One year later: The foods I stopped eating in 2014


In an effort to find an eating plan that helped me manage my IBD, I tested a lot of different healing diets in 2014 (hence this blog). Turns out, there was no one specific diet that gave me the answer. I had to tweak my eating plan to add and remove foods that my body did and didn’t like, and to find a way of eating that suited me. Here’s a list of what didn’t work for me – it might help you to pinpoint your problem foods. Lower down is a list of all the things I can (and am) eating and drinking now, a year later.

Artificial sweeteners. I used to drink a ton of diet cooldrinks as well as multiple cups of tea and coffee every day, each sweetened with low-calorie sugar replacements. I knew that they were causing me intestinal discomfort, but I ignored it until I was incredibly ill, and then it was the first thing my nutritionalist cut from my diet. The carbonated drinks caused bloating, and aspartame – the main ingredient in many sweeteners – is known to cause GI distress in those predisposed to gastrointestinal disorders. Meanwhile, sorbitol – an ingredient in gum, some diet drinks and even fruit like apples, peaches and prunes – is hard to digest and can cause gas, bloating and diarrhoea. Some researchers have gone a step further to say that sweeteners can cause IBD – just give this scary article a read if you needed any more convincing.

Processed food. I’m hardly an angel – I definitely slip up from time to time, and even since my diagnosis have been known to indulge (one time) in Nutella cheesecake. But for the most part, I avoid anything packaged (unless it has just one or two ingredients, like tomato paste made only from tomatoes and salt). I don’t eat takeaways, sweets, chips or cheap chocolates (when I do have chocolate, I usually go for good quality bars with a high cocoa content). Again, there is the occasional instance in which I slip up, but the norm is for me not to include these items in my diet.

Most dairy. I am lactose intolerant, and when I found out, about two and a half years ago, I cut out all dairy immediately. When I let some sneak back into my diet, I’d have terrible flares. Now that my IBD is under control, and I’ve been lactose-free for so long, I’ve found that I can eat certain dairy products in limited amounts without experiencing horrible side effects. Cheese in small quantities is fine, as is butter and very limited amounts of cream cheese. I still avoid milk, cream and yoghurt, and feel that I’m getting the best benefits of dairy from the items I can eat, and avoiding the dairy products that are usually laden with unhealthy additives (ie, sweetened yogurt).

Sweetcorn. I seldom, if ever, eat sweetcorn. This is because it’s aggravated my belly in the past, so instead of taking a chance, I skip it (and don’t miss it). Baby corn seems to be okay in small amounts.

Bran flakes. If you have IBD, chances are you don’t need much additional bran in your diet. I only realised this well into my second bad flare. These days, if I need a little ‘help’, I drink more water and eat more vegetables. I LOVED bran flakes (especially with milk and sweetener) and I miss breakfast cereals. But believe me, it’s better this way.

Gluten. Both nutritionalists that I’ve been to have strongly recommended I remove gluten from my diet, even though I’m not coeliac. When I’ve tested it, I haven’t had a problem with it, but that said, I’m trying to eat clean, and without gluten in my diet, I feel healthier, lighter and less bogged down. Also, by avoiding packaged foods, I’m automatically avoiding 90% of gluten. I won’t lie – it’s hard to resist the other 10%: the bread basket on a restaurant table, or the birthday cake calling my name. But I do, as much as I can.

Sugar. I have a serious problem with sugar – my problem being that once I start, I can’t stop. No one should be consuming sugar in large amounts, but lots of people can have a slice of cake and stop. I can’t – which is a particularly serious problem for someone who shouldn’t be eating most of the constituents of those two three six slices of it. Sugar is responsible for all manner of horrible illnesses, and for me, given the fact that my GI tract is already compromised, there’s no need for it.

So what do I eat? Everything else!

Healthy Snacks

It might seem like I’ve cut almost every type of food from my diet, but that’s really not the case – not if you know how to eat clean. I eat meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, cheese and all the delicious dishes you can make from those ingredients. My diet sustains me, makes me feel full, healthy and, most importantly, not bloated and kak (that’s a wonderful South African term for which there isn’t really a translation, but look it up anyway).

And what do I drink?

It’s a very common concern: what can I drink on SCD/paleo/autoimmune paleo, etc. For a start, everyone should be consuming at least two litres of water a day. It’s much easier than you think if you keep water with you all the time.

I also drink good quality black coffee (without sugar – takes some getting used to), but this isn’t allowed on autoimmune paleo. Herbal teas are good, as are pure fruit juices on SCD, if you aren’t avoiding fruit sugars. Sparkling water with berries, lemons, cucumber or orange slices added is a delicious alternative to a fizzy cooldrink, and you can also make your own iced teas and coffees. Play around with the ingredients you’re allowed to have/can tolerate, and avoid adding anything processed to your drinks. Sweeten with honey.

