What to drink on SCD, paleo and AIP

summer-party-drinks

Don’t these look delicious?

It’s important to remember that what you drink on a healing diet can have as much effect on your body as the foods you eat, so you need to make wise choices.

On all of these diets, it’s highly recommended that you avoid alcohol, especially if you’re flaring. If you’ve been in remission for a while or you feel that your body can tolerate limited amounts of alcohol, there are specific types that you should stick to – these are discussed below.

Hot drinks

Coffee

Coffee is not allowed on strict AIP, though once you transition to paleo and your colon has started to heal, you may be able to tolerate it. During the early phases of SCD, it’s better to avoid coffee, but once you introduce it, make sure it’s weak, and made from pure coffee beans rather than processed (instant) grounds that could contain additives and preservatives. Also avoid decaf coffee, as you don’t know what chemicals have been used to remove the caffeine. Bear in mind that caffeine can irritate the gut, which is why it’s not recommended during the early phases of a healing diet.

Tea

Herbal tea is allowed, and if you don’t like the taste of them on their own, you can add honey, ginger, lemon, mint, berries, etc. Just make sure the tea you use is pure and free from additives. In summer, use it to make refreshing iced tea.

Using milk and sugar

On healing diets, added sugar is generally not allowed, so don’t put it in your hot drinks – use honey instead. Nut milks can be used, though for some people, myself included, this is quite an acquired taste!

Cold drinks

Carbonated drinks

Both regular and diet drinks MUST be avoided. These tend to irritate the gut, and they can also exacerbate bloating and discomfort. Plus, fizzy drinks contain a whole whack of unhealthy ingredients that are best avoided altogether.

Sparkling water

If you really struggle to kick the cola habit, as I did, try transitioning to soda water/sparkling water. I say ‘transitioning’, because I find that ALL fizzy drinks, sparkling water included, really cause me a lot of bloating and GI irritation, so it’s best I avoid them. However, I sometimes find that pure, carbonated water really hits the spot when I’m wanting something fizzy. Add lemon, berries or other fresh fruit for fun but totally healthy cocktail vibe.

Fruit juice

Fruit juice is okay if it’s completely natural/pure, and free of any preservatives and added sugar. Believe it or not, this can be VERY hard to find! Most fruit juices are marketed as being healthy, but they’re actually loaded with a whole bunch of crazy additives, never mind a ton of sugar. Be on the look out for organic, additive-free juice, or make your own at home. Apples and pears can be boiled until really soft and then strained, or you can use a juicer to make super healthy varieties like carrot, beetroot, apple, etc. The options are almost endless.

Smoothies

From here on out, you can pretty much assume that all store-bought/pre-packaged smoothies are going to be a no-no. Most contain things you won’t be able to eat on your diet, like dairy, sugar, additives/preservatives, etc. However, it’s really easy to make your own healthy, filling and totally ‘legal’ smoothies at home. Use bananas and any other fruit you can handle, and combine it with homemade yoghurt, a dash of honey and a scoop of protein powder. Here’s a great smoothie recipe packed with vitamin C. Smoothies also work brilliantly as meal replacements when you’re on the go.

Homemade drinks

If drink boredom starts to set in – and it probably will – get inventive! Make your own ginger ale, lemonade or ‘sodas’ at home using sparkling water and natural flavourants, like lemon, fresh fruits and herbs, and honey.

Alcohol

According to Theultimatepaleoguide.com, alcohol is considered a ‘processed’ food and a toxin – two things that we’re supposed to avoid on a healing diet. Plus, it’s well known that alcohol irritates the lining of the gut and can worsen the symptoms of IBD, especially if you’re flaring.

This is not a club you should be hanging out at

This is not a club you should be hanging out at

That said, I know how hard it is to go out and socialise like you did before – when all you want is to feel normal – and you have to order a glass of water, because even cooldrinks and juice are off-limits. And let’s face it, no one wants to be that guy in the bar ordering coffee.

If you’re NOT flaring and your doctor/nutritionalist thinks it’s okay for you to have a bit of alcohol, then there are options – just don’t overdo it! Try to choose those with as little sugar as possible (all alcohol contains sugar), and definitely avoid those considered grains (ie, beer).

Alcohol that is okay:

  • Dry red and white wine
  • Apple ciders (make sure they’re gluten free)
  • Certain spirits (like vodka, whiskey and gin. Because they’ve been distilled, they are mostly free of gluten. However, if you’re very sensitive to gluten, avoid them.)

