How to make your favourite dishes SCD legal/paleo

paleo-pancakes

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!

 

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Day 100!! Celebrating with phase 5 and pizza – cauliflower pizza that is

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100 days! I’ve reached my goal!

Today has been a whole day of celebrating this milestone, the SCD-legal way! It started with two big bowls of biltong for brunch – it’s one of my favourite delicacies but I haven’t been able to eat it on SCD, because a) it’s raw and only allowed on phase 5, and b) it’s usually covered with spices that I hadn’t introduced before now.

The butchery downstairs sells amazing biltong so I spent a small fortune there and gleefully skipped home with my bounty. Biltong is a little like jerky except much, much better and way more delicious. It’s raw, highly spiced and salted meat that is left to dry. It’s K’s absolute fave, and since she was leaving for Kuala Lampur today, I wanted to include her in my 100 day celebrations before she left – which meant I incidentally started phase 5 too.

Mmm, biltong

Mmm, biltong

Next up, I attempted to make some Larabars, which actually just turned into bliss balls without the coconut. I used cashews, dates, vanilla extract and spices, but I’m taking great care with them because of my previous bad reactions to nuts.

Finally, after dropping K off at the airport, I came home and made myself some cauliflower pizzas for supper.

The base was made of riced cauliflower (one head, steamed), mixed with 2 whole eggs and a heaped tablespoon of coconut flour. Next time, I’ll use the egg whites only, as the base tasted quite eggy. Also, it didn’t firm up brilliantly – it remained quite soggy even after 15 minutes at about 180 degrees C. I think the cauliflower – as well as the toppings – were too wet.

I topped the bases with tomato paste, dried basil, oreganum and Italian spices, and then a whole whack of fresh veggies: fresh tomato, olives, onion, garlic, coriander (cilantro) and spinach mixed with home-made tomato sauce. I baked it for a further 10 minutes, then topped it with avo slices. It tasted delicious but it was very, very soggy! Any tips for making a crispy cauliflower base without cheese?

For dessert, as always, it was a fresh batch of SCD yogurt (recipe here) drenched in honey. Life is good and my belly is HAPPY!

I’ll keep posting and over the next few days I’ll share my thoughts on 100 days on SCD.

How’s your diet going?

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Recipe: SCD/paleo burger patties with guacamole & steamed vegetables

Here’s the recipe I promised you for the AMAZING burger patties I made the other night. They’re SCD/paleo/GAPS, super easy to make an they’re knock-your-socks-off good! How do I know this? K said, “I feel like I’ve just eaten at a restaurant” after finishing hers – which, let me tell you, is high praise!

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Bear in mind that the bun and chips aren’t SCD or paleo. The plate on the left is 100% SCD/paleo/GAPS

Ingredients

  • 800g mince (I used half ostrich and half venison; I haven’t tried these with beef)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 small tin (50g) tomato paste
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander, stems removed and leaves chopped (divided)
  • A good shake of ground nutmeg
  • A good shake of ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mixed veg of your choice
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • lemon juice

Method

1. Add your onion and garlic to a pan and soften for a few minutes. This is not essential but it’s a good idea for anyone who requires their veg fairly well cooked.

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2. Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients, minus 1 handful of coriander, into a large bowl and add the onion mixture once ready.

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Get in there with your hands and work all the ingredients together, mixing well. I asked K to add a few more dashes of salt and pepper as I mixed.

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3. Now shape your meat into patties. I made 6 big patties, but you could easily turn these into 8 or 10 smaller ones. Place them on a lined chopping board or plate, and allow to firm up in the fridge for a few minutes. This probably isn’t essential, but I gave mine 20 minutes of chill time.

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4. While the meat is chilling, make your steamed veg. I used carrots, zucchini, green beans and broccoli. If you don’t have a steamer, simply put your veg into a colander and place it over a pot filled with about 3-4cm of boiling water. Cover the colander with a lid and steam until desired doneness. I usually cook mine for about 10 mins. Just be sure the water doesn’t evaporate, as you’ll burn your pot! (I’ve done this more times than I care to admit!)

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5. Add a drop of coconut oil to a pan, heat to medium, and add your patties. I fried mine in two batches. Because I hate using oil (it makes me a little queasy), I added dashes of hot kettle water to the pan whenever it needed moisture. I know that purists would recoil in horror at this, but it kept the patties so moist while still allowing them to brown. Cover with a lid while cooking, and cook for about 6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

Guacamole

While the meat is cooking, make your guacamole. Place the avo and coriander in a bowl, drizzle with lemon juice and add a good crack of salt and black pepper. Mash it all up together with a fork.

