Saturday, May 31, 2014

Happy Anniversary Ulcerative Colitis?

Today marks the one year anniversary of being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Nothing to celebrate about the disease but there are lots to about how it has forced me to learn and grow.

A year ago, I was confused, scared and lost. I knew something was wrong with my body but was doubted by my GP that it was a only viral bug. After I pushed the system a bit more, I got a thorough diagnostic of mild to moderate Ulcerative Colitis, I was told that I had no choice but to take meds for the rest of my life. I was unsure whether my body would heal despite some very encouraging words from amazingly supportive friends. My family was worried and felt hopeless. Some of them wish I would take the medication and just continue living a "normal" life. Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy.

A year later, I am so proud of my progress. I am managing my symptoms well, currently without conventional meds, but with lots of supplements, herbs and other holistic techniques. Through my health condition, I have gained more confidence and empowerment about who I am. I have tapped into the healer in me and explored it like I have never before.

As I sit and recount, I have gained so much knowledge about my body, about nutrition options I have never considered. Grain free? How can anyone survive without it? What, all that fat in the diet? And what is this fermenting vegetables thing? Isn't it just for little old European women only? Yes, I am living all the above mentioned plus some more and am loving it. I have also connected with hundreds, possible thousands of people of like mind about holistic healing through face to face meeting, social media support groups and my own social media outlet.

Here, I have broken down the facets of my healing as follows; through food - Paleo, Whole30, SCD, GAPS, emotional healing techniques - EFT, Reiki. yoga. meditation, healing on a cellular level - Tissue Salts, Bach Flower, healing through my children and healing through connecting to nature.

The biggest lessons for healing is patience and faith. As I recently commented on a FB group member, "Being Patience will help you heal faster" 

Back tracking to my toughest flare during this year, in January I had a flu triggered flare that forced me to only clear liquids for 5 days. I lost an alarming amount of weight way very fast so I decide to add rice back to bulk up. My weight is stable now and I have realized that grains still cause inflammation in my gut - gluten free or not. So off with grains again! I have dove head first into the world of fermentation in the past few months and consuming all kinds of fermented food and drinks ( including dairy)  to balance my gut flora and happy to report they are doing wonders to my body. I just received my water kefir grains from a generous donor in a culture sharing group today and am excited to prep for another W30 June 1 with a few others on AIP Paleo Canada group and Post W30 group. It will be interesting to see how this round goes with what I have learned half a year and incooperate SCD, GAPS, AIP, fermented foods and drinks. I am still undecided whether or not to tailor my W30 by including Milk Kefir as I feel it has the most beneficial strains of probiotics to guide my healing. I will continue with my fermented veggies, kombucha and try my Water Kefir when it is ready.

If only a sauerkraut banana smoothie would taste good.

Thank you to all who have supported me through my journey.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Coconut milk, aloe Vera juice, blueberries gummies


 1 tbsp Manuka Honey,  1 can Coconut milk,  1/4 c Aloe Vera Juice,  3 tbsp Grass Fed Gelatin
Lightly grease vessel with coconut oil, pour mixture in and let set in fridge until firm
I added frozen blueberries and they floated to the top 

Here is my lazy easy way to add some yummy good fat in my day. Lots of people make fat bombs with coconut oil, I have yet has the opportunity to do so but here is what I make when I want something sweet and filling as a mid day snack or evening dessert.

Method:

Put gelatin and coconut milk in a pan, heat on low until gelatin is completely dissolved. Turn off heat, stir in honey and aloe vera juice. Frozen blueberries optional. I find the aloe vera juice cuts the sometimes heaviness of the coconut milk, but you can omit for a firmer gummy or add water or coconut water instead. The clear liquid will form a separate layer.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pumpkin seed milk

I was in search for a milk substitute mainly for my children when they have a cold. Dairy is mucus forming so they tend to gum them up really badly. I couldn't find any almond milk that doesn't contain a whole list of ingredients besides almond and water and most of them contain carrageenan, which is a big no no for anyone with gut issues. So I experimented with pumpkin seeds and my omega juicer. I personally find seeds a bit easier on my digestion than nuts and the soaking make it even better to absorb. Give it a try and let me know which seeds or nuts you like best. I hear Cashew milk is yummy!


