a limit to my financial resources. In spirit I wanted to try everything she suggested… but in reality, my credit card cried out in pain. She completely understood and tailored a course of treatment for me that I was able to afford.

Using food as a supplement

She cut down my supplements to the bare minimum for me (Vitamin D, fish oil, a good probiotic and curcumin), and said that it was now up to me to use food to make up the deficit. Although it wouldn’t work as quickly as UltraInflamX, for example, it would work and it would help to reduce inflammation and repair the damage. This is, of course, the whole point of a healing diet, and these foods would form the foundation of it.

Here are the items she suggested I include in my diet as often as possible, preferably every day, to help fight inflammation and heal my gut.

  1. Avocado
  2. Olive oil
  3. Coconut and coconut oil
  4. Turmeric
  5. Healthy fats with all meals and snacks for anti-inflammatory support
  6. Homemade chicken or lamb stock/broth
  7. Peas – a good source of protein. Pea protein to be used in fruit smoothies and soups
  8. Fermented foods
  9. Animal protein
  10. Seeds

I made my first batch of sauerkraut recently and it was really easy. It tastes very ‘sour’ so I know it must be right! I include all the rest of the foods in my diet regularly, if not daily, except for the broth. I just haven’t got around to making it, which is a sorry excuse! I think what puts me off is that not only is it a long process, but we also have a small, poorly ventilated flat and I’m just not sure I want to subject K to those smells!

When it comes to spices like turmeric, you can easily add little bits to curries, soups or broths, which is what I do. As for the pea protein, make sure it’s well blended into your soup or smoothie so it isn’t ‘grainy’, and when it comes to animal protein, always choose meat that has nothing added to it – no preservatives, hormones, spices, sugar, etc. Be especially careful of bacon.

What healing foods do you consume regularly?

The truth about what the scale says

K and I have had our ups and downs with our diet over the past three to four weeks. We celebrated our three-year anniversary with a weekend away to the Cape Winelands – and yes, as the name implies, it’s all about good wine, great food and gorgeous scenery. Of course, those of us who are following either healing or weight-loss diets know that ‘special occasions’ aren’t excuses to veer from our diet plans – but I will be honest with you and say that both K and I treated ourselves to our indulgences!

I for one have been embarrassingly lax with my diet, and daily I struggle with various deep-rooted food demons – but that’s not what this post is about.

The point is that, despite the occasional indulgence over the past near-month, K has been committed to eating paleo at home, at work, and most times when we go out. She’s also been exercising regularly and in just three weeks, has lost 4kg.

Now, she hasn’t been happy with this amount of weight loss, but I think it’s amazing, and here’s why:

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Let’s get one thing out the way first: some people start exercising and then increase the amount they eat – it’s the weird treadmill/McDonalds anomaly that manifests in some people’s brains. So if you are working out and gaining weight, but you’ve increased your food intake or started indulging more, this doesn’t apply to you. However, If you appear slimmer/more toned, as the lady in the picture above does, and you’re clearly getting into better shape, why does the scale stay them same, drop only a little or even increase?

There are two main reasons for this.

One, it could be water weight. You’re sweating more, so you’re drinking more water. Water weighs a lot – just ask the Biggest Loser contests, who down gallons of the stuff if they want to lose a weigh-in.

The other reason is that muscle is denser than fat, so gaining weight could mean that you’re losing fat and building muscle. The scale going up (or staying put) could indicate that your hours at the gym are paying off, if you’re not ‘phoning it in’ of course.

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The point is, you need to consider the entire picture. If you look better, feel better and are fitting into your clothes better, your diet and exercise routine is working, regardless of what the scale says. However, if you’re bingeing and looking flabby, even though you’re working out every now and then… well, sorry, but you’re doing it wrong.

Also remember that the slower you lose weight, the better: losing weight slowly is the key to keeping it off. Quick losses usually equal quick – and bigger – gains.

This article will ring so true for many people, and it’s something I aspire to. I’m ‘skinny fat’ – relatively slim (though I never think so) but out of shape. I feel motivated by this article to take myself in hand and treat my body the way it deserves to be treated. Thanks for the inspiration, Lonni!