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And voila! There’s your 100% SCD/paleo meal, super healthy and (I promise) totally delicious. Place 1 – 2 patties on each plate, top with guacamole and slices of gherkin, and serve with veg. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance, go ahead and add some cheese to your burger too 🙂

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K’s plates always look a little more fun than mine!

Day 94: Simplifying food prep

Preparing food for any kind of special diet can be extremely time consuming – and, for those of us who avoid processed foods, there’s never the  option of just ‘grabbing a takeaway’ or buying a ready-made meal. I think that the amount of effort (or perceived effort) that goes into preparing clean, healthy food every day can put people off this kind of diet, but it really needn’t – there are so many ways around it.

Chop and freeze bags of veg for quick weekday cooking

Chop and freeze bags of veg for quick weekday cooking

Admittedly, I can spend 3 to 4 hours in the kitchen on a Sunday, prepping for the week. But for the rest of the week, I can rustle up an entire dinner in 30 minutes or less, because all my veg is already cooked and I only have to worry about the meat.

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Having been a slave to my kitchen for the past three months, here are some of my favourite tips for making food prep go a lot faster:

  • Make batches of boiled eggs for a simple and filling breakfast or snack. Bonus: they’re super easy to transport. I boil six at a time to last me three mornings.
  • Buy pre-chopped veg. Yes, it costs more (so I don’t often buy it), but it’s such a lifesaver when you’re short on time. Plus, I can’t lie – I love ‘spoiling’ myself with a bag of butternut chunks and saving myself the 10-minute slog of peeling, chopping and de-seeding. Same goes for green beans and that endless topping-and-tailing!
  • When possible, cook different veg together. Instead of separate pots for broccoli, cauliflower, beans and carrots, toss them all into one large pot and cook them in one go (if you’re doing SCD, obviously you won’t be able to do this right at the start). Bonus: Fewer dishes!
  • Choose thinner cuts of meat. Not only are they healthier, but they are much quicker to defrost and cook.
  • Always make extra quantities of coconut milk and freeze the leftovers. When I need coconut milk for a meal, I often just pop the frozen chunk into the pot and it melts in minutes. Oh, and if you’re low on coconut milk, just add a bit of water to stretch it out.
  • Cook as many vegetables as you can manage over the weekend. Refrigerate about three days’ worth, and then freeze the rest in batches for when you need them.
  • Not in the mood to cook a big meal? Mash up two small bananas with two eggs and a sprinkling of cinnamon, and fry up some SCD pancakes in a pan coated with coconut oil. Mine always turn into a scramble but it’s just as delicious.
  • Not in the mood to cook at all? Put together a plate of veg from the fridge, plus a couple of boiled eggs and some avo if you have it, and boom – a perfectly balanced meal of protein, carbs and healthy fat with zero prep. Win.
  • Always cook big batches of food and freeze the leftovers. This works especially well with curries, mince, soups, etc. There’s nothing better than pulling out a pre-cooked, home-cooked meal when you don’t feel like cooking (but you do feel like a proper home-made meal).
  • Use your microwave. Put your veg into a microwave-safe dish (not Tuppaware!), add a dash of water and microwave, covered, until cooked. Much easier and quicker than using the stove top – but watch out for the steam!
  • Invest in good knives and vegetable peelers. This makes the world of difference when you’re preparing loads of veg. I recently bought a vegetable peeler that cost the same as a small house, but WOW has it made peeling butternuts a dream!
  • When it comes to wine, choose screw caps over corks!

Please share any food prepping tips you have – I’m always looking for shortcuts.

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Day 91: Crispy butternut chips (step by step) & almond nuts

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I found a recipe for butternut chips ages ago, but I’ve had to wait until I was at the right phase of the diet before trying them. Today was the day!

Although they’ll require some perfecting, they were pretty good. Next time, I think I’ll use a lower heat setting on the oven and cook them for longer – I think that might help them to get even crispier without charring.

Here’s what to do:

Peel a long, thin butternut and cut into very thin half-moon slices (2mm or so). I didn't use the 'bulb' part, but if you do, remove the seeds.

Peel a long, thin butternut and cut into very thin half-moon slices (2mm or so). I didn’t use the ‘bulb’ part, but if you do, remove the seeds.

Boil the butternut in batches for a minute or two, until just softened. Remove from pot with slotted spoon

Boil the butternut in batches for a minute or two, until just softened. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

Place the butternut pieces onto a clean dishcloth in a single layer and allow to dry completely. I patted mine dry with paper towels.

Place the butternut pieces onto a clean dishcloth in a single layer and allow to dry completely. I patted mine dry with paper towels.

