What to drink on SCD, paleo and AIP

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Don’t these look delicious?

It’s important to remember that what you drink on a healing diet can have as much effect on your body as the foods you eat, so you need to make wise choices.

On all of these diets, it’s highly recommended that you avoid alcohol, especially if you’re flaring. If you’ve been in remission for a while or you feel that your body can tolerate limited amounts of alcohol, there are specific types that you should stick to – these are discussed below.

Hot drinks

Coffee

Coffee is not allowed on strict AIP, though once you transition to paleo and your colon has started to heal, you may be able to tolerate it. During the early phases of SCD, it’s better to avoid coffee, but once you introduce it, make sure it’s weak, and made from pure coffee beans rather than processed (instant) grounds that could contain additives and preservatives. Also avoid decaf coffee, as you don’t know what chemicals have been used to remove the caffeine. Bear in mind that caffeine can irritate the gut, which is why it’s not recommended during the early phases of a healing diet.

Tea

Herbal tea is allowed, and if you don’t like the taste of them on their own, you can add honey, ginger, lemon, mint, berries, etc. Just make sure the tea you use is pure and free from additives. In summer, use it to make refreshing iced tea.

Using milk and sugar

On healing diets, added sugar is generally not allowed, so don’t put it in your hot drinks – use honey instead. Nut milks can be used, though for some people, myself included, this is quite an acquired taste!

Cold drinks

Carbonated drinks

Both regular and diet drinks MUST be avoided. These tend to irritate the gut, and they can also exacerbate bloating and discomfort. Plus, fizzy drinks contain a whole whack of unhealthy ingredients that are best avoided altogether.

Sparkling water

If you really struggle to kick the cola habit, as I did, try transitioning to soda water/sparkling water. I say ‘transitioning’, because I find that ALL fizzy drinks, sparkling water included, really cause me a lot of bloating and GI irritation, so it’s best I avoid them. However, I sometimes find that pure, carbonated water really hits the spot when I’m wanting something fizzy. Add lemon, berries or other fresh fruit for fun but totally healthy cocktail vibe.

Fruit juice

Fruit juice is okay if it’s completely natural/pure, and free of any preservatives and added sugar. Believe it or not, this can be VERY hard to find! Most fruit juices are marketed as being healthy, but they’re actually loaded with a whole bunch of crazy additives, never mind a ton of sugar. Be on the look out for organic, additive-free juice, or make your own at home. Apples and pears can be boiled until really soft and then strained, or you can use a juicer to make super healthy varieties like carrot, beetroot, apple, etc. The options are almost endless.

Smoothies

From here on out, you can pretty much assume that all store-bought/pre-packaged smoothies are going to be a no-no. Most contain things you won’t be able to eat on your diet, like dairy, sugar, additives/preservatives, etc. However, it’s really easy to make your own healthy, filling and totally ‘legal’ smoothies at home. Use bananas and any other fruit you can handle, and combine it with homemade yoghurt, a dash of honey and a scoop of protein powder. Here’s a great smoothie recipe packed with vitamin C. Smoothies also work brilliantly as meal replacements when you’re on the go.

Homemade drinks

If drink boredom starts to set in – and it probably will – get inventive! Make your own ginger ale, lemonade or ‘sodas’ at home using sparkling water and natural flavourants, like lemon, fresh fruits and herbs, and honey.

Alcohol

According to Theultimatepaleoguide.com, alcohol is considered a ‘processed’ food and a toxin – two things that we’re supposed to avoid on a healing diet. Plus, it’s well known that alcohol irritates the lining of the gut and can worsen the symptoms of IBD, especially if you’re flaring.

This is not a club you should be hanging out at

This is not a club you should be hanging out at

That said, I know how hard it is to go out and socialise like you did before – when all you want is to feel normal – and you have to order a glass of water, because even cooldrinks and juice are off-limits. And let’s face it, no one wants to be that guy in the bar ordering coffee.

If you’re NOT flaring and your doctor/nutritionalist thinks it’s okay for you to have a bit of alcohol, then there are options – just don’t overdo it! Try to choose those with as little sugar as possible (all alcohol contains sugar), and definitely avoid those considered grains (ie, beer).

Alcohol that is okay:

  • Dry red and white wine
  • Apple ciders (make sure they’re gluten free)
  • Certain spirits (like vodka, whiskey and gin. Because they’ve been distilled, they are mostly free of gluten. However, if you’re very sensitive to gluten, avoid them.)

