Alkaline diet? Anti Inflammatory diet? Paleo? Keto? What the hell do I do?

I’ve suffered with stomach problems for many years. Irritable bowel syndrome and a spastic colon. This has mostly consisted of severe abdominal pain. Even trips to E.R in the middle of the night. I had my first gastroscope in grade 11. I was sensitive to certain foods like dairy. Eating eggs was hit and miss. Sometimes it would cause me extreme pain and othertimes I would be fine. I researched this and found that it had something to do with the preperation of eggs.

When I was diagnosed with Lupus my doctor had given me an “anti-inflammatory” diet. As the disease progressed I found myself searching for ways I could improve my condition through my eating habits. I was bombarded with suggestions of different kinds of diets. It was overwhelming! I found them hard to stick to. I am sure many of you can relate. For whatever reason you’ve looked for an eating plan to have a healthier lifestyle or to fix health issues.

The more I looked the more I found. Everyone had suggestions that they swore was the best way. I remember the Tim Noakes craze. I thought my Dad was part of cult with his belief in what Tim Noakes said. Then the dairy thing came about. He had previously said there was no problem with dairy but years later came out and changed his view on dairy. That makes me think how many eating plans will have oopsies and change their views on things previously approved.

In general I think that I eat pretty healthily. I believe in moderation. Except when it comes to coffee of course! I’m a total coffee addict. Grande, almond milk, triple shot cappuccino please! I haven’t eaten a hamburger in over 5 years. I am afraid of mystery meat. Especially since there have been so many cases of weird things being found, like horse meat. I occasionally make exceptions but I prefer to be able to actually see the piece of meat. Not ground meat. I don’t each much bread or rice. I eat some pasta and make allowances for cake and cookies. I am a HUGE dessert person and have to really reign myself in. I do have inadvertent vegetarian days because on any given day I just might not consume any meat. It’s not planned it just happens because I’m not crazy about having meat. In fact I eat very little red meat.

I find that when I am on holiday I just go crazy. I don’t pay much attention to what I am eating and gorge myself on yummy stuff I wouldn’t normally eat. We are also invited to eat out often and we are fed spreads of food that would be rude to say no to. I always tell my mother that I can’t live in Cape Town because she is always making cake! My weakness! On my last trip I came home with four flans! I then recreate her banoffee flans. Irfaan and I polish it off disgustingly quickly.

December is the worst! We are normally in Cape Town for a longer period of time. Being the festive season everyone has parties, lunches, dinners and going out to eat. We have no shortage of places to go and eat. Oh boy when Christmas day rolls around… Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year! I love cooking for Christmas and of course making a massive trifle. Our tradition is to eat trifle for breakfast on Christmas morning. For those we are not spending Christmas with we still do a Christmas meal with all the trimmings on Christmas eve or another day… then comes New Year. I don’t think I need to tell you what happens.

I always come back from holidays with my body feeling totally out of whack. I feel sluggish, bloated and just generally uncomfortable. I have to detox when I get home. Back to eating properly and also consuming the cucumber, lemon and mint water which I find does work for me. It takes a couple of weeks to get back to normal. I always swear I won’t do it again but yeah… I don’t stick to it. I’m sure alot of you can relate! The road to hell is paved with good intentions as they say!

As I’ve told you in previous posts I went to hospital looking 24 months pregnant with a baby rhino. I had severe pain in my intestines and colon. They put me on a special diet in hospital but I didn’t eat much because eating started equalling pain for me. At the end of it lupus affected my intestines and colon. They were inflamed, irritated and really angry. I couldn’t not eat so I had to figure this out.

I went over all the suggested eating plans people sent me or I had saved. I was thinking of doing the Alkaline plan because maybe my acid levels were too high. I looked at it and it seemed to have a rather limited range. Then I saw bell peppers. Bell peppers are excluded in the anti-inflammatory diet my doctor gave me. I looked at paleo, keto, intermittent fasting and nothing really seemed to fit. I thought intermittent fasting was great but then how would I take my medication properly if it required me to have breakfast for instance. All of this just boggled my mind. It was overwhelming!!!

In the meantime life was carrying on. I was eating. Since the lupus flare I was hospitalised for, there has been a change in the sensitivity in my stomach, intestines and colon. It is the most bizarre thing. It’s like “Hi we are your new parts and we are picky”. Like who are they even??

I could tolerate a little bit of dairy by having a few spoon fulls with my muesli. Now I can’t touch the stuff. I’m not too phased by that because I’ve found cultured coconut. So coconut yoghurt. Cocoghurt? If I attempt to eat tomato based anything I double over in pain. I never had this problem before! What is this even? Spicy food is another one. Eggs are a sure fire ticket straight to the depths of hell!

It’s like having a shock collar around your neck. Everytime you try and eat something you shouldn’t you get shocked! The problem is that I don’t know the rules! I don’t know what food I can’t eat because my abdomen has changed the game and not told me. So what am I going to do? Which diet am I going to try?

I’m not going to try any diet. I am going to listen to my body. If I eat something and it causes me extreme pain, it goes onto the “Do not eat” list. I cannot explain to you how extreme the pain is. It feels like nothing helps. I will be lying there sweating and clutching my stomach while writhing in pain for hours! It’s not just a sore tummy. It’s full on abdominal pain where you want to say “Lord take meeee!”. You want to go to the E.R. I take all the stomach meds I can and hold a heated microwave bag against my stomach and ride it out. Even after the pain subsides my intestines and colon are irritated and inflammed.

So if I eat an egg thats how my body will react. Why would I do that to myself?? Thats just insane. So I think it’s best to keep a food journal and see what triggers the pain and put it on the “do not eat” list. The alternative is not eating and that’s impossible.

I think sometimes we try all these different eating plans. Think of how many you have tried over the years. They may or may not have worked. Sometimes it’s just not for your body. We are all individuals after all. So yes it worked for 90% of people who tried it. Maybe you just happen to fall into the 10%. Listening to your body is important. There are lots of tips, tricks and information we can garner from these diets. In the end, I take the things I’ve learned and now I have to keep a food diary, listen to my body and find what works for me.

I saw someone posting a pic of their autoimmune paleo diet supper. Frankly I would rather chew dirty socks! Right now whats safe for me is a protein with a green salad. I’m not sure about gluten because I haven’t really been consuming anything with gluten in it. So perhaps next week I will experiment…. I hope it’s okay for me to eat because I’d hate Irfaan to watch me reinact scenes from the Exorcist!

So listen to your body. Keep a food journal. Everything in moderation. Stay away from processed junk. Start small. Sometimes changing the way eat completely in one go is hard and you just give up. Perhaps phase yourself into it. You might be less inclined to give up the diet that way. I am going to attempt the intermittent fasting. I am going to find a way to work it around my medication times. I will keep you posted. For now I just hope I dont wake the sleeping beast by eating the wrong thing!

This post is dedicated to my dear grandfather who is no longer with us. He struggled with stomach problems since I could remember. In the latter years it wa extremely bad. Going through this makes me think of his struggle
So many memories. Always in my heart. Love you forever JDM