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Place in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and brush with oil of your choice. I used coconut.

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Season with coarse salt and anything else you fancy, like cracked black pepper, garlic or onion seasoning, or fresh herbs like rosemary.

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Bake at 180C for 10 minutes, then check on the chips and remove any that are already cooked. I left the remainder in the oven for another 10 minutes.

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Serve! I made one batch with salt and the other (the first pic at the top of this post) without salt. I think salt wins 🙂

Introducing almonds

On phase 4, you can introduce blanched almond pieces. This afternoon, desperate for some sort of ‘fun’ snack, I decided that today was the day. I didn’t have blanched… or pieces… so it ended up being whole almonds in their skins. However, I introduced almond pieces months ago when I used unstrained almond milk to make yogurt. I have also been symptom-free for about 5 months now, so technically long enough to reintroduce nuts to my diet.

I of course couldn’t limit myself to a handful or two so I may have overdone it. However, due to my lack of self-restraint when it comes to nuts and nut butters, I’ve decided never to buy nuts for myself, but only to eat them if someone else buys them for me (that’s not a hint, guys!!). My dad bought me this bag but nuts are something I’m seldom given as a gift so I think this is a good strategy.

Today’s BMs

I am actually okay today after last night’s restaurant meal, but my tummy had a bit of a wobbly after the butternut chips, sending me to the loo with very runny stools. I tolerate butternut well so perhaps it was the coconut oil that I used.

To be honest I’m not feeling amazing now so perhaps today has just been too much fat, too fast. In my typical style! I have a weird burning sensation in my abdomen. Does anyone else ever experience this?

 

Day 89: A typical daily meal plan on Phase 4 of SCD

Now that I’m so close to the end of my 90-day challenge – which I will be extending to a nice round 100 – I thought I’d share with you what I typically eat on an average day on SCD.

I’m currently on phase 4, and I’ve properly introduced in all the foods that I eat, except for ginger and lemon, which I added by default when I was ill a few weeks ago and relied on hot toddies to get me through!

Phase 4: Typical daily meal plan

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Upon waking up

500ml water (tap temperature – I can’t drink it ice-cold!)

Breakfast

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, pure ground coffee (diluted) and sometimes a banana if I’m still hungry, or
  • SCD pancakes (egg, banana, coconut oil) or
  • a few bananas if I’m not too hungry yet (this is extremely rare!)

Lunch

  • A mix of any of the following vegetables: gem squash, roast butternut, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and leeks, served with homemade tomato sauce (tomatoes, garlic and onion) and half an avocado.
  • Sometimes I add leftover meat from the night before (ie: grilled chicken breast).
  • Sometimes I have leftovers from the night before, but usually I freeze my leftovers for nights when I’m too lazy to cook!
  • I always round off every lunch with a banana.

Snack

  • one or two bananas (I try to eat no more than 2 or 3 per day) or
  • Pineapple pieces or
  • Nut butter – my two faves are cashew and macadamia, but I’ll also eat almond

Dinner

One of my fave meals: gem squash, roast butternut and avo with ostrich 'bolognaise'... and a glass of vino!

One of my fave meals: gem squash, roast butternut and avo with ostrich ‘bolognaise’… and a glass of vino!

Dessert

  • SCD yogurt: either almond milk yogurt or my amazing coconut and cashew yogurt (recipe here), drizzled with honey or
  • Nut butter, or
  • a few spoonfuls of honey

Things I eat every day:

  • eggs
  • bananas
  • avocado
  • vegetables
  • scd yogurt
  • honey

Occasional treats

  • Nut butters (as I have no self-control when it comes to them)

Drinks

  • Every day: 2 litres of water – this is so important and if you’re not sure you’re drinking enough, use a 500ml bottle to keep count (that’s what I do)
  • Every day: 1 cup of pure ground coffee (occasionally two but never more)
  • Most days: pure apple juice
  • Most days: wine (1 – 2 glasses per evening)
  • Occasionally: herbal tea
  • Occasionally: vodka with apple juice or soda water

What do I still want to add to/remove from my diet?

I can’t wait to introduce salad, though an entire completely raw dish is likely to be a challenge for my gut. I’m also looking forward to introducing whole nuts, though I have zero willpower so it’s probably a good thing that I can’t eat them right now! (plus they can be rough on the gut).

I’m also looking forward to introducing more spices.

There’s nothing I really want to remove from my diet, because I’m loving all the food I’m currently eating. I do know that I need to cut down on vegetables because they make me very bloated. I might also need to reduce my salt intake.

What do I miss?