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My first crossfit experience

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Exactly 12 hours ago, I was pretty convinced I was about to heave up a lung. I was almost at the end of my first crossfit class and my lungs were not happy. Neither were my glutes or thighs, though no one else in the class seemed to be having their lives flashing before their eyes. The two flights of stairs down to the exit were a cruel, cruel joke. My legs seemed to not want to work any more – they were like, ‘This is payback for what you just did to us in there. You want to get the car so you can go home and weep? NEVER! You’ll be stuck in this gym for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!” Again, no one else seemed to be having this kind of tussle with their lower limbs, especially not the Nordic-god-esque Swedish guy who virtually glided out of the gym in a puff of Armani fragrance and extreme blondness.

This all took place at Black River Park Crossfit, the gym in the office block where I work. I discovered them some weeks ago, and since I usually have an hour to kill before work starts (due to a frustrating parking situation), I thought it’d be a good idea to use that time productively. I’d never tried crossfit before, though I was smugly certain that Jillian Michaels had prepared me for anything.

Er, no.

The gym offers a free ‘Launchpad’ week, consisting of three introductory crossfit classes. It’s compulsory for anyone who wants to join the gym and hasn’t done crossfit before. I was interested to learn that the aim of crossfit isn’t necessarily to be a standalone form of exercise, but to help improve your performance in the other sports you do. I once did two weeks of field hockey when I was 14, which has been the grand extent of my sporting career. I was also heartened to see, on the wall, a description of the ideal crossfit diet, which of course you probably know is basically paleo.

First… from the back

There were 8 of us and in general, the class went well. What (almost) killed me were the circuits – running, followed by push-ups, sit-ups and squats. My asthmatic, smoker’s lungs (don’t judge) really struggled with the sprinting parts – I’ve never been a great runner. However, I didn’t have any trouble with the sit-ups, and the push-ups were okay too. But those damn squats!

I know that crossfit isn’t a competition and everyone works at their own pace, but I hated being last in everything. I’m strong enough to do it but I’m slower than these lean, tall men. I really want to be that teen movie character who looks super cute in her gym outfit, and all the guys think ‘oh she’s just a girl, ha ha, she’s no match for us with her painted nails and coordinated outfit’ (as an aside, I wasn’t wearing a coordinated outfit but I did have very chipped gun-metal metallic polish on my nails). And then of course when it comes to the crunch, the girl kicks their butts and wins the trophy and goes home with the hottest girl on the cheerleading squad and the guys are shocked and amazed and super jealous.

But no. The reality was an entirely different beast. Like literally a beast. I was red-cheeked, huffing and puffing, and I was first from the back. It wasn’t a pretty sight. BUT I pushed through and finished everything, which I’m proud of.

Never. Getting up. Again

My muscles aren’t exactly excruciatingly painful today, but they feel quite jelly-like. I’m pretty convinced I’m walking funny. The best way I can describe it is that my thigh muscles feel ‘seize-y’. The next class is tonight, which I’ll be attending, and the last one is on Thursday. I’m not sure that crossfit is for me – to be honest, I don’t like working out among so many men – I just get shy and uncomfortable, which is ridiculous. That said, I saw the muscles on some of the ladies and – though I’m not one for hashtags – I immediately thought “#WANT”.

From zero to crossfit

Another reason I’m so glad I’m doing this Launchpad challenge is because K is also doing crossfit at the moment, in preparation for the Impi Challenge. Considering that, one month ago, the most exercise we were getting was getting out of bed in the mornings, this is a huge achievement for us. The other day a friend was saying to me that I don’t ‘have to worry’ about exercise because I’m not overweight – but that of course is missing the ENTIRE point of physical activity, and it actually made me feel more guilty for not working out more. So it’s definitely something I need to include back into my life. I used to be very dedicated to my Jillian Michaels workouts so that might be a great place to (re)start.

Either way, I still have 2 more crossfit sessions ahead of me, and who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love with it. The instructor is awesome and very encouraging. I know that when he’s looking at me, he’s thinking, “Shame”. That’s a real South Africanism and to understand what it means, read this or this. Basically, you never want someone to look at you with sympathy in their eyes and say, “Shame”.

