Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Paleo, Low Lectin & Alkaline Diet Update- the last thirteen days

I thought those of you who have digestive issues might appreciate an update on how the Low Lectin, Alkaline, Paleo diet I am following to improve my digestive system's health is going.

I've had a sensitive gut for as long as I can remember. I have very clear memories of visiting various GP and Specialist's surgeries when I was nine and of no-one having an answer. I have worked in holistic medicine for the last twenty years and am not a believer in medication. I wanted to locate the triggers and remove them. You are what you eat seemed the simplest place to start. 

So, on Friday 26th Sept after researching it I switched to a diet that combines foods from low lectin, alkaline and Paleo approaches. My aim was to cut out the foods that I suspected were aggravating my gut and cut down on others that could be contributing to it. To do this I started with specific food groups that are known stomach and intestine irritants (grains, nightshade plants, pulses, legumes, beans, dairy, fruit).

The first stage of any new eating plan is broadly trial and error. You need to be prepared that you may well react to some foods and work through that reaction without despairing or losing focus. You also need to acknowledge that the state of the food you eat can also have an effect on how your gut processes it eg I am finding that cooked food is much easier for me to eat right now than raw. And further, you need to bear in mind that some foods are safe to eat in certain quantities but you may well have a tolerance level which, once breached, can also bring on symptoms. This is all adds to the complication, which is why you need to be patient and not lose focus.

We had some bread for lunch twelve days ago which made my stomach ache and stole all my energy for the rest of the day. I very nearly went to bed to sleep it off. It was decent bread- organic, wholemeal, but it is now on my 'no' list. Other than that, my symptoms reduced very quickly for those first four days and by Monday I was pain-free for the first time in two months. I was ecstatic, but also nervous that it wouldn't last. It didn't. By Tuesday evening I was really uncomfortable again. This seemed particularly unfair because I'd stuck rigidly to the diet. But what I have since realised is that when your gut is sick it can't cope with even good foods in a raw state. So the carrot I ate raw for lunch that day would probably have been find cooked. I also think spending the day sitting scrunched up didn't help. Anyway, I got home that night tired, uncomfortable and fed up. If nothing was going to work what was the point in restricting my diet so severely?

I abandoned it, ate crisps then had a take-away curry with a chocolate and wheat-based pudding afterwards.

The symptoms came back with a vengeance the following morning and, feeling very sorry for myself and frustrated that nothing seemed to be working, the diet nose-dived for the remainder of the week and the pain got steadily worse.

It culminated in me coming as close to passing out as I have ever done last Sunday while out walking with the family in the woods. It felt like someone was repeatedly sticking ten inch knives into my intestines and I thought I was going to be sick. I had to sit down on a tree trunk twice and hold on to M in order to get back to the car. I felt like an old lady.

It was a necessary kick up the bum. By the time the pain went that night my self-pity had vanished and my resolve to get back on the diet had returned.

I looked again at the notes I'd made and then tried a new angle. I sat for a while visualising specific foods and making a note of the reaction my mind gave to each of them. By the end I had a small list of 'yes' and 'no' foods. 

We've become very divorced from listening to our own instincts and trusting them, yet that inner voice is part of a system of senses that worked to ensure our survival for thousands of years, before we became too sophisticated to believe it mattered anymore.

I started with the broad advice outlined in alkaline, low lectin and paleo diets and adapted it according to what I felt about the foods. Here's an example- I've had coconut water in my head for days and finally went out and got some. I sat there looking at it on the table wondering why I'd had the urge to get something I've never had before at a time when I was cutting back not expanding my diet.

Then I googled it and all the searches pinged back words like: natural indigestion remedy, digestion improver, acid reducer, good for health.

I've been back on the diet for three days, which is a pinch of time, yet my gut is responding well and the pain has once again more or less stopped and my appetite has returned. There will be more trial and error days ahead, and I like to think that as and when they pop up I will be able to deal with them without giving up and then returning to square one.

