Travel, Curious Peoples, and Whatnot


Good afternoon!

*ponders* Hmmm… my title was rather random, but I shall try to compose this post in a not-so-random way.

First things first. You’d probably think I was crazy if I told you that I plan to travel again in 4 days to a place 2,000 miles away, on the SCD, right after my trip to New York.

Well, I am. Travelling, that is. I am travelling again. Being crazy is a matter of opinion.

I shall once again keep a food log for you. This trip I plan to refrain from anything that is not on my diet, except for some gluten-free pretzels I will be taking on the airplane as a precaution. No more wheat pretzels, thank you very much! I did not get sick last time, but I’d rather not take the chance again.

Now, onto my next topic. Curious peoples.

Whether it is about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or about the reason I am on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I am asked questions, without fail. When I first discovered that I had a gastrointestinal issue, I didn’t want to talk about it at all, but that’s all my mother wanted to talk about. To me, and to other people. I got used to it over time, and so did my closer friends. But new acquaintances and new friends understandably want to know.

I learned to minimize my answers as much as possible. One thing that has continually concerned me is that I would sound like some sort of invalid. My mother gave me a great starting point, which could even possibly stall further questions. “I am on this special diet for my health.”

Some people will leave it at that. Others will press. Still, I try to make my answers simple. “I have Crohn’s. It is a gastrointestinal disorder I control with diet.” Most people won’t ask for more detail than that.

In addition to answering their questions, I make sure to tell them how healthy I am. Not to sound vain, or anything, but to impress upon them that I am not abnormal. I just have a small problem that I can control. Everyone has problems, just not always the stomach kind.

Friends have been greatly surprised when I show up and play freeze tag only days after an episode. “I pictured her in a wheelchair, or something!” This only reinforces my claim that I am a healthy, able person.

How do you answer curious peoples?

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Recipe Ruination


Yes, you read that right. My recipe remedy for this week bombed miserably.

Lesson #1: Never experiment when you are tired.

Lesson #2: Never measure vinegar *over* the other ingredients.

What was supposed to be deviled eggs turned into a rather doubtful honey mustard salad dressing. Thanks to my mother for whipping my disaster into something which just might be edible. 😉

Perhaps this post will still inspire SCDieters to experiment in their own kitchens. Here are the ingredients which I used and/or was supposed to use for my deviled eggs:

  • egg yolks
  • SCD-legal mayonnaise
  • SCD-legal dry mustard
  • white vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika

Experiment, if you dare! 😀

TTFN! (Ta Ta For Now!)

SCD Success, 1900 Miles From Home


As I promised, I kept a faithful log of what I ate on my trip to New York, except for the last unexpected couple of days, because I was so out of it (read about that fiasco here). I was able to remain almost 100% SCD-legal. I say almost because I did indulge in an occasional treat that was not on my diet. Wrong, yes. I will dispense with the excuses which are rising to my lips.

*Beginners, take heed: Since I am so far into the diet, these minor “cheats” didn’t affect me. However, for those just starting the diet or who haven’t been on the diet very long, I would advise you not to cheat at all.*

6/15: I never did make the cookies I’d planned to bring on the airplane. I brought a jar of yogurt, storebought applesauce cups, some Larabars and other packaged treats. I got through security at the airport with no problems. Thank God! I ate my yogurt just before boarding, so that I could take my medications. On the plane, I experienced some severe motion sickness, most likely because I hadn’t eaten enough beforehand (after all, we’d only left the house at 4:30 am). I was forced to eat some pretzels, the only thing I knew which would settle my stomach. I didn’t even touch my other snacks, I felt so terrible. The thought of fruity foods made my stomach even worse. Perhaps if I’d brought the cookies, I could have avoided the pretzels.

When we arrived in New York, I was woozy from hunger, and still a little nauseous. My grandmother took us out to Red Lobster, which I felt was perfect for my first night away from home. Fish would be easy on the digestive tract. I did eat some of my snacks later on.

6/16: My mom’s sister had made yogurt for me, but it wasn’t ready to eat yet, so for breakfast on Wednesday morning, I nibbled on some cheese and some of my snacks. For lunch, we went to a diner in my grandmother’s village. I ordered “Texas Chicken.” Ha! I went all the way to New York to have Texas chicken. 😉 It was grilled chicken smothered with melted cheddar cheese and crisp bacon. Delicious, and filling. For dinner, we went to my aunt’s house, where she served fresh cod (which my uncle had caught). I brought the yogurt that my aunt had made back to my grandmother’s house and ate some before bed.