However what actually comes out of his mouth is, “That’s awesome you’re doing great keep going well done that’s amazing you’re a hero you could rescue babies and puppies from burning buildings OMFG look how many sit-ups you’re doing in a row and you aren’t even holding your thighs I would also totally walk that last part of the sprint it’s actually so clever that you’re using it for recovery time the rest of the class is DUMB because the aim of crossfit is to come LAST and no it’s not a competition but YOU WON because of the fact that as I just said the aim is to come last and OMG you are AWESOME please show me that jog/drag/walk/crawl thing you just did I WANT TO LEARN IT because it is AMAZING.” Shame, he’s a very good actor.

Okay, I’m going in for round 2 today. Send good wishes! Send asthma pumps! Send in some back-up – I may need a stunt double for this.

Day 5 – Day 11: A week of challenges and triumphs

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K has been following the paleo diet for almost two weeks now. It’s amazing the psychological impact it’s had on me as well: I don’t want to cheat on my diet because I know how hard she’s working to stick to it, and how difficult it is for her.

To sum up briefly, here are the things she’s found easiest and most difficult about switching from a regular diet to paleo.

The easier parts:

– Eating more protein. As Paleo Leap says in this great article about paleo and protein, “healthy animal fats are the backbone of a paleo eating plan”. Although paleo isn’t meant to be a protein free-for-all (you really shouldn’t be eating steak for breakfast, lunch and supper), it’s also pretty hard to overdo it – your body simply starts to reject it, and you’ll feel pretty nauseated.

– Eating breakfast. K has never been one for breakfast and getting her to eat anything before midday has always been a struggle. But because she switched to paleo at the same time that she started working out pretty hard, she realised that she’d need something in her belly in the morning. I make her fruit smoothies every morning, using bananas, strawberries, pineapple, plain yoghurt and a dash of apple juice. I know that there’s no protein in it but it’s a start for someone who’s always shunned the idea of a morning meal!

Eating more fruit. Fruit is extremely healthy and I feel it’s a very useful ‘bridge’ between a standard carby diet and a paleo one. K often went entire days without eating any fruit, which means she was missing out on important vitamins and minerals. I’m so glad she’s including more of it in her diet.

The harder parts:

– Snack foods. Snacking on the paleo diet takes a fair amount of planning, which is ironic considering that a snack is usually eaten fairly spontaneously. There’s no grabbing a sandwich or having a bowl of popcorn between meals, which I know is hard for her. Most paleo snacks are protein-based, so I make sure that she always has things like biltong, fruit, hummus or yoghurt on hand (she’s still doing some dairy, but mainly yoghurt – no cheese).

Cravings. It’s difficult to give up comforting carbs in one fell swoop – but that’s what she’s done. She’s had the pizza cravings, the curry-and-rice cravings, and the eclair cake cravings. It’s normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. That said, she hasn’t succumbed to any of them.

Bypassing the bread basket. We attended a fancy-shmancy event last Saturday that was packed to the rafters with Cape Town’s glam set – rich, blonde, tanned and skinny. When they brought the bread basket around, K really struggled to resist, and eventually succeeded by telling herself, “I’m not a prisoner; I don’t need bread!” She later commented that, were it any other event, the bread would’ve been demolished in minutes – but of course, these ladies and gents weren’t in the least bit interested!

– Set menus. At the same event, we were presented with a set menu with three options each for starters and mains. Because K is quite a fussy eater, even the meals that were paleo-compliant weren’t particularly appealing to her. The moral is, if you’re a fussy eater and you’re doing paleo, try to cook all your own meals. In fact, fussy or not, you should try to do this. It’s simply the healthiest way to eat.

Not eating eggs. K will eat eggs on occasion – but usually when they’re accompanied by toast, hidden in pancakes or turned into omelettes. I eat boiled eggs daily, and I find them an easy breakfast and a handy snack. Plus they’re also a great source of protein if you don’t feel like cooking. Not eating boiled eggs does make things a little harder, but it’s not impossible to navigate.

Alcohol. On strict paleo, all booze should be avoided, but some fervent followers will allow dry wines or certain spirits – neither of which really appeal to K.