Everyone is different, so the foods that seem to be working for me may not for you, but it is perhaps a place to start? So....
I've stopped eating all nightshade family plants (potatoes, tomatoes, chillis, peppers, aubergines- although I think chilli will be fine I am not eating it for a few weeks), all grains (except some very processed white rolls which I am testing), all dairy except cheese which I have cut right back and will cut out if I think it's a problem, all peas, pulses, beans and legumes, all fruit except berries and bananas and certain vegetables.

What I am eating is broadly: raspberries (in moderation because I suspect them), bananas, blueberries, hazelnut milk, almonds, beef, chicken, seafood, white rice, sweet potatoes, asparagus, carrot, sorrel, beetroot, pure sunflower spread, small amounts of cheese (with caution), rapeseed oil, salt, herbs, turmeric (a natural anti-inflammatory), hot water, red wine, 400ml of coconut water a day, processed white rolls and honey (question mark over these so I am watching them), eggs, bacon, ham, the occasional cherry and almond pie from Mr Kipling (my one sin but it will go if I suspect it) and a bar of chocolate at the weekend. 

It goes without saying that if you are having digestive problems it is important to go and see your GP and get yourself checked out. I have been down that road and they found nothing, which is why I am convinced diet is key for me. Stress levels also play an enormous part in digestive health, as does posture, the time of day you eat, whether you have meals at the table or on the sofa, how much exercise you take- it's really important to look at all these factors together.

I won't know for several months whether this is the right approach for me, but so far all the signs are positive, and that is enough to encourage me to keep going.

I really hope anyone reading this who is suffering will gain some hope and comfort from it and perhaps also the courage to look at what you are eating and make some changes. 

Hope everyone is well,

CT :o)













17 comments:

  1. This is sooo interesting. I've had gut problems all my life, greatly due to stress, and have found particular foods to be irritants. I eat as little wheat, white sugar, processed anything, non-organic meat and eggs, and deep-fried stuff as possible. I use spelt and healthier sugar alternatives and find my body responds really well to them. Another important thing is to chew my food really well: chew, chew, chew. Sit up straight and no eating on the run or when stressed. Whenever I stray, I really feel the difference. By the way: carrots are (the only vegetable?) healthier when cooked than when eaten raw.

    All the best there; look forward to reading more. xxx

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment- it is always soothing to know you aren't alone when things go hay wire, although I'm sorry you have a dicky digestion too. I was very interested in everything you said- chewing is something I also try to do and also eating calmly and not on the run. It all plays its part doesn't it?
      I had a quick look at health benefits of cooking veg and there were a few mentioned which was interesting, so thank you for that too.
      I guess it is largely a question of working out what does and doesn't suit your system and adjusting accordingly. xx

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  2. I do find your updates really interesting as I'm going down the same route myself as you know. I've stopped cutting things out until my B12 injections have kicked in so I know what is food and what is the injection improving things IYSWIM.

    I think sugar is my Demon food, sadly also my favourite...........damn blast and bugger!

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    1. Hopefully the injections will sort most of it then you might not need to worry too much about food.
      I am with you on the sugar front, sister. I seem unable to resist cherry bakewells from our old friend Mr Kipling at the moment :o) xx

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  3. I’m so glad you posted the update on your new diet as I’ve been wondering how you’ve been getting on. I have been struggling to sort out my eating for years; I have an irritating bowel, diverticular disease, a large fixed hiatus hernia and acid reflux. Pretty much the entire length of my digestive tract is effected it seems! This is all exacerbated by the fact that I need to lose at least three stone. I have periods of avoiding sugar, chocolate, alcohol, and refined carbs, I usually manage about three or four weeks before something will tip me over the edge and I am back on a binge. I’m an emotional eater and I sometimes feel that it takes very little to set me off.

