Hello Day one, I’ve missed you.

I’m done messing with my diet (she says for the 17th day in a row). No, but seriously, I really need to stop using these antibiotics as a crutch and start clean-eating again. I am a month into my 10 week course of Clindamycin and Rifampicin and although taking antibiotics goes against everything I believe in, I have to say the results are amazing. I am barely leaking at all, and the persistent swelling has decreased so much so, that I can throw myself down into a seat and there is no pain. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. HEAVEN!!!

Excellent, you say, no need to write anymore blog! Actually, no. These tablets are like a holiday for me. A little respite from real life. They are toxic and have horrible side effects. They can cause liver disease. They make my tongue furry (which swilling my mouth out with apple cider vinegar has cured, by the way). They have brought back my peeling, dry, itchy skin on my feet. They make me need to poop – and it’s not a pretty picture. I have to eat loads of sauerkraut (which actually isn’t too bad). They make me tired, a little out of sorts.

Most of all, I feel the opposite of how I did when I started the autoimmune diet. I feel like I am poisoning my body instead of healing it (did I mention I was a drama queen?). I was trying to heal my leaky gut with all that lovely, nourishing, home-cooked good food and now I am attacking my insides with chemicals.

Such a dichotomy.

Whilst I’m not looking a gift-horse in the mouth (that’s a really weird idiom!), I am only on these tablets short-term. I am still anticipating that after my 10 weeks is up, I am only going to get some major remission going on by sticking to my autoimmune protocol diet. In the meantime, I want to take advantage of the healing that has happened. I want to keep those sinus tracts shrunk, or healed or whatever has happened to them. I want to wear my bikini again and agin. I want to wear mini-skirts all summer, without Micropore peeping out of the bottom. I want to enjoy the freedom of spending under 2 minutes in the bathroom, because I have no dressings to change. I want to have a go on a Space Hopper. I want to sit comfortably with my baby on my knees, without wincing when she wiggles. I want the whole, entire and wonderful healed-upness of my Hidradenitis Suppurativa to stay just the way it is.

Today I got busy. I went to an amazing farmer’s market of organic goods  Lidl and bought as much of the fresh produce as I could fit in the bags I was carrying (it’s in the ghetto and they don’t have baskets). Their organic range is CHEEEEAP! They also stock the cured ham that I eat. It lists only ham and salt as the two ingredients and it’s cheaper by at least 2 euro here than in any other local supermarket. The only other packaged item I bought from there was Perrier. I dodged the drug dealers on the way out and Mr B did the rest of the food shopping at Auchan – the actual, biggest supermarket I have ever seen. So big, I walked for about 5 minutes before I even reached the food section. So big, I think it may be bigger, even, than Sam’s Club in Slidell, Louisiana! Maybe not as big as a supermarket in Texas, though. I digress.

I made a meal plan for this week to keep me on track. We kicked off tonight with cod, marinated in a lime, garlic, coconut oil sauce with fresh parsley and basil, Himalayan pink salt and organic cracked black pepper. This was served with sautéed green beans, oyster mushrooms, onion and garlic and all cooked by the lovely Mr B!

De-li-cious! Made even more tasty, because I didn’t have to lift a finger to cook it!

For the rest of the week, main meals are as follows (not in any particular order):

  1. Easiest roast chicken ever –  Instead of leeks, which we don’t have, we ‘ll be subbing courgettes in to this dish and serving it with salad. Who says roasties can’t be served up with a salad??
  2. Chicken and vegetable curry – using leftover chicken, homemade coconut milk, homemade curry paste (excluding paprika and chilli), ginger, garlic, onion, carrots and homemade chicken stock (I use this recipe, with frozen leftover peels and chicken bones). Served with cauliflower rice, fried with peas.
  3. Healthy Gluten-free Life’s Dutch Oven Pork – as featured on Nomnompaleo’s page. Love our Le Creuset Dutch Oven cocotte, which cooks food so evenly and keeps it moist. We’ll have that with sautéed broccoli, onion and garlic all fried in silky smooth organic coconut oil of course! Perhaps a side of salad, too.
  4. Large wild gamba, marinated in lime, garlic and ginger, seared on the griddle and served with my scrummy roasted sweet potatoes. And salad. And probably sauerkraut for me.
  5. Asian chicken thighs – again Michelle from Nomnompaleo’s recipe. What? Again? Yup. Each time I Googled the ingredients, hers was way up there and looked delicious, with only a few ingredients that I needed to remove to adapt for the autoimmune protocol. Served with salad.
  6. Sweet potato and prawn soup, which we’ve adapted from an Everyday Paleo recipe. We’ll have some leftover coconut milk and prawns (there are two kilos in the freezer and we’ll have to defrost the lot , so we’ll cook ’em all and throw some back in the freezer for this dish.

