Day 46: Dying or just… die-off?

I was so excited about reaching the half-way mark yesterday that I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer about the crappy symptoms I was experiencing. But yesterday and today have been less than perfect.

On Monday night, I started getting that weird sore/burny back-of-the-throat sensation that feels a lot like flu. When I woke up yesterday morning, my voice was croaky and my throat on fire. I thought it strange because I never get sick (not that kind of sick anyway), and there was no reason for me to be ill. I dragged myself out of bed for work, feeling a little like death.

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Then I had a brainwave: I remember reading in Surviving to Thriving that the yoghurt can cause die-off symptoms due to its powerful probiotics. I figured that that was the root of my symptoms.

I sucked on Strepsils throughout the day to ease my burning throat, though all the while I had the nagging thought that I probably shouldn’t be eating them. By the time I got home, I was as bloated as Goodyear blimp, and feeling pretty rough.

The culprit?

The culprit?

I had more yoghurt (because hey, I’m enjoying it, and still testing it), and proceeded to get more bloated as the night progressed. I also ate too much at dinner, so by bed time I was full up to my throat (that’s when the food won’t go down any further cos there’s just too much of it in your body!) and feeling very kak. That’s a lovely South African term for which there isn’t really an exact translation, but loosely speaking you could say it means ‘super shit’.

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Today I started with a clean GI slate. Awoke with no bloating, but the throat was still knifey and I still felt quite flu-ish (by the way, this also explains why I’ve been more freeeeezing than usual at work). I limited my coffee intake today, again avoided bananas, and the only thing out of the ordinary that I had, again, was Strepsils.

By 3pm, I blimpily decided that Strepsils were the culprit. I came home, ravenous, and shoved four bananas into my gullet in quick succession, figuring I was already bloated already, so what the hell. Don’t  ever do that. I know that for a lot of people like us, there’s always tendency to over-indulge. Just because food is healthy doesn’t mean that bingeing is. And it’s likely to leave you feeling quite, well, kak.

Selfie taken tonight

Selfie taken tonight

So I’ve had dinner now, and I’m SOOOO bloated. And gassy. In fact K tells me that I was super gassy in the night (cringe. Shame, poor K), so I’ve narrowed it down to the yoghurt or the bananas. Right now, my gut is probably the gassiest it’s ever been on SCD, and it’s moany, groany and whiney. Awful!

Tomorrow I’m going to avoid all foods that may even remotely not agree with me, and only have yoghurt so that I can be sure, either way. I was so good with testing for the first 40 or so days, and I’ve become a bit more slack these past few days. It wasn’t intentional; it’s just the way it’s worked out with the Strepsils, and with the yoghurt having more than one ingredient.

A few points about the yoghurt

– I’m currently on phase 2 (although all things being equal, I’ll move on to phase 3 tomorrow), and on this phase, you’re only supposed to have nut milks, and not actual pieces of nuts. My yoghurt contains ground nuts, and not just nut milk, which may be aggravating my system. Next time, I’m going to make it with nut milk instead.

– My yoghurt contains honey, which I hadn’t yet introduced.

– I may also be reacting to the cultures in the yoghurt.

– I dripped my yoghurt the other night to make it thicker, as per SCDLifestyle.com’s suggestion. It did make it thicker, but perhaps a bit too thick – even though I dripped it for less than an hour. Next time I’ll keep a closer eye on it and drip it for a bit less time, so that it doesn’t become like cement, but is no longer completely liquid either.

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So these past two days haven’t been great for my belly. I’m going to have to do some careful re-tracing of footsteps, and take things slow, so that I can return to a place of comfort. And no gas. And no bloating. Because this really sucks! UGH! I know it’s possible and luckily I know that I’ve only added two different things, so it can only be one of the two (and Strepsils aren’t permanent anyway), but it’s still frustrating. Three steps forward, one step back. That’s how it goes on SCD.

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Day 40: Quadruple the excitement!

Four fabulous things happened today:

1. My nut milk bag arrived

2. My dad made his famous pureed spinach and I was able to have it!

3. I realised it’s day 40!

4. FREE meat!

These things might not seem so fabulous to anyone else, but for me, all four are MAJOR!

This week, and today in particular, have been exceedingly stressful at work. The team I work with is great – I really like them all, and the company itself is awesome. It’s just the damn client who’s a nightmare (isn’t that how it always goes?).

Anyway, after the stressiest work week yet, I went to my folks’ house for dins to discover that my dad had collected my nut milk bag for me. I now have all the ingredients I need to make my yoghurt, and I cannot WAIT! I’m going to try it this weekend, time permitting.

