Update

Hi all,

I haven’t been too well since the start of 2017. I’ve been dealing with bedriddening pain + gut related issues and the effect of all of it on my activity level has been quite significant.  My health has taken a major dip this year and I’ve spent a large part of my time re-figuring things out.

This is life – it’s never predictable and to stay afloat, we have to keep finding a “new” balance + remember to be patient with ourselves through it. Sometimes it may feel like we’re starting all over again, however, it’s crucial to put our focus on the fact that we’re also wiser, stronger, more courages and a little more ready each time.

There’s been more happening in my gut and I’m currently working with an intergrative GP, a gastroenterologist and naturopath to find the next best step. The amount of decision fatigue I’ve experienced over the last five months is not funny. Apart from a rather serious back flare up + sublaxed shoulders, something so simple, straight-forward and enjoyable like food turned into this massive, overwhelmingly exhausting thing that required/ requires constant awareness and thinking.

For the next three weeks or so, I’ll be going on two very strong medications, known for worsening all existing symptoms. I’ve have been specifically told to not take this treatment too lightly and it might make life seem a tiny bit miserable. As someone who deals with excruciating pain and indescribable fatigue on a daily basis, I honestly don’t know how much worse things can get. However, I have also seen myself at my worst before and hence believe it’s important that I take extra precautions and have help available for me if necessary. Thankfully, I do have a small group of people to count on if needed.

On a brighter note, I’ve got a couple of workshops to teach and close friends to meet so I’m really keeping my fingers-crossed and spirit high :) I’m aware of what may happen, giving my body extra time off, saying more no and less yes (trust me, it’s needed when you are functioning on limited energy) and taking everything one baby step at a time.

I hope everyone’s doing fine.

In case I’m not around much, Happy June! ❤️

Love,

Md

P.S. This post is not about defeat or seeking validation, and most definitely not one asking for pity.  If it sounded like any of these to anyone, please let it go. I’m just sharing and giving an update of how things have been this year. Please keep in mind that it is very much possible to mentally accept and deal with things gracefully WHILE experiencing a great amount of physical discomfort.

#chronicillness

Dark Chocolate + Coconut Milk Popsicles

85 % Dark Chocolate + Coconut Popsicles. Pure bliss! 💕

I could’ve done with more dark chocolate but you know, I didn’t want to push it. I made sure to stay within the allowed quantities of each ingredient and frankly, these just turned out magical. As usual, my friend couldn’t believe these were SIBO friendly and this time, neither could I.

Here’s what went in them:

6 pieces of dark chocolate + 8 tablespoons of coconut milk + 1 cup of coconut water + 2 tsp pure vanilla essence + 1 tbsp raw clover honey + 3.5 tsp raw Cocoa powder + 2 tsp pure coconut oil. This recipe made 4 popsicles.

Method:

The easiest way of making them would be to blend all the ingredients excluding dark chocolate, pour into your moulds and pop them into the freezer for about 8 -12 hours. Before serving, melt dark chocolate + coconut oil and drizzle over the popsicles. You could also just dip the popsicles into the melted chocolate if you wish.

I made these in three parts because I wanted to add extra dark chocolate pieces inside each popsicle and also have bits of plain coconut cream in every popsicle. So we had the main body, chocolate flavoured coconut cream + parts of honeyed coconut cream + pure dark chocolate pieces and drizzle.

Lactose-free milk


I’m testing out lactose-free milk in my diet from today and you guys have no idea how excited I am! I tried it with coffee this morning and realized I forgotten what it felt like to have a somewhat normal tasting coffee with dairy!

Well well. I am lactose intolerant too so I have to watch out on my dairy intake (which really wasn’t that much to begin with) in general. This diet has also reduced my caffeine intake by half and now I just have one small cup of coffee of tea instead of… two.  That’s a lot isn’t it?

For about 8 weeks out of 13, I totally cut off caffeine of any sort and had to deal with withdrawal symptoms for the first week. From week 8 onwards, I reintroduced coconut milk and came up with this amazing all natural, homemade coconut creamer recipe which worked wonders with a cup of coffee. It kept me happy and going if I really “needed” a caffeine fix.