I took 1 cup of pumpkin seeds 
Soak them overnight in water
strain out soaking water, rinse and add 3 cups of fresh water and ladle seeds and water into my juicer
It tastes creamy but bland so I added maple syrup and a dash of gluten free vanilla for the boys and it was a hit.
Ta Da!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kombucha - the concentrate method


Look at my two Saudi prince kombuchas. I borrowed The Art of Fermentation from the library and am impressed with how thorough and detail the book is. I will be adding this book to my library as a great source of reference. This batch, I tried Sandor's method of brewing a tea concentrate first and add cooler water to speed up the cooling process. I normally boil 12 cups of water, add 5 tbsp tea and 1 cup of sugar and let it sit until completely cool. This waiting to cool time takes at least 10 hours which means the tea steeps for that long increasing the amount of caffeine in the kombucha. Since my children has recently started drink my brew, I thought I would try the concentrate method to lessen the caffeine. This brew, I let 8 cups of boiled water with a cup of sugar cool, then brew the tea ( same amount ) in 2 cups of boiling water for about an hour, then I strain out the tea leaves and mix it with the almost completely cooled sugar water. The cooling process is a lot faster. I am also using 2 larger jars and covered them with thin cloth napkins instead of cheese cloth. I found a couple of fruit flies in the last batch so the hole in the cheese cloth must have gotten too loose. Let's see how this concentrate method compares with my old way.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kimchi kimchi

I'm so excited I had to say it twice in the title, I followed this easy recipe
and it turned out well, but I think I should have let it sit out longer before putting it in the frig.

kimchi in mason jars

Ingredients

  • 1 head of Napa cabbage
  • 5 peeled radishes
  • 1/2 apple ( blended with a couple tbsp water )
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • small bunch chives
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic or garlic greens for low FODMAP
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 c sea salt to soften cabbage









Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My personalized SIBO protocol - second round

I am still trying to calm another flare at the moment. This one was not as bad as the last one because I have been using pre-digested meal supplement during my bowel rest. The last one I only relied on bone broth and fresh juice and lost too much weight from undernourishment. However, This one was not a cake walk either, I think it was triggered by stress and a lingering cold from the family and finally did me in.

It seem to have started gradually, I was seeing small amount of blood in, then like out of nowhere " Bam!" the extreme fatigue came and followed by increased bleeding with intense pain and cramp. This went on for three four days where I was mainly consuming the meal supplements, by the fifth day, the shakes were hard to get down without pain, drinking water was uncomfortable, I could feel the liquids just swishing around inside or me and creating lots of painful gas. I was weak and dizzy from malnutrition. It was very difficult to carry on day to day chores, let alone care for my family. It is true how they say that you need to hit rock bottom before you can head back up. This is what happened to me. Luckily, I have learned to be more patient this time, I knew the healing is happening and better days will come, but many times, I still wonder when comfort will arrive. My turning point arrived when I felt a sense of joy and from my family. This joy came from a report card that showed great progress; a sense that things are falling into place and that there is growth and harmony in the family despite all my energies poured into healing the body. I smiled. 

I still had to survive a few more episodes of intense pain before I could say I was feeling better. I felt strong enough to practice some gentle yoga, I managed to work some gas out of my body with the stretches. I also stretched out the tension that had built up from being in constant discomfort for the past week. The tension alone has slowed down the healing. Then, I felt it's time to revisit the SIBO protocol. I feel the last little while of experimenting with gluten, sugar and thinking I could eat like the way I used had built up allergens or toxins.

This time, I plan to do a combination of the SCD approach, which is to starve our the parasites or bacteria with diet and kill them with the natural antibiotics. I remember the last time I was on the SIBO protocol, it started well, I felt improvement quickly, then after a month or so, symptoms came back and I wasn't feel better. I got discouraged and eventually stopped because I feel the natural antibiotics was too harsh on my system. The die offs was also very intense.

This time I have started with the garlic pills, twice a day followed by the Natren probiotics twice a day ( probiotics has to be taken 2 hours after "antibiotics" otherwise they will be killed too by nature's powerful stuff). I will take a day or two break and only do probiotics and switch to a different antibiotic, berberine. Then I will assess how I am doing and take the same break and move on to oil of Oregano.

No I don't know how this will work out but all I can do is try and listen to my body.

I am also ready to address the emotional component of my colitis. Since the gut is the second brain, I have to get to the bottom and release any history ( baggage ) that doesn't serve me anymore.

I have made arrangements to meet with an EFT practitioner to do some inner work. Honestly, I am nervous about having to dig up old buried stuff in order to release them. But I think in order to aid my healing,  I must be brave to face and clear those skeletons in the closet. I will write more about my EFT experience when the time comes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My pumpkin seed larabar




 - 1 cup ground pumpkin seeds ( or any nuts or seeds you can tolerate ) 
 - 1 cup pitted dates
 - 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
 - 1 teaspoon coconut oil


Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until dough like.

