How to make your favourite dishes SCD legal/paleo

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When you tell people that you don’t eat dairy, grains or sugar, they often stare at you incredulously (and a little pityingly), before gasping, “What do you eat?”

The problem is that so many people have fallen into a groove of slapping together a toastie for lunch or a pot of macaroni cheese for dinner that thinking about creating a meal without bread or cheese or pasta or sugar (tomato sauce, I’m looking at you) seems virtually impossible. Pasta and puddings are easy, cheap, convenient and delicious to make, and without them… What will we EAT??

Here are some ideas: any kind of meat, basically any fruits and veg you can imagine (with the exception of one or two, like potatoes and bananas, if you’re doing paleo), nuts, nut milks, nut butters, seeds, honey (sparingly on SCD) and, once you start thinking a little more laterally, a ton of amazing desserts and treats made with these ingredients. If you’re doing SCD and you aren’t lactose-intolerant, you can add dairy products to this list too.

Of course, if you’ve become accustomed to eating pasta and bread-based meals, as well as the odd pizza cheat on weekends, it can be daunting to make the transition to ‘cleaner’ eating.  Yes, it’s a mindshift, but you’d be amazed at how quickly your thinking changes.

To help you along if you’re new to this, I’ve put together a list of some of the easier and more popular everyday meals that you can turn into SCD legal or paleo dishes.

Pancakes

Traditionally, these are made with milk, wheat flour and butter, so it seems almost inconceivable to make anything resembling a pancake without these ingredients.

Think again: For SCD pancakes, use eggs, almond flour and coconut oil – try this recipe or this one – or attempt an even easier 3-ingredient pancake that’s super light and quick to make.

Smoothies

Bought smoothies are often made with frozen yoghurt or ice cream and loaded with unhealthy sweeteners or sugar. Often they’re just as kilojoule-dense as milkshakes, and we’re tricked into believing that they’re healthy because they have a berry or two thrown in.

Make your own paleo or SCD smoothies at home by throwing your favourite fruit into a blender with a dash of pure fruit juice or a squeeze of lime, and instead of frozen yoghurt, use SCD yoghurt, coconut milk or coconut cream. Don’t forget to add a spoon of your favourite nut butter!

Get creative and come up with your own combinations – you really are limited only by your imagination (and taste buds).

Here’s a collection of great paleo smoothies and shakes to get your creative juices flowing.

Lasagna

This is an awesome hack for dairy, grain-free lasagna: Instead of pasta sheets, use slices of zucchini in between your layers of meat. You could also use butternut or even egg-white crepes that mimic the texture of pasta.

As for the sauce, use substitutes like cashew cream or cashew cheese. These ingredients may sound totally exotic to you now, but I promise that after making them once or twice, they’ll be old hat. If you told me three months ago that I’d be making my own yoghurt using nut milks and non-dairy cultures, I’d never have believed you. Now I do it once a week, and start to panic when my stock gets low!

Anyway, here and here are some fabulous collections of SCD/paleo lasagna recipes to try.

Spaghetti bolognaise

This one is super easy: The trick is not to be fooled by unhealthy packaged ingredients that you’re so used to adding to your bolognaise. It’s okay to use tomato paste, but make sure it has no added sugar. I’ve just about perfected my bolognaise recipe – it’s easy, affordable and totally more-ish. Here’s the recipe.

Instead of spaghetti, serve with cauliflower rice, roast butternut or – if you enjoy the ‘taste’ – shirataki noodles. This is actually a plant product that has a similar consistency to noodles, but zero calories and little-to-no taste (though I definitely detect a vague, odd flavour). It’s quite strange and expensive, but some people like it. Buy it here in South Africa.

Burgers

The only real problem here is the bun, so omit it and, if you like, wrap your pattie in lettuce. Of course, if you’re not doing dairy, omit any cheesy toppings. Bacon is also ill-advised because unless you’re buying organic, it’s usually laden with sugar and unhealthy additives and preservatives.

I have an amazing burger recipe that I’m super proud of – try it here.