Going back to dairy.

Dairy is dairy and coffee + lactose-free milk  >>  coffee + coconut milk.

I’ve come a long way with this diet and added restrictions. There have been hiccups along the way but I guess I’ve been alright. I’m hoping the reviewed diet gives me more energy and less unnecessary complications. Also, I’d be more than happy if it stops me from having absolutely random cravings. I mean, I don’t remember craving pecan pie in my life ever before…not just one slice…I wanted TWO whole slices of freshly-baked pecan pie…

SIBO Update 

After 12 weeks of going on a very strict diet, I’m finally moving on to the next level of re-introducing some food items and seeing if my gut is able to handle them. While SIBO in itself is a very complex condition to treat, treating SIBO in a patient who already has a pre-existing condition makes the process much harder than it is. Sometimes complete healing takes  longer than “normal”.

In my case, my body went into a massive caloric deficit and I started experiencing drop in blood-sugar, increased brain-fog and exhaustion and a lot of unnecessary complications. It started happening more when my physical and mental demands increased over the last couple of weeks and I was left absolutely no energy for anything else. I would be dog tired all day  (as if so wasn’t already fatigued out of my brain) and had the strangest of food cravings.

In my recent visit to the ND, we took a closer look at my diet and made a few changes to accommodate for more stuff happening in my life right now. Here’s the thing about SIBO –  you have to do you very best and stick to the diet, especially the initial eradication phase, however, life happens and there are ups and downs and you might have to adapt the treatment to your specific needs at that point in time. I was very disclipined with the diet for the first 10-11 weeks and started finding it difficult to stick to in the last one to one and half weeks.

As my symptoms haven’t improved drastically, I am “supposed” to continue the current SIBO treatment phase for a while longer but the matter of fact is that my body isn’t able to handle the diet and I’m starting to experience all these other issues which I could honestly do without. I also had a few major SIBO symptoms flare-ups along the way and had to go back to my baseline diet of eggs and zucchini several times. There was a point where I was only having about six ingredients/food items including salt and pepper and nothing else. The eradication phase requires that you starve the bacteria and feed the human which is exactly why the diet (symptom based, customised, low FODMAP diet) is  so strict. My ND thought that it was time to find a balance where we are trying to eradicate the bacteria and re-introducing certain higher calorie food at the same time – we don’t want to accidentally starve the human you see.

So the good thing is that I have a lot more items that I’m going to re-introduce in the next phase and that also means more room to experiment! YAY!  That’s always exciting and fun, as long as I have enough energy left to actually be creative with it. I’ve mostly been pretty enthusiastic and managed to come up with so many delicious, SIBO-friendly recipe over the last 12 weeks. I guess that’s something to feel good about. 

The not-so-good thing is that just because you have more options doesn’t mean they are okay for you and that your gut will very happily accept them and respond well. The other not-so-good thing is that with so many additions, it can get more complicated to find direct correlation between your intake and symptoms. That said, the ‘not-so-good’ part of the story doesn’t sound nearly as bad as living with the feeling of being overly restricted in terms of food. It makes you feel deprived and limits you further. I don’t think I would have ever said that a particular form of diet is difficult… but in all honesty… the SIBO diet is HARD. There were times when the combination of lack of food options (at home, eating out or calling in) + lack of ability to move (I was bedridden for  good 65 days due to a flare up and I’m still barely recovering) + lack of dark chocolate made me feel like life was unfair :) 

Of course, now that I’m no longer surviving on just six items, life is all rainbows and bunnies again. You get the point.

Six ingredients chicken broth


Maybe this is a more Indianized version of chicken broth or soup. Each time I caught a flu or fell terribly sick, I’d have this made for me. It’s super easy, doesn’t require much effort and is extremely delicious and nourishing. If you’ve got a sensitive gut like me, this is well worth a try!

You can trust me on this one!

