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SIBO – Let’s peel another layer

When you’ve had an autoimmune disease for as long as I have and only just found a way to heal, the journey will take time. Compare it a long car journey with your kids, they think it will be never ending, they will ask “Are we there yet” several times over and each time you stop for another potty break you feel like the journey WILL be never ending, not to mention the travel delays – Oh the travel delays!

My Health Journey has been no different and last week I discovered that I have SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth which refers to a condition in which abnormally large numbers of bacteria are present in the small intestine: the types of bacteria found in the small intestine are more like the bacteria found in the colon and they don’t belong there :( (To read the The Paleo Mom’s Overview of SIBO can be found here)

When I eat I have a bloated and gassy feeling for about 1 hour after consumption of certain foods, and it makes me pretty uncomfortable. So how do you cure it? You eliminate certain foods from your diet FODMAPS that the bacteria feeds on (typically for 28 days) and you take some supplements to carry out a gut-kill of these bad boys!

When I shared this news with a family member, they looked at me quizzically “You are going to restrict more foods? What will you eat?” and I have to say in some way I had thought the same! I was then questioned was the Autoimmune Protocol was really working for me if I now had SIBO – which is a great question and the answer is a resounding YES, because without healing my leaky gut, I would not have been able to get to the next layer of healing.

Years ago when I was studying to be a psychotherapist, I would often think of therapy as peeling off layers, like a skin of an onion, to get to the core of an issue. Healing an Auto Immune Disease(s) is no different. As your body begins to heal, you may establish that you have other Autoimmune Diseases or have other hurdles you need to navigate, such as my SIBO diagnosis. It will happen, it does happen and it does not mean that the diet is failing you.

The way I cope with a long journey is to provide myself with plenty of reading material and tools to keep me occupied and my journey on AIP is no different. Upon hearing the words SIBO I scanned through the internet to learn more. However using Dr. Google to find answers can often be overwhelming and I know from the early days of AIP that when you eliminate foods, it can be hard to keep track of what you can and can’t eat and it can lead to malnutrition, and lead you to feel overwhelmed and overly stressed and oops there goes that catch 22 again… stress, diet, lack of sleep… there has to be an easier way!

Which is why when A Clean Plate announced her 28 Day of Low FODMAP Plan which is Autoimmune Paleo compliant I was super excited! A simple easy to follow protocol for just 28 Days will kick start me and hopefully enable me to peel off another layer of that onion and get deep to the core of better health.

But I’m not going to stress myself out over this and certainly not over the holidays! So while I have read the book from cover to cover and have already started to remove high FODMAP foods from my diet but made the decision that I will be starting the FULL 28 Day Protocol on January 5th and I will be blogging every step of the way. So if you know or suspect you may have SIBO based on any of the symptoms below I would welcome you to get tested, and join me on this journey.

I’ll be honest I could do with your support, and I’m more than willing to support you as we move through this process after all its only 28 Days! If you are interested download A Clear Plates Book 28 Day of Low FODMAP Plan and email me at emmaking@thebaconmum.com and we can setup a support group to help us all through!

You have until January 4th to decide!

Below are the Symptoms and the Risk Factors for potential SIBO

SIBO Symptoms

  • Excess wind.
  • Abdominal bloating and distension.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Abdominal pain.

Risk factors for SIBO

  • Low stomach acid
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Celiac disease (long-standing)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Prior bowel surgery
  • Diabetes mellitus (type I and type II)
  • Multiple courses of antibiotics
  • Organ system dysfunction, such as liver cirrhosis, chronic pancreatitis, or renal failure

Wishing you a safe and healthful week!

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Catering for Food Intolerances

When you are invited to attend a social event Stateside you typically will either have catered food or each person will be asked to bring a dish to share (Pot Luck) so when you have food allergies it’s difficult! On the plus side more people are making gluten free dishes but when you have an intolerance to all grains, as I’ve said before, the replacement flours are not grain free, and you can’t guarantee that people have used ingredients which are compliant to your needs.  So you typically eat before you go OR eat only the dish you brought!

One of my closest friends here in the US, a fellow Brit and her husband are expecting a baby and a group of us joined forces to throw a baby shower, a lovely tradition here in the US where friends and families join together to celebrate the impending new arrival, play games and daunt the Mum to be with parenting advice HaHa! As many of you know, there are also certain foods that you should avoid when pregnant so again catered food and Pot Lucks can be risky.