6/17: Thursday morning I ate my yogurt sweetened with pure local honey. I also had some yogurt at lunchtime. In between I ate my snacks. We went to my dad’s sister’s house, and I had some fruit and cheese. For dinner, all of us Hogans (except my dad’s parents, who we’d see at the surprise party on Saturday), went to Oysterman’s. That restaurant has to be about the best restaurant I have ever been to. They had a gluten-free menu. I ordered almond-crusted salmon with spinach. Heavenly. I stuffed my face. The waitress also brought me some gluten-free muffins. I think they were corn muffins, and I knew they wouldn’t be legal on my diet, but I indulged.

On the way home, I felt strange. I’d been stuffing my face ever since we arrived in New York, and every night I was so full I’d get nauseous at bedtime. But this was a little different. I was experiencing some mild pain. Praying it would go away, I was glad I’d brought some prednisone and planned to take it if the pain persisted. By the time I reached my grandmother’s house, the pain had ceased, but I was still extremely uncomfortable. I told my parents that I thought it would be best not to go out for dinner again tomorrow with the Hogans. I told them that it was not necessarily the food I was eating, but the amount I was eating. I was in party mode, and I needed to stay away from any place that might tempt me to overstuff myself. I planned to starve myself on Friday. Well, not actually starve. I was just going to eat enough to keep my stomach from growling, and no more.

6/18: Friday morning I felt fine, though not very hungry. I ate some yogurt and applesauce before we went on the excursion planned for that day with some of my mom’s family. I stayed away from my snacks all morning. At lunchtime, we went to a diner, which I hadn’t really wanted to do, but I simply ordered three eggs–no bacon or anything. In the afternoon, I ate some snacks, and for dinner I ate eggs again. I went to bed that night with a satisfied stomach.

6/19: Saturday morning I ate some applesauce and a couple of my snacks (I think I’d run out of yogurt). We set off for my grandfather’s surprise party. He will be turning 85 in July. At the party, I tried clams for the first time. Wow. I hadn’t known what I was missing. However, I did not over-do. I knew there’d be more food coming. I did indulge in a few devilled eggs. They didn’t have legal mayonnaise, but I couldn’t help myself. Later came scallops and shrimp wrapped in bacon. Oh boy. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. For dinner, one of the caterers took me aside and asked me just what I could and couldn’t have. He even gave me a choice of meat! He made me grilled chicken and veggies, completely SCD-legal. I ate a Larabar for dessert, but couldn’t resist one bakery cookie.

After the party, we went out with my cousin, her husband, and their baby son out on their boat. We motored to a dockside cafe. By that time, I was hungry again, so I ordered some scallops with tomatoes. Before bed I ate a few more snacks. The entire day I made sure I wasn’t stuffing myself.

6/20: I ate yogurt for breakfast Sunday morning. After church, I ate a Larabar, followed by a small piece of salt bagel. I know–another cheat. *hangs head*

We went to my dad’s parents for the father’s day meal. No one was much interested in eating, after the feast yesterday. My dad’s mom gave me control of the salmon she had bought me. I also had some applesauce, fruit, and some of my Lettuce-free “salad.” I didn’t list what I had for dinner Sunday night, or if I ate dinner at all.

6/21: For breakfast Monday morning, I again ate yogurt. We again went to my grandparent’s house, where I ate some of my snacks, some cheese, a couple of slices of homemade roast beef, fruit, and my salad. I ate homemade chicken and green beans for dinner.

6/22: For breakfast on Tuesday, I ate–you guessed it–yogurt. We went to see some old friends where we used to live. I succumbed to the pretzels they set before us. There were also blackberries and strawberries, which I ate in abundance. Later on, we had dinner with some more friends. I ate some cheese, grilled chicken, green beans, and drank an SCD-legal soda. I had some of my snacks before bedtime.

6/23: On Wednesday morning, I mixed my yogurt with some berries. I also had some eggs and a piece of crisp bacon. On our way back to our relatives, we stopped for lunch at our former pastor’s home. There, I ate some roast beef, carrots, and cauliflower, all made to my specifications. The pastor’s wife also made us some strawberries sweetened with honey. We dranked sparkling apple cider. We went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner with dad’s side of the family. I ordered some grilled shrimp as an appetizer and some chicken with cheese, bacon, and sauteed mushrooms.

6/24: On Thursday, I ate some eggs and fruit for breakfast. We met my mom’s side of the family at a diner for lunch, where I ate some more eggs with sirloin tips and sauteed onions. I ate snacks the rest of the day, waiting for an airplane that never came.