Purchased at http://www.rawlicious.co.za/, where they tell me it's been 'packed with love' ;-)

Purchased at rawlicious.co.za, where they tell me it’s been ‘packed with love’ 😉

Then, at dinner, my dad pulled out a bowl of spinach, which he’d cooked with just salt and pepper, and pureed. There really is nothing better for an SCD belly. Plus, I’d already tested green beans for three days (Mon – Wed), but I hadn’t thought ahead to what I was going to introduce today. Voila! I was able to have the spinach without compromising my diet – in fact, it was a good thing that I was able to add something new. And it was deeeeelicious!

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Now, as I typed my blog title, I realised that it’s day 40. Work has been so insane that I didn’t even write the number on my hand today. 40 really is a milestone, plus it’s nearly half way. I’m so proud of myself for having made it this far without knowingly cheating or doing anything to jeopardise my diet.

40 days, that is :-)

40 days, that is 🙂

And then there was meat

So remember a few days ago I showed you that pic of the piece of ‘metal’ I found in my venison mince? Turns out, it was a piece of buckshot. Can you actually. I mean, I love eating meat but that just brought the hunt WAY too close to home.

Anyway, the manufacturers were hugely apologetic (they said the chances were about one in a million of that happening) and to show just how contrite they were, they delivered a ‘sorry’ pack of meat to me today. This included ostrich mince, ostrich boerewors, ostrich fillet, venison mince, chicken kebabs, and entire spatchcock chicken, venison patties and two HUGE bags of biltong. I was gobsmacked. I’ve just finished loading it into our freezer and we have space for NOTHING else. I actually had to start defrosting other things!

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Unfortunately, everything except about 2 of those items contain additives like wheat, etc, so I can’t eat them. But K, an even bigger meat lover than I, is thrilled. I think that this was an incredible gesture and I’m quite overwhelmed.

So how’s the belly?

Well……………….. it’s not great today, to be honest. I ate a lot of bananas when I got home (late) after the show last night, as well as a few glasses of apple juice. This morning, I was constipated. Lately, I’ve come to rely on the regularity of my morning BMs, so I was irritable that nothing was forthcoming. This has been the trend all day, combined with – as usual – bloating. Maybe the vodka that I had last night?

My diet is becoming more and more varied so I’m hoping that at some point things will just ‘click’ into place with the right combo of fruit and veg. Maybe I need to add more fruit. Hopefully the yoghurt will help too.

I’ve also had jolting pains in my lower left quadrant for the whole day. I really think it’s stress because it started at work and I’m finding it really hard to unwind (though I really am trying).

Oh, and Eminem was AMAZING! Such an incredible performance, and he is a true legend. If you ever have the chance to see him live, grab it.

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Our view from the nose-bleed seats

This is what happens when Eminem tells the crowd to put their lighters up...

This is what happens when Eminem tells the crowd to put their lighters up…

FRIDAY tomorrow guys! It’s going to be a crazy busy weekend for us. Tomorrow night we’re going to watch a band performing at a bar in Hout Bay, then Saturday is Pride (YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!), Saturday night we have a friend’s birthday party, and Sunday is the tattoo convention in Cape Town that we’re really hoping to get to. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! What are you getting up to?

Day 32: SCD yoghurt and bloating

Just got back from dinner at my folks. Well, my folk. My mom is in Malaysia at the moment, touring Kuala Lampur with my uncle. This is EXTREMELY brave of her as she’s never travelled alone before (he met her there from Australia) and she does a lot of the sightseeing on her own, as he’s only interested in shopping! She was a very adventurous soul as a youngster, so it’s been years since she’s done something this ‘daring’, and I’m proud of her.

Anyway, Candice (my sister) and I had a great time with my dad, just talking rubbish and eating clean (far better for the soul than talking clean and eating rubbish!). My dad cooked me gem squash and boiled eggs, to which I added my roasted garlic and some butternut.

For some reason, I was so bloated after dinner. I don’t know why – but what I do know is that it could’ve been for a million reasons. The squash and eggs were cooked perfectly, but maybe there was a pesky gluten interloper somewhere in there? Maybe I drank too much water with dinner? Maybe I ate too many eggs? I didn’t have any meat tonight, so the two eggs for breakfast and three for supper might just be WAY too many.

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I’m at home now and drinking wine (must do the proper 3-day testing of course). I didn’t have a hangover today, and by the time I went to sleep last night, after my dinner and wine, I had no bloating and no discomfort, so I think the wine is okay. PHEW! I won’t overdo it though. I think a glass a day would be an absolute max, and to be honest, I’ve never been one to drink every day – weekends only, usually.