Now I don’t know if it was because my friend and her husband lived with me for six weeks earlier this year when waiting for their new home to be ready but she also is choosing to avoid nitrates and is trying to eat grass fed and pasture raised meats whenever possible. It may also be that she’s educated on what British People avoid when pregnant which varies from the US and globally. Another challenge we had was that we had four other people with different food allergies, so catering really wasn’t an option, so we decided that I would cater.

I took on this challenge with relish, I wanted to serve up dishes which met the dietary restrictions but highlighted that healthful food can be incredibly tasty!! So I turned to some of my own recipes and also to some fellow AIP food bloggers to find a balanced menu.

Here is what I chose to cook

TheBaconMum AIP Catering Menu

My preparation started on Thursday for a Friday night event. Thursday morning it took me ten minutes to set up the Crock Pot to slow cook the chicken breasts for the Mojo Chicken,. In the evening after work it took two hours to prepare the Pork Teriyaki to marinade overnight, season the Ground Turkey for the Meatballs, make the Cranberry Relish and season the wings. On Friday morning I placed the Teriyaki Pork in the Crock Pot for six hours and on Friday afternoon at 2 pm I started in earnest

  • 2 pm   I started to prepare the vegetables and cook the root veggies (they took 1hr 20m to cook)
  • 2:30 pm Put the meatballs in the oven (as I was serving these cold)
  • b Prepared Mojo Chicken adjusting the recipe slightly to serve in plastic cups, not shelled avocados, by cubing the avocado and serving it with the other ingredients.
  • 3:30 pm Prepared Lemon Roasted Cauliflower and shredded Teriyaki Pork to soak up the juices
  • 4 pm Went to pick up my daughter from school
  • 4:30 pm Put Wings in Oven with Roasted Cauliflower
  • 5:45 pm Packed up the car
  • 6 pm Left for venue
  • 6:10 pm Returned home as I had left the Mojo Chicken (and the Baby Shower Gift!!!!)
  • 6:20 pm Back to Venue LOL
  • 6:30 pm We tucked into the food

The preparation was key to serving this all hot and on time, including a ten minute commute from my house to the venue on a bitter cold Chicago evening!

I will admit I was really nervous., My Mum qualified as a Cordon Bleu Cook when I was about 6 years old, she catered weddings and I saw her planning so the planning you could say was in my blood,  however serving my food to 15+ guests was nerve racking. Would they like it?? Was there enough?? Was it over cooked??… Oh the anxiety!!!

Soon the Mmmm’s and “I love this Chicken”, “Could I have the Pork Recipe”, “I love these meatballs” could be heard :) it turned out to be a phenomenal success!

Healthful and happy eating



How to Avoid the Winter Blues

Before I decided to call Chicago my home, I hated the dull winter mornings in England, going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, being in a building working all day with little to no sunlight and when I officially chose Chicago as my home, my hate of winter amplified. In fact, as I look out of my window now, the snow is blowing past my window and my sense of dread is building. Last year was BRUTAL in Chicago, in a winter that was known as the Polar Vortex and its being reported that this winter will be the same!

So I have switched on my Lightbox. A Lightbox provides me with Light Therapy and consists of exposure to very bright, full-spectrum light on demand. It mimics natural sunlight, which may not be available during the winter months and it is used by thousands of people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a form of depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by a lack of light or who have altered circadian cycles.

Light is the main cue influencing circadian rhythms, turning on or turning off genes that control an organism’s internal clocks. Circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions. So it’s REALLY important to keep them on time, as they follow a 24 hour cycle. Disruptions in circadian rhythms have been linked to various sleep disorders such as insomnia. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder and, for me, will amplify my auto immune symptoms. So I will use my light box at my desk for between 2-4 hours per day, depending on how gloomy the day is!

I know I could not get through the snow and bitter cold without my Lightbox, but I also take Vitamin D (as prescribed by medics as a supplement). Vitamin D is often described as a vitamin we need for bone health, however it’s really more of a sun hormone. Vitamin D is a chemical that we make on our skin from exposure to the sun, it is used to regulate our bodies like any other hormone like estrogen, thyroid or testosterone and it’s essential to every cell in our body and it’s not something we can get from food.