Nothing… any more! It was hard at first and I can’t lie, I felt like this every night for the first few weeks:

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(here’s a short clip of me eating intro food):

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But now, it’s much, much easier. I really enjoy this diet, my cravings are gone and I feel so good. I can’t wait to get to a point where I can add SCD desserts made from nuts, dried fruit, honey, etc (like Larabars for example, and SCD-legal cheesecake!).

yum

What I miss the most, to be honest, is convenience! On a diet like SCD or paleo, you need to plan ahead to make sure you always have food prepared – there’s no quick ‘running into a store’ to grab a sandwich or something horribly processed. You also need to cook in advance and often you need to take your own food with you when you go out.

How do I feel about day 90 tomorrow?

I can’t believe it’s here – but more to the point, I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone! Honestly, It. Has. Flown. 30 days, 90 days, 1 year – your life – it all just flies by so make TODAY the day you do that thing you’ve been putting off.

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Day 86: My 100th post and FORTHWITH with Phase 4! (plus a new SCD/paleo recipe)

This morning while deciding what to cook for dinner tonight, I suddenly realised:

WHERE IS PHASE 4?!?!

I frantically scrolled back through this blog to figure out when I started Phase 3… and it was 39 days ago – eek! If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I have no problem eating the same food over and over (and over and over) again, which is probably why I got stuck on Phase 3 without even really realising that I was stuck.

In the early phases, I was eager to test food and move through the phases because the choices were so limited. But once I hit phase 2, and even more so phase 3, I got comfortable and complacent in my little ‘safe food’ bubble. I got into a habit of cooking butternut, green beans, tomato and gem squash every Sunday, and I was quite happy with my little routine.

Until I suddenly realised that I could be eating so much more! And, after 39 days on phase 3, I SHOULD be.

Phase 4, forthwith!

So I immediately made the decision to start phase 4, and tonight I began with pineapple.

Even though you can eat raw fruit and veg on Phase 4, I decided to cook my pineapple in a sweet and sour-type dish for tonight, to which I also added chicken, ginger, veg and tomato. It’s packed with (well-cooked) veg (I’m still hesitant to take chances with raw/undercooked veg) and it’s oh-so-healthy:

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Here’s the recipe:

‘Sweet and sour’ chicken, pineapple and ginger pot

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 2-3 baby zucchini, grated
  • 1 small knob ginger, grated
  • 2-3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending on taste)
  • A few glugs pure tomato puree
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
  • 8-10 baby tomatoes, halved
  • A generous handful broccoli florets
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of pineapple, chopped into small blocks (soft parts only)
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Place the grated onion, carrot, zucchini, ginger, leek and garlic in a pot, add a splash of water and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour in the tomato puree and mix well, then add the chicken and cook until white – 2 to 3 minutes. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients, turn down to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, checking from time to time to make sure it hasn’t dried out (it shouldn’t).

I served mine with gem squash and fresh avo slices. Delicious!

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And my belly?

My tongue is singing, but my belly is growling. It’s bloated, tight and gurgly. Cue sad face. I loved this dish!

Vegetables makes me bloated, full stop. I don’t eat them before I go out, for example, and I know when I have a veggie-based meal, I’m going to blow up like the Michelin Man.

Yes, the whole point of SCD is to be able to accurately identify the foods that make you bloated, but it’s not as easy at it seems. Even though I introduced foods 3 days apart and monitored my symptoms, it was still tricky to pinpoint exactly where the bloat was coming from.

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To be honest, I got lost somewhere along the way. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, because I tried to be so careful in my testing. But I do know that sometimes I get more bloated than other times – which leads me to believe that while food plays a big role in my symptoms, it’s not the only contributing factor.

[NB: I’ve just had a brainwave: SALT?? I eat loads of it. Doesn’t salt contribute to bloating? Perhaps I need to seriously consider reducing my intake].

What I do know is that my bloating was quite under control until Phase 3, so I think it was the introduction of the more ‘advanced’ veg that put me back a few steps. I know if I cut every vegetable back out, except for the squashy veg, the bloating would pretty much disappear. But do I want to do that? Of course not. So this is a choice I make – squash only and no bloating, or a variety of veg and bloat.

Tonight's selfie (okay *yes*, you got me - I'm sucking in)

Tonight’s selfie (okay *yes*, you got me – I’m sucking in)

SIGH.

Why can’t I just live on nut butter?

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A week’s supply

PS: After my 90 days + 10 extra on SCD, I plan to transition into paleo, which is supposed to really aid in bloating. Now that SCD had healed my GI system, I’m hoping that paleo will be able to target the bloating.