Day 64: Crying into my cauliflower

Positive thinking is an essential ingredient of this diet. Positive thinking, willpower, psychological commitment, faith in your ability… basically, superhuman mental strength. But even the superhuman need a break now and then, and on this diet, your mental tenacity is bound to take a hit from time to time.

Tonight was my night. I’d been in the kitchen for hours, making my food for the week, as well as my next batch of yogurt. I was irritable and on top of it all, I still had to make our roast for dinner after I’d finished cooking everything else. Without thinking, I grabbed a glass bowl that had just been in the microwave, and it was so hot that I dropped it and it smashed everywhere.

There was glass in K’s food and there was glass in my big batch of freshly-cooked cauliflower. It was all over the counter, the floor and between my fingers. So I hurled the food into the bin and I had a GOOD sob. Let me tell you, a GREAT one. It put the Oprah ugly cry to shame.

Tonight's selfie

Today’s selfie

K of course ran to my aid and tried to help, but I just wailed at her about how I can’t stop breaking things and I’m always the one making mistakes in this relationship and I’m always screwing up and I’m so over cooking and I’m so tired of all the prep and IJUSTCAN’TANYMORE. The more she tried to reassure me with kind words and make me feel better with hugs, the more I insisted I was a failure. She laughed a little as I decorated her T-shirt with tears and snot, because it really was so ludicrous. But that only made me more indignant and hate the cauliflower and the microwave and the diet AND THE WORLD even more.

Anyway, I sobbed and snotted my way through the clean-up after chasing K out of the kitchen when she tried to help, and an hour later, new food had been cooked and we were enjoying our Sunday roast. That was a couple of hours ago and I feel fine now, my little tantrum a distant memory. I did, admittedly, feel like a crazy person when it happened – and even now as I feel so calm!

How I felt today

How I felt today

This is not a frequent occurrence for me. Of the 64 days on this diet, I can count on one hand the number of days my resolve has wobbled – with fingers to spare. I’ve felt committed, positive, strong and, more importantly, stronger the the sum of this diet’s parts. Which obviously is the only way to do this diet successfully.

But every now and then, things do feel overwhelming. It can be extremely frustrating to spend hours in the kitchen, just to eat the same food day in and day out, and to feel like your life revolves around what you’re putting into your mouth. It’s frustrating to have to plan your days and your life around what you can and – more to the point – can’t eat.

It’s also extremely frustrating to not be able to satisfy your cravings with a piece of cake or a slab of chocolate. Plus, you’re constantly planning ahead so that you don’t end up stranded without food. There’s no quick ‘running into the shop’ to grab a snack when you’re hungry – and gosh, if you have a family, this must be a million times harder, whether or not they’re doing the diet too. In fact, I really can’t complain because I have it pretty easy.

Anyway, the point that I’m trying to make is that even when you put your mind to it and think positively, there will be days that suck and there will be some or other insignificant mishap that pushes you over the edge and makes you feel like a raving loon.

Food has such a major impact on our mental state, that this kind of reaction from time to time is an inevitability. Go easy on yourself. Recognise that it’s a symptom of an intensive healing process, and move past it. Don’t let it become the norm, but realise that it’s all part of it. Perhaps just warn your family and significant others that this might happen… 😉

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Day 54: What things do you do today that your future self will thank you for? Share your tips!

I’m not getting all philosophical here. I’m not talking about the 50 or 60 or 100-year-old you. We’re all working hard to improve our long-term health and wellness, otherwise we wouldn’t be following these crazy diets and (literally) exercising out butts off 😉

I’m talking about you tomorrow. Not tomorrow in the existential sense; tomorrow as in the day after today.

A friend of mine, Simon, used to say, ‘That’s future Simon’s problem’, which was funny at the time (we were in our early 20s and travelling the globe when he came up with this). I always thought it was a clever saying, but at the same time, I really hate lumping things on Future Debby’s shoulders.

