Day 22: Phase 1 review

Last day of Phase 1, last day of Phase 1! Wooo hoo!

This feels like a major milestone even though nothing will change in terms of the pace of phasing in foods and testing each one. But it means that over the coming weeks, I’ll be introducing:

– avocado

– tomato

– garlic

– mushrooms

– cilantro (dhanya/coriander – this fresh herb isn’t on Pecanbread.com’s list of stages but I’m going to take a chance and try to phase it in anyway because I love the taste and it’s really going to add a new dimension to my meals).

– And a bunch of other delicious things

But first, I want to give a summary of my experience of Phase 1.

How hard was Phase 1?

It was challenging but not impossible. I’m lucky in that I can eat the same old food day after day without growing tired of it, and that’s a real benefit on SCD. Especially in the early phases, you run the risk of getting extremely bored with the same limited foods every day, but try to remember that it’s just a few weeks.

I had cravings from time to time, and even though they weren’t pleasant, they weren’t insurmountable either. They passed, as did each day.

What did I do right in Phase 1?

I didn’t knowingly cheat in Phase 1 – not by a morsel. I had two cups of rooibos tea (legal) which may have contained flavourants that aren’t legal, and which I didn’t know about until after I’d consumed them. I’ll stay away from them in future.

I rotated my meats quite a bit, and cooked them as recommended for Phase 1 (ie: broiled or grilled).

I cooked all my vegetables until they were completely soft, although I didn’t necessarily puree them every time. I always pureed my carrots, but with the gem squash and butternut, I cooked them until very soft and then ate them. Pureed is great but not essential. If your symptoms are still very bad, puree your veg (my symptoms were under control).

I introduced one new food every 3-4 days.

I drank at least 2 litres of water every day.

I didn’t drink coffee, alcohol or any other liquid besides water and rooibos tea.

I exercised moderately, though you should exercise with extreme caution if you’re in a flare. Limit it to walking or yoga.

I took supplements, including a probiotic, various vitamins (B, C, D), calcium, magnesium (for constipation) and krill oil. I take calcium because I’m lactose intolerant, and don’t get any calcium from dairy. Don’t take anything without consulting your doctor or nutritionalist first.

I kept a daily food diary, documenting everything I ate, how it made me feel, and what my BMs were like. It’s very useful to look back at this, even in this early phase, and see that right from day 1, bananas were causing me some problems. Which brings me to…

What did I do wrong in Phase 1?

I ATE WAY TOO MANY BANANAS. Bananas are my downfall! I’ve always had a sweet tooth so I think that’s the reason why – bananas were the only easy, sweet thing I could grab whenever I felt like it. The fruit purees are tasty but apple made me bloated and pear is a mission to prepare, so I only made one batch.

Too Many Bananas

Bananas also don’t need to be prepared – they’re the only food you can eat raw in Phase 1, as long as they are very, very ripe and have brown spots. I didn’t always wait until my bananas were ripe enough.

I also continued to eat bananas every day, sometimes up to 7 or 8 times a day, even though I know they don’t always agree with me. They cause me bloating, gas and that gurgly bubbly feeling in my tummy.

I didn’t always prepare food in advance, which meant being ravenous at times (and hence grumpy) and then filling up on… more bananas!

I didn’t always take enough food to work, or to places I went out to for extended periods of time.

I made the mistake of trusting a restauranthere’s how that experience went. I have another restaurant trip planned for Valentine’s Day but I’ve already spoken to the restaurant and I feel more confident this time.

a-funny-pictures-cooking-with-your-cat

I stressed about silly things, like cooking a vegetable incorrectly or perhaps-accidentally-unknowingly consuming a spice (at that damn restaurant!). Stress is SO bad for anyone with autoimmune disorders, so don’t sweat the small stuff! Don’t even sweat the big stuff if you can help it. As I like to say: Stay calm, stay positive, reduce stress.

I smoked. Not often; not a lot, but I did. Don’t do it. Super, super, suuuuuuuper terrible for your health. Okay, lecture over 🙂

How do I feel at the end of Phase 1?

I’m not completely satisfied with my BMs. Before I started SCD, they were reliable: every morning and often every evening, without any struggle. They were well formed and I always felt ’empty’ afterwards.

As I’ve mentioned before, my UC symptoms were completely under control when I started this diet – but it was because of the Asacol I’m taking. My reason for starting this diet is to (hopefully) get off the Asacol in due course, as I don’t wish to spend my live on chronic medication.