Alcohol to avoid:

  • Any booze containing grains, yeast and/or high amounts of sugar
  • Sweet wine
  • Passover wine
  • Brandy
  • Beer
  • Cordials

Important note about water

Apart from whatever else you drink, try to consume at least 2l of water every day. If you aren’t used to doing this, it is difficult at first, but it gets easier. I drink 500ml every morning before I leave for work, and I keep a 1.5l bottle of water on my desk at work, which I always make sure I finish. That means by the time I get home, I’ve already had my 2l for the day, and any extra is just a ‘bonus’. This also means I don’t find myself drinking water until late into the evening – and getting up all through the night to pee!

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Day 3 and some handy paleo food swaps

8-Paleo-Swaps-for-Weight-Loss-02-RM-722x406

I think most people who switch to a healing diet would be lying if they said there weren’t at least a few things they missed from their former way of eating. I also think for most people, sugar/carbs create one of the biggest holes – it’s classic comfort food, after all.

Today is day three of paleo for K, and I was super impressed to discover that she’s been drinking her coffee without sugar. Today’s email read:

You would actually be so proud of me and I have L [colleague] to corroborate the story. I was going to make coffee with sugar… I put the sugar in the mug (like half of half a spoon) and then sat down with L and R at the table. I decided against the sugar and surrendered my mug to L. SHE LAUGHED at how little sugar was in the mug. Then she went to add more.

I’m especially proud of K because tea and coffee, especially when sugary and milky, is ultimate comfort ‘food’ for me. Growing up, if I had a shock or a heart break, my mom would make me a cup of strong, sweet tea. For stomach bugs, the solution was the same, with Marmite toast added to soothe the belly. As an adult, five or six cups of sweet tea or coffee would get me through the work day, and would also assuage my sugar cravings.

When I started worrying about my weight, I switched from sugar to sweetener, which is super-duper sweet, and I could easily drink six cups of tea a day, each with three sachets of sweetener added. I also drank a ton of diet cooldrinks. At the back of my mind I suspected that the artificial sweeteners were wreaking havoc on my gut, and I was right! Cutting them out was the first, and one of the biggest, steps to healing.

But I’d be lying if I said it were easy. Now, I drink black coffee with no sugar (two cups a day max, and seldom on weekends), and I never drink regular tea because I can’t stand the taste of it without milk and sugar.

I deeply miss my comforting mugs of tea, and while there isn’t an ‘exact match’ replacement for them, there are ways to soften the blow. Here’s how I’ve replaced some of my best-loved, and most missed, foods and drinks.

  • Sweet/milky tea and coffee: organic flavoured teas with lemon, honey and ginger added.
  • Fizzy drinks: organic apple juice with no added sugar or preservatives (limited to a couple of glasses a week).
  • Alcohol: Should be avoided if you’re flaring and if you know you can’t tolerate it. Fill a glass with ice, lemon wedges, mint or frozen berries and top with sparking mineral water. It’s the easiest way to fool your brain (and everyone else), and you won’t feel like you’re missing out. If you can tolerate alcohol, stick to dry wines and grain-free spirits only, like tequila (if you can stomach it!).
  • Desserts/‘something sweet after supper’: Fruit with honey; banana ‘ice cream’ (frozen bananas blended up) with cinnamon; dairy-free yoghurt; nuts drizzled with honey (and a shake of salt! Try it; it’s delicious).
  • Rice/mash: cauliflower rice/mash.
  • Potato: sweet potato (paleo, not SCD). Season with rosemary, garlic and coarse salt.
  • Pasta/noodles: Sounds strange, but if I make a delicious pasta sauce or curry, I pour it over butternut or steamed cauliflower and it’s just as enjoyable.
  • Sugar: honey/maple syrup/leave it out (you become accustomed to eating less sweet-tasting food).
  • Cake: There is no replacement for cake. Nothing. Accept it, grieve, and move on. It’ll become like a phantom limb: the pain is always there, but you learn to live with it. Seriously though, you can find ‘legal’ replacements for most cake ingredients: almond flour or gluten-free flour instead of regular cake flour; baking soda instead of baking powder; honey/maple syrup instead of sugar; coconut butter/oil instead of butter; avo instead of butter; egg replacements/flax seed instead of egg, etc. The list goes on – you just have to be adventurous. But you also have to accept that cake, as you knew it, is off the table and a thing of the past (but also, remember how bloaty and ugh the past was!).

I also wrote this post about making your favourite foods paleo, which has got some useful food switches.

The benefit of these replacements, especially when it comes to the hot drinks, is that my teeth are probably in much better nick than they were! Tea and coffee can leave some really tenacious stains. Cutting out fizzy drinks has drastically reduced my bloating, and no chocolate/dairy means no more frequent trips to the loo, and much less gas/bloating.

It’s hard not to lament the losses, which is why it’s so important to make healthy, sustainable switches. And bear in mind that while drinking only water is depressing (I’ve tried it), it’s still important to get your 2-litre fix each day, in between the other drinks.

If you have any useful food switches, please do share!