Curry

Curries are GREAT for paleo and SCD, because they’re easy to serve without grains, and the recipe doesn’t usually call for dairy. This means that it’s so simple to make SCD/paleo curries. Simply omit any yoghurt and replace with coconut milk or cream, and for sweetness, add a dash of honey instead of sugar.

Make sure that any spices you use are good quality and don’t have any anti-caking agents or other additives in them. The best idea is to buy yours from a spice market, if you have access to one, or simply make your own spice mixes from scratch. This is more labour intensive but definitely worth the effort.

I’ll post K’s Thai green recipe soon, which ticks all the right boxes. In the mean time, browse this selection of paleo curry recipes. I’m also dying to try this SCD roast cauliflower soup recipe – it’s on my list for this winter (by the way, The Tasty Alternative has the most amazing SCD recipes).

Dessert

There are SOOO many healthy, clean SCD and paleo dessert recipes out there – do a quick Google search to see what I mean. Things you’d never even imagine existed. So you never need to feel like you’re missing out just because you can’t have caramel whip or cream cakes. In fact, because these desserts are so kind to your belly, you’ll finally get to enjoy a sweet treat without the awful after effects you’re so used to experiencing.

Here’s a baked apple crisp I made last weekend that was very easy to throw together, and enjoyed by everyone who tried it. My favourite review came from my mom, who said, “You can actually taste how healthy it is.” But yet, super delicious. Win!

Happy cooking, guys – and don’t be afraid to experiment!

 

Day 75: 4 natural sore throat remedies – SCD legal/paleo

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I’ve had a sore, scratchy throat for the past few days, and when this happened to me at the start of SCD, I made the mistake of taking OTC lozenges. They caused me a lot of bloating and they’re probably packed with illegal ingredients.

This time, I did a bit of research to find out what I could legally use on SCD to soothe my sore throat, and I found some really easy, effective fixes. These work for paleo too:

1. Gargle with apple cider vinegar mixed with water. I did this today and it tasted revolting (careful of gag reflex!) but it works. I found this remedy at Austinscdfriends.com, who also say that you can swallow the concoction, if you can stomach it, for a potassium boost, and that you should also rinse your mouth out afterwards to prevent the vinegar from damaging the enamel on your teeth. There are lots of other SCD legal remedies on the site – check them out.

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2. Gargle with salt water. I found this tip at Paleoinpdx.com, where the author says, “I always use this tactic at the onset of a sore throat. It’s known to draw excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat, which makes it hurt less. It’s also beneficial during a full-blown cold because it helps break up mucus. Be sure to use warm filtered water and sea salt, not iodized table salt.” I haven’t tried this yet but it sounds easy and effective. Read the post for more SCD legal natural cold remedies.

3. Honey and lemon. This is obviously phase-dependent. If you’re able to tolerate both these foods, drizzle honey over lemon slices and suck on these to soothe your angry throat. Thanks to Pecanbread.com for this great tip – just thinking about it feels soothing! You can also squeeze the lemon into a mug, add your honey, fill with hot (not boiling) water and drink. Thanks to Drflock.co.uk for this remedy (click to see more).

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4. Drink lots of water. Often, a sore throat is accompanied by dryness, irritation and tickles. Keep water on hand at all times and drink whenever needed or as often as possible. Not only does it instantly calm your throat, but you’re drinking more water! This was a lifesaver for me today (since I couldn’t, obviously, have an actual Lifesaver 😉 )

Do you have any tried-and-tested, SCD legal sore throat remedies? Please share! 🙂

Day 74: What to do when food boredom sets in

It’s inevitable that on a diet like SCD, which is so incredibly restrictive (at least for the first few months) food boredom will set in – even for someone like me who doesn’t mind eating the same thing every day. It’s in fact one of the most common reasons that people either stop the diet or don’t even try in the first place. It’s hard to eat the same few things all the time – meat, veg, fruit, eggs if you’re lucky, honey if you’re lucky. And by ‘lucky’ I mean ‘don’t react’.