My tummy doesn’t feel amazing YET, but I’m not too concerned. I can pinpoint the exact reasons (and probable remedies) for my two main gut concerns right now:

constipation: Not enough fibre and fat in my diet at this stage. I’ll be adding more of both in Phase 2, and hopefully this will help.

bloating, gas and cramps: Too many bananas, and bananas that aren’t ripe enough. No bananas = no pain, bloating and gas = happy belly. Easy to remedy and I’ll be replacing many of my bananas with other foods in Phase 2.

Let me take those off your hands for you...

Let me take those off your hands…

I DO feel that my digestive system is beginning to heal. How do I know? Well, I used to feel bloated after every meal. Now, I can eat foods that used to bloat me (such as eggs or vegetables) and feel fine afterwards. I believe this is evidence that the damage is slowly mending.

How do I know I’m ready to move on to Phase 2?

There’s no specific timeline for each phase, as everyone’s progress is different. I’ve often read that two weeks is a rough guideline, but it really depends on how long it takes you to phase in each food, whether you have setbacks, and how many items you choose to phase in. Don’t move on if you don’t feel ready, but don’t spend a whole month eating only 5 or 6 foods.

I have phased in most of the foods recommended for Phase 1, and I feel strong enough and ready to move on to Phase 2. I spent 19 days on Phase 1, which I’m satisfied with. I also desperately need to introduce some new foods so I can start phasing bananas out! I won’t give them up entirely but I need to limit them.

Intro, plus nearly 3 weeks on Phase 1, has helped me to build a solid, reliable foundation, and I feel prepared for Phase 2.

Essentials for Phase 1 (and every phase)

an SCD buddy: either someone who is also doing the diet, or someone who is prepared to support you at every step. For me, my partner has been the most amazing SCD buddy, even though she’s not doing the diet herself.

a trustworthy meat supplier.

large cooking pots, lots of storage containers (freezer safe) and clean, SCD-friendly chopping boards, utensils and counter space (must not be contaminated with any gluten).

time to cook. Even half a day once a week is enough, but you need to set it aside.

careful planning to ensure that you always have enough food. Take food with you when you go out.

photo-6

a thick skin. People (who don’t know about your journey) are going to ask you time and again about why you’re not eating this or drinking that. You don’t have to go into the nitty-gritty of your illness, but you can have a simple explanation planned, like, “I have a digestive ailment and I have to be very careful about what I eat,” or something along those lines. I’ve been caught off-guard so many times and ended up explaining way too much about UC, which wasn’t necessary and left me feeling uncomfortable (even though it shouldn’t).

enough sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours a night. Sleep is the best healer there is.

patience, a sense of humour, and the space to forgive yourself if you fuck up. It’ll happen, no doubt. Accept it and move on.

banana cartoon

reliable online SCD resources. Whenever I was in doubt about something, like whether I could eat black pepper or drink rooibos tea, I took to the net to find RELIABLE sources of information.

The SCD Lifestyle book, Surviving to Thrivingis an absolute must-read before you embark on this diet, and if it were a virtual book, I’d have dog-earred mine to pieces by now! Also find yourself some reliable websites and blogs that you relate to and can trust, like Pecanbread.com. They’ll be full of the kinds of information you’re looking for.

 Am I ready for Phase 2?

Oh HELLS YES! Bring it ONNN!

Because if there were ever a time for vehement sentiment, it's during SCD ;-)

Because if there were ever a time for vehement sentiment, it’s during SCD 😉

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Day 19: Good sources of protein

Day 19, and I’m still not entirely satisfied with my BMs, but as I know so well by now, patience is key on this diet. This morning was great; this evening… not so much. But I’m excited to move onto phase 2. Today my diet has consisted of boiled eggs, bananas, gem squash, butternut and meat, and I’m not having any bloating.

I’ve decided to try the pear puree that I made (and froze) a few weeks ago. Once I’ve tested it, I’ll be moving onto phase 2. I can’t wait to add things like avocado, garlic, tomato (carefully), pineapple and mushrooms.

Yesterday I spoke a lot about carbs. Today I want to focus briefly on protein. On the SCD, it’s important that all meals contain a mix of protein, fat and carbs. Protein keeps us feeling full and is essential to rebuilding body cells.

So for breakfast, you could have eggs and banana, for example, or meat and fruit sauce. It takes some getting used to, eating meat for breakfast, but it’s really not so strange after a while.