Alcohol to avoid:

  • Any booze containing grains, yeast and/or high amounts of sugar
  • Sweet wine
  • Passover wine
  • Brandy
  • Beer
  • Cordials

Important note about water

Apart from whatever else you drink, try to consume at least 2l of water every day. If you aren’t used to doing this, it is difficult at first, but it gets easier. I drink 500ml every morning before I leave for work, and I keep a 1.5l bottle of water on my desk at work, which I always make sure I finish. That means by the time I get home, I’ve already had my 2l for the day, and any extra is just a ‘bonus’. This also means I don’t find myself drinking water until late into the evening – and getting up all through the night to pee!

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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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Day 84: What’s wrong with this picture? A cautionary tale about getting drunk on SCD

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I mean besides the bright pink eye-shadow and multi-coloured nails?

THAT PINK DRINK!

Last night, 84 days in, I completely fell off the SCD wagon – and yes, today I am filled with remorse and I’m hating myself pretty badly.

The day started out well enough. K, my sister and I went on a little shopping trip and ended up stopping for refreshments at the new branch of Osumo up the road from us – it’s a health food cafe that sells amazing natural fresh food. Perfect.

My sister and I each had their 100% apple juice, which is so pure they may as well be standing at your table and squeezing it from the apple as you drink it. I’ve never had pure fruit juice like that at a restaurant before, and I was so impressed. K had a ‘Chocolate Frosty’, which is made from banana, frozen yogurt and a few other things. She was so chuffed that it was delicious despite being healthy!

Just LOOK at that pure apple juice!

Just LOOK at that pure apple juice!

Apple juice and a Chocolate Frosty from Osumo

Apple juice and a Chocolate Frosty from Osumo

I had to add this picture of my cute little sister!

I couldn’t resist posting this pic of my cute little sister!

The rest of the day went fine too, and I pre-ate before we went out last night. We’d planned a super gay night out on the town – yay!

We started at our friends’ place with bubbly (it wasn’t a sweet one, though it was carbonated – a big no-no for me) and shots of jagermeister. I have never looked into this, but I’m pretty sure jagermeister is NOT SCD legal.

Then we got to the restaurant – and incredibly vibey place with an amazing drinks menu. I already had my buzz on, and I was failing to hear to frantic warning sirens in my head. I ordered a cosmo. My reasoning? It’s vodka and cranberry juice, and cranberry is good for you!

Of course, in the sober light of day, I am fully and painfully aware than the ‘cranberry juice’ they put into a cosmo is very, very, VERY far removed from anything natural I should be consuming. Actually, I realised this when the first sugary blast hit my tongue. But by this point, I was too tipsy to worry. And then, because I’d ‘already’ slipped up, I went on to order a strawberry daiquiri (the pic above), which I think is SO illegal on SCD it could actually get me arrested.

By the time I finished my super-potent drinks, I had not a care in the world. I didn’t order food, but when K’s arrived, it looked amazing.

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AH! I thought, regressing back to my pre-SCD brain, onion rings! Somehow, my drink-addled brain decided that because I’d already safely introduced onion, it would be fine to eat the BATTERED DEEP-FRIED onion rings off K’s plate. I took one bite and realised OMG GLUTEN!!!!!! and then quickly finished the lot while K shook her head sadly and repeated ,’84 days, 84 days’ and ‘I don’t know how to stop you.’ Thank goodness I managed to rein myself in before these shortbreads arrived at the table:

What would a super gay night out on the town be without penis cookies?

What would a super gay night out on the town be without penis cookies?

The rest of the night was okay. I drank water and/or vodka with soda water, but the guilt hung over me like a cloud. It still does today, and I’m hoping that writing about it here will at least benefit someone.

I’m sad that I knowingly cheated (and so badly!) so far into this. BUT I also realise that as human beings following a pretty difficult diet, slip-ups probably are inevitable. I’m no better or worse than anyone else, and I didn’t die (despite feeling like death today).

It  also made me realise that my food inhibitions willpower completely evaporates the moment I start drinking shots – something that I thought I’d conquered, but clearly have not. So whether or not they’re legal (like tequila), it’s not a good idea for me to have shooters EVER. I’m also strictly back on the diet so this is not a free pass to remain fallen-off-the-wagon.