Et voila! That’s me all sorted for the week. I hope to all that is Holy and Mighty that there are no more sh*t storms this week and I manage to keep on track (and off the incredible Bordeaux wine).

Day one is done…..

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Home sweet home.

We’re home!

I made it through and did not run out of salad, nor starve. I had a lovely time, although I did spend an inordinate amount of it preparing salad for seven people every meal!

Serving up my famous roasted sweet potatoes, grated ginger, cumin and garlic…

I did cheat a little, but I didn’t suffer too badly. I definitely felt the effects of having some wine and cheese, with the inflammation getting quite bad towards the end. Everybody was super accommodating and I really didn’t feel like my diet had too much of an impact on anyone else, which was a relief.

A little reading break at the Beach Library…
Definitely not wearing my bikini in this one!

The weather was crappy and the boys only got to surf a few times. It was so cold, that there were no bikini moments – another thing I was dreading! I had bought a lovely pair of bikini surf style, short shorts for the occasion, so that I could wear bikini bottoms underneath with all my dressings, too. I know when the time comes, I’ll still be paranoid about wearing a tight fitting pair of shorts. C’est la vie!

When everyone had ice cream, Nina and I had sorbet, which was delicious. I really savoured those junk food moments, knowing that it would all have to be very worth it for the consequences that would follow!

We had to have the apartment clean, sheets laundered and be out by 10 am Sunday morning, so thought it would be easier to clean up Saturday and spend the last night at our place – just an hour’s drive from the apartment and on the way home for the others. We packed up, cleaned up and Mr B and I headed home with the bubba, whilst Ty and the others spent a few hours at the lake.

Our holiday roomie, Elliot – what a beauty!

We got a BBQ on the go and finished up with plenty of good wine. A plus for me was that I had everything unpacked, put away, washing on and all back to normal by Saturday evening – a day earlier than expected.

Back in the tiny kitchen, marinating the pork chops for the Barbie.

So overall, it went well. I had to resort to painkillers by the end of the week, but only in the evening before bed. I had one incident of a little stomach distress, after treating myself to some 85% Lindt chocolate. Another downside to avoiding certain foods, is that your body quickly develops an all round intolerance to them. From having an iron stomach for my whole life, I am now lactose intolerant. I did eat nearly the whole bar of chocolate, so perhaps I went just a little overboard…

Now I must prepare for my little trip to UK.  I fly out Tuesday with the wee one, so I need to get myself ready for holiday part deux….

All images © 2013 Leila Bodros. Not to be used, copied or redistributed without express permission from Leila Bodros.

 

Good food, good wine, good cheese. Hangover.

Hangover Day.

I had a fabulous evening with friends last night. It was a perfect end to a not so perfect week. Last night I ate most everything I am not supposed to, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a conscious choice and almost certainly swayed by the fact I was having a flare up anyway – what’s a couple more days pain once you’re in it?

I have three suspects on my flare list. Number one – gluten. Straight forward, right? You’d think so. But it was an accident. I was making pasta for the kids – they don’t always eat everything I do – and I cooked the carrots in with the pasta. When I dished up, I absent-mindedly ate a few of the carrots. Oh. There’s gluten in the water and probably soaked all the way into my otherwise innocent carrots. What an idiot. So, instead of having a lovely piece of homemade flatbread with garlic infused olive oil and parsley, the olive oil dripping down my chin, whilst I savour the moist, hot, doughy piece of heaven….I got carrots. Idiot.

Number two: Lady’s time of the month. Boo. ‘Nuff said.

