It’s not uncommon for people with SIBO issues to find their way to a Paleo, Primal, or Bulletproof style of eating. Some of the time they manage to find their way there entirely through self-experimentation, or often they end up being recommended or through their own personal research. Whatever the reason, Paleo/Primal/Bulletproof all lend themselves very well as a base understanding and platform for SIBO people looking to heal their gut and rebuild their intestinal flora. Similarly, even people who eat an already healthy Paleo diet may at times find that they need to bend their diets toward a SIBO style of eating to help ward off a cold, get stronger for traveling, or any number of reasons. This is true for myself and my wife as well. We didn’t really understand it at the time, and have gone through the journey of learning and self discovery, which led to me, where I am now, eating and cooking a fully Paleo SIBO diet. Why? I suppose that could be the subject of future posts… But for now, that’s where I am; where we are. And hopefully some of the techniques I am using to keep our highly limited diet interesting and exciting will be useful for you all too!
The SIBO diet is particularly challenging because, for one, it’s restrictive; and tw: you can’t cheat. Why? Well, you’re doing this for a reason. You have legitimate intestine-related health concerns, and you need to be on this restrictive version of Paleo to give your body the nutrients and freedom from stressors that it needs in order to heal. If you want long-lasting results, healing, and want it to happen at a relatively reasonable pace, you’re going to have to buckle down and get it done and done right. At least, that’s the seat that my wife and I are sitting in.
All is not lost!
Don’t worry. Restrictive or not, the important staples are still allowed, encouraged, and still very much delicious and healthy. The challenge isn’t in finding delicious food. The challenge is working with those limited options to have an exciting and delicious meal, several times per day, day after day. With the cornucopia of veggies, fruits, seasonings and flavorings that are available to even restrictive Paleo eaters, typically putting together new, interesting meals is a very simple matter. But for those of us working on a restricted diet for short-term health reasons (SIBO shouldn’t be your long-term plan; it’s purpose is to help you get back into balance), that’s not always as easy and simple to accomplish.
Here is what we are doing right now:
Not only is our diet restricted to a Bulletproof (meaning the veggies are cooked) SIBO protocol, but we’re also limiting from a Thyroid health perspective as well, which means eliminating nightshades and any goitrogens. Yes, my list of “included” foods is quite short… So, while cooking is a simple matter (not many options to choose from; so no need to worry about the choice!) making it interesting and exciting is not quite so simple. So, here are a few of the things I’ve been doing to keep our meals exciting and interesting, as well as delicious and healthy:
- Caramelized Veggies
- I’ve been cooking some of the meals in multiple stages so that some of the veggies caramelize during the cooking process. This is working particularly well with the carrots we eat; but would also be quite effective with any squash, peppers, or other similar vegetables
- Sea Salt and Smoked Sea Salt
- A great way to spice up your veggies when you’re cooking them is to add some sea salt to them some of the time. For more flavor, try some of the smoked sea salts. Make sure to only get the ones which are actually smoked; not the ones with added smoke flavor.
- Lemon/Lime and even Oranges
- Squeezing citrus into your veggies and letting it boil down is an excellent way of changing up the flavors, and it’s good for you too!
- Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
- I almost always cook with coconut oil; but some of the time when I’m using the citrus, I’ll opt for the olive oil instead. Using water in the pan helps moderate the temperature, and keeps it low enough that the olive oil is unlikely to go rancid during the cooking. This is about the only way I’m ever willing to cook with olive oil (otherwise I would only add olive oil to a dish for flavoring after the cooking is done).
- ½ lb frozen chopped organic spinach
- 1 organic lemon
- 3 organic multi-colored carrots
- 2 stalks organic celery
- 1 organic avocado
- 2 cups water
- 2 grassfed beef burgers (frozen)
- ½ lb Prosciutto
- 2 pinches sea salt, 1 tsp turmeric
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- Slice the carrots and add to a pan with ½ cup of water and 2 tablespoons coconut oil.
- Cook carrots on medium heat until the water is boiled off.
- Add ½ cup of water, flip the carrots, then sprinkle the celery on top.
- Cook carrots covered until the water boils off.
- Turn down the heat on the veggies, stir thoroughly. Add the sea salt and chopped spinach (still frozen) on top of the carrots, then pour another ½ cup of water, the rest of the coconut oil, and squeeze the lemon or lime, all over the spinach.
- Cover the veggies and continue to cook on low heat.
- In a second pan, add the burgers, the last ½ cup of water, and the prosciutto and turn the stove on to medium heat.
- Cook, covered, until the water boils off of the meat (for well done, approx 10 minutes; for more juicy, see my notes).
- This would be a good time to prep the avocado.
- Once the water is boiled of, turn the heat down to low, flip the burgers and prosciutto, and continue to cook, covered, on low heat.
- Turn the heat up on the veggies to medium and uncover.
- Stir the veggies slowly for 10 minutes while cooking on medium heat
- Serve and enjoy!
1. No need for water in your burgers/prosciutto. Instead, I would pre-cook the prosciutto so that it's nearly done before moving it to the outside of the pan and cooking the burgers on the hot spot.
2. You'll need significantly less cooking time if the spinach has been pre-thawed. I actually like cooking from frozen (I have discussed that there is a significant quality difference in frozen vs "fresh" grocery store produce...); but I understand many people don't. That's fine; adjust times accordingly, and pay attention to the veggies. They're delicate to the heat; so without the additional water and cooling due to cooking from frozen, you'll want to be careful of the heat in the pan.