I’m the kind of person who likes to do things now, which I definitely got from my dad. I hate having tasks hanging over my head, so I tend to do things now rather than later. This is also great for someone with an unpredictable disease like UC: You might be 110% healthy today and (wo)man down tomorrow, unable to get out of bed – or more accurately, leave the bathroom. And for many of us – myself included – flares can sometimes hit suddenly and violently without any warning.

So here are a few things I do – and that you can do – to make tomorrow easier for future you:

1. Cook big batches of food. I like to cook lots of food on a Sunday. Sure, it takes many hours, but it means I have food in the fridge and freezer for an entire week. Tonight, my dinner took 5 minutes to prepare – 4 of which were done by the microwave 🙂

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2. Get as much work done today as possible. I set myself targets each day at work, and I hate to leave without having completed them. When possible, I try to do even more if I can, so that I have a lighter load tomorrow.

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3. Think about the little things you’ll need in the days or week ahead. I’m going to a baby shower on Saturday, so last Saturday, while at the shops, I took a few extra minutes to find a gift. This means that the gift has been ready and waiting for a week, and I won’t have to rush around tomorrow after work (or worse, on Saturday morning before the event) looking for something. Last-minute gift buying is frustrating, expensive, and almost never goes the way you hoped. Buy ahead with everything if you can, especially avos. Forethought is never more golden than when you want a ripe avo 🙂

4. Do an extra load of laundry today. Uggggghhh laundry. But if you have the time, just do it today. Tomorrow, you’ll thank you. Same goes for sweeping the floors, dusting the counters or taking out the garbage. Do it when you have the time, and maybe tomorrow you’ll have an extra hour to put your feet up. Bliss!

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5. Go to the bank. These days, you hardly ever need ready cash. Which means that when you do, you need to start digging around the bottom of your bag, your cubby, your pants’ pockets, your partner’s pants’ pockets, etc. We’ve all been there. Every Saturday, our maid comes to our apartment, and we pay her in cash. While at the bank yesterday, I drew the extra cash so that I won’t have to rush around like a mad thing when she’s already here on Saturday morning.

6. Put in extra reps when you have the energy. If and when a flare hits, you won’t be able to work out as heavily as usual – or even work out at all. So when you have the energy, and you feel like you can push a little harder, do it. You’ll be so glad you did.

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7. Fill up your tank when you pass the petrol station. You’re always going to need gas – and Murphy’s Law says that when you hit the red light on your petrol tank, you’ll be miles from a gas pump. Cue unnecessary stress. Rather fill the tank when you pass the station and you’ll pat your future self on the back.

8. Buy a case of wine or bubbly when it’s on special: This way, you’ll a) always have a bottle to take to a BYOB without having to find a liquor store that’s open (in Cape Town, most bottle stores close at 5pm and you can’t buy on Sundays), and b) you’ll always have a gift in a cinch. This was K’s tip, from experience 😉

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9 & 10: Two more tips from K. I asked her what she would add to this list, and she said choose your clothes tonight for tomorrow, to save time in the morning, and always reverse park so that you can get out faster in an emergency.

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Is there anything that you do to help your future self out? Share your tips – I really love hearing them 🙂

Day 49: Facing a few terrifying foods

On SCD, there are quite a few foods that scare me:

– Foods that other people have cooked (I don’t eat them)

– Foods that are cooked in restaurants (I am very reticent to eat these too, no matter how clear my instructions have been)

– Foods that I haven’t phased in yet

– Foods that stand too close to me

– Foods that look at me funny

– Foods that are not bananas

Fear of food was not something I thought would ever happen to me. But when you’re faced with a health crisis, I guess things can change.

Whilst reading up on this diet before starting it, I read a warning that you should not get stuck in a ‘safe food’ zone. Hah! I scoffed. Oh please, I thought. Me, get stuck in a food zone? Neh-vah!

I guess none of us want to be predictable, and we all want to believe we won’t fall victim to the mistakes of lessers others. But, surprised as I was to discover it, I did kinda get stuck – and I still kinda am. I’ve only just moved on to phase 3 after nearly a whole month on phase 2. I still eat butternut, gem squash, eggs and bananas EVERY day, and without them, my life – and my belly – would be empty.