6/25: Friday I ate some yogurt and eggs, some snacks in the afternoon, and some chicken with cauliflower for dinner. Because I was having such a difficult time resisting sweets, my mom let me pick out a gluten-free cookie at the health food store.

6/26: On Saturday morning, I again ate some yogurt, before heading back to the airport. I ate my snacks on the plane, though I did find that I needed the pretzels to calm my nausea. When we returned home, I ate some chicken, then finished the day with a humongous bowl of yogurt.

And there you are. My SCD journey in New York. Not perfect, but better than it might have been if I hadn’t had my parents to rein me in when I was about to quit the diet completely. New York has amazing bakeries, amazing deli’s, and amazing pizza. No wonder I was struggling the whole time! Praise God I got through without falling for the pizza.

😀

I hope that by sharing my food log, I have inspired you to look at your future travels as something that is possible and that can even be enjoyable in the food realm.

A Yummy Alternative


Good evening!

Tonight, my mom decided not to make dinner. On such occasions, we pull anything we want out of the refrigerator–usually fruits, veggies, cheese, and the like–and eat with a minor amount of clean-up to see to afterwards.

I was in the mood for my “salad” when dinnertime came around tonight. My salad is lettuceless, because I cannot tolerate large amounts of fiber. And lettuce is very fibrous. Perhaps some of you who have gastrointestinal disorders also cannot tolerate much fiber. I know I can’t because I have a particularly severe case of Crohn’s Disease.

My salad consists of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, grated cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Simple and easy, and so flavorful! I know most people like their salad with dressing, but please try my salad just the way it is! You’d be surprised at how tasty it is.

Tuning In


Our bodies can tell us a lot about what we are eating. When I first began the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I just ate what I was told and avoided what was “illegal.” This was exactly what I should have done, of course. However, with gastrointestinal disorders, sensitivities to certain foods can vary drastically from person to person. One person may be able to eat such and such, while another person can’t.

I began to discover this fairly early on in my SCD journey. One thing I knew bothered me (but was allowed on the SCD) was pork. I couldn’t eat it without getting nauseous before, during, and after. Yes, I said before. The mere thought of eating pork sent my tummy into turmoil. I knew it wouldn’t be wise to eat it, so I stopped.

As I learned to tune in to my tummy more and more, I began to realize that it wasn’t only what I ate that might bother me, but the amount of food I was eating. For instance, I know I can eat seven strawberries in one sitting. However, if I go beyond seven, I know I may be in for some discomfort later on. The seeds in strawberries will begin to bother me if I go above this amount.

As I continued to learn about my gut, I further realized that my body could tell me when eating certain things wouldn’t be a good idea at the time. Foods I love can become detrimental if my gut is not 100% ready for it. I will actually get nauseous at the thought of favorite foods if I have overindulged in another area. An example would be beef. I love beef, but since it is harder to digest, I eat it occasionally. If I’ve had beef recently (as in the last few days), my stomach will tighten and feel heavy, like it does after I’ve eaten beef. I’m smiling now, because even simply writing this is giving me these sensations (I had beef only a few days ago).

So, as you can see, learning to listen to your body is extremely important. Just eating what you are supposed to might not be the wisest course. Examining what you are eating and knowing how each food affects you is taking one giant step toward taking better care of your gut. It might mean narrowing down your choices for a while. Note that I said “a while.” Never give up hope that you’ll be able to try certain foods again, provided they are SCD legal.

A suggestion would be to make a food log for a few weeks of everything you eat and any symptoms/sensitivites you experience.

Tune in and eat wisely!

Diet Experiment: A Lesson in Moderation


After four years on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I understand how tiresome the same foods can become (I wrote on this topic here). I also know how difficult it is to make yourself try new foods. I for one have always been overly cautious when I try something new (that is SCD legal, of course). Sometimes I just refuse to try it at all. 

This week I tried peanuts for the second time since I started the SCD. I’d noticed a couple years ago that, whenever I made peanut butter cookies, I got nauseous and uncomfortable after I ate. So I swore off anything with peanuts. In the last couple of weeks, I decided to try them again. I ate them every day for about a week (the time period recommended in Elaine Gottschall’s book Breaking the Viscous Cycle).

At first, I seemed fine, so I increased the amount I ate. After a few days, however, I started to feel queasy and got a few minor twinges. I realized that I could eat peanuts, but only in moderation.