Sigh. I really despise myself right now but I realise it’s not productive. Instead, I’m going to publish this post and let it take the self-hatred with it. Then, I’m going to have a big glass of water, a couple of eggs, and re-read this excellent article from SCDLifestyle.com that seems so applicable right now, about the glass wall mistake that people make when they think they’re getting better.

How’s your diet going?

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Day 79: Coconut ginger chicken with cauliflower rice

Does it seem like I’ve made a massive leap from soggy broccoli and pureed carrots to proper gourmet meals? Ha! It feels like that to me… but the days have really flown on this diet.

Over the past week I’ve realised that I can actually already make some pretty awesome dishes based on foods I’ve already introduced. That, combined with the fact that I’m slowly introducing the skin and seeds of well-cooked vegetables means that I have much more freedom to create exciting meals.

Tonight, I cooked a delicious chicken dish that I made up from ingredients I can already eat. I can’t actually believe how good it was, so I’m going to share the recipe here.

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Coconut ginger chicken with cauliflower rice

Ingredients

  • 400g skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • Half a lemon
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 400ml coconut milk (homemade – I made mine ‘lite’ by diluting 1 cup with water)
  • 250g broccoli florets
  • 200g baby marrow, peeled and sliced into batons
  • 2 handfuls cherry or baby roma tomatoes, sliced into halves
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 small head of cauliflower

Method

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to a pot with the garlic and all the juice from half the lemon. Add a little hot water and fry on med-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink.

Add the coconut milk, ginger and vegetables to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until veg is tender and flavours are infused.

While the chicken is simmering, ‘rice’ the cauliflower by grating it,then place it into a microwave-safe bowl and add a little water. If you like, sprinkle some lemon juice over it for extra flavour. Microwave for 10 minutes or until cooked.

Just before serving, add the coriander to the pot and stir to incorporate. Serve the chicken over the cauliflower rice and garnish with extra coriander if desired.

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This dish was so good and I absolutely plan to make it again (and again and again…)

I also can’t wait to experiment with other foods and flavours. It’s so exciting to be creating completely SCD-legal dishes that are not only helping to heal my gut, but are totally yummy too 🙂 I served tonight’s meal with organic rose wine called Live a little. Appropriate, methinks!

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Day 77: SCD hot toddy (alcohol optional)

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So my knifey throat has progressed to a full-on phlegm fest, and I am in the throes of a very unpleasant head and chest cold. And oh! How I hate being sick. Medicating myself would be unavoidable, I realised.

Most OTC drugs make you drowsy so you can’t take them during the day. I also don’t like overdoing it with drugs, so I decided to rustle myself up a hot toddy, without alcohol (if there’s one thing I hate more than being sick, it’s warm alcohol).

I was a little concerned as I hadn’t yet introduced some of the ingredients (lemon and ginger), but since my health had already taken such a dive, I figured lemon and ginger could only do me good.

You can use the recipe from the image above, or check out my simplified version below. I am also not a fan of adding spice to my hot drinks, and I think my version works just as well!

SCD-legal hot toddy 

Ingredients

– Half a lemon

– 2 tsp honey

– a few slices of ginger

– boiling water (herbal teabag optional)

– a tot of alcohol if you like (probably whiskey if you can handle it)

Method

Squeeze the lemon into a glass/mug and add the honey and ginger. If you’re not using alcohol, you can add a herbal teabag.

Pour in about 250ml of boiling water, and stir vigorously to dissolve the honey (otherwise it just sinks to the bottom). Allow to cool a little, but try to drink as hot as possible – you want to sweat the bugs out!

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This is what happens when no one at work will take a sick day. Thanks colleagues. THANKS

I don’t seem to be having any adverse reactions to the lemon or the ginger. Lemon can in fact be introduced on Phase 3, as long as it’s cooked. However, I feel that using just the juice and adding it to hot water should be fine. As for ginger, it’s SCD legal but there’s no indication of when to introduce it on the phases list. Hence I regard it like honey – introduce it when you feel you’re ready.

Honey, lemon and ginger are all known to have amazing healing qualities, and the combination, steeped in hot water, just feels like it’s giving your immune system a massive health boost. I’m also dosing up on vitamin C, eating loads of veg (as usual) and trying to take it easy this weekend.

