Day 84: What’s wrong with this picture? A cautionary tale about getting drunk on SCD

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I mean besides the bright pink eye-shadow and multi-coloured nails?

THAT PINK DRINK!

Last night, 84 days in, I completely fell off the SCD wagon – and yes, today I am filled with remorse and I’m hating myself pretty badly.

The day started out well enough. K, my sister and I went on a little shopping trip and ended up stopping for refreshments at the new branch of Osumo up the road from us – it’s a health food cafe that sells amazing natural fresh food. Perfect.

My sister and I each had their 100% apple juice, which is so pure they may as well be standing at your table and squeezing it from the apple as you drink it. I’ve never had pure fruit juice like that at a restaurant before, and I was so impressed. K had a ‘Chocolate Frosty’, which is made from banana, frozen yogurt and a few other things. She was so chuffed that it was delicious despite being healthy!

Just LOOK at that pure apple juice!

Just LOOK at that pure apple juice!

Apple juice and a Chocolate Frosty from Osumo

Apple juice and a Chocolate Frosty from Osumo

I had to add this picture of my cute little sister!

I couldn’t resist posting this pic of my cute little sister!

The rest of the day went fine too, and I pre-ate before we went out last night. We’d planned a super gay night out on the town – yay!

We started at our friends’ place with bubbly (it wasn’t a sweet one, though it was carbonated – a big no-no for me) and shots of jagermeister. I have never looked into this, but I’m pretty sure jagermeister is NOT SCD legal.

Then we got to the restaurant – and incredibly vibey place with an amazing drinks menu. I already had my buzz on, and I was failing to hear to frantic warning sirens in my head. I ordered a cosmo. My reasoning? It’s vodka and cranberry juice, and cranberry is good for you!

Of course, in the sober light of day, I am fully and painfully aware than the ‘cranberry juice’ they put into a cosmo is very, very, VERY far removed from anything natural I should be consuming. Actually, I realised this when the first sugary blast hit my tongue. But by this point, I was too tipsy to worry. And then, because I’d ‘already’ slipped up, I went on to order a strawberry daiquiri (the pic above), which I think is SO illegal on SCD it could actually get me arrested.

By the time I finished my super-potent drinks, I had not a care in the world. I didn’t order food, but when K’s arrived, it looked amazing.

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AH! I thought, regressing back to my pre-SCD brain, onion rings! Somehow, my drink-addled brain decided that because I’d already safely introduced onion, it would be fine to eat the BATTERED DEEP-FRIED onion rings off K’s plate. I took one bite and realised OMG GLUTEN!!!!!! and then quickly finished the lot while K shook her head sadly and repeated ,’84 days, 84 days’ and ‘I don’t know how to stop you.’ Thank goodness I managed to rein myself in before these shortbreads arrived at the table:

What would a super gay night out on the town be without penis cookies?

What would a super gay night out on the town be without penis cookies?

The rest of the night was okay. I drank water and/or vodka with soda water, but the guilt hung over me like a cloud. It still does today, and I’m hoping that writing about it here will at least benefit someone.

I’m sad that I knowingly cheated (and so badly!) so far into this. BUT I also realise that as human beings following a pretty difficult diet, slip-ups probably are inevitable. I’m no better or worse than anyone else, and I didn’t die (despite feeling like death today).

It  also made me realise that my food inhibitions willpower completely evaporates the moment I start drinking shots – something that I thought I’d conquered, but clearly have not. So whether or not they’re legal (like tequila), it’s not a good idea for me to have shooters EVER. I’m also strictly back on the diet so this is not a free pass to remain fallen-off-the-wagon.

Sigh. I really despise myself right now but I realise it’s not productive. Instead, I’m going to publish this post and let it take the self-hatred with it. Then, I’m going to have a big glass of water, a couple of eggs, and re-read this excellent article from SCDLifestyle.com that seems so applicable right now, about the glass wall mistake that people make when they think they’re getting better.