Number three: Walnuts. A conscious decision to have walnuts, as I had already started to flare from either Suspect One or Suspect Two. Ed made an amazing dinner of organic chicken breast, filled with pesto, with a side of sautéed cabbage and paris mushrooms. The pesto recipe came from my Well Fed cookbook and it happened to include walnuts. It was delicious. Walnuts may not have been the culprit, but as I was on a downward spiral already, who knows?

So there we go. By last night, I had already flared up pretty bad. My decision to slowly reintroduce foods was thwarted again, by an accidental ingestion of gluten, damn hormones and well, a slippery slope from there. So, last night we had this:

An appetiser of julienne cut raw carrots and radishes, with a creme fraiche and chive dip (I didn’t have dip). Then I made the aforementioned flatbread, dripping with roasted garlic infused olive oil and parsley, cooked on a pizza stone ( I had a bit of this – first time I’ve had flour in three months).

For main we had marinated a huge rump steak in olive oil, salt and pepper in the morning and left it all day. The same with two duck breasts, skin on. We also had pork strips, just ‘nature’. Just an hour or so before dinner, we squeezed the juice of a Sanguinello orange (blood orange) into the duck marinade.

These were cooked on our BBQ and seared with a salad of rocket, iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced fennel, sliced radish and diced cucumber, with a Sanguinello, lemon and oil dressing. The combination of all the meats and the salad, especially with the citrus dressing was amazing! I probably enjoyed this food the most, despite the other food indulgences. There’s nothing quite like grilled meat with an amazing salad.

My other downfall. Wine and pudding. Ty had made an amazing apple crumble and once I started tucking into this, I helped myself to quite a bit! It was probably nothing compared to the portions I would have had before, but I guess there is no such thing as a ‘good’ sized portion of flour, butter and sugar! We drank 3 bottles of quality red wine and finished off with some organic Brie and Tommes cheese. Heaven.

I woke up at 4.30 am in a bit of stomach distress and with a headache. I had one (usually prohibited) ibuprofen, lots of water and went back to bed.

So, here it is. Hangover Day. But this morning I feel good. I had a great night. I didn’t beat myself up about what I ate and today all I am craving is salad. I am not in hideous pain (yet!) I hope I stay on course and that my flares go as quickly as they came. Roll on beautiful Sunday!

 

The autoimmune protocol diet in baby steps.

This time last year and hadn’t even considered giving up any of these foods. A couple of month’s down the line, I had started a “Paleo” diet, having read a little about how Hidradenitis Suppurativa could be an autoimmune disease and therefore influenced by diet. At that early stage, I knew then that I’d never be able to cut out eggs if I was hoping to get enough protein in my diet without bankrupting us. I definitely could never have envisaged living without tomatoes, spices and chilli – my staple foods for cooking up tagines, curries and most of my evening meals. Six month’s down the line, and many hours of research on the internet, my diet is almost virginal (slight exaggeration, but that’s how it feels sometimes!). I am a fully fledged autoimmune protocol diet fan!

What I should be drinking right now…..

As with any times of restrictions in life, I found that it helps to have some kind of boundary or end date in sight. Without this, my motivation to abstain wouldn’t have lasted past my initial pain-motivated, stubborn determination. I set my timeframe as 60 days of a complete elimination diet, before starting to reintroduce foods one at a time. Somedays, I would comfort myself with the fact that I may only need to do 30 days and other times, I would face the (sometimes depressing) reality that this diet may become my way of life. Forever. However, for the sake of sanity and positivity, it is good to keep in mind that there are definitely worse realities in life than this!

….what I’m actually drinking right now
(NOT recommended for AI elimination diet!)

Just snacking on a piece of fresh coconut with a lovely cup of freshly brewed cup of Fairtrade organic Ethiopian coffee (which should read ‘a lovely cup of organic mint, nettle and gunpowder green tea’, but no-one’s perfect!)  and thinking that I’d share a little of what I have read and researched in terms of things to avoid whilst on the autoimmune diet. Despite it being a little negative to start with what I can’t eat, it is a known fact that bad news is far more exciting/interesting than good news…so we’ll start with what we can’t eat….