I can’t ignore, though, that as a person who seldom gets sick, it is noteworthy that I’ve been ill twice on this diet so far. I have read that people with IBD have compromised immune systems. So I really can’t say at this point whether it’s that, or the diet, or simply a coincidence. I can say, however, that it’s REALLY fucking annoying.

Day 49: Facing a few terrifying foods

On SCD, there are quite a few foods that scare me:

– Foods that other people have cooked (I don’t eat them)

– Foods that are cooked in restaurants (I am very reticent to eat these too, no matter how clear my instructions have been)

– Foods that I haven’t phased in yet

– Foods that stand too close to me

– Foods that look at me funny

– Foods that are not bananas

Fear of food was not something I thought would ever happen to me. But when you’re faced with a health crisis, I guess things can change.

Whilst reading up on this diet before starting it, I read a warning that you should not get stuck in a ‘safe food’ zone. Hah! I scoffed. Oh please, I thought. Me, get stuck in a food zone? Neh-vah!

I guess none of us want to be predictable, and we all want to believe we won’t fall victim to the mistakes of lessers others. But, surprised as I was to discover it, I did kinda get stuck – and I still kinda am. I’ve only just moved on to phase 3 after nearly a whole month on phase 2. I still eat butternut, gem squash, eggs and bananas EVERY day, and without them, my life – and my belly – would be empty.

Learning to cook these foods and then discovering that they agreed with me was a huge comfort after all the GI distress that came before. So I’ve grabbed onto those foods that make my tummy happy, and I’ve clung to them like a 2-year-old clings to mommy’s ankles.

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The truth is that the foods being introduced on phase 3 terrify me. They are the foods that have historically caused me some of the most trouble: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onion, strawberries, lettuce, peppers… the list goes on. I was happy in my world of butternut and rubbery ‘balloon’ meatballs, as K referred to them. It wasn’t by any means a taste explosion in my mouth – but that also meant it wasn’t any kind of explosion in my colon.

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Tomorrow, I’m introducing onions. I’m not hopeful about it and I don’t expect them to treat me kindly. Apart from green beans (which have SO pleasantly surprised me), I haven’t been reticent to try any new foods, so this is a first. I plan to cook them really well, and test for three days as I have with everything else. If I can handle them, it’ll be some kind of miracle. Onion! In my meals! Amazing! But I’m not sure it’s going to go so smoothly. I know there are loads of people who’ve been on SCD for years and still can’t handle onions and various other veg from this phase.

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Tonight’s incredible dinner

K’s really been missing eating out since I started the SCD, and in the past 49 days, we’ve only done it twice. So we decided that tonight, we’d go to the steakhouse next door to our apartment. It’s one of our favourite spots and they are absolute pros. But when I went over there this afternoon to have a very serious discussion with them about my dietary restrictions, they told me they were fully booked. We googled a bunch of restaurants and eventually decided to make an amazing meaty meal at home… and that’s what we did.

K tried her hand at carpaccio, which is her very favourite thing to eat in the whole world. We bought top quality fillet from the butchery downstairs, and it turned out superbly! I was a bit worried at first because I love carpaccio too – but I usually have it with rocket, parmesan and a liberal dousing of balsamic vinegar. After all, it’s just slices of raw meat. Tonight, having only salt and pepper available to me, I took my first ginger bite… and it was phenomenal. Here’s K’s plate. Mine was significantly less colourful but outstanding nonetheless:

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I then grilled myself a chalmar beef sirloin, which was amay-may. I still can’t tell you what chalmar beef is, but I think it may be unique to SA? When I asked the butcher what differentiated chalmar from karan beef, he said, ‘The price’, but there has to be more to it. Chalmar is also grass fed up until 20kg, and seems to be nutritionally superior in some ways.

And what did the tequila say today after last night?

Well, it wasn’t fun waking up at 8.45am after hitting the sack with a belly full of booze and yoghurt at 2am, but my tummy felt fine, and I don’t seem to have suffered any ill effects after last night’s drinking. That’s not to say I want to make it a habit – oh no thank you! But nice to know I can party with my friends occasionally and not have to swap my shooters for carrot juice.

Tomorrow will be my weekly cooking day, which is tedious but necessary. K and I also like to make our Sundays ‘facemask days’, which yes, means we put on facemasks and post ridiculous photos on Facebook, but it also just means we try to stay home, hang out in our PJs until our guilt starts feeling guilty, then shower, get into clean PJs, and watch scary movies and Grey’s Anatomy until it;s time to go to bed. We’ll be doing this for most of tomorrow, though we are joining my folks for supper. Oh, how I love Facemask Sundays!

