What to drink on SCD, paleo and AIP


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 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.


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.


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.


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!


Why alcohol is the worst thing for a healing diet – but not for the reason you think


Any of us with IBD or other digestive problems know that alcohol is anathema to a healing diet. It’s highly inflammatory which basically means it can make your horrible symptoms a whole lot more horrible. But that’s not my problem with alcohol – not my primary problem, anyway.

I am in remission and while I took alcohol out of my diet completely for my first month on SCD, I reintroduced wine and vodka slowly – which is okay to do if you’re in remission. I often enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings, and occasionally vodka mixed with juice. But what happens when it’s more than a single drink in one night?

Willpower + alcohol = diet disaster

I don’t think there are many people who find it easy to follow a strict diet, be it SCD, paleo, autoimmune paleo or something else. This means that every day, you need to make an active decision to eat properly, and every day is a concerted effort to avoid the foods you’d love to eat. For me, it’s a daily battle of wills, and most days, I win. Most days, I’m not two or three glasses in.

When I’ve had more than a drink or two, it becomes infinitely harder to fight the voice of temptation in my head. Because alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions, it’s means that not only do you sing louder than usual or propose to strangers, but also your usual steely reserve – at least when it comes to your diet – starts to crumble.

Your brain on booze: The drunken munchies

Fast forward two, three glass of wine, and suddenly you’re cured of your lactose intolerance and gluten really isn’t that bad. The angel on your shoulder has given up the ghost, cracked open a beer and is chilling with the devil on the other side – probably taking bets about how long it’ll be before you termite your way through your girlfriend’s treat cupboard.

Cookies, chocolate, burgers, cereal, pure lumps of sugar – nothing is safe from my greedy, sugar-seeking paws when I’ve had more to drink than I should. I don’t even bother bargaining with myself – I pre-forgive myself and reason that it’s been so long and I’ve been so good.


The last time the booze-binge monster came out to play… and the time before that

Last Friday we played a zombie-themed board game at a friend’s house. Board games are not my bag at the best of times, and zombies bore me to tears. So, I played halfheartedly while knocking back glasses of wine. We all were; it was merry!

But when I got home, the booze-binge monster was raring to go. Luckily, I only had ‘healthy’ food to binge on – but it didn’t stop me clocking a bag of cashews (I shouldn’t be eating them) and several handfuls of dates (a big hit of sugar) before managing to get myself under control.


The time before that, however – about a month earlier –  the binge included several chocolate eggs left over from Easter, 12 chocolate chip cookies and several lemon-flavoured ones – all from K’s cupboard, and all within a space of about 5 minutes. I was out of control and reasoning that it’d been so long since I indulged, but also that we’d just got back from Bali and I’d eaten like mad so I was still kinda on that vibe, but also they’re just cookies and tomorrow is a new day… blah, blah bloody blah. It’s all boozy bullshit.

For K

Dear K…

Testing your own reactions to alcohol

We all react differently to booze. I don’t actually dance on bar stools or propose to strangers. I don’t do daring or stupid or crazy things when I’ve been drinking. I talk a lot – but I do that when I’m sober too (so I feel pretty sorry for those around me). And I eat ferociously. If this sounds like you too, then you – like me – need to limit or restrict your alcohol consumption. We work so hard to control our diets, that it simply isn’t fair on us to let our drunken selves destroy the solid foundation laid by our sober selves.

Do any of you experience these kinds of booze-food binges on your diet, or do you avoid alcohol altogether?


Day 77: SCD hot toddy (alcohol optional)


So my knifey throat has progressed to a full-on phlegm fest, and I am in the throes of a very unpleasant head and chest cold. And oh! How I hate being sick. Medicating myself would be unavoidable, I realised.

Most OTC drugs make you drowsy so you can’t take them during the day. I also don’t like overdoing it with drugs, so I decided to rustle myself up a hot toddy, without alcohol (if there’s one thing I hate more than being sick, it’s warm alcohol).

I was a little concerned as I hadn’t yet introduced some of the ingredients (lemon and ginger), but since my health had already taken such a dive, I figured lemon and ginger could only do me good.

You can use the recipe from the image above, or check out my simplified version below. I am also not a fan of adding spice to my hot drinks, and I think my version works just as well!

SCD-legal hot toddy 


– Half a lemon

– 2 tsp honey

– a few slices of ginger

– boiling water (herbal teabag optional)

– a tot of alcohol if you like (probably whiskey if you can handle it)


Squeeze the lemon into a glass/mug and add the honey and ginger. If you’re not using alcohol, you can add a herbal teabag.