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No matter how committed you are to this diet, you are bound to get frustrated by the limited choices available to you on the first 90 days of SCD (if you’re doing it properly). I’ve taken it particularly slowly so I am only on phase 3. But if you’re following the ‘rules’ and introducing new food only once every three days, that’s only 10 (maximum) new foods a month – and that’s not including setbacks and ‘important but not actual food’ additions like honey, spices, milk, etc.

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It hasn’t really happened to me since intro, but yesterday and today I looked at my dinner plate and thought, ‘eeeeeeugh’. I was just so over it, and I didn’t want another broccoli tree or bite of butternut.

But just because the number of foods you’re eating is limited doesn’t mean that your meals have to be. Think about how many combinations of food you can make with ‘just’ 20 different ingredients! Avo and honey, anyone? I mean have you even thought of that? 🙂

Yesterday I listed a few awesome SCD snack foods I can have at this stage of the diet. Now, I want to give you a few tips for shaking up your ‘boring’ SCD meals:

1. Rotate your meats. For many people following SCD or paleo diets, meat forms the backbone of the meal. There are so many options available besides chicken and beef. Try fish, venison, ostrich and turkey with your meals, or replace meat with eggs every now and then.

2. Have breakfast for dinner. Swap your meals around. Sometimes it’s fun to eat scrambled eggs for supper (especially when you’re feeling lazy), and weird as it sounds, you can actually get used to eating ‘supper’ food for breakfast. Remember when you used to eat leftover pizza for breakfast? This is the same thing… kinda. Simply altering the time of day you eat something can make it more appealing.

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3. Experiment with cooking methods. I recently switched boiling my butternut for roasting it. WOW! I didn’t add any extra ingredients, but the taste was completely new. As you progress through the phases, you’ll have more and more cooking methods available to you. Use them!

4. Experiment with flavours. Never mixed bananas with nut butter? Carrots with coriander? Yogurt with pear? Roast butternut with tomato? Honey with ANYTHING? Some combinations will be better than others but you’re bound to discover a few you love. I add fresh coriander to almost anything savoury and I eat half an avo with my main meals in lieu of illegal sauces or gravies. My absolute favourite is green beans with avo as a snack.

5. Don’t eat ALL the foods you can eat every day. This is a mistake I’ve made. Each time I’ve successfully added a food, I’ve started eating it every day. This means that I eat about 8 or 9 different veggies a day – but it’s the same veggies every day! Rotate 3 or 4 veggies and a few fruits at a time to prevent broccoli overload – and possibly developing intolerances. You should aim to rotate all your food every 3-4 days. Not always possible at the beginning of SCD, but easier as the diet progresses.

6. Don’t forget desserts! It may seem like much of this diet is savoury, but if you can handle fruit and honey, you have so many sweet options available to you. Make smoothies or  fruit ‘ice creams’ and sorbets, or top SCD-pancakes (made with banana and egg) with baked fruit and drizzles of honey or yogurt. YUMMO! And PS: Yes, you can absolutely eat dessert for dinner – on SCD, it’s a totally healthy option 😉

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7. Remember that every day 3 days, it gets easier. It’s a slow process, but there is progress. Don’t get disheartened, and on the days you get bored, challenge yourself to experiment with a new flavour. Roast a tray of onion, tomato, butternut and garlic with honey and coriander, or make a smoothie from banana, yoghurt and nut butter. Snack on peeled, baked apples with honey or nut butter, or make cauliflower ‘rice’ for an interesting change. A few simple switch-ups can make all the difference.

Do you have any tips for shaking things up on SCD or whichever diet you’re following? Please share – we could all use all the help we can get!

PS: Clearly GIFs are my new toy! I hope you’re enjoying them as much as I am 🙂

Day 67: Observations part 2 – Besides food, what else can cause bloating?

Yesterday I spoke a lot about bloating and the food that I think is causing my biggest problems.

Today,  I didn’t eat ANY bananas! I know! Amazing! I did experience some bloating and also some cramps after a lunch of vegetables and avo, which I suspect will require further investigation. But I also had a realisation about other factors that could be causing my bloating:

1. Eating too much. I’ve never been one for moderate portions, which is probably what helped get me into this predicament in the first place! Whether I’m eating a bowl of chips or a bowl of broccoli, I eat a lot of it. I’ve always said that I’m missing the ‘fullness indicator’ and that I could just keep eating and eating and eating without stopping until I burst like a cartoon character. Anyone else have this talent problem?

