Everybody’s favourite problem

I don’t know what I did or am doing, but all of a sudden my digestive system seems okay. I am a lot less bloated than even a week ago, and a lot more regular, too. Sorry for sharing that, but these things matter. A lot. My skin is almost clear and I am sleeping better (when I can find the time). The girls have seasonal rhinitis, but otherwise things are pretty good in our household at the moment.

It’s a little creepy, to tell the truth, since I really am not sure what’s changed.

It’s true that I have cut back on the coffee (not cut out, note). The same goes for sugars – I have less than one fruit a day, and about half a teaspoon of honey in the same period. (Unless I run out of coconut oil, in which case I need something in my cocoa besides the cinnamon, don’t I?). I’ve been having a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in half a glass of water every morning and evening, and taking market-made Swedish bitters (rather than the commercial kind). Maybe those things are helping?  I’ve also been drinking less water. I know that’s a little unusual in a health improvement, but I was having up to three litres a day until a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve read that doing that can dilute your nutrients and make you tired. Although in the end it turned out that missing out on four or five hours of sleep a night was in fact the cause of my exhaustion. Ta Da! Mystery solved.

So now my stomach is flat and comfortable, my skin is nearly presentable in public, my hair is shiny and I am slowly getting back my energy (which is sleep-related and not diet-related).

Here’s the problem: I can’t stop losing weight. When I stared this, I was at a comfortable weight. I wouldn’t have minded shifting two or three kilos, but I really wouldn’t have minded not shifting those kilos, either. I was fine. My main thought was better concentration and – most of all – a comfortable gut! okay, I have those, but even though I eat all the time, I am now *technically* underweight. What shall I do? It’s not a problem I thought I’d face in my life, ya know?

As a potential remedy, yesterday we introduced sweet potatoes. I was a little bloated afterwards, but nothing serious and that could well have been from the fact that, breaking my pattern, I’d had TWO bananas AND a pear during the day. I’ll try the sweet potatoes again today, and see what happens.

I also had the most amazing night’s sleep last night, weird dreams notwithstanding. So it’s Friday, and the outlook is good.

 

Short and sweet

It seems I’m not being as consistent with these blog updates as I intended. This is just a short post to update things. Basically, SCD is working well for us all and we’re seeing a lot of benefits. However, we still have cocoa from time to time (because it’s awesome), so I guess technically we’re more Paleo than SCD.

I’ve been fairly “good” about not having any fructose. So far I’ve had an average of half a banana per day, and that’s about the extent of it. I can feel a difference in my body, though I do need to cut out the banana. I’m working on that.

My skin is clearing up, and my digestion is less sluggish (though far from sorted). I also really can’t tolerate seeds, which make me break out and twitch. It’s a pity because they’re delicious, affordable, and something to eat. I’ve lost 7.5kg since starting SCD, and I’m now below my healthy BMI range. Since I was actually quite content with my weight before I started, this is not really a “win”, as it were. I don’t mind, don’t get me wrong. But I do need to bulk up somehow, and I really need a new wardrobe – especially for meetings.

Aunty Em herself has lost a total of just over 20kg, and looks amazing. People don’t recognise her, and it has happened that good friends have walked right by her, not realising it was her! She’s being so good and enjoying it as well. I am very proud of her.

All in all, we need more sleep and (probably) more iron, but SCD is great and Candida is not. Hopefully when I can start eating fruit again, I can starting gaining a little of the weight I’ve lost (in the RIGHT places!) and look a bit more human. Just a bit.

Getting the balance right.

Aromat: packaged poison.

Aromat: packaged poison.

Last week I posted a frustrated update on our health and how exhausted and sick I felt. I did some serious soul-searching and realised that the cause for these symptoms lay not with SCD, but with me. Firstly, I had eaten a miniscule piece of a pork chop which was literally covered in Aromat (pure MSG!) I thought a tiny bit would be okay but, evidently, I was wrong. (I also had about 3 tablespoons of red wine – which was delicious. Between the sulphur and the yeast-feeding alcohol and my personal convictions, this was not smart).

Secondly, I was getting up at 4AM to go running every day (which is awesome), and then working until after 10 at night. Not smart. After reading a fascinating article at brainpickings (LOVE this site), I realised that I really need to pay more attention to getting enough rest, and stop equating sleep with laziness and sloth.

I also spoke to others on SCD and saw how well they’re doing – including my sister, who is very like me in many ways. I finally realised that my old friend Candida had reared it’s ugly head, and that it was time to really address this issue properly. I’ve been trying to cut out sugar (well, fruit and honey), and found it nearly impossible to do so. Apparently this is a symptom of a candida infestation. I was very motivated and inspired by an article at Health Extremist, which outlines the reasons to follow the yeast free diet, how to do it (very basically) and how long it takes to see results. I’ve often given up if I don’t see results within a week or so, but it really takes up to three months to see any improvement. So, we’ll see. I’ll go sugar free from tomorrow (since today’s already shot), and monitor the results. I’m very hopeful about the outcome, and looking forward to MUCH better health!