Learning to cook these foods and then discovering that they agreed with me was a huge comfort after all the GI distress that came before. So I’ve grabbed onto those foods that make my tummy happy, and I’ve clung to them like a 2-year-old clings to mommy’s ankles.

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The truth is that the foods being introduced on phase 3 terrify me. They are the foods that have historically caused me some of the most trouble: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onion, strawberries, lettuce, peppers… the list goes on. I was happy in my world of butternut and rubbery ‘balloon’ meatballs, as K referred to them. It wasn’t by any means a taste explosion in my mouth – but that also meant it wasn’t any kind of explosion in my colon.

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Tomorrow, I’m introducing onions. I’m not hopeful about it and I don’t expect them to treat me kindly. Apart from green beans (which have SO pleasantly surprised me), I haven’t been reticent to try any new foods, so this is a first. I plan to cook them really well, and test for three days as I have with everything else. If I can handle them, it’ll be some kind of miracle. Onion! In my meals! Amazing! But I’m not sure it’s going to go so smoothly. I know there are loads of people who’ve been on SCD for years and still can’t handle onions and various other veg from this phase.

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Tonight’s incredible dinner

K’s really been missing eating out since I started the SCD, and in the past 49 days, we’ve only done it twice. So we decided that tonight, we’d go to the steakhouse next door to our apartment. It’s one of our favourite spots and they are absolute pros. But when I went over there this afternoon to have a very serious discussion with them about my dietary restrictions, they told me they were fully booked. We googled a bunch of restaurants and eventually decided to make an amazing meaty meal at home… and that’s what we did.

K tried her hand at carpaccio, which is her very favourite thing to eat in the whole world. We bought top quality fillet from the butchery downstairs, and it turned out superbly! I was a bit worried at first because I love carpaccio too – but I usually have it with rocket, parmesan and a liberal dousing of balsamic vinegar. After all, it’s just slices of raw meat. Tonight, having only salt and pepper available to me, I took my first ginger bite… and it was phenomenal. Here’s K’s plate. Mine was significantly less colourful but outstanding nonetheless:

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I then grilled myself a chalmar beef sirloin, which was amay-may. I still can’t tell you what chalmar beef is, but I think it may be unique to SA? When I asked the butcher what differentiated chalmar from karan beef, he said, ‘The price’, but there has to be more to it. Chalmar is also grass fed up until 20kg, and seems to be nutritionally superior in some ways.

And what did the tequila say today after last night?

Well, it wasn’t fun waking up at 8.45am after hitting the sack with a belly full of booze and yoghurt at 2am, but my tummy felt fine, and I don’t seem to have suffered any ill effects after last night’s drinking. That’s not to say I want to make it a habit – oh no thank you! But nice to know I can party with my friends occasionally and not have to swap my shooters for carrot juice.

Tomorrow will be my weekly cooking day, which is tedious but necessary. K and I also like to make our Sundays ‘facemask days’, which yes, means we put on facemasks and post ridiculous photos on Facebook, but it also just means we try to stay home, hang out in our PJs until our guilt starts feeling guilty, then shower, get into clean PJs, and watch scary movies and Grey’s Anatomy until it;s time to go to bed. We’ll be doing this for most of tomorrow, though we are joining my folks for supper. Oh, how I love Facemask Sundays!

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The closest I get to chocolate these days: chocolate facemasks

Day 28: Cooking ahead (you’ll thank yourself tomorrow)

Today was a ‘home’ day – one of my favourite kinds of Saturdays. I’m not one to be filled with the joys of spring summer when it’s 31 degrees out in Cape Town (88F). The beaches are jammed, the traffic is chaos, and every cool place in the city is taken over by hipsters and shmodel types. Welcome to Cape Town 😉 Nah, it’s not that bad. We just happen to live in a trendy part of the city, so I guess it’s our own fault.

We live on this street...