Benefits of eggs and how to cook them

Eggs are an amazing food on SCD, if you can handle them. Not everyone can, but I seem to be fine with them. They offer a solid dose of protein and fat, and they keep you feeling full for a long time.

If you hard boil them, you can take them anywhere for an easy snack in a cinch. I take boiled eggs to work every morning, and sometimes, if I have a leftover egg in the fridge, I’ll snack on it before exercising.

You can also scramble eggs with no added fat if you have a non-stick pan and watch them carefully. I simply beat them with a little water and then scramble them. I haven’t tried frying them without fat, but I’m sure with the right equipment, one could.

Something to look forward to in Phase 2

Something to look forward to in Phase 2

Meats I’m eating, and how I’m cooking them

As for meat, it’s always best to stick to lean cuts (fatty meat is simply not healthy for anyone). This is especially true in the beginning phases when it’s particularly hard for your gut to digest fat. It’s recommended that you cook your meat in a way that draws the fat out – like grilling, broiling or boiling (and then skimming the fat off the top, as you would do with bone broth).

I’ve been eating a lot of chicken, which I either boil (if it has skin and bones) or grill (if it’s skinless and boneless). I also love steak, though I usually stick to thin, mini cuts – called “minute” steaks because they literally cook in one minute – which I grill. Every now and then I’ll grill a nice juicy rump as a treat, but this is at most once a week.

I haven’t yet tried fish on SCD, as I’ve always needed my fish to be very well seasoned if I’m going to enjoy it. That’s obviously not an option right now, so perhaps I’ll wait until I’ve introduced more herbs and spices.

Lastly, I’m eating a fair amount of ostrich. An ostrich is a large, ugly-looking bird that is indigenous to Africa. It’s so big that an adult can ride it – and they do, for fun, in some towns.

An ostrich. Tastier than it looks.

An ostrich. Tastier than it looks.

Tenderising the meat prior to eating

Tenderising the meat prior to eating

Unlike chicken, ostrich it is a red meat. It is considered extremely healthy because it’s high in protein but very lean. Ostrich meat is definitely an acquired taste and due to its low fat content, it can be very dry. Luckily, I’m becoming accustomed to it and I make meat balls from ostrich mince, which are nutritious, quite tasty, and quick to defrost. Fun fact: One ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 regular hen’s eggs and has 2000 calories! If you need to gain weight, I’d go with one of these babies each morning 😉

An ostrich egg. We do things properly in Africa!

An ostrich egg. We do things properly in Africa!

How to choose meat

When it comes to buying meat, try to choose organic, and always ensure that it has NO ADDITIVES. Some farms inject all sorts of crap into their meat, like hormones, ‘natural’ flavourants, colourants and so forth. I’m extremely fortunate to have a good quality butchery right downstairs from my apartment. I trust them completely and I can see (and taste) that the meat is of a superior quality.

The also sell grass-fed beef, which is rare in South Africa. It is recommended that you always buy grass-fed (as opposed to grain-fed) whenever possible. Makes sense for us grain-challenged peeps!

Organic, grass-fed meat will cost you – especially as more and more people cotton on to the health benefits of eating it. But it’s worth it. It’s an investment in your health, after all.

SCDelicious! Who said you couldn't have any mouth-watering meals on this diet? :-)

SCDelicious! Who said you couldn’t have any mouth-watering meals on this diet? 🙂

One of the things I’m most excited about is finally getting to a point when I can eat biltong again. Biltong is a South African delicacy that is sometimes compared to beef jerky, but is really nothing like it.

Basically, it’s highly spiced raw meat that is hung up to dry. Once dried, after a few days, you eat it just like that, without cooking it. Sound disgusting? I promise it’s not! K and I even make our own. Come and visit me in SA and I’ll make some especially for you 🙂 We’ll tuck in once we’ve hit the 90-day mark 🙂

This is how happy any meat-eating South African will look when you put them in front of a rack of biltong

This is how happy any meat-eating South African will look when you put them in front of a rack of biltong

Day 18: A colourful plate and a happy colon

Tonight was our Wednesday night family dinner, and the fam was most impressed by my colourful plate of food: Grilled chicken (complete with those nice griddle lines on it), bright yellow gem squash and lovely orange butternut. They kept saying how healthy and appetising it looked – and it was!