Basically me at every meal, minus the roll

Basically me at every meal, minus the bread

The average adult stomach is roughly the size of a clenched fist and can stretch to fit about a litre’s worth of food in it. I like to take that as a personal challenge and try to pack in around 3kg at every meal. And then I’m surprised when my belly blows up to the size of the Times Square ball.

2. Eating too fast. I’ve never had any reason to eat my food like a prison inmate about to have it snatched away. My parents always cooked plenty of food and there was always enough for seconds and thirds… for us and the neighbours. My dad also eats super fast, and in fact, when I go out to eat with other people, I have to consciously slow myself down so as not to embarrass myself. Thank goodness K and I seem to keep the same pace!

3. Not exercising. In Jan and Feb, the first two official months on the job (prior I was freelancing for the same company), I was able to leave work at about 4.45 each day, and be home by 5.30. I’d exercise until 6, shower and then make supper, with plenty of time to spare. When we hit a crisis at work about three weeks ago, I found myself easily staying at the office until 6 or even 7, getting home after dark and then still having to cook supper. I simply haven’t had the time to work out, and I know it’s so bad for me. Could this be contributing to the bloat?

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4. What I’m drinking. For the first 19 days on this diet, I drank only water. For the first 30, I drank no coffee or booze. Now, I still drink my 2l of water a day – but I also have a glass of wine most days, and one to two cups of coffee. There’s no doubt that drinks can have just as big an impact on your gut as food, and it’s careless to think they don’t.

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5. Stress. When our work crisis hit, our stress levels shot right up. Some days, my colleagues were running to the bathroom with diarrhoea – and they don’t have IBD! I felt a gnawing nausea for days on end, and I was constantly in a state of high-strung anxiety. I’ve no doubt that this not only aggravated my gut, but also contributed to my bloating.

So what’s the next step?

Now that I’ve got a more holistic picture, so to speak, of the root causes of my bloating, I can start to fix the problem (if I can commit to it). It’s almost like working retroactively, going back and fixing what I’ve broken. Now that the bananas are gone, I know I should take a break from booze and coffee too, and keep working backwards like that until I am able to identify the food causes of the bloating – and then of course I need to address the non-food causes too.

I’ve just had dinner and I tried not to overeat. I had yogurt for ‘dessert’, with honey, because I’ve already cut out bananas today and I felt I deserved it!

Ugh, damn bloating. I feel like a stuck record. Imagine how AMAZING life would be without bloat!

Oh, to be a cat and be so unconcerned about bloating!

Oh, to be a cat and be so unconcerned about bloating!

Day 66: Important observations about SCD so far

I’ve been on this diet for 66 days, and even though it’s not a massive amount of time, it’s long enough to have realised that my progress has fallen into two distinct categories:

  • Extremely strict
  • Experimental (within the bounds of legal, stage-appropriate SCD foods)

I haven’t once knowingly cheated on this diet and I’ve stuck to the 3-day rule (at times 4 days) since the start. But I’ve also become less fanatically strict and terrified of introducing new foods. Maybe it’s manifesting more psychologically than physically, because I’m not running around shoving random bits of food into my mouth. But it does mean that one big problem has crept in: Bloating.

Can totally relate

Can totally relate

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it because when I’m healthy and not in an active flare, the worst symptom I have is bloating, which also causes pain and that lovely, totally-not-embarrassing ‘talking’ that most often happens when I’m sitting in an echoey boardroom with several of my bosses, a handful of clients and the perfectly preened magazine editor.

Yet here I am, 66 days in, experiencing bloating most days. So, below is what I have deduced about my particular reaction to foods on SCD. As always, bear in mind that everyone tolerates food differently.