We live on this main road…

Above this Italian deli...

above this Italian deli…

that sells all these amazing fresh foods...

that sells all these amazing fresh foods…

and all of these two. I don't go in here any more!

and all of these too. I don’t go in here any more!

Anyway, I also had a ton of freelance work to do today (I work full time and I freelance), so I was pleasantly surprised to be done by 3pm, and have a few extra hours on my hands to play with. If you’re doing SCD and you have a few extra hours lying around, I know that the last thing you probably feel like doing is cooking. But trust me, it’s worth it. And you’ll thank yourself on Monday when you reeeeeally don’t feel like the schlep.

What I made today

First up, I cooked up a big batch of gem squash – at least enough for 3 days – and about the same amount of butternut. I discovered that the slimy feeling I get on my hands, combined with immediate and intense peeling after handling raw butternut, happens to other people too! Check this out. It briefly made me wonder what butternut must do to one’s insides if that’s what it does to one’s hands, but I banished the thought rather sharpish. Butternut and I have no beef, so I’m not about to go looking for problems where there aren’t any.

Even though the skin it tough, I find it easier to peel butternut before I cook it - especially because it has to be cooked until it's so soft. Peeling the skin off when the whole thing is falling apart is SUPER frustrating!

Even though the skin is tough, I find it easier to peel butternut before I cook it. Peeling the skin off when the whole thing is falling apart is SUPER frustrating!

Next up was a batch of pear puree, which I made with some Asian pears I found at the supermarket yesterday. I’ve never seen Asian pears and the price was quite gob-smacking, but at this point, I spoil myself when I’m able to since my diet is so limited.

Asian pears

Asian pears

Have you ever used them? They’re harder than normal pears and the flesh is more apple-like than pear-like. I was very excited about the result, but it was disappointing. I find that plain ‘ol boring pears have a stronger and more satisfying taste. These were quite subtle and bland – plus I added a little too much water when pureeing, turning it all into a bit of a soup. Luckily I have a draw full of straws left over from my sister’s bachelorette party. Perhaps I can pretend it’s a smoothie.

I cooked up the last of my mushrooms, to continue testing tonight (third and last day). I felt fine after eating them for supper, but that was 4 hours ago and I’ve had two loose BMs since then, which is unprecedented on this diet so far, and can only be the mushrooms. This just drives home the importance of adding only one thing at a time.

Lastly, I made some roast garlic, which is the next thing I’ll be testing, from tomorrow. I learnt a really cool trick for making roast garlic paste a few years ago: Take the whole bulb and slice the top off (see below). Drizzle with olive oil and roast in a muffin tray. I didn’t do any drizzling – I simply put some olive oil on my fingertips and rubbed it over the cut ends, as I suspect oil is too much for my body to handle right now. I roasted the garlic for about 1 hour at 180C (350F). It turned out perfectly and I can’t wait to try it from tomorrow.

Roast garlic

Roast garlic

… And then I nearly cheated

These days, I barely notice when someone waves a chocolate bar under my nose because it’s just so far beyond anything I want to put in my body right now (doesn’t stop me fantasising about chocolate binges from time to time though 🙂 ).

However, I threw together this delicious fruit salad for K for breakfast, finished off with vanilla yogurt and guava juice, and all I wanted was to guzzle all that lovely looking, non-pureed, perfectly fresh fruit. It’s completely second nature to me to pop a piece of raw fruit or veg into my mouth while prepping, totally without thinking about it (I almost did it with the mushrooms too), so I really need to be careful of that. But ohhhh, look how GOOD this looks!

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Watermelon, sweet melon and grapes. SOON.

Yogurt cultures??

Speaking of yogurt, does anyone know where I can get yogurt cultures in Cape Town (or anywhere in SA for that matter)? If not, where do you get them in your country? I’ve tried countless health shops but no one can help me. I’m dying to make some SCD yogurt so this is really frustrating.

Can’t believe I’m nearly a third of the way through this. Apart from a few isolated incidents, I really feel great 🙂