Pour in about 250ml of boiling water, and stir vigorously to dissolve the honey (otherwise it just sinks to the bottom). Allow to cool a little, but try to drink as hot as possible – you want to sweat the bugs out!


This is what happens when no one at work will take a sick day. Thanks colleagues. THANKS

I don’t seem to be having any adverse reactions to the lemon or the ginger. Lemon can in fact be introduced on Phase 3, as long as it’s cooked. However, I feel that using just the juice and adding it to hot water should be fine. As for ginger, it’s SCD legal but there’s no indication of when to introduce it on the phases list. Hence I regard it like honey – introduce it when you feel you’re ready.

Honey, lemon and ginger are all known to have amazing healing qualities, and the combination, steeped in hot water, just feels like it’s giving your immune system a massive health boost. I’m also dosing up on vitamin C, eating loads of veg (as usual) and trying to take it easy this weekend.

I can’t ignore, though, that as a person who seldom gets sick, it is noteworthy that I’ve been ill twice on this diet so far. I have read that people with IBD have compromised immune systems. So I really can’t say at this point whether it’s that, or the diet, or simply a coincidence. I can say, however, that it’s REALLY fucking annoying.


Day 67: Observations part 2 – Besides food, what else can cause bloating?

Yesterday I spoke a lot about bloating and the food that I think is causing my biggest problems.

Today,  I didn’t eat ANY bananas! I know! Amazing! I did experience some bloating and also some cramps after a lunch of vegetables and avo, which I suspect will require further investigation. But I also had a realisation about other factors that could be causing my bloating:

1. Eating too much. I’ve never been one for moderate portions, which is probably what helped get me into this predicament in the first place! Whether I’m eating a bowl of chips or a bowl of broccoli, I eat a lot of it. I’ve always said that I’m missing the ‘fullness indicator’ and that I could just keep eating and eating and eating without stopping until I burst like a cartoon character. Anyone else have this talent problem?

Basically me at every meal, minus the roll

Basically me at every meal, minus the bread

The average adult stomach is roughly the size of a clenched fist and can stretch to fit about a litre’s worth of food in it. I like to take that as a personal challenge and try to pack in around 3kg at every meal. And then I’m surprised when my belly blows up to the size of the Times Square ball.

2. Eating too fast. I’ve never had any reason to eat my food like a prison inmate about to have it snatched away. My parents always cooked plenty of food and there was always enough for seconds and thirds… for us and the neighbours. My dad also eats super fast, and in fact, when I go out to eat with other people, I have to consciously slow myself down so as not to embarrass myself. Thank goodness K and I seem to keep the same pace!

3. Not exercising. In Jan and Feb, the first two official months on the job (prior I was freelancing for the same company), I was able to leave work at about 4.45 each day, and be home by 5.30. I’d exercise until 6, shower and then make supper, with plenty of time to spare. When we hit a crisis at work about three weeks ago, I found myself easily staying at the office until 6 or even 7, getting home after dark and then still having to cook supper. I simply haven’t had the time to work out, and I know it’s so bad for me. Could this be contributing to the bloat?


4. What I’m drinking. For the first 19 days on this diet, I drank only water. For the first 30, I drank no coffee or booze. Now, I still drink my 2l of water a day – but I also have a glass of wine most days, and one to two cups of coffee. There’s no doubt that drinks can have just as big an impact on your gut as food, and it’s careless to think they don’t.


5. Stress. When our work crisis hit, our stress levels shot right up. Some days, my colleagues were running to the bathroom with diarrhoea – and they don’t have IBD! I felt a gnawing nausea for days on end, and I was constantly in a state of high-strung anxiety. I’ve no doubt that this not only aggravated my gut, but also contributed to my bloating.

So what’s the next step?

Now that I’ve got a more holistic picture, so to speak, of the root causes of my bloating, I can start to fix the problem (if I can commit to it). It’s almost like working retroactively, going back and fixing what I’ve broken. Now that the bananas are gone, I know I should take a break from booze and coffee too, and keep working backwards like that until I am able to identify the food causes of the bloating – and then of course I need to address the non-food causes too.

I’ve just had dinner and I tried not to overeat. I had yogurt for ‘dessert’, with honey, because I’ve already cut out bananas today and I felt I deserved it!

Ugh, damn bloating. I feel like a stuck record. Imagine how AMAZING life would be without bloat!