Under the weather

Despite eating no carbs, drinking no alcohol, completely eschewing all processed foods, and focusing on organic and healthy choices, I am bloated, constipated and sore. My skin is terrible – I look like a wrinkle-faced teenager who’s just hit puberty! My joints ache and I’m exhausted. My hair is dull and lifeless. I am utterly despondent – my so-called SCD lifestyle miracle is not helping me right now, and neither is the two grand’s worth of supplements in my medicine cabinet. Despite working out six days a week (cardio AND weights), in moderation, and getting enough sleep, I have no energy, no motivation. I am focusing on cultivating a more joyful attitude to life, and today, it’s not happening. I want to be svelte and unbloated. I want clear skin, bright eyes, and shiny hair. I want energy, passion and zest for life.

I want health.

If this isn’t the way to get it, what in the world is?

SCD Updates (intro diet)

We’ve only been on the intro diet for two days. The guidelines all over the web say 2-5 days, but I think for the sake of all of our sanity we’ll transition into phase 1 tomorrow. I can’t tell you how appealing butternut looks right now!

Today I found this post, which helped motivate me a lot.

We’ve been very strict, although I did let the girls each have bananas today. Red Riding Hood has terrible nausea and vomiting, but there’s a bug doing the rounds, so I don’t think it’s related to the diet. As a result of the bug, she has only eaten the one banana and a little diluted pure fruit juice today, and most of that has come straight out again. Even so, her tummy is a lot less distended and hard than it has been up to now. Her eyes look clearer, too. I can’t say how she’s sleeping since last night was one of those hellish nights moms fear and dread.

Goldilocks has lost 2kg! This is a bit of a shock since she really doesn’t have any room to lose any weight. She has a headache and she’s been tearful most of today and part of yesterday. She didn’t seem to sleep too well, either. She’s hungry, which is a good sign since she often goes for ages not being hungry. She still hasn’t had a bowel movement, but it has only been two days, after all. Her concentration in school today was much better. (An awesome advantage of home education is that I can keep track of this myself).

Papa Bear is a bit tired and has a vague headache, but he actually seems really well – more motivated and “present” than usual. This might be a result of having more sleep since we’re pretty drained by the detox and we’ve been getting our eight hours.

I have a raging headache, sore joints and all over lethargy. Frankly, I want a chocolate bar, a pillow, and my privacy! But I know this is the natural result of yeast die-off. It’s well documented and frankly, I’m getting off lightly from what I’ve read. My skin is clearer and my tummy is a different shape – much less distended than it was on Sunday night. I am amazed at how fast it’s working!

The hardest thing to give up has been coffee. We can reintroduce that tomorrow though, so long as it’s weak. Apparently cocoa is a no-no, but I seriously need to investigate that! In three weeks it’s Goldilocks’ birthday. She learnt to ride her bicycle yesterday (YAY!!) and wants to go on a bicycle picnic for her birthday. I’m working on a menu for the picnic that is SCD-legal and party friendly.

I’ll update again at the end of phase 1, which should be in about a week or so. I’d love to hear from anyone trying the diet or considering it.

Update on costs

I was right when I said R165 seemed a little light for our family for a week. We had to top up yesterday, so week 1 is currently sitting at R210. Still not bad for our family.

SCD, Here we Come!

Alright, we’re ready. On Saturday we went shopping and bought everything we need for the SCD Intro Diet. This is supposed to last for three days (give or take a day), and it cost us R164. That’s really, really good for three days for our family, so I think perhaps it won’t last as long as I’m hoping. But some of that stuff will last longer than three days, like the eggs, so we’ll see.

I spent most of Sunday (the bits where we weren’t at Church), preparing for the diet. I have given my family their “last meals.” (Pies and crisps. I know. Don’t judge me). I have cooked up a gigantic pot of chicken-and-carrot soup, 36 meatballs, 8 bowls of grape jelly and a dish of purèed carrots. I also have 40-odd eggs in the fridge, just waiting to be breakfast!

Now, I don’t know how long this lot is supposed to last, but it feels like about two days’ worth. Except the jelly – that’ll get us through today only. Again, we’ll see. The intro diet is supposed to take between two and five days, so we’ll re-evaluate on Tuesday night and decide what to do next. I foresee another full day of cooking in my future, though.

Here’s what I hope to achieve from all of this preparation:

  • Fewer headaches (especially for Goldilocks and me);
  • Fewer stomach cramps (especially for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood);
  • Better concentration (esp. Papa Bear and Goldilocks);
  • Fewer mood swings (all of us);
  • Better skin (mainly me);
  • Fewer allergic reactions (all of us but especially Papa Bear);
  • Fewer nightmares (Red Riding Hood);
  • Better sleep (all of us, but esp. Papa Bear and me);
  • More energy (the Big Bears again); and
  • Better focus.