1. Bananas cause me significant bloating. I’ve known this since day 4 or 5 when I introduced them, and you’ve known it too because I haven’t shut up about it. I try to eat fewer but usually I fail because…

2. I’m a snacker which makes SCD REALLY hard. Who wants to snack on a dry meatball or a cup of carrot puree? So I snack on bananas. All. The. Time. And then for dessert I have banana ‘ice cream’. I do in fact always have prepared vegetables and ripe avos in the fridge, but bananas are also easy to eat on the go or take with to work, social occasions, movies, etc.

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3.  Other things besides banana make me bloated. What are they? I’m not sure. Because in this experiment that is the SCD, you need to use your own body as the control, and I’ve often failed to do that effectively. You need to feel good and bloat-free before introducing new foods, and while I’ve done that to some extent, I have also compromised my results by continuing to eat bananas while testing other foods.

This means I’ve often experienced bloating while testing, but I’ve always blamed it on bananas. However, I’m now noticing that I can eat other foods (ie: meals of meat, assorted vegetables and avo) and end up bloated – and because of the muddied test results, I can’t pinpoint the culprit.

4. You have to introduce SCD yogurt CAREFULLY. As good as it can be for you, dairy-free SCD yogurt is made up of not one but a number of ingredients – and some of these (most notably nut milk and honey) can be problematic.

Nuts, even when blanched, blended, strained and squeezed into milk, can aggravate a sensitive gut, which is why they shouldn’t be introduced until 3 months on this diet (or 3 months symptom-free, which I reached in about February). Honey is also tolerated by some but not by others, and both nuts and honey are considered potentially ‘problematic’ foods for people on SCD.

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5. Nut milks and honey are probably adding to my bloating. They’ve made a fairly recent but regular appearance in my diet in the form of my yoghurt, and since their debut I’ve come to really enjoy them. Is the benefit of the probiotics outweighing the bloat? I can’t honestly tell you because while my BMs are satisfactory and quite regular, I haven’t noticed a marked difference since introducing the yogurt. But I do love the sweetness of they honey and yogurt is such a perfect after-dinner treat.

6. I felt my best during intro and phase 1, but my BMs were terrible. Swings and roundabouts? Maybe, but there must be more to it than that. There must be more that I can do to control my symptoms so that I can heal and enjoy a varied diet without bloat.  This means that I probably need to go back to the drawing board – or at the very least, stick to meat and veg for a few days and see if it helps.

7. This diet is about more than mindlessly following the phases. It only works if you listen to your body and respect your symptoms, and if you actively work to manage them. I haven’t always done that. I haven’t always been fully committed to being symptom free as much as I’ve been committed to eating legally and according to the phases. In other words…

8. Just because a food is SCD-legal and allowed in the phase you’re on, doesn’t mean it works for you. I found out that mushrooms don’t agree with me so I avoid them. But I’ve ignored the ill-effects of other foods and now I have this major bloat problem which is really a huge tangled mess. You have to be actively involved in really feeling your symptoms, identifying what’s causing them and eradicating problem foods from your diet – if only temporarily. Mindless eating is not going to cure you, even if you’re eating SCD legal foods.

So those are my observations for now. On this diet, I am definitely my biggest ally and also my worst enemy. It’s also why I haven’t yet opened my new jar of macadamia nut butter: The cashew butter was going brilliantly until, after 3 days, I caved and ate the remainder (about half of it) with a spoon straight out of the jar.

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My goal for the coming days: WILLPOWER. I’ve already made so many sacrifices that I can’t allow these little weaknesses to trip me up now. Now to just find the motivation to do better…

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Day 22: Phase 1 review

Last day of Phase 1, last day of Phase 1! Wooo hoo!

This feels like a major milestone even though nothing will change in terms of the pace of phasing in foods and testing each one. But it means that over the coming weeks, I’ll be introducing:

– avocado

– tomato

– garlic

– mushrooms

– cilantro (dhanya/coriander – this fresh herb isn’t on Pecanbread.com’s list of stages but I’m going to take a chance and try to phase it in anyway because I love the taste and it’s really going to add a new dimension to my meals).

– And a bunch of other delicious things

But first, I want to give a summary of my experience of Phase 1.