Oh, to be a cat and be so unconcerned about bloating!

Oh, to be a cat and be so unconcerned about bloating!


Day 48: Nuts & booze – great at a bar, not great in your belly

After the terrible bloating of earlier this week, the last day or two have been great. Today I had zero bloat (until half an hour ago – more on that in a bit), and although I’ve had some gas, I’ve felt really good. So much so, in fact, that I squeezed into my tightest jeans tonight with no discomfort.

So what did I do differently these past two days? First of all, after cutting out bananas for a few days, I re-introduced them and made sure they were properly ripe. They seemed to treat me fine. I also tried to eat fewer than usual (so, maybe six a day instead of sixteen 😛 ).

I’ve also avoided the yoghurt for a few days, and that’s made a huge difference. I’ve just come back from a birthday party at a hipster tequila bar down the road, called Cabrito:


Cabrito, Green Point

Look at all that hipster decor and shit!

Look at all that hipster decor and shit!

Thanks to a belly full of vodka and tequila (more on that, too, in a minute), I’ve been scavenging for food. For those of you who’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll know I get bingey when I’m tipsy, and I scavenge for anything sweet.

Drunken selfie

Drunken selfie

So I had a couple of (small) bowls of yoghurt with some extra honey, and almost immediately, I can feel that the bloat and gas has set in. I know that some people only experience the side-effects of food up to a day or two after eating it, but for the most part, I can always tell pretty much straight away, or within a couple of hours. Right now there are bongo drums in my tummy! Much as it sucks, it’s great to pinpoint these things so precisely. So that’s the ‘nuts’ part of this post.

So about that tequila

I am not a big drinker, but as someone who enjoys her wine and has the occasional night out, it was important to me to know what alcohol I could consume on this diet – mainly so that I don’t drink the wrong kind. Dry wine (red and white) is okay; vodka (not grain-based vodka) is okay, and tequila is a grey area. However, I’ve learnt from others that tequila agrees with some people more than vodka does.

As always, when in doubt, I turn to the SCDLifestyle.com guys. And here’s what Steve Wright says about tequila:

Rum and Tequila are not called out in the legal/illegal list on pecanbread’s list.  However, I did find an old letter from Elaine saying that consuming light rum was okay but not dark rum.  However I was unable to find anything in the SCD world that speaks on Tequila.

My take on tequila is that you should probably avoid it while on the SCD diet.  According to the Mexican government regulations all natural ingredients must be used in the production of tequila.  Manufactures may add caramel coloring, glycerin, and sugar based syrups to flavor it.  Also remember that yeast is used to ferment the blue agave sugars which could cause trouble for people with digestive problems.

And this was exactly the sense I had when I downed this:


Those beautiful little Patron babies tasted delicious (well, the one that I had), but I could instantly taste that it was packed with sugar and a million other SCD illegals. So I didn’t have another – instead, I drank that very sensible (okay, semi-sensible) tall drink behind it, which was vodka with pure apple juice. Yes, I snuck a bottle of pure apple juice into a hipster craft beer bar. I am quite possibly their new leader.

So, right now, I ‘feel’ sober but I can tell you, from the litre of yoghurt and honey I just slurped down, I am probably not. And I’m going to pay for this tomorrow morning at 9am when our cleaning lady arrives and I want to die. But two vodkas and one tequila isn’t so bad for a four-hour stint, right? Oh, and there was also the glass of red wine after work.

But I didn't touch any of this!

But I didn’t touch any of this!

I do think booze affects my gut, but it seems to be okay if I give myself a few days’ break in between. Will be VERY interesting to see my BMs tomorrow…

My diet and BMs right now

I’m eating all the things I’ve been enjoying up until now, with the exception of the yoghurt, which I’m going to have to re-strategise on 🙂 I’ve introduced coriander (cilantro) and it’s going well. Now I get to decide what to introduce next. It’s my favourite part of this diet 🙂

For the past few weeks, my BMs have been generally good. The constipation that I experienced in the early stages has pretty much cleared up, and I have decent BMs every morning, and sometimes in the evening too (which is such a bonus). I think that all that needed to happen was introducing a few new veggies into my diet. Maybe the yoghurt is, ironically, helping too?

All in all, I’m in a good place 🙂

unicorn poop


Day 33: Symptoms

Today was not a particularly great day.


The nurse came to see me and take blood and urine samples for my dread disease cover. That put me in a bit of an anxious mood because I HATE finger pricks. Ugh!