So how is she making it stick?

Considering the harder bits far outweigh the easier ones, how does she stick to it? Well, the 30-day goal is really spurring her own (though secretly, I’ll admit that I’m hoping that some of the paleo principles stick long after that – after all, processed carbs are not good for anyone). She’s also signed up to do the Impi Challenge in October, and she’s knows she needs to be fully committed to her workout plan and her diet if she’s going to get through it successfully.

Of course, K and I are not doing paleo as strictly as we could be – although I, simply by virtue of my IBD and food intolerances, am probably far closer to it. If you are interested in following the diet, here’s a handy list of all the things you should eat and shouldn’t eat on paleo.

Day 4 and an easy way to start exercising

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Everyone knows that the key to losing weight is diet AND exercise (sorry about that, I didn’t make the rules). But those of us who are trying to heal our bodies through diet also need exercise, even though that might sound counter intuitive, especially if you’re struggling to maintain your weight.

Exercise doesn’t have to be about burning 500 calories on the treadmill or ripping through a crossfit workout (although it can be!). Doing yoga or taking a walk is amazing exercise for anyone trying to develop a stronger, healthier body without necessarily losing weight. As we know, exercise is one of the most important building blocks of physical and psychological wellness. My nutritionalist recommends a 4km walk several times a week (it only takes about 40 minutes), or a few yoga or Pilates sessions each week.

K recently joined our local gym and she and a couple of colleagues work out during lunch time. One of them – J9 – happens to be a pro fitness buff, and she accompanied K today. I later received this email:

Time: 1.41pm

Subject: J9 killed me. I am dead.

She made me do all this [workout attached – it was pretty insane]
I did everthing except the burpies.
Not that I have anything against burpies but by that point I was on the verge of throwing up. And I didn’t want to make a mess.
This whole thing took us an hour.
Oh and as a warm-up I did 9 mins walk/run on the treadmill… and of those 9 mins I did a full 3 mins of running (not in a row). But still. That’s more than I did yesterday.
OK I’m going to go whimper whilst I eat my lunch… If only I can bring the spoon to my mouth. I may have to eat it out the bowl with my FACE.

This week alone, K’s been gymming (after not exercising in years) AND following my paleo diet and she says she’s feeling ‘lighter’ – not necessarily weight-wise, but in terms of not being weighed down by stodgy carbs and sugar.

For my part, I’ve been slowing getting back into exercise too. I lapsed on my Jillian workouts for a few months and now I’m starting to get active again slowly. I’m sure you’ve seen those ’30 day’ challenges online, so I’ve printed out a few and stuck them on my lounge wall to encourage me to do them every day. Today my thighs were so sprained from squats that I thought my muscles might burst right through my skin and splatter over my colleagues.

These are the two I’m using:

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It’s an easy, manageable way to get back into it and I do love a challenge so it works for me. If you like the idea of this kind of workout, use these templates or Google your own. There are tons of different ones – arm workouts, leg workouts, abs, etc. Obviously you need to keep it up after 30 days, but it’s a great way to transition into more strenuous workouts – well I think so anyway.

Tonight we had the most amazing paleo Thai chicken curry with cauli rice. It’s super healthy thanks to the coconut milk (homemade, so zero additives) and truck-load of green veggies we added. Meals like this really make you feel like you’re not missing a thing.

And tomorrow is FRIDAY! The weekend is going to be our first paleo hurdle together: Saturday night we’re going to a show that I’m so, so excited about I might just BURST… but it includes a 3-course set meal. Luckily for me, I’m there for the star of the show – my most favourite drag performer, Cathy Specific – and I could DIE DIE DIE I’m so excited!! I actually feel like instead of my thighs, my stomach might burst all over this screen and splatter you all with butterflies. So I’m hardly concerned about the dishes but I know it’s going to be a challenge for K and it’s going to be exciting to see how we navigate it together.

Okay OMG I’ve gotta go. I need to start thinking about what I’m going to WEAR!

Day 3 and some handy paleo food swaps

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I think most people who switch to a healing diet would be lying if they said there weren’t at least a few things they missed from their former way of eating. I also think for most people, sugar/carbs create one of the biggest holes – it’s classic comfort food, after all.

