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 55: Current SCD round-up – how I’m feeling and what I’m eating

Phase 3 has been the least dramatic change so far, as all I’ve added is onion. I seem to be getting stuck in a bit of a food rut, with my meat, beans, butternut and avo – and of course a million bananas a day. I know I differ from most people in this regard, but if the SCD diet were to stop here, and I had to eat only these foods for ever more, I’d really be okay with that. I don’t really get bored with eating the same old foods every day – which is a bit of a super-power on SCD.

What my current meals look like

Breakfast

Since the beginning of SCD, I’ve been eating boiled eggs for breakfast. I’m not sick of them and I feel they really fill me up. They also make a great snack before a work-out. At this stage of SCD, there are few other ‘breakfasty’ foods available to you, so unless you’re willing to eat meat and veg for breakfast, eggs are your best bet (if you can tolerate them). You could also have egg and banana pancakes, or omelettes.

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Lunch

For lunch, I usually have leftovers from dinner. It’s easy and filling, and convenient too. If I don’t have any leftovers, I’ll have a few bananas and maybe half an avo or some defrosted meatballs.

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Dinner

I usually have anywhere between 3 or 5 veggies with dinner each night, like a combination of butternut, gem squash, green beans, tomatoes, garlic, coriander, onion, spinach or  zucchini, along with some meat (chicken, fish, beef or venison) and some avocado.

I’ve also been eating SCD yoghurt after supper, with added honey, as my dessert. I have SUCH a sweet tooth.

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BMs

At the beginning of the diet – probably for the first 30 days or so – I suffered from bad constipation. Now, apart from the odd hiccup, I have regular BMs every morning, and occasionally at night too. They are usually fairly well formed, and most days, I feel properly empty afterwards.

Although you shouldn’t spend more time in the loo than necessary, I also find that it can really make you so uncomfortable  to leave to bathroom too early, and to then experience constipation for the rest of the day. My new rule is that even if I’m running late for work or an appointment, it’s SO worth (literally) sitting it out for another few minutes to make sure I’m done.

Easiest and most difficult things about SCD so far

Having food ready every day and/or cooking on the fly are still the most challenging things for me. Because you need to cook your food for so long, and because you need to plan ahead, you need to have good time management skills! I also still forget to take food with me when I go out, which means that when hunger strikes, I’m stuck. Always take food with you, and try to include a few things in your diet that you can eat easily and without preparing (like ripe bananas or avos).

Another difficult thing is admitting what foods don’t agree with you. For example, I love bananas, and on any given day, I eat between 8 and 10 of them. But I know they can easily make me bloated. I know I will need to give them up (or at least limit them) when my diet expands a bit more.

I also had to give up mushrooms after I tested then in phase 2, and the last batch of yoghurt that I made simply didn’t agree with me. Not everything you test is going to pass, and you have to be patient enough to test SLOWLY. That means ONE new food every three days. Hard! But testing is at the very heart of this diet’s success, and if you don’t do it properly, you’re wasting your time.

Easiest things? Nothing! This diet isn’t easy and if you go into it looking for shortcuts or easy ways out, you’re probably going to make it even harder for yourself, or you’re going to fail.  It’s a big challenge and it’s best to accept that before you even get started on it. Things get easier when you accept that you can’t eat out like you used to, and you simply can’t eat the way you used to. Face these realities head-on and honestly, and it’ll be easier to do the diet successfully.

Would I do it again, from scratch?

Yes! Even if this diet doesn’t end up working for me, I’m so glad I’m doing it, because I’m proving to myself that I CAN do it. I’m proving that I can commit to something for 90 days, even when it’s not fun or easy or pretty. It’s testing my mettle, and I want to prove that I have it in me. Plus, I’m getting to write this blog, which is the best part of all 🙂 Sharing this journey with you, and hearing your experiences, is making everything a little easier and a lot more WORTH IT!

This isn't specifically SCD-related, but I thought it pretty funny - and astute!

This isn’t specifically SCD-related, but I thought it pretty funny – and astute!