Now people often will say to me… I buy milk with Vitamin D added. Well I’m sorry to say that you would have to drink 100 cups of milk per day to stop you from becoming deficient. It’s a marketing scheme…there isn’t enough added to be of any real use to you AND if you don’t consume dairy then that option is out! So Vitamin D Supplements are required and you should ask your medical practitioner to test your family for Vitamin D levels in your blood or purchase a test kit online (though please do check with a medical professional on dosage before adding it to your routine). To learn about options for testing goto Vitamin D Council Website

So that’s how my family will get through the winter, our Lightbox and our Vitamin D supplements and a desktop background that shows me a beautiful sunny beach with waves crashing on the shore!
I have included an affiliate link to a lightbox on Amazon as many people want a brand that is recommended and this is the one I use!

Keep Warm out there!

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Shout Out : The Magic of Disney

Walt_Disney_World_Resort_entranceFor any of us with food allergies/intolerance the thought of traveling away from our trusted food sources can fill us with anxiety and dread. This is particularly relevant to me when I think about family vacations. Typically I would choose to go self-catering and need to do a lot of research on the food sources that will be available to us. Doesn’t sound like a vacation does it?

The same applies if I have to go on business trips, though of course I can’t stipulate when, where and how long I am away for, which as single mum brings other challenges such as finding overnight care, coordinating pick up / drop offs for extracurricular activities and food menus for my daughter!  So last week, when I had to travel to Orlando for work, I was rushing around last minute, packing up individual portions of frozen Liver Pate (it travels so well), ensuring that I had a fridge in my hotel room and finding a local grocery store that would deliver food to my hotel! A business trip is stressful enough, without this!

We had visited Disney as a family in December 2013 and I was delighted with the personalized care that a gluten free/dairy free family was provided with but this was before I had started the AIP Protocol. For my business trip, the Conference Host, as part of the registration, had asked to be informed about food allergies but quickly responded to me that due to the extent of my food restrictions they couldn’t guarantee provision of food. Upon check in at Disney World Coronado Springs Resort I was asked to complete a Dietary Information Sheet that I could hand to the Disney Chefs if I was choosing to dine on property! If I hadn’t experienced the Gluten/Dairy free experience in December I can assure you I would be dubious to do this, but I knew how much importance Disney placed on supporting those with food allergies, that I decided to give it a try!

239490-main_FullUpon registration at the hotel, I was given the name of the chef who was responsible for the conference menu and was told to contact him at lunch time the next day to discuss my dietary needs. I will be honest, I didn’t, because I had already brought some Epic Bars and other snacks to sustain me, but when I entered the lunch room, a server directed me to the buffet table and I declined saying “I have food allergies and I know there is nothing I could even attempt to eat”. “Oh let me get the Chef for you” was the immediate response.     Chef Bill came over to me and asked how he could help.

“I can’t have ANY Grains, ANY Dairy, ANY Seeds, Legumes, Nightshades or Eggs” said I, with an awkward smile.
“OK…, so now list for me what you can have, what would you typically eat if you were at home” came the response from Chef Bill.
“Well I could have Grilled Chicken Breast (please don’t pan fry it in oil, I only use Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil or Olive Oil)”
“That’s ok I have all three of those but Grilled Chicken Breast it is, what about seasonings?”
“I can have Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric, Cilantro, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon, Balsamic Vinegar”

“OK that’s great, OK what about vegetables”
“I can have Spinach, Kale, Cucumber, Carrots, Squash, Zucchini, Onions, erm… a whole lot more than that but is that enough” I laugh

“Perfect, I will be back in about fifteen minutes” says Chef Bill

IMG_3174 IMG_3204IMG_3205





And true to his word, fifteen minutes later, Chef Bill returned with the most delicious looking dish – personally cooked for me. Not only did he deliver the meal to me personally but he came back ten minutes later to check that I was enjoying it! Was I ever!!!

This experience continued as I dined at restaurants on Disney Properties. The President of the company I work for, was also at the conference, so there were strategy meetings, and client entertainment that had to take place, while he fully supports my dietary needs and would have understood if I chose to eat before entertaining clients, I think he was as relieved as me that this took a huge pressure off of us all!

As a result of this experience I will admit that I am tempted to take my daughter again to visit Disney, (shh don’t tell her) and have already discussed this with her Dad, as he too needs to find locations which support her dietary needs.

So Disney, I thank you, applaud you, and salute you for making even a business trip a Magical Experience