When I list these like this they really don’t seem that serious. One might even wonder why we’re bothering with such a strict diet and lifestyle change. But the thing is that the headaches are really debilitating at times, leaving the girls in tears and me wishing I could get away with tears! The girls spend a lot of time doubled over in agony at their stomach cramps (and their relief is our demise as they expel the offending bubbles. Sorry to share but this journey is important to me and I need to remember as much of where we started as possible so that when I look back I can see real change).

My skin breaks out all the time. It’s painful and decidedly embarrassing, given that I really am too old for this kind of thing. I’ve even had to cancel client meetings because of my skin (or headaches, or tummy troubles). Papa Bear and Goldilocks battle to concentrate and often Papa Bear’s not even here, despite being physically present. He also battles terribly with hay fever, and his hay fever, tiredness and tummy troubles have kept him out of meetings and appointments, too. Not being able to concentrate affects us all and I imagine things can only improve if we have better moods and better focus.

My vision for the outcome of this new eating plan is that we will have energy, joy, focus, time (because of better sleep and better planning), success (because of more confidence and fewer canceled appointments), and all-round awesomeness. I know the beginning is very tough indeed, and I don’t expect it to be easy, but I am looking forward to the long term results. I’ll keep you posted.

Every one a coconut.

After the coconut milk had been made,  I still had no inclination to get to “work”, and besides, I was technically in the middle of home school. So while I listened to the girls reading, I made ice cream and macaroons.

The ice cream was a big hit and super easy:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • as much vanilla essence as you like (or none at all – I used just shy of a teaspoon)
  • honey (I used aboout 1.5 tablespoons, and found it rather sweet)

Blend everything well in a food processor, then freeze. This amount of mixture made six ice lollies, and froze reasonably fast. It was delicious but I think next time I will take it out of the freezer and beat it a couple of times to get the crystals out. If chocolate was allowed on the SCD I would definitely dunk the ice lollies in melted chocolate. So much of nice.

The macaroons were less successful. I’ve made macaroons many times and while I’m no Daniela, they’ve always been edible and in most cases people ask for more.

Not today.

I think I hadn’t squeezed enough coconut milk out of the coconut, and I also substituted honey for sugar, so almost immediately my light and fluffy egg whites swirled into slightly separated strangeness. I thought a tablespoon of macadamia nut butter would help to reconstitute the mass into something that would sort-of hold together, but that was a mistake and I knew that before I even opened the jar.

It wasn’t all bad, because after 20 minutes of baking, the macaroons began to resemble the correct consistency. I let them cool, scraped them into a bowl, and formed the lot into 9 little balls. Baking these yielded something … well … something. But it’s edible. And you don’t need a spoon.

I won’t post the recipe until I have one that works.

So, why the coconut?

Cracked-open coconut. (Kimi’s, not mine).

Have I mentioned SCD? I’m sure I have and you’re probably like everyone else who knows me by now: over it! But whether or not you’re over it or you’ve never heard of it, it is fascinating and I can’t wait to get started. All I need to do is read the book, understand the book, and get started.

I have started reading the book, so I know that coconuts make up a big part of the diet. They are a good source of a lot of the things our bodies need, and easily digestible. Coconut milk can be used as a regular milk substitute. It can be turned into yoghurt, and used for smoothies and ice cream. The liquid inside the coconut is a valuable source of electrolytes and the flesh is delicious and multi-functional.

Empowered by all of this information and ready to act, I headed off to the green grocer and bought the first coconut I have ever personally owned. Nestled among the bananas (to make it feel at home), we admired it for a few days, then finally decided to depilate it on Monday morning. I had expected the process to take long, and I supposed it did, but not as long as anticipated. Removing the hairy husk was followed by driving a nail into the eyes to see if any liquid came out. It did not.

Next up was the extremely satisfactory process of hammering it open. I wrapped the coconut in a dish towel, took it outside, and holding it down firmly by the dish towel I hammered away with semi-gay abandon. It was fun. Highly recommended.

Once it was broken open, I faced the tedious task of scraping off the softish brown outside of the flesh with a sharp knife which, despite the element of danger, was rather dull. The blender served well to break the flesh into the recognisable consistency of dessicated coconut, though without so much of the dessicated. I really enjoyed discovering the thick, waxy white by product smeared on everything (not sarcastic, I promise), and used that to great effect in lieu of cooking oil for frying the onions I used for dinner.

Using the method I found here, on the wonderful Nourishing Gourmet blog, I made coconut milk. I thought it was delicious, and really enjoyed it in my coffee. It was a little thin, but I think that’s because of the ancientness of the coconut I’d bought, which had not even a drop of liquid inside.

Given the cost of the coconut, the labour involved, the sheer delight of hammering the thing open (which in my mind is worth the cost all by itself), the by products (“oil”, coconut pulp), and the health benefits of it all, I think this is a potentially worthwhile pursuit. I could have made more coconut milk by using more water. (I used two cups, then one cup, while the recipe suggests two cups, then two cups. That made 2.5 cups of coconut milk). I could also have squeezed the pulp harder to get more out, I later found, and I now know that I need cheesecloth. Is that stuff reusable? I should probably have let it stand in the water for longer too. Some people even simmer it gently, which I may try next time.