Strangely though, I woke up at about 2am and could not fall asleep again. I don’t usually have sleep troubles so it was very weird for me. A colleague told me today that alcohol can interrupt the second half of your sleep, so perhaps that was the problem. Plus, I did add coffee and wine all on the same day.

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Making my own yoghurt

Today, my yoghurt maker arrived – as did the live, lactose-free yoghurt cultures that I EVENTUALLY tracked down in Joburg. They were sent to me on ice, along with a thermometer for measuring the temp of my mixture, and my lovely dad collected the lot for me from the post office.

I’ve also ordered a nut milk bag so that I can make my own nut milks, and as soon as that arrives, I will be making SCD yoghurt! I’m so excited! I feel like I’m a pair of leather sandals, a campfire and a rendition of Kumbaya away from full hippie-dom, but I do feel this is a great investment for my health.

Pretty sure this is *not* how my first batch will turn out

Pretty sure this is *not* how my first batch will turn out

The only thing that concerns me is that SCD yoghurt combines so many things in a single end ‘product’ and I haven’t tested any of them: nut milk – using almonds or coconut – honey and live cultures. But I think I’m just going to make it and see how it goes. After all, you can introduce nut milks on phase 2, and there’s no set rule about honey. The yoghurt is supposed to be so, so good for the gut, and I’m extremely excited to make it. Do any of you have any thoughts on this? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Day 27: Frustration

How was your Valentine’s Day? Did you get your gut through it unscathed?

We went to a lovely restaurant at the V&A Waterfront, and pretty much had the best table in the house, overlooking the harbour and all the activity below. Absolutely stunning!

It was sad to drink only water, but given the prices of wine, cocktails, and even soft drinks, it wasn’t so bad for my wallet! For starters, we decided on oysters. I wasn’t sure if I could have them, but I figured that most meat and seafood (unless you’re allergic, or it’s fatty or bad quality) is allowed on this diet, so I went for it. I had to skip the lemon and Tobasco of course, but even with salt and pepper they were delicious! Excellent quality, and remember, oysters are loaded with zinc.

For mains, I got exactly what I’d hoped for: Rump steak cooked only in olive oil, plus black mushrooms and avo slices. It was good, although I can cook a better steak myself 🙂 The plate was swimming in oil, and I think that (apart from my restaurant disaster during week 1), it’s the first time I’ve had any of it on this diet. I don’t use any oil.

The meal was tasty but I was immediately bloated afterwards, with that uncomfortable ‘pinchy’ type discomfort in my gut (left side). Do you know what I mean? Gassy I guess. It could’ve been the overload of olive oil, but I’m pretty sure it was the mushrooms.

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The problem with mushrooms

According to the guys at SCDLifestyle.com, mushrooms can be hard on the digestive system, as they are a nightshade vegetable. I find this curious because I’ve done my research, and can’t find evidence to support that mushrooms are nightshades. But either way, they don’t seem to be agreeing with me.

On Friday morning, the morning after my first night of mushrooms, I had an incredibly loose BM that was completely unexpected. I put it down to the mushrooms, but decided to keep testing. I ate more of them at lunch time, and immediately felt bloated and like I ‘needed to go’. Seeing a pattern? Then of course last night after supper, I really felt soooo uncomfortable. I was wearing a fitted top which had looked great when I left the house (I HATE wearing fitted tops usually, because I’m very self conscious of my belly. I usually buy them and wear them on that one day a year where I have a flat stomach!).

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Anyway, by the time dinner was over, I had a lovely protruding belly that I couldn’t even suck in because it was too uncomfortable. That feeling is my old life; my life before SCD, and I never want to go back to it. So I think mushrooms are out. Yes, it could also have been the olive oil, so I’m going to test mushrooms one more time today (I need to give it 3 days to be sure).

As much as it sucks that I might not be able to eat mushrooms, it’s extremely gratifying to know that these tests are working. To be able to pinpoint, with such certainty, exactly which foods do and don’t agree with you, is absolutely amazing – and it will help me to avoid that detestable bloating that I hate so much.

After dinner, we watched Vampire Academy. I don’t know what possessed me; I’m not into these tween sagas. I do not recommend it – even if you are! My belly ‘spoke’ throughout the movie, which entertained K no end. It makes these weird high-pitched sounds, like a descending whistle, and then the gurgling. I used to say that it was possessed! Does this happen to you? It’s so embarrassing, because others can hear it. It’s even happened to me in meetings, and I’ve wanted to crawl under the table…

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So today I’ve woken up completely constipated again. This is really wearing. As much as I HATE the diarrhoea (obviously!), constipation is almost as bad. I can’t stand that feeling of a ‘full’ tummy that needs to be emptied.