How hard was Phase 1?

It was challenging but not impossible. I’m lucky in that I can eat the same old food day after day without growing tired of it, and that’s a real benefit on SCD. Especially in the early phases, you run the risk of getting extremely bored with the same limited foods every day, but try to remember that it’s just a few weeks.

I had cravings from time to time, and even though they weren’t pleasant, they weren’t insurmountable either. They passed, as did each day.

What did I do right in Phase 1?

I didn’t knowingly cheat in Phase 1 – not by a morsel. I had two cups of rooibos tea (legal) which may have contained flavourants that aren’t legal, and which I didn’t know about until after I’d consumed them. I’ll stay away from them in future.

I rotated my meats quite a bit, and cooked them as recommended for Phase 1 (ie: broiled or grilled).

I cooked all my vegetables until they were completely soft, although I didn’t necessarily puree them every time. I always pureed my carrots, but with the gem squash and butternut, I cooked them until very soft and then ate them. Pureed is great but not essential. If your symptoms are still very bad, puree your veg (my symptoms were under control).

I introduced one new food every 3-4 days.

I drank at least 2 litres of water every day.

I didn’t drink coffee, alcohol or any other liquid besides water and rooibos tea.

I exercised moderately, though you should exercise with extreme caution if you’re in a flare. Limit it to walking or yoga.

I took supplements, including a probiotic, various vitamins (B, C, D), calcium, magnesium (for constipation) and krill oil. I take calcium because I’m lactose intolerant, and don’t get any calcium from dairy. Don’t take anything without consulting your doctor or nutritionalist first.

I kept a daily food diary, documenting everything I ate, how it made me feel, and what my BMs were like. It’s very useful to look back at this, even in this early phase, and see that right from day 1, bananas were causing me some problems. Which brings me to…

What did I do wrong in Phase 1?

I ATE WAY TOO MANY BANANAS. Bananas are my downfall! I’ve always had a sweet tooth so I think that’s the reason why – bananas were the only easy, sweet thing I could grab whenever I felt like it. The fruit purees are tasty but apple made me bloated and pear is a mission to prepare, so I only made one batch.

Too Many Bananas

Bananas also don’t need to be prepared – they’re the only food you can eat raw in Phase 1, as long as they are very, very ripe and have brown spots. I didn’t always wait until my bananas were ripe enough.

I also continued to eat bananas every day, sometimes up to 7 or 8 times a day, even though I know they don’t always agree with me. They cause me bloating, gas and that gurgly bubbly feeling in my tummy.

I didn’t always prepare food in advance, which meant being ravenous at times (and hence grumpy) and then filling up on… more bananas!

I didn’t always take enough food to work, or to places I went out to for extended periods of time.

I made the mistake of trusting a restauranthere’s how that experience went. I have another restaurant trip planned for Valentine’s Day but I’ve already spoken to the restaurant and I feel more confident this time.

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I stressed about silly things, like cooking a vegetable incorrectly or perhaps-accidentally-unknowingly consuming a spice (at that damn restaurant!). Stress is SO bad for anyone with autoimmune disorders, so don’t sweat the small stuff! Don’t even sweat the big stuff if you can help it. As I like to say: Stay calm, stay positive, reduce stress.

I smoked. Not often; not a lot, but I did. Don’t do it. Super, super, suuuuuuuper terrible for your health. Okay, lecture over 🙂

How do I feel at the end of Phase 1?

I’m not completely satisfied with my BMs. Before I started SCD, they were reliable: every morning and often every evening, without any struggle. They were well formed and I always felt ’empty’ afterwards.

As I’ve mentioned before, my UC symptoms were completely under control when I started this diet – but it was because of the Asacol I’m taking. My reason for starting this diet is to (hopefully) get off the Asacol in due course, as I don’t wish to spend my live on chronic medication.