As for alcohol, this is a very personal choice. I’m not a big drinker and I’ve never enjoyed beer, ciders, etc. Some diets will tell you that dry wines and vodka are okay (this is the only spirit I drink), while others (autoimmune paleo, for example) will ban all alcohol. If you are flaring, you should definitely avoid alcohol. If your IBD is under control, test it carefully. Here’s a detailed piece I wrote on what to drink on a healing diet.

What diet am I following now?

I tend to jump around and try different eating plans that work for me, so there isn’t one specific diet that I’m following. It’s not SCD, paleo or AIP. If anything, at the moment, it’s a low carb high fat diet (LCHF). But mostly, it’s a clean, healthy diet devoid of unhealthy packaged foods and excess sugar. And it’s working for me, which is the most important thing.

You need to find a diet that works for you, and if it doesn’t fit into the framework of any specific healing diets, make it up. Tweak, change, add and remove according to want your body likes and wants, and call it your specific diet 🙂

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, 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!

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 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

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!?

What to drink on SCD

For a lot of people, one of the most challenging things about the SCD is the lack of allowed beverages. Water is super healthy but it gets boring fast, and for many of us (myself included) sparkling water causes uncomfortable bloating.

There’s not a huge amount of literature out there about what to drink on SCD, which is strange because everything that you put in your body – whether you chew it or swallow it – is going to affect the outcome of this diet and your health in general. And it’s totally reasonable to want to drink other things besides water. Let’s take a look at what you can safely drink on the SCD.


Certain types of weak tea are allowed on the SCD, as long as you don’t add sugar to them. The SCD Wiki says, Weak tea is permitted on SCD, and can be consumed hot or cold or poured over ice. If desired, sweeten with honey or saccharine, or use a little lemon juice. Do not add sugar, milk or cream.” Please give the Wiki a read. It offers a wealth of useful guidance for tea lovers.

SCD kitty knows shoogar iz badz

SCD kitty knows shoogar iz badz

According to the Wiki, teas that are allowed are black, white, ginger, peppermint and spearmint teas. It also mentions that green tea is allowed, but I’ve read conflicting reports about its effect on the gut. Originally, Elaine said, “Green tea has been associated in some studies with the onset of ulcerative colitis and is not allowed on SCD.” However, she later changed her stance, saying that green tea is okay if limited to two cups a day. For those of you who are actually able to chug this ghastly stuff down, I applaud you. I don’t know how you do it! (I do know it’s incredibly healthy though).



Coffee – the shining beacon of hope at the start of every long work day. In modern Western society, many people are hooked on the stuff, and you can’t walk a mile in a city centre without coming across a java stop. No coffee on SCD?! No thanks!

I’ve cut out all coffee for the first 30 days, which is just my own personal choice. I want to allow my gut to just chill as much as possible.

Coffee, however, is allowed on the SCD. But the rule is: No instant coffee (you don’t know what has been added to it) and no decaf (you don’t know what chemicals have been used in the decaffeination process). Use ground coffee and make sure it’s weak. As with tea, do not add any milk of any kind, or any sugar.

(without the milk of course)

(without the milk of course)


You don’t need to be an alcoholic to miss your tipple. After a long day there’s nothing better than a glass of wine (except a glass of wine paired with some dark chocolate), and what’s a wedding, birthday party or celebration without a glass of the sparkly stuff? Boring, that’s what.


Alcohol is an extremely controversial topic when it comes to SCD, as well as health in general. While overdoing it can lead to all sorts of diseases, not least of which is alcoholism, drinking moderate amounts of certain types of alcohol can actually have health benefits.

For example, red wine can help prevent cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, and it’s full of antioxidants. But moderation is key: No more than a glass a day, or two glasses every few days. Don’t drink all 7 glasses in one day!


When in doubt, I always turn to Jordan and Steve for advice. And they’ve got some amazing insight into alcohol and exactly why you use it at your own risk when you have IBD:

“When you drink alcohol, about 20% of the quantity is immediately absorbed through the stomach walls, [and] the remaining alcohol in the stomach starts to break down with the help of [enzymes called] alcohol dehydrogenase.  The stomach contains limited amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase, allowing most of the remaining alcohol to pass through, [and] it is quickly absorbed by the upper portion of the small intestine.

“The digestive tract blood vessels transport the alcohol to the liver, as liver cells are the only body cells that can produce enough of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase to breakdown the alcohol quickly. Overall, alcohol is given a first class pass through the digestive system and directly to the liver, [and] doesn’t seem like it impacts the digestive tract too bad right?  Let’s look a little closer.

“The following points are distilled (pun intended) from my research on how even the smallest amount of alcohol affects the digestion process.  See the end of this post for my sources.