How’s your diet going?

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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?

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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.

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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 66: Important observations about SCD so far

I’ve been on this diet for 66 days, and even though it’s not a massive amount of time, it’s long enough to have realised that my progress has fallen into two distinct categories:

  • Extremely strict
  • Experimental (within the bounds of legal, stage-appropriate SCD foods)

I haven’t once knowingly cheated on this diet and I’ve stuck to the 3-day rule (at times 4 days) since the start. But I’ve also become less fanatically strict and terrified of introducing new foods. Maybe it’s manifesting more psychologically than physically, because I’m not running around shoving random bits of food into my mouth. But it does mean that one big problem has crept in: Bloating.

Can totally relate

Can totally relate

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it because when I’m healthy and not in an active flare, the worst symptom I have is bloating, which also causes pain and that lovely, totally-not-embarrassing ‘talking’ that most often happens when I’m sitting in an echoey boardroom with several of my bosses, a handful of clients and the perfectly preened magazine editor.

Yet here I am, 66 days in, experiencing bloating most days. So, below is what I have deduced about my particular reaction to foods on SCD. As always, bear in mind that everyone tolerates food differently.

1. Bananas cause me significant bloating. I’ve known this since day 4 or 5 when I introduced them, and you’ve known it too because I haven’t shut up about it. I try to eat fewer but usually I fail because…

2. I’m a snacker which makes SCD REALLY hard. Who wants to snack on a dry meatball or a cup of carrot puree? So I snack on bananas. All. The. Time. And then for dessert I have banana ‘ice cream’. I do in fact always have prepared vegetables and ripe avos in the fridge, but bananas are also easy to eat on the go or take with to work, social occasions, movies, etc.

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3.  Other things besides banana make me bloated. What are they? I’m not sure. Because in this experiment that is the SCD, you need to use your own body as the control, and I’ve often failed to do that effectively. You need to feel good and bloat-free before introducing new foods, and while I’ve done that to some extent, I have also compromised my results by continuing to eat bananas while testing other foods.

This means I’ve often experienced bloating while testing, but I’ve always blamed it on bananas. However, I’m now noticing that I can eat other foods (ie: meals of meat, assorted vegetables and avo) and end up bloated – and because of the muddied test results, I can’t pinpoint the culprit.

4. You have to introduce SCD yogurt CAREFULLY. As good as it can be for you, dairy-free SCD yogurt is made up of not one but a number of ingredients – and some of these (most notably nut milk and honey) can be problematic.

Nuts, even when blanched, blended, strained and squeezed into milk, can aggravate a sensitive gut, which is why they shouldn’t be introduced until 3 months on this diet (or 3 months symptom-free, which I reached in about February). Honey is also tolerated by some but not by others, and both nuts and honey are considered potentially ‘problematic’ foods for people on SCD.

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5. Nut milks and honey are probably adding to my bloating. They’ve made a fairly recent but regular appearance in my diet in the form of my yoghurt, and since their debut I’ve come to really enjoy them. Is the benefit of the probiotics outweighing the bloat? I can’t honestly tell you because while my BMs are satisfactory and quite regular, I haven’t noticed a marked difference since introducing the yogurt. But I do love the sweetness of they honey and yogurt is such a perfect after-dinner treat.

6. I felt my best during intro and phase 1, but my BMs were terrible. Swings and roundabouts? Maybe, but there must be more to it than that. There must be more that I can do to control my symptoms so that I can heal and enjoy a varied diet without bloat.  This means that I probably need to go back to the drawing board – or at the very least, stick to meat and veg for a few days and see if it helps.