My tummy doesn’t feel amazing YET, but I’m not too concerned. I can pinpoint the exact reasons (and probable remedies) for my two main gut concerns right now:

constipation: Not enough fibre and fat in my diet at this stage. I’ll be adding more of both in Phase 2, and hopefully this will help.

bloating, gas and cramps: Too many bananas, and bananas that aren’t ripe enough. No bananas = no pain, bloating and gas = happy belly. Easy to remedy and I’ll be replacing many of my bananas with other foods in Phase 2.

Let me take those off your hands for you...

Let me take those off your hands…

I DO feel that my digestive system is beginning to heal. How do I know? Well, I used to feel bloated after every meal. Now, I can eat foods that used to bloat me (such as eggs or vegetables) and feel fine afterwards. I believe this is evidence that the damage is slowly mending.

How do I know I’m ready to move on to Phase 2?

There’s no specific timeline for each phase, as everyone’s progress is different. I’ve often read that two weeks is a rough guideline, but it really depends on how long it takes you to phase in each food, whether you have setbacks, and how many items you choose to phase in. Don’t move on if you don’t feel ready, but don’t spend a whole month eating only 5 or 6 foods.

I have phased in most of the foods recommended for Phase 1, and I feel strong enough and ready to move on to Phase 2. I spent 19 days on Phase 1, which I’m satisfied with. I also desperately need to introduce some new foods so I can start phasing bananas out! I won’t give them up entirely but I need to limit them.

Intro, plus nearly 3 weeks on Phase 1, has helped me to build a solid, reliable foundation, and I feel prepared for Phase 2.

Essentials for Phase 1 (and every phase)

an SCD buddy: either someone who is also doing the diet, or someone who is prepared to support you at every step. For me, my partner has been the most amazing SCD buddy, even though she’s not doing the diet herself.

a trustworthy meat supplier.

large cooking pots, lots of storage containers (freezer safe) and clean, SCD-friendly chopping boards, utensils and counter space (must not be contaminated with any gluten).

time to cook. Even half a day once a week is enough, but you need to set it aside.

careful planning to ensure that you always have enough food. Take food with you when you go out.

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a thick skin. People (who don’t know about your journey) are going to ask you time and again about why you’re not eating this or drinking that. You don’t have to go into the nitty-gritty of your illness, but you can have a simple explanation planned, like, “I have a digestive ailment and I have to be very careful about what I eat,” or something along those lines. I’ve been caught off-guard so many times and ended up explaining way too much about UC, which wasn’t necessary and left me feeling uncomfortable (even though it shouldn’t).

enough sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours a night. Sleep is the best healer there is.

patience, a sense of humour, and the space to forgive yourself if you fuck up. It’ll happen, no doubt. Accept it and move on.

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reliable online SCD resources. Whenever I was in doubt about something, like whether I could eat black pepper or drink rooibos tea, I took to the net to find RELIABLE sources of information.

The SCD Lifestyle book, Surviving to Thrivingis an absolute must-read before you embark on this diet, and if it were a virtual book, I’d have dog-earred mine to pieces by now! Also find yourself some reliable websites and blogs that you relate to and can trust, like Pecanbread.com. They’ll be full of the kinds of information you’re looking for.

 Am I ready for Phase 2?

Oh HELLS YES! Bring it ONNN!

Because if there were ever a time for vehement sentiment, it's during SCD ;-)

Because if there were ever a time for vehement sentiment, it’s during SCD 😉

Day 19: Good sources of protein

Day 19, and I’m still not entirely satisfied with my BMs, but as I know so well by now, patience is key on this diet. This morning was great; this evening… not so much. But I’m excited to move onto phase 2. Today my diet has consisted of boiled eggs, bananas, gem squash, butternut and meat, and I’m not having any bloating.

I’ve decided to try the pear puree that I made (and froze) a few weeks ago. Once I’ve tested it, I’ll be moving onto phase 2. I can’t wait to add things like avocado, garlic, tomato (carefully), pineapple and mushrooms.

Yesterday I spoke a lot about carbs. Today I want to focus briefly on protein. On the SCD, it’s important that all meals contain a mix of protein, fat and carbs. Protein keeps us feeling full and is essential to rebuilding body cells.

So for breakfast, you could have eggs and banana, for example, or meat and fruit sauce. It takes some getting used to, eating meat for breakfast, but it’s really not so strange after a while.