Moderation has always been a major part of my life since I began this diet, but sometimes I just feel like forgetting the whole thing and eating as much as I please. This is something that we all should guard ourselves against, because it could be detrimental, not just to our gut but to our weight and general health. A balanced, portioned diet can make all the difference.

Well, that’s all I have to say about that subject! It’s a lesson I’m continuing to learn every day.

P.S. My Recipe Remedy is still in progress. I should be able to post it by tonight or tomorrow, so stay tuned!

My Road Trip Food Log


This past weekend, my family and I journeyed up to the Houston area for a time of singing and dancing. Naturally, I planned my menu, understanding that exceptions and alterations might arise (which they did, in fact).

Saturday:

For breakfast, I ate at IHOP. They have this delicious new dish, sirloin tips (which were tossed with sauteed onions and mushrooms) and scrambled eggs. Heaven. On previous visits to IHOP, I had ascertained that  the meat was cooked in butter and that the eggs were, in fact, REAL eggs. So I didn’t even bother this time to ask. I understand that some of you may feel that you must ask every time. Whatever makes you feel the most secure is what is important.

Since I was stuffed from breakfast and the health snacks I’d brought along on the road, I skipped the lunch I had brought with me, and snacked on nuts after the dance. All the excitement of reuniting with old friends and dancing to my heart’s content left no more room for an appetite.

Sunday morning, I sweetened some homemade yogurt with honey and tossed some blackberries in to add a burst of flavor. Yum. I also consumed over half a dozen strawberries and a slice of cantaloupe. I was starving after all that exercise!

Since we were so exhausted after the long car trip and the late night, we decided to head on home after church. The lunch I had planned for Sunday was ignored, even though I was pretty hungry. I snacked on some cheese while we looked for a Whataburger.

A what? Yes, a Whataburger. Whataburger has real meat in their burgers. So I just asked for a plain, dry burger. It was the first time in over three years I’d been through a drive-through. It kinda made me giddy. Ha!

When I got home, I ate some more yogurt, since I’ve found that it soothes my stomach (and I also happen to really really like it). Just in case the trip was going to affect me in anyway, I’ve been taking it easy the past 24 hours.

So there’s a peek at what a weekend away from home is like for me. What do you do when you’re away from the home, but have to adhere to a strict diet like the SCD?

Speaking of Meds…


Today I went for my annual check-up. First off, I want to spread the good news: my blood work is absolutely, positively, happily NORMAL. NORMAL! God has certainly blessed me in the past year.

As I mentioned previously, I asked my gastroenterologist about tapering off one of my medications, a steroid I have been taking since I was first diagnosed. He gave me the go-ahead. Praise God! He suggested a quick taper, one that would only take a couple of months, but I have the freedom to decrease the dosage at my own pace.

I figure that in a year’s time, I should be completely off my steroids! Of course, if at any time I feel a negative change in my system, I will be readjusting my dosage. I am not as concerned as I was about remaining on the medication; my doctor assures me that it will not adversely affect future pregnancies. Even so, I’d rather not be on them when the time comes to have children.

Tapering off my meds, I realized, isn’t as easy as it seems. I have several considerations to take into account.

  • First, my system has to be stable. Well it is, and has been for nineteen months, with only a couple minor relapses.
  • Next, I have to consult my schedule. This year, I have three major trips coming up: one to Houston, Texas, one to Long Island, New York, and one to Moscow, Idaho. With all that travelling and changed eating habits (eating out, having limited resources, etc.), my digestive tract may not be ready for a decrease in the meds.

Those things considered, my family and I have decided that it would be best to wait until I am back on a normal schedule. Our travelling should be done by mid-July. I plan to start tapering my medications in mid-August, after I’ve had sufficient time to re-acclimate myself to home life.

Please keep me in prayer as I prepare to decrease my dosages, not only that I would not be affected by the change, but that I will persevere even more to remain strictly on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

Oh, and P.S.: In case you were beginning to wonder, my first recipe “Remedy” should be making an appearance either by the end of this week or the beginning of next. So stay tuned!!

😀

Diet vs. Meds


If you have Crohn’s, Celiac, Ulcerative Colitis, or any other digestive disease, you’ve probably had doctors urge medication on you. Maybe you’re already on medications for your condition. I am.

So what happens if you want to start the Specific Carbohydrate Diet? Do you go on the diet and stop your medications?

I don’t pretend to know exactly how you should decide. When I was first diagnosed, I had little choice but to take the medications. My disease had progressed to such a point that I needed instant relief. It was too late to give the diet a chance to do its healing work.

