Day 92: Aaaaahhhh-monds!

Yesterday I introduced whole roasted almonds to my diet, and I think it may have been a bit of a mistake for a few reasons:

  • They weren’t blanched (skins can be hard to digest)
  • They were whole nuts, rather than pieces (but that’s what my teeth are for, right?)
  • I didn’t chew them very well (I eat way too fast)
  • I ate too many (okay seriously, show me the hero who can stop after three?)
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Today’s selfie

Over the course of an hour I devoured about 100g (yes, I’m feeling suitably sheepish), and I started feeling a bit off almost right away. The next thing, I developed this bizarre burning sensation in my stomach – it felt like someone had taken a burning log and shoved it through my belly and into my back. It was the most uncomfortable, unpleasant sensation and I didn’t know what to do about it.

I curled up in a foetal position, which didn’t help, and then I tried the child’s pose (yoga), hoping that would offer relief. It didn’t. Eventually I dragged myself to the shower hoping the hot water would ease the pain. I crouched down on my haunches, then I tried stretching out, but nothing alleviated the painful burning sensation in my gut and back.

Eventually, I popped one anti-inflammatory and a gut-pain pill. I don’t usually like to take drugs, but were about an hour from leaving the house for dinner with K’s mom, who had arrived in Cape Town only the day before from Kuala Lampur, and we had yet to see her. The pain finally eased and I had no further problems, but it was just such a bizarre experience. I’ve had little to no pain during my entire three months on SCD, and actually since starting on the Asacol last year, so it was completely out of character. Also (ever the martyr), I’m testing the almonds again tonight to be sure.

I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s experienced something like this? Could it have been the almonds? I’ve been doing a little research and today I learnt that almonds are high oxalate foods, which can cause digestive distress for those of us with compromised colons.

I haven’t yet delved too deeply into the subject of oxalates, but I found this great article on Lovingourguts.com that explains oxalates and their effects on the body so well. Thanks Patty for this very informative, easy-to-understand piece.

Almonds: The good and the bad

Almonds are extremely healthy and they’re also one of the nuts with the lowest kilojoule content. They’re high in healthy fats, low in trans fats and cholesterol free. They contain healthy doses of vitamin E, phosphorus, calcium and antioxidants, and they’re loaded with fibre (watch out for that one, IBD’ers).

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But almonds – like other nuts – can cause a lot of trouble for people with digestive issues, not least of all because of that powerful fibre punch. They’re hard to digest and can irritate an already-inflamed gut, so be careful with them, test them well and treat them with respect. Not everyone responds well to nuts.

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A serving size of almonds (is that a serving size for ANTS?)

If you suspect you may be intolerant, try switching to nut butters instead, as they’re much easier to break down. Alternatively, try cutting them out (sorry!) and see if your symptoms improve. Sadly, they’re n(u)t for everybody 😦

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Day 58: A careful introduction of cashews

Today I decided to introduce cashew nut butter to my diet. According to Elaine, you shouldn’t introduce anything nut-based into your diet until you’ve been symptom-free for 3 months. The last time I had UC symptoms was in November 2013, so that’s about 4 months, which is also why I introduced the almond nut yoghurt a few weeks ago.

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Do my ‘tummy bug’-type symptoms over the past 10 days classify as UC symptoms? I have no idea. I don’t include them in the 3 months, because I feel they were a once-off caused by a specific food that my body reacted to on two separate occasions. I could be wrong here but I’m learning as I go. Weigh in by all means!

Anyway, cashew nut butter is actually legal, according to Pecanbread.com, from phase 2. I had about a tablespoon (plus a sneaky extra teaspoon), and it was delicious! So far my stomach feels fine, but it was only about an hour ago.

My OhMega cashew butter. Pricey but worth it, plus it's just pure nuts

My OhMega cashew butter. Pricey but worth it, plus it’s just pure nuts

Quick aside: Length of time it takes for the gut to react to food

One thing I learnt through my awful-but-educational gastric reaction to the carpaccio is that my gut actually can take as long as 24 hours, or even more, to react to a food. I always thought I reacted pretty much straight away or not at all, but I certainly stand corrected. As much as I tried to deny it, I am just like everyone else, and food can take up to 72 hours to cause a reaction in me – which is why each new thing needs to be tested over 3 days.

Why you need to be careful with cashews

On this diet, cashews can be a beneficial addition if you can handle them. They’re full of protein, and they contain healthy fats which you may be lacking, especially at this stage of the diet. In fact, cashews are just incredibly healthy all round.

Well if this is true, everyone who flies on planes should be really, really happy

If this is true, anyone who travels by plane should be really, really happy

However, cashews and nuts in general can be a trigger for people with IBD, and they should be eaten with caution, especially if you’ve reacted to them before. You don’t want to make all this progress on SCD just to undo it with a couple of cashews.

The guys at SCDLifestyle.com refer to nuts as one of the ‘four dark horsemen’ of SCD, which are the four most common foods that they say cause the diet to not work for some people. The others are egg, dairy and fruit. Read more about them here.

Can you tolerate nuts? Are they helping your IBD or hurting it? I’ve always loved nuts but of course I can’t eat them in moderation, so that’s going to be (yet) another challenge…! And to end, here’s a great cashew milk/creamer recipe I’ve just found online. You could probably use it to make SCD yogurt as well.

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