Press "dough" into a parchment lined ( easier to remove ) pan
Chill in frig until firm to cut.
Cut into individual sizes and shapes of your choice and keep in frig. I didn't get to find out how long they will last as my 9yo polished half of it right after. He usually hates the store bought version but maybe with some added mommy love, they goggled them up. I used seeds cause I tolerate them better and they can be packed into school lunches for nut free safety. 


Friday, May 2, 2014

Awesome day - Paleo Bellingham

Why was today so awesome even with quite a few UC symptoms to challenge  me? It was sunny and hot. I found Paleo eats in Bellingham and I taught my son how to tie his shoe laces.

The day started off with uncertainty, I had a semi rough night with sleep interruptions from UC discomfort. I woke up early and managed to bike my son to school. I only had my absorb plus shake for breakfast because I hope to have a calm gut for our day trip to Bellingham. I took my morning supplements and armed myself with tissue salts every hours to keep the inflammation down.

Before we left, I quickly did a search for new places I can eat at. I normally look for gluten free friendly options but this morning I enter "Paleo Bellingham". I think I had search for those key works before but had no luck. Today, something came up "Two Fifty Flora - 1015 Railroad, Bellingham, Washington". I was excited but wanted to keep my hopes from climbing too high to avoid disappointments. I often let my optimism run amok and envision a perfect spot where I can eat their food, my husband will also enjoy other options on the menu and have my child somewhat contained in safe area where I can relax and enjoy... Really, the key words are RELAX and ENJOY. Something I took for granted before I got sick. 

There was ample street parking when we arrived, nestled inside the beautiful modern architecture of the Whatcom Museum was a cozy TwoFiftyFlora. (NOW CLOSED). The decor was minimal modern, but not cold. Perhaps the concrete and glass interior was warmed up by the friendliness of the staff. I was served by Arlena, who later I found is the owner and creator of this conceptual eatery. She was having a little problem with the slow city wi-fi for the credit card payments but I didn't mind the wait. I was filled with optimism about a menu that offers a Paleo option on it. ( Perfect spot point no. 1) We ordered the Omnivore Tartine plate for my husband and the Paleo version for myself, I know our 3 1/2 yo will just taste test both our meals. I also eyed the good size desserts on the counter. I asked if they were gluten free and she replied " Yes, today they are all gluten free, sometimes we have a Paleo one". Wow, as I repeated what she said to make sure I heard her right. We sat out in the courtyard that has a giant rock ( perfect for my little climber ) and waited for our food to arrived. The courtyard was airy but enclosed. ( Perfect spot point No. 2). My little climber made good use of the rock and even rolled around on the concrete pavers. My excitement starts to take on a more relaxing tone. Our food arrived in metal trays lined with parchment paper, clean and simple. My Paleo Tartine was the Moroccan Lamb with  Peruvian Pork and Quinoa soup. Yes I recently confirmed with my Post Paleo FB group that Quinoa is a seed. The pork in my soup was tender and the lamb was flavourful. My husband's meal was the Omnivore with the Rachel and House made Pastrami with the Spring Pea and Ham soup. Both our meals came with delicately sliced green apes, a generous serving of fresh arugula salad in an apple vinaigretteMy Paleo meal was marked with a few almonds in a small ramekin dish, that was almost my clue that it was the Paleo one. My little guy went back and forth between our meals and asked at the end where the soup went, " in our bellies" I replied.

By then I was fully enjoying my moment there and feeling very relaxed ( Perfect spot final point ). We finished off our lunch with a GF chocolate chip cookie and a Pecan Sandy. Oh the Sandy was to die for, reminded me of Mexican Wedding cakes that I love.

Before we left, I had a chance to chat with Arlena and commended her for her efforts and ingenuity and asked to continue doing it.

Their menu was reasonably priced, our Tartine plates were $11 each the cookies were $3 each.

The drive back home was smooth with no gut issues for me. I was enjoying my meal so much that I was almost anticipating that I was eating things that will make me sick later but I didn't care if it would. But it didn't.

My awesome day ended with finally teaching my older son how to tie his shoe laces. His visual alignment challenges made this fine motor skill an obstacle for a long time. So it was definitely a big accomplishment to made the day super awesome.

So if you are ever in Bellingham WA, make your way to 1015 Railroad Street and enjoy one of TwoFiftyFlora's Omnivore, Vegan or Paleo special.