Today is day three of paleo for K, and I was super impressed to discover that she’s been drinking her coffee without sugar. Today’s email read:

You would actually be so proud of me and I have L [colleague] to corroborate the story. I was going to make coffee with sugar… I put the sugar in the mug (like half of half a spoon) and then sat down with L and R at the table. I decided against the sugar and surrendered my mug to L. SHE LAUGHED at how little sugar was in the mug. Then she went to add more.

I’m especially proud of K because tea and coffee, especially when sugary and milky, is ultimate comfort ‘food’ for me. Growing up, if I had a shock or a heart break, my mom would make me a cup of strong, sweet tea. For stomach bugs, the solution was the same, with Marmite toast added to soothe the belly. As an adult, five or six cups of sweet tea or coffee would get me through the work day, and would also assuage my sugar cravings.

When I started worrying about my weight, I switched from sugar to sweetener, which is super-duper sweet, and I could easily drink six cups of tea a day, each with three sachets of sweetener added. I also drank a ton of diet cooldrinks. At the back of my mind I suspected that the artificial sweeteners were wreaking havoc on my gut, and I was right! Cutting them out was the first, and one of the biggest, steps to healing.

But I’d be lying if I said it were easy. Now, I drink black coffee with no sugar (two cups a day max, and seldom on weekends), and I never drink regular tea because I can’t stand the taste of it without milk and sugar.

I deeply miss my comforting mugs of tea, and while there isn’t an ‘exact match’ replacement for them, there are ways to soften the blow. Here’s how I’ve replaced some of my best-loved, and most missed, foods and drinks.

  • Sweet/milky tea and coffee: organic flavoured teas with lemon, honey and ginger added.
  • Fizzy drinks: organic apple juice with no added sugar or preservatives (limited to a couple of glasses a week).
  • Alcohol: Should be avoided if you’re flaring and if you know you can’t tolerate it. Fill a glass with ice, lemon wedges, mint or frozen berries and top with sparking mineral water. It’s the easiest way to fool your brain (and everyone else), and you won’t feel like you’re missing out. If you can tolerate alcohol, stick to dry wines and grain-free spirits only, like tequila (if you can stomach it!).
  • Desserts/‘something sweet after supper’: Fruit with honey; banana ‘ice cream’ (frozen bananas blended up) with cinnamon; dairy-free yoghurt; nuts drizzled with honey (and a shake of salt! Try it; it’s delicious).
  • Rice/mash: cauliflower rice/mash.
  • Potato: sweet potato (paleo, not SCD). Season with rosemary, garlic and coarse salt.
  • Pasta/noodles: Sounds strange, but if I make a delicious pasta sauce or curry, I pour it over butternut or steamed cauliflower and it’s just as enjoyable.
  • Sugar: honey/maple syrup/leave it out (you become accustomed to eating less sweet-tasting food).
  • Cake: There is no replacement for cake. Nothing. Accept it, grieve, and move on. It’ll become like a phantom limb: the pain is always there, but you learn to live with it. Seriously though, you can find ‘legal’ replacements for most cake ingredients: almond flour or gluten-free flour instead of regular cake flour; baking soda instead of baking powder; honey/maple syrup instead of sugar; coconut butter/oil instead of butter; avo instead of butter; egg replacements/flax seed instead of egg, etc. The list goes on – you just have to be adventurous. But you also have to accept that cake, as you knew it, is off the table and a thing of the past (but also, remember how bloaty and ugh the past was!).

I also wrote this post about making your favourite foods paleo, which has got some useful food switches.

The benefit of these replacements, especially when it comes to the hot drinks, is that my teeth are probably in much better nick than they were! Tea and coffee can leave some really tenacious stains. Cutting out fizzy drinks has drastically reduced my bloating, and no chocolate/dairy means no more frequent trips to the loo, and much less gas/bloating.

It’s hard not to lament the losses, which is why it’s so important to make healthy, sustainable switches. And bear in mind that while drinking only water is depressing (I’ve tried it), it’s still important to get your 2-litre fix each day, in between the other drinks.

If you have any useful food switches, please do share!