7. This diet is about more than mindlessly following the phases. It only works if you listen to your body and respect your symptoms, and if you actively work to manage them. I haven’t always done that. I haven’t always been fully committed to being symptom free as much as I’ve been committed to eating legally and according to the phases. In other words…

8. Just because a food is SCD-legal and allowed in the phase you’re on, doesn’t mean it works for you. I found out that mushrooms don’t agree with me so I avoid them. But I’ve ignored the ill-effects of other foods and now I have this major bloat problem which is really a huge tangled mess. You have to be actively involved in really feeling your symptoms, identifying what’s causing them and eradicating problem foods from your diet – if only temporarily. Mindless eating is not going to cure you, even if you’re eating SCD legal foods.

So those are my observations for now. On this diet, I am definitely my biggest ally and also my worst enemy. It’s also why I haven’t yet opened my new jar of macadamia nut butter: The cashew butter was going brilliantly until, after 3 days, I caved and ate the remainder (about half of it) with a spoon straight out of the jar.

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My goal for the coming days: WILLPOWER. I’ve already made so many sacrifices that I can’t allow these little weaknesses to trip me up now. Now to just find the motivation to do better…

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Day 56: When you have to take a few steps back on SCD

I feel like I’ve really been on the back foot these last few weeks on SCD. Until about mid-phase 2, the diet was going brilliantly. But I feel like since I introduced the yogurt (which was comprised of several new foods I hadn’t yet introduced), and then made the carpaccio mistake last weekend (repeated yesterday and definitely the cause of the diarrhoea for both K and I), I’ve been struggling to get back to good.

Tonight we had friends over and they know of my health troubles. Because of the carpaccio we ate last night, I’ve had terrible cramps and diarrhoea all day. This of course is not ideal when you invite guests to your tiny apartment, where the bathroom is in a very central position. And even though they know about my UC, I still didn’t want to dash off to the bathroom every few minutes and subject them to the audible fireworks that follow when I’m hit with GI distress.

For most of the night, it felt like a demon was reaching inside my body every few minutes, grabbing my stomach with a gnarly hand (I just know it was gnarly – demons don’t do manicures) and twisting it around like play-doh. It seemed like great fun for the demon, but not so much for me. I tried throwing pain pills at it, but it just laughed and twisted some more. I tried to make it drunk on red wine, but I think that just fuelled its fire. The only thing that seemed to work was when our friends (as lovely as they are) finally left at 1am and I had the bathroom all to myself. TG (thank god).

Selfie tonight at +- midnight

Tonight’s selfie

I’ve also been testing my yoghurt again and I’m not sure that it’s agreeing with me either. I know for sure that meat and most phase 1 and 2 veggies (that I introduced) are kind to my gut and we get along just great. The yoghurt, however, is seems to be the problem child – along with this damn carpaccio which, after slaying us with awful symptoms twice in one week, we will certainly be avoiding.

For now, I think I need to get back to basics – meat and veg, limited bananas, probiotics, vitamins and water only (sob). I’m hating the gas, bloating and discomfort, which is one of the reasons I started this diet. I’m tired of feeling gross and bloaty, especially when I’m trying to be sociable.

A common problem for anyone with IBD!

A common problem for anyone with IBD!

Probiotics – what’s your take on them?

I stopped taking my probiotics a few days ago because I wasn’t actually sure whether they were making a difference or not. I can’t detect any significant changes, good or bad, since stopping about five days ago. Given the current state of my GI tract, however, I think going back to them can only do me good.

What’s your take on probiotics? Can you notice a difference when you do/don’t take them?

How to fix SCD when it breaks

I’m no SCD expert and I’ve been on this diet for less than two months. But what seems to make sense is to go back to when I was fine, and to start again from there. As with anything that goes wrong, be it a maths equation or driving directions or a diet, you simply need to stop, find your way back to the main road, and try again.

Tomorrow is a new day, and while you should endeavour to make EVERY day your best, it’s good to know that an SCD mistake today isn’t irreversible.

A cat, because cats make me happy, and this one makes me particularly mirthful.

A cat, because cats make me happy, and this one makes me particularly mirthful. I think he’s given up on trying to suck in