  • Alcohol damages mucosa cells (special digestive cells lining your GI tract), which leads to less saliva production in the mouth, inflammation of the esophagus, and inflammation of the stomach.
  • Alcohol impairs digestive motility (muscle control and contraction), which slows the movement of food through the esophagus and intestines and usually leads to diarrhea.
  • Low alcohol content drinks (beer, wine) raise levels of stomach acid which can cause acid reflux and gastritis.
  • High alcohol content drinks (distilled) don’t raise stomach acid levels but they are more inflammatory to the mucosa cells, leading to higher amounts of inflammation.
  • Lastly, alcohol impairs the stomach acid solution by precipitating (separating) pepsin, the main enzyme responsible for protein digestion, which limits the digestion process as pepsin is activated by hydrochloric acid (main component of stomach acid).”

If you’re sitting there blinking blankly at your screen after all that, you’re not alone. I’ve had to read it several times to grasp it. But the thrust of it is: Alcohol can exacerbate symptoms such as diarrhoea and inflammation, and leave you worse off.

Is it worth the gamble? Well, if you’ve been symptom-free for three months, then you can try it out and assess the impact yourself. Try not to make it a 3-day binge. Just be moderate and see how your body handles it, and common sense tells me that you should take a break between ‘drinking’ days – perhaps limiting it to twice a week.

THIS. Is not moderation.

FYI, this is not moderation.

SCD Legal alcohol

Legal liquor on SCD includes dry wine (white and red), vodka, gin and whiskey. Those in the ‘grey’ area are rum and tequila. Elaine said light rum was okay, but not dark. However, there’s apparently little (or no) literature on tequila.

Illegal alcohol is any booze containing sugars, grains and yeast (which is illegal), like sweet wines, Passover wine, brandy, beer and cordials.


A note about fizzy drinks

We know that sugar-laden fizzy drinks are completely forbidden, so don’t even think about those. But what about diet drinks, without sugar?

This depends on your tolerance to carbonated drinks, and even if you can tolerate them, Elaine cautions that you should limit your intake of aspartame-sweetened drinks to ONE per week. Many people find it strange that she sanctions the use of this artificial sweetener at all, but it is legal on the SCD.

For me, personally, I will not touch carbonated drinks. No no, this is not some high horsey-type moral issue. Anyway, there are no high horses on SCD 😉 Before my diagnosis, I was basically addicted to diet drinks. I easily drank a litre of diet Coke (or similar) each day, and if I stayed at home all day, or went out for drinks with friends, that amount could easily double.


It caused severe, severe discomfort and endless trouble for me. And I knew it! Subconsciously – even consciously – I knew it was causing me real problems. But it was only when my nutritionalist took a look at my food diary and ordered me to cut down that I realised it needed to go. That, and the night I steadily felt my belly grow more and more distended as I sat talking to friends and drinking my diet drinks. That night, I had to unbutton my looser jeans as I drove home. I couldn’t deny the reality any more.

I don’t know if you can tolerate carbonated drinks and the only way for you to know is to test them yourself. But if you can only have one a week anyway, is it even worth it?

Other drinks

As with anything you consume on SCD, the rule is: Organic, no added sugar, no preservatives and not processed! That means that you have to be very careful about the types of ready-made drinks you buy. You can also make a whole lot of awesome drinks at home without needing too many fancy tools, such as:

  • Fruit juices
  • Vegetable juices
  • Smoothies
  • Homemade lemonade, ginger ale and ‘sodas’
  • Sparkling water
  • Sports drinks

If you’re lactose intolerant like me, you won’t be able to enjoy organic smoothies (although you could use dairy-free SCD yogurt. I haven’t figured out how to make it yet). But if you have no problem with dairy, these are a great idea, especially if you use SCD yogurt. Blend together yogurt and organic fruit for a delicious and filling drink. You can also add honey and any spices you know you can handle, like cinnamon or cloves.

Please check out this very informative and helpful link to the SCD beverages Wiki. It provides insight into these drinks and others, including electrolyte drinks and sodas, and also gives some great tips for creating your own smoothies, sodas and legal lemonade.

What am I drinking?

Until 2 hours ago, it had been water only for 19 days. I’ve just had a cup of rooibos (“red bush”) tea – a herbal tea that comes from the indigenous red bush plant here in South Africa. It has some well-documented health benefits thanks to its antioxidants, minerals, anti-spasmodic properties and potential immune system-boosting qualities.

However, I just grabbed a sachet from the kitchen here at work (there was no box so I couldn’t check the ingredients), plonked it in some hot water and drank it. I’m not crazy about the taste of tea with no sugar or milk in it, so I didn’t love it. Plus it made me feel a bit funny and nauseous, so I won’t do that again. Maybe it was all in my head though.

I have, however, ordered some organic carrot juice, apple juice and rooibos and vanilla tea from my local health shop (vanilla is legal). In South Africa, we do have cars, and I don’t have to ride my lion to the shop to collect supplies. But it’s just so much easier to buy online! I hate battling to find parking in town, then fighting through crowds and standing in long queues. So now I patiently (but verrrrrry excitedly) await my beverage delivery!

What are you drinking?