    One thing that seemed to go well was taking Probiotics along with the healthy eating as it seemed to settle the gut down. At the moment I’m in the middle of an episode. I had an Indian ready meal last night and got so bloated that it felt as though a medicine ball was slowly making its way through my intestines. I think this was a bit of a wake up call as having ate all rubbishy food lurking in my desk drawer today, I surprised myself in the shop on the way home from work and didn’t buy anymore – despite standing and looking at the chocolate for a very long time 

    You have inspired me to give it another go. Mr Stoatie wants me to cycle a bit of the coast to coast with him next May, I will need to feel a lot better and be a little lighter before then!

    fi

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly that it takes huge amounts of strength to keep going on a particular diet when you don't feel a hundred percent. All the naughty foods seem to cry out all the more loudly after a difficult or tiring day. You did really well to ignore the chocolate- it's exactly what I found myself doing when I went out to lunch on Monday and ,managed to say no to all the yummy stuff and ordered plain and simple foods. I even gave the bread and apples away to my ma and sister and drank boiling water (cue funny looks from the waiter!). I was surprised and pleased and it seemed to give me strength to keep going the next day and the day after, because I knew I could do it.

      I'm so sorry to hear about your digestive tract woes- it sounds like you've got a lot to put up with. You could do worse than try some coconut water- give it a few days and see if it makes any difference. I've been very impressed by it. It's not a cure all but I think it is making a difference for me.

      I will be thinking of you and sending you 'keep going!' vibes as I know what all this feels like and we all deserve to be free of it.

      Chin up and best foot forward honey. Thanks for commenting, Fi x

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  4. I'm sorry to hear of your blip shall we say, you seem to be taking a more positive approach now! Even cutting so much out you, seem to be able to eat from a varied selection still. I would love an update on the coconut water & we are very into rapeseed oil at the moment. More to do with using a product produced in this country than a health point of view. Mike seems to attached to an expensive 'Welsh' version at present. Hope you have a pain free week.

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    1. I think that's what makes it do-able Jo, I like all the foods I can eat and I feel better on them. Strangely, I don't miss crisps which I really thought I would, or chocolate.... Just relieved I can still drink red wine!!!
      Will keep you updated on the coconut water xx

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  5. I am glad to know that it is working for you and that you are persevering. I am sure that this is one of those things that has to be worked at and once you have got it figured out if you can stay as close to it as you can that it will work as it sounds as though you have had some success already. Take care and keep going! xx

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    1. Thanks Amy. I've come to the same conclusion- stick to it broadly and don't worry about the odd lapse. It would be impossible to follow rigidly for ever, I'd rather shift my general eating habits to accommodate it and do that instead xx

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  6. Thanks for the up- date I find it very intresting , I have just started a high fiber diet, (my own) I can eat what I want as long as its high fiber, had no more stomac cramp, bloating feeling so much better. We are all different and need to cater for that, but like most things if we talk and share we help each other.
    Amanda

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    1. Fascinating about the high fibre- I think it has a bad effect on my gut and I need the opposite, but I totally agree about sharing info and talking things over, enormously helpful and encouraging. So pleased you've hit on something that works for you xx

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  7. A very interesting post CT. I really do hope the diet works for you and please give further updates - especially about the coconut water. I use rapeseed oil a lot these days mainly because of fewer "food miles" but its rather expensive :(

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    1. Will do. The coconut water is a bit of an acquired taste but does seem to be helpful at the mo. Rapeseed is expensive here too- our local one is made down the road and is the most expensive of the lot! x

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  8. That's a hard diet to stick to CT. If I'm active my stomach is much better but sitting at a desk doesn't help my digestion. I too avoid the nightshade family as peppers and toms really do me no good at all.
    What do you eat for breakfast on this diet?

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    1. It was tough for the first few days but now I find it quite easy. I like all the foods and I'm feeling more confident eating them because my stomach is improving on them. Sitting at a desk is definitely not great for my digestion- I spend most days moving about so I really notice it at college when I'm more sedentary.

      Breakfast is a fruit smoothie which I LOVE and really look forward to. I make it fresh each morning out of one banana, a handful of blueberries and a handful of raspberries with a decent amount of hazelnut milk. It's delicious and it fills me up till lunch, which is chicken and carrot soup (homemade).

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    2. Many thanks CT, it's good to know the sort of things you are eating, breakfast is important to me as I hate snacking before lunch.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x