Foods to avoid

  • Eggs
  • Dairy, including all dairy (yes, even fermented dairy, goat’s milk and any thing else that comes from an animal’s udders)
  • Cereal grains (rice, oats, wheat etc)
  • Seeds of any variety.
  • Seed and vegetable oils (all except coconut oil and olive oil, which I have in abundance – see Foods to Eat’)
  • Spices derived from seeds (cumin, coriander, mustard – anything which I used to eat that made my food taste good)
  • All nuts, including nut butters.
  • Legumes, including all types of beans, chick peas (garbanzas), lentils, soy, peanuts etc.
  • Any soy derivatives (soy milk, yoghurt, tofu, soy sauce)
  • Refined sugar in any form.
  • Honey in any form.
  • Processed foods – bread, pasta, any gluten-free ‘health’ alternatives, cured meat, ham, bacon.
  • Alcohol (boooo)
  • Nightshades. This includes tomatoes, all types of peppers, including bell peppers, pimento, chilli pepper (excluding black peppercorns), egg-plant, tobacco (not many people still eat this, but you probably shouldn’t smoke it either!) and common old potatoes.
  • Coffee – especially if you are a caffeine addict! (I am not a coffee drinker per se, but I have started to have a cup here and there, in the name of rebellion and inner freedom. Also, I haven’t noticed a reaction from it….yet)
  • Fruit juices (too much concentrated sugar, not enough fibre).
  • Any food that contains an ingredient that you cannot pronounce, like stock cubes and sweeteners and anything containing sweeteners, like sugar-free gum.
  • Many vinegars  – I even avoid organic balsamic vinegar; I think the ‘concentrated grape must’ contains too much sugar.
So it’s not a long list, but the combinations of processed foods out there are endless. Dark chocolate, carrot cake, “Paleo” muffins, cereal bars, smoothies, V8, gluten-free crackers – so many things that look innocent (ooh, Innocent Smoothies – yum yum…No. Stop it. Illegal), but are now off limits. Melissa Joulwan, author of Well Fed, a beautiful Paleo recipe book, tried the autoimmune diet for 30 days and as she puts it, there is zero “food fun” during that period.
Anyway, enough of what can’t be had and onwards and upwards to what can and should be delightfully savoured in the name of self-healing….
Foods to Eat
  • Fresh vegetables – anything in season, although when your diet is so limited, I’ve found it’s better not to fully restrict yourself to keep some variety and sanity in your life.
  • Beautiful squash and versatile sweet potatoes (I know these are vegetables, but they become your “pasta/rice replacements”, so I think they deserve a line on their own)
  • Fresh fruit – I have read so much about limiting fruits, eating one piece per meal, eating them before dinner not after – oh so many pieces of advice, but I just tend to eat as much as I want. It may have a negative affect, but it’s got to be better than eating a handful of Haribo Tangfastic jelly sweets.
  • Fish – preferably wild and line caught. 
  • Grass fed beef and pastured meat of any variety and game.
  • Poultry, again organic and not battery farmed would be best.
  • Coconuts, coconut oil and coconut milk (preferably (homemade!) with no guar gum and BPA-free- although hard to find unless you have dedicated organic shops).
  • Olive oil and olives (organic as non-organic contain various preservatives).
  • Herbal teas (I’m bang into Jasmine green tea – amazing!)
  • Naturally dried fruit (although I’d avoid this as a staple ingredient as it’s too high in sugar).
Ok, so the ‘Foods to Eat’ list looks shorter, but when you consider all the amazing varieties of fruit and veg in the world, it is an endless list of variety and choice. I know that to back this all up I should include all the yummy recipes that we try every week, here at home. One day I will, but until then, I’ll leave it to the experts, like Michelle Tam from nomnompaleo.com and Sarah Fragoso from Everyday Paleo.
 
Until then, I am back on my autoimmune ‘wagon’, and hoping to start reintroducing foods in the coming months. For all those who are embarking on this journey, it is baby steps all the way and a constant reminder to “be kind to yourself”. Bon courage!
 
I’d love to hear people’s experiences of how they have survived the elimination diet and things that have or haven’t worked…..
 

I am not a physician, licensed dietician, nor nutritional specialist. The dietary information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or to provide medical advice. it is advised that you make your health care decisions based on your own research and the advice of a qualified health care professional. Good luck!