Then the shit hit the fan with a client at work. I made an error in a piece of copy I’d written, and because we’d been short on time, it hadn’t been subbed by our sub-editor prior to publishing, so the mistake wasn’t picked up. The client was FURIOUS (I’d written ‘top pics’ instead of ‘top picks’ – stupid, careless error, but an error nonetheless, and one that was remedied in seconds – the beauty of online!). I felt they completely over-reacted and was supremely pissed off.

Selfie of me at work today

Selfie of me at work today

By midday, I was annoyed, stressed, angry and generally miserable – and bloated! Plus, just to hammer in the final nail, I wrote a piece today about a bad relationship I was in years ago, and which I wholeheartedly believe was a major contributing factor to my UC. That put me in quite a funk. I plan to publish it on an online news site, and I’ll share it here too.



My big fat BM mistake

I woke up this morning and had a good BM, but I didn’t feel ’empty’. I ignored the feeling because I was in a rush to get to work. NEVER DO THAT. I’ve read that not going when you need to can lead to constipation, as water starts to be absorbed by the colon and the stool gets harder. By the time I eventually took a moment to go to the loo at work, it was too late. Constipation had set in, along with its BFF, Bloat.

The bloating never actually abated today, so I held off on introducing tomatoes. No point in trying something new if you’re not feeling 100%(ish) percent, because how will you know if the new food is agreeing with you or not? Once again today, I understood how people retreat to their SCD safe zones and eat three foods for months on end. Supper was chicken and squashy veg, which I chewed on morosely while K enjoyed the (reportedly) delicious Thai chicken and coconut soup I made for her.

I also craved sugar today, and felt almost physically ill when I looked at yet another bunch of bananas in my cupboard.

Peaks and valleys, I guess. Peaks and valleys.

I know tomorrow will be better. While there are highs and lows, the general trend is an upward one, so I’m not concerned. Everyone keeps telling me how amazed they are, and how proud they are of my progress, and it really spurs me on.

Also, my nut milk bag is in the mail. SO EXCITED!

Nut milk bag

Nut milk bag

Why the bloat?

The bloating was probably caused by the constipation, but it might also be a result of all the new drinks I’ve been testing. This week I admittedly introduced a number of new things, not least of which were wine and coffee, so maybe my gut is giving me a ‘woah there, lady’ while it composes itself. I also suspect that the garlic made me gassy – though I was eating much more of it that one usually would, in order to test it (I’m talking 8 or 10 cloves at dinner). It didn’t bloat me though.

I’m SO HAPPY that tomorrow is Friday. We have a busy weekend planned, complete with a picnic followed by an open-air theatre performance of Richard III. I can’t wait! I’ll be packing eggs, bananas and wine! What are you planning for the weekend?

My favourite, of course, being 'food'

After ‘food’, of course


My new batch of SCD legal drinks

So today when I arrived at work, my stash of SCD-legal drinks had arrived! I carefully checked each one and yes, they were acceptable. The rooibos tea has actual vanilla in it (not vanilla flavouring); the carrot juice is 99% carrot juice and 1% lemon juice, and the apple juice is 100% pure, with nothing added to it.

Plus, Wellness Warehouse had even thrown in a free mango body lotion and green tea body wash because it was my first order!


Throwing caution to the wind, I dived right in. I had the rooibos tea with my breakfast of boiled eggs this morning, and a little bit of apple juice (probably 100ml) about an hour ago.

Again, the rooibos tea made me feel a bit strange. I’m not sure why. Like my eyes were all ‘poppy’ or something. Maybe it’s just in my head – after all, there’s no caffeine in rooibos. Or maybe it just doesn’t agree with me.

The apple juice was, in a word, amazeballs. It was so sweet, and just tasted very, very delicious. But perhaps it was a little too much sugar for me (albeit natural) because I’m feeling the way used to feel after a cake binge! Plus I’m a little head-achy. Absolutely amazing how your body can become so sensitive to sugar after you’ve cut it out for a while. Have you experienced this at all?


I haven’t tackled the carrot juice yet but I hear from colleagues that it’s “disgusting”. Great. I’ll try it and if I can’t handle it, perhaps I can use it in my cooking or something.

I really can’t wait to introduce some coffee in the mornings (one week to go), and I’m eager to see how my body reacts to that. We have a Nespresso machine at work so at least it’ll be good quality.

To be honest, after the rooibos tea and apple juice, I was SO grateful to down an icy cold glass of water. Who’d have thought!?