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken with bone (any part)
  2. Black Peppercorns (as per your preferance)
  3. Ginger (small pieces)
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Lemon
  6. Cilantro

Method:

All you have to do is dump in all the ingredients (except cilantro and lemon) into a pot, add water (enough to cover the chicken or a little more than that) and let it boil for a good 30 minutes. Lower the heat, add more water if needed and let the chicken slow cook for another 30 minutes. The chicken cooks so well it practically starts falling off the bone :)

If you’d like to have a thicker broth, you could add and reduce the water a few times. Three times works perfectly.

Bowl it up. Squeeze in some lemon and garnish it with cilantro. That’s it!

Optional – 1 teaspoon of coconut cream/milk.

Enjoy!

Homemade Coconut Creamer 

I’ve been off caffiene and dairy for the last 5 weeks and just recently got a green flag to have a cup of coffee or tea per day, preferably black. I know me and I can’t do black tea or coffee, and, I’m currently off nuts (milk and butter) and soy too —  it doesn’t leave us with too many options now.

The thing is, I never needed caffeine or relied on it. I genuinly enjoyed having a cup or a half once a day, while writing or when I went out with friends.

For a while I was worried I’d lose the freedom to have a cup of something. As I said, I simply can’t get myself to truly enjoy black coffee.

Good thing is, that’s not the case anymore. I I’ll be carrying my creamer around from now on. It is just heavenly!

Ingredients: 200 ml Organic Coconut Milk (or any coconut milk with no or low preservatives. The one I used contains 99.9% coconut cream) + a few drops of organic stevia (you could use coconut sugar if you have no sugar restrictions) + 1-2 tsp coconut oil + 1 tsp vanilla essence or a pod + 3-4 tablespoons of water or coconut water (can water down the coffee, so decide based on your preference). Coconut water has its natural sweetness and goes well with this creamer.

Method: Blend all ingredients and store in an air-tight bottle. You can keep this for about a week but I suggest using it within 3-4 days and making a fresh batch. I also use the same in golden milk latte (turmeric milk) or chai. I’m supposed to only have a teaspoon in my cup but that too boring for me so I add about 2 teaspoons :)

P.S. Coconut milk might not work for everyone with SIBO. It can be considered high FODMAP in certain amounts so I suggest checking with your Doctor before you decide to try this creamer. You might be allowed some other nuts in your a diet that’s more specific to you.

Thai Style Pan Roasted Chicken Breast 

Marinade:
Ginger paste, Turmeric powder, Red Chilli powder (less, for SIBO), Lime juice, Dried Lemongrass powder + Dried Galangal + Dried Kaffir Lime leaves + Thai Sweet Basil leaves (or use a Thai mix without garlic or onion), Cumin powder, Curry powder (without onion and garlic powder) finely chopped Coriander leaves, finely chopped chives, 1 tbsp coconut milk, Black pepper powder, Sesame oil and Salt.

Method: Mix all the above ingredients, mix in with chicken and refrigerate overnight. Pan-fry in more sesame oil (love the nutty flavour it gives. I can’t have nuts at the moment so this really helps!). Cover if needed. I prefer cutting a deep slit into the chicken breast so that it cooks evenly. Plate up and pour a bit more of coconut milk if needed.

That’s it. Cut up and store in an air-tight container in you plan to have it over a day. Easy-peasy and SIBO-friendly! One chicken breast usually lasts me for 2-4 meals as I have it with a serving of low FODMAP veggies.

Day 17: Bedbound

In the last 17 days, I’ve had to change and cancel my plans and come to terms with my present reality once again. It’s never easy having to adapt to the ever-changing nature of your chronic illness but you get better at it. It bothers your less (in general) and when it bothers your too much, you learn how to manage your thoughts and emotions around it without beating yourself up each time.

I’ve had to postpone the starting date of my part-time job, stop working on the classes I had plans of teaching, take a break from Pilates and my daily walks, ask for help with groceries and meals, all so that my body gets the rest it deserves, the space it needs to just be.