I know I need to be patient, but it really isn’t one of my virtues. Perhaps once I’ve cut the mushrooms out again, things will get better.

What kinds of frustrations have you experienced on your diet?

Day 14: Something unexpected

Last night I went with my mom and her cousin to the theatre. Pre-show, while enjoying some drinks (and sparkling water for me), the two of them were discussing their skin – I guess as older people do. Suddenly her cousin said, “Debby, you have lovely skin.”

No one has ever said that to me about my face. I had relatively tenacious acne as a teenager and battled with pimples for years – and the resultant scars. I use foundation every day and am very aware of small pock marks and imperfections. But the compliment (from a woman in her 60s) seemed completely genuine. But perhaps just a flook.

Then today, while out shopping with my sister, she turns to me and says, “Your skin looks amazing.” If there’s one thing I know about my sister, it’s that I can trust her implicitly. She’s a straight-talker and always tells it like it is. Plus, the comment was not made in context of any conversation we were having – it really was just a throw-away.

Oh you know, me on an average day

Oh you know, me on an average day

What conclusion can I draw? Well, the only thing I’ve changed lately in my life is my diet. And while it’s undeniably limited, it is extremely healthy. I’m taking more vitamins and I’m eating good quality food that is carefully prepared. Most importantly, it’s helping to heal my gut and, no doubt, flush out my system. Oh, and I drink tons of water each day.

Could SCD really be helping to improve my skin? Just maybe…

Quick note about sparkling water

Water is the only thing I’m drinking at the moment, and it can get a little a LOT monotonous. When I want to ‘treat’ myself, I have sparkling water. But I must say that I am convinced it makes me bloated, so I’d suggest that you test it, just like you test anything else, to find out whether it has the same reaction for you.

We all know what happens when these bubbles hit a belly with the tendency to bloat...

We all know what happens when these bubbles hit a belly with the tendency to bloat…

Testing, testing… come in, Butternut

So today was butternut day. I totally overcooked them (turns out small butternuts can be cooked sufficiently for the SCD over high heat for about an hour, but obviously it will vary based on the size of the butternut). When I took them off the heat, they totally feel apart, rendering it extremely difficult to de-seed and peel them. I had a mini-meltdown in the kitchen, borne of total frustration. It was a complete overreaction brought on my 2 weeks of nothing but eggs, carrots, bananas, meat and more bananas.

K immediately dashed off to the shop and returned with two whole butternuts of different sizes, a bag of pre-chopped butternut (“to make it easier for you”) and a bag of butternut ‘chips’ – raw butternut chopped like fries (“so that when I have chips, you can too”). It was the sweetest thing she could have done – AND on top of me acting like a total loon over a couple of spilt butternuts.

Pretty much how today's butternut experience felt

Pretty much how today’s butternut experience felt

This is why I say that EVERYONE doing the SCD needs to have someone supporting them – even if they’re a phone call away. Your person doesn’t have to run out to the shop every time you overcook a vegetable, but they do need to be understanding, and willing to lend a supportive ear when you need it. There are going to be days when you are sad, frustrated, angry or disappointed – it’s the nature of the diet.

Do you feel like this too?

Some days, like today, I feel like I’ll never get to enjoy food again. Last night I threw most of my dinner away because I just couldn’t stomach the taste of plain chicken any more. Plus today, I’ve been bloated and constipated – the type of constipation when you go but never feel like you’re completely ’empty’ – and I’ve been gassy. It makes me want to throw in the towel because, for fuck’s sake, the reason I’m suffering through bland food and water for dinner when I go to a restaurant is to prevent these symptoms.

... or HELL?

… or HELL?

But when I stop, breathe, and consider why I might be experiencing these symptoms, it’s clear: The bloating is probably thanks to the litre of  sparkling water I drank today. And the constipation is a known side effect in the earlier stages of the diet. I bought some magnesium tablets today so I’ll start taking those (take them with meals) and adding butternut will probably help too.

While researching this post, I came across a blog called eatingscd.com. I’ve bookmarked some pages because I’ll certainly be sharing them with you in the future. For now, though, this is the one sentiment that really stood out. It was from an article that gives tips to new SCDers (give it a read).

Be patient – it took a long time to get sick and you will not get completely well quickly. 

Patience is key on this diet. I’m an extremely IMpatient person, which makes it an even greater challenge. But I’m FOURTEEN days in. Two weeks! That’s pretty good going and things are only going to get better after this (phase two has tomatoes and avocado!).

Keep at it, guys, keep at it. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be worth it. And you know what? Even if it isn’t the right diet for you, at least you’ll prove to yourself that you can commit to something challenging, if only for 90 days.