Benefits of eggs and how to cook them

Eggs are an amazing food on SCD, if you can handle them. Not everyone can, but I seem to be fine with them. They offer a solid dose of protein and fat, and they keep you feeling full for a long time.

If you hard boil them, you can take them anywhere for an easy snack in a cinch. I take boiled eggs to work every morning, and sometimes, if I have a leftover egg in the fridge, I’ll snack on it before exercising.

You can also scramble eggs with no added fat if you have a non-stick pan and watch them carefully. I simply beat them with a little water and then scramble them. I haven’t tried frying them without fat, but I’m sure with the right equipment, one could.

Something to look forward to in Phase 2

Something to look forward to in Phase 2

Meats I’m eating, and how I’m cooking them

As for meat, it’s always best to stick to lean cuts (fatty meat is simply not healthy for anyone). This is especially true in the beginning phases when it’s particularly hard for your gut to digest fat. It’s recommended that you cook your meat in a way that draws the fat out – like grilling, broiling or boiling (and then skimming the fat off the top, as you would do with bone broth).

I’ve been eating a lot of chicken, which I either boil (if it has skin and bones) or grill (if it’s skinless and boneless). I also love steak, though I usually stick to thin, mini cuts – called “minute” steaks because they literally cook in one minute – which I grill. Every now and then I’ll grill a nice juicy rump as a treat, but this is at most once a week.

I haven’t yet tried fish on SCD, as I’ve always needed my fish to be very well seasoned if I’m going to enjoy it. That’s obviously not an option right now, so perhaps I’ll wait until I’ve introduced more herbs and spices.

Lastly, I’m eating a fair amount of ostrich. An ostrich is a large, ugly-looking bird that is indigenous to Africa. It’s so big that an adult can ride it – and they do, for fun, in some towns.

An ostrich. Tastier than it looks.

An ostrich. Tastier than it looks.

Tenderising the meat prior to eating

Tenderising the meat prior to eating

Unlike chicken, ostrich it is a red meat. It is considered extremely healthy because it’s high in protein but very lean. Ostrich meat is definitely an acquired taste and due to its low fat content, it can be very dry. Luckily, I’m becoming accustomed to it and I make meat balls from ostrich mince, which are nutritious, quite tasty, and quick to defrost. Fun fact: One ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 regular hen’s eggs and has 2000 calories! If you need to gain weight, I’d go with one of these babies each morning 😉

An ostrich egg. We do things properly in Africa!

An ostrich egg. We do things properly in Africa!

How to choose meat

When it comes to buying meat, try to choose organic, and always ensure that it has NO ADDITIVES. Some farms inject all sorts of crap into their meat, like hormones, ‘natural’ flavourants, colourants and so forth. I’m extremely fortunate to have a good quality butchery right downstairs from my apartment. I trust them completely and I can see (and taste) that the meat is of a superior quality.

The also sell grass-fed beef, which is rare in South Africa. It is recommended that you always buy grass-fed (as opposed to grain-fed) whenever possible. Makes sense for us grain-challenged peeps!

Organic, grass-fed meat will cost you – especially as more and more people cotton on to the health benefits of eating it. But it’s worth it. It’s an investment in your health, after all.

SCDelicious! Who said you couldn't have any mouth-watering meals on this diet? :-)

SCDelicious! Who said you couldn’t have any mouth-watering meals on this diet? 🙂

One of the things I’m most excited about is finally getting to a point when I can eat biltong again. Biltong is a South African delicacy that is sometimes compared to beef jerky, but is really nothing like it.

Basically, it’s highly spiced raw meat that is hung up to dry. Once dried, after a few days, you eat it just like that, without cooking it. Sound disgusting? I promise it’s not! K and I even make our own. Come and visit me in SA and I’ll make some especially for you 🙂 We’ll tuck in once we’ve hit the 90-day mark 🙂

This is how happy any meat-eating South African will look when you put them in front of a rack of biltong

This is how happy any meat-eating South African will look when you put them in front of a rack of biltong