What I have been doing instead is tending to my back as much as I can and very religiously sticking to my bedtime and nap-time. I’ve been massaging my back with certain oils that help me, using lots of hot packs, doing very light stretches, a bit of infrared therapy, going for physiotherapy, meditating, making small mandalas while in bed, reading up on the treatment-diet that I am on for SIBO, writing, and for most part of it, trying to be more present

As much as I’d like to do more, I can’t do more right now and that’s something I need to be okay with. I’ll do more when I can do more and for now, whatever I’m doing is enough. I’m going to continue giving my back the time it needs to recover. Once it’s better I’ll have to slowly build myself back to where I was before this crazy flare-up (or before I went to India.)

According to my Naturopath, my back could be taking longer to recover due to the SIBO treatment-diet I’m on. It seems that the treatment can induce a very strong detox process (which is needed for the treatment) in your body, which, if too aggressive can cause more inflammation in the existing areas of inflammation. I only hope what she thinks is true because quite honestly, my back is not a happy bunny right now. At all.

I hope things start to look a little more positive soon.

P.S. If you’re wondering what’s on my SIBO friendly “buddha bowl”:

  1. Boiled Beet root with Olive oil and Lime juice
  2. Stir-fry Spinach with Salt and Pepper
  3. Pan fried egg (I usually have it without the yolk)
  4. Olives
  5. Roasted Tobasco & Ginger Chicken
  6. Indian Spiced Zucchini

Pan Roasted Tobasco Ginger Chicken 

Attempting to eat more protein (I miss my vegetables!), that too with only limited ingredients and condiments has been such a task. I’m going fine though. What sucks big time is that I’m bedridden and so blood exhausted every minute of my day that I’m finding it hard to get my experimental self to work. If I can’t even stand, forget trying to get creative with food. At the moment, my survival mode is on. I just need enough food to get through my day, to take all my pain and daily medications + extra antibiotics and survive. Generally speaking, I’m doing fine. Doing my best.

Update: Week 1 of 2017

It’s been seven days now and I’m still waiting for this back flare up to calm down. I’m mostly bedridden at the moment, getting out of bed only if it’s absolutely necessary. I haven’t gone for Pilates or even stepped out for my daily walks. I also had a pretty bad brain-fog which lasted for a couple of  days.

All in all, it feels like 2017 hasn’t quite begun for me and I’m still stuck in 2016, dealing with the consequences of stepping out for a light dinner with a couple of friends on New Year’s Eve. We got stuck in a bad traffic jam the same night and ended up feeling hungry at the strike of mindnight, which then made us want to get some food by the beach before finally heading home.

I’m always putting my health first and never feel the need to be out or go crazy or involve myself in anything just because that’s normal for people. So once in a rare while, I don’t mind *celebrating an occasion, even if it involves a bit more of my physical energy and dealing with its consequences for a while. Even then – it’s usually pretty low key and I love that.

* if you’re chronically sick and your days revolve around health and constant figuring out/surviving, the more reasons you find to celebrate life in your own ways, the better it is. You don’t need to try and act normal or do it the way “normal” people do it. Just find what works for you and live your kind of normal to its best.

My treatment-diet for SIBO has finally started and I will be starting another round of antibiotics (one dose did nothing for me) next week on. The low FODMAP diet,as a treatment for SIBO, can become rather restrictive/limiting in terms of your food options (especially when you mostly make healthy choices anyway) and can end up frustrating most people on it. It requires you to plan your meals down to each ingredient. Somehow, at least at this point, I’m looking at it as yet another opportunity to further my knowledge in nutrition and to get really creative and experimental with low FODMAPs.

I can be quite disciplined and patient when it comes to my health so I’m not expecting too many issues at this point.  However, I might have to include more meat in my meals and I’m not much of a meat-eater. Let’s see how that goes for me. I think I’m going to miss dark chocolate and chai the most!

I’m trying to keep my meals simply and easy to preprare so they don’t take away too much of my mental and physical energy unnecessarily. I do however want to be capable of preparing quick meals for myself as far as possible. I’ll try to share some of my creations as and when I’m able to.

That’s all for now!