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The closest I get to chocolate these days: chocolate facemasks

Day 48: Nuts & booze – great at a bar, not great in your belly

After the terrible bloating of earlier this week, the last day or two have been great. Today I had zero bloat (until half an hour ago – more on that in a bit), and although I’ve had some gas, I’ve felt really good. So much so, in fact, that I squeezed into my tightest jeans tonight with no discomfort.

So what did I do differently these past two days? First of all, after cutting out bananas for a few days, I re-introduced them and made sure they were properly ripe. They seemed to treat me fine. I also tried to eat fewer than usual (so, maybe six a day instead of sixteen 😛 ).

I’ve also avoided the yoghurt for a few days, and that’s made a huge difference. I’ve just come back from a birthday party at a hipster tequila bar down the road, called Cabrito:

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Cabrito, Green Point

Look at all that hipster decor and shit!

Look at all that hipster decor and shit!

Thanks to a belly full of vodka and tequila (more on that, too, in a minute), I’ve been scavenging for food. For those of you who’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll know I get bingey when I’m tipsy, and I scavenge for anything sweet.

Drunken selfie

Drunken selfie

So I had a couple of (small) bowls of yoghurt with some extra honey, and almost immediately, I can feel that the bloat and gas has set in. I know that some people only experience the side-effects of food up to a day or two after eating it, but for the most part, I can always tell pretty much straight away, or within a couple of hours. Right now there are bongo drums in my tummy! Much as it sucks, it’s great to pinpoint these things so precisely. So that’s the ‘nuts’ part of this post.

So about that tequila

I am not a big drinker, but as someone who enjoys her wine and has the occasional night out, it was important to me to know what alcohol I could consume on this diet – mainly so that I don’t drink the wrong kind. Dry wine (red and white) is okay; vodka (not grain-based vodka) is okay, and tequila is a grey area. However, I’ve learnt from others that tequila agrees with some people more than vodka does.

As always, when in doubt, I turn to the SCDLifestyle.com guys. And here’s what Steve Wright says about tequila:

Rum and Tequila are not called out in the legal/illegal list on pecanbread’s list.  However, I did find an old letter from Elaine saying that consuming light rum was okay but not dark rum.  However I was unable to find anything in the SCD world that speaks on Tequila.

My take on tequila is that you should probably avoid it while on the SCD diet.  According to the Mexican government regulations all natural ingredients must be used in the production of tequila.  Manufactures may add caramel coloring, glycerin, and sugar based syrups to flavor it.  Also remember that yeast is used to ferment the blue agave sugars which could cause trouble for people with digestive problems.

And this was exactly the sense I had when I downed this:

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Those beautiful little Patron babies tasted delicious (well, the one that I had), but I could instantly taste that it was packed with sugar and a million other SCD illegals. So I didn’t have another – instead, I drank that very sensible (okay, semi-sensible) tall drink behind it, which was vodka with pure apple juice. Yes, I snuck a bottle of pure apple juice into a hipster craft beer bar. I am quite possibly their new leader.

So, right now, I ‘feel’ sober but I can tell you, from the litre of yoghurt and honey I just slurped down, I am probably not. And I’m going to pay for this tomorrow morning at 9am when our cleaning lady arrives and I want to die. But two vodkas and one tequila isn’t so bad for a four-hour stint, right? Oh, and there was also the glass of red wine after work.

But I didn't touch any of this!

But I didn’t touch any of this!

I do think booze affects my gut, but it seems to be okay if I give myself a few days’ break in between. Will be VERY interesting to see my BMs tomorrow…

My diet and BMs right now

I’m eating all the things I’ve been enjoying up until now, with the exception of the yoghurt, which I’m going to have to re-strategise on 🙂 I’ve introduced coriander (cilantro) and it’s going well. Now I get to decide what to introduce next. It’s my favourite part of this diet 🙂

For the past few weeks, my BMs have been generally good. The constipation that I experienced in the early stages has pretty much cleared up, and I have decent BMs every morning, and sometimes in the evening too (which is such a bonus). I think that all that needed to happen was introducing a few new veggies into my diet. Maybe the yoghurt is, ironically, helping too?

All in all, I’m in a good place 🙂

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