They all tucked into macaroni and cheese sauce – one of my all-time favourites. I used to have about four helpings at a time (no exaggeration).

I didn’t take a pic of my plate, but I should have. I’m not one of those ‘snap and share’ foodies like you see on Instagram, not least of all because of the snore factor of my current plates. But tonight’s dinner looked something like the pic below (just with gem squash added), which is pretty tasty looking if you ask me 🙂

roasted-chicken-breasts-butternut-squash-herbed-wine-sauce-oh-l

Which means that I’m just a few additions and some honey away from THIS deliciousness:

Cheap-healthy-meals

The days really do pass so quickly, and I’m guessing that it’ll just be a few weeks before my food looks like the plate above (without the sweet potatoes though). SCD really is a great diet once you get past the baby steps and start to crawl 🙂

Today’s round-up

My body is doing well with the starchy veg, and it’s so exciting to be growing my list of ‘manageable’ foods every few days. Apart from the apples that didn’t agree with me, everything else has been fine. I still have some frozen pear puree so I might try that this weekend before moving on to phase 2. I think I will because I want that tuppaware back.

BMs

These are improving, are slightly more forthcoming, and definitely better formed and quite soft. I’m still taking the magnesium so I’m sure that’s helping, along with all the veg.

Today being day 18, I’ve only 12 days left until COFFEE AND WINE!! I’m no alcoholic but WATER ONLY for 18 solid days is driving me a bit batty. I’ve imposed this 30-day ban myself, as I haven’t found any formal guidelines about drinks on SCD (ie, when to introduce them). I do know that wine should be limited to dry varieties, and coffee should be ground (not instant) and weak.

Bring it oooooooooooon!

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Day 17: Squashy belly

Today I introduced squash to my diet and so far, so good: I have a belly full of it and no bloat. And by ‘squash’, I’m referring to these babies:

Gem_squash

I’m not sure what you call it in other parts of the world, but here it’s just ‘squash’ or ‘gem squash’ if you’re being fancy.

I cooked up 12 relatively small ones so that I’ll have enough to test it over three days.

Remember that a good way to test a new food is to consume it like this:

First day: Eat 1/2 a cup of the new food at one meal of the day

Second day: Eat 1/2 a cup of the new food at at least 2 meals of the day 

Third day: Eat at least 1 1/2 cups of the new food on this day, but don’t exceed 2 cups

Easy peasy! And by cooking up a big batch, you’re prepared for all three days. I also made double the amount of meat tonight so that my lunch of chicken and squash is ready and waiting in the fridge for tomorrow.

I skipped my post-dinner banana to properly gauge any bloaty side effects of the squash, and 2 hours later, all seems fine. I still consume about 6 bananas a day even though I know they sometimes cause mild discomfort. The side effects aren’t severe enough to make me stop, especially when they’re the only sweet thing in my diet, but I will take a break from them when I’ve phased more foods in.

The evil Lord Bloat Banana. But they aren't all bad.

The evil Lord Bloaty Banana. But they aren’t all bad.

I’ve also been using a griddle pan to cook my chicken and it makes SUCH a big difference, taste wise. I’m still not ready to go back to boiled chicken yet, but grilled is quite delicious.

Current round up

I’m still not happy with the state of my BMs. They’re not as regular and happily forthcoming, once or twice a day, as they were before I started this diet. I’ve been taking magnesium for about 3 days and I’m eating more veg but I don’t think there’s much roughage in my diet. That said, roughage and I have a rather, well, rough history (as I’m sure most people with IBD do), so I’m always happier with less of it in my life. Will keep investigating ways to improve my constipation.

I’m pretty moody. I mean, I’ve always been a moody person but I’m particularly snappish at the moment, and K bears the brunt of it. Amazing how food not only touches but influences every part of our lives, and even our personalities. All the more reason to take control of it and STOP it controlling us.

I get joint pain occasionally – in my knees mainly – but so infrequent it’s hardly worth mentioning. I’m still about 2kg down so feeling less bloated and unccomfortable all round, and I’m still exercising with success, although I definitely have less energy now that I’m virtually carb-free.

I continue to feel very positive about this diet and believe it is only doing me good. I regret not getting a measure of my inflammation before starting, but I think the proof will be in the pudding. Very excited to move on to Phase 2 after I’m done testing squash.

Where are you on the diet, and how’s it going?

Moody Cat is ready for Phase 2

Moody Cat is ready for Phase 2