Medication, however, does not heal. It only tamps down the problem. And medications, in my opinion, are not always good for your body in the long run. Sure, you may be free of pain, bloating, inflammation, and diarreha, but that doesn’t mean other parts of your body won’t be affected. On the other hand, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet gives the digestive tract a break, a time of healing. There’s no possible damage good, nourishing food can do to your body.

This doesn’t mean that you just stop taking your meds. I’m doing both meds and diet because I have to, but I am looking to the future, to the time when I can start weaning off my steroids. One of the highest priorities in my life is to marry and have children. I don’t know about you, but steroids + baby just don’t mix in my book.

So, what is my advice? If you are adamant about stopping your meds, consult your physician as to the correct procedure. Cutting them completely from your body all at once can be detrimental to your health. In about a week, I am going for my annual check-up with my gastroenterologist. I will be informing him that I would like to try tapering off my meds in the near future. How would he suggest I do this? If he advises against the taper, I will be asking for his reasons. Of course, since he will have reasons for his disagreement, I will be taking that into serious consideration. The doctor knows his business, and if he sees in my tests and my overall well-being signs of vulnerability, I will not be tapering off my medications.

In the meantime, I will continue to live on the SCD. Praise God; it has gotten me to the point where I can actually consider being rid of my meds! So I can be patient a while longer.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet


When I first discovered that I had Crohn’s Disease, a friend from church and a relative 1900 miles away suggested the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet), almost simultaneously. My family and I stepped out in faith to try it out, believing that God was pointing me in that direction. I have not regretted our decision, though the struggle has been hard.

What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet was designed to heal the afflicted intestines and control symptoms. The reasons why food is not digested properly are laid out in Elaine Gottschall’s book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. It is necessary for any person suffering gastrointestinal disorders or maladies such as Autism to read this book thoroughly before embarking upon the diet. I didn’t, and I suffered the consequences later on.

To summarize briefly what the book details: Because many people with disorders like Crohn’s and Celiac Disease have lost the ability to digest disaccharides, a mucus layer develops in the intestine, blocking digestive enzymes from the disaccharides. There is an imbalance of bacteria in the intestines, which results in the malabsorption of nutrients.

Carbohydrates give energy to the intestinal microbes in a person’s system, continually feeding them so they grow. Thus, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet eliminates all the detrimental carbohydrates. These  include wheat (corn, as well), starches, and sugar.

So, what can you eat? Simple. Meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Bacon is an occasional treat, if fried crisply. Of course, you may be more sensitive to it than others. I can’t eat more than two slices once a week. Honey can be used in place of sugar. There are certain restrictions on fruits and vegetables as well (like potatoes), but it will be worth it cutting them out of your diet (see Breaking the Vicious Cycle for a list of “legal” and “illegal” foods). Some dairy is allowed; some cheeses and yogurt, if it is homemade, but NO milk. Instructions for homemade yogurt can also be found in Elaine Gottschall’s book. At some point, you will be able to introduce nut flours into your diet. The flour recommended is blanched almond flour (so far, we found that Lucy’s Kitchen Shop has the best deal), though I cannot handle that as well. I am on the verge of trying coconut flour, which is a little less expensive. When I’ve experimented with it, I will post my results.

This is a diet that must claim your careful attention and diligence. I realized after two years that I would never be able to completely go back to normal eating. My advice is that you don’t think ahead to the day where you can be “free” to eat whatever you please. Since you may not be able to do that, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Pray for peace. The Lord has put you in this situation. He wants to see you grow through it.

And don’t think that this diet is a burden! Sure, it’s hard at first, but once you get used to cooking in this way and reading labels, it won’t be so bad. Nowadays, I forget that I’m even on this diet, and my friends are always surprised at the wide variety of food I can make.

The Beginner’s Diet

That’s what my mom and I call the first stage of the SCD. For the first five days, the diet is extremely strict, allowing only those foods which will be easy on the system. The point of the Beginner’s Diet is to give your intestines a break. It’s a rest period for things to settle down. When I first started, my insides were so inflamed I stayed on this diet for even longer than they told me to. It’ll be different for everyone.

For a list of the SCD stages, go here. My mom found this later on, after I’d been on the diet for several months. It would’ve helped me so much more to have this at the very beginning.

I also suggest that, at any stage of the diet, if you have a relapse, go back to this beginner’s diet for a few days. I personally go on all liquids for the first two days, then I implement one solid meal on the third day, two on the fourth, and then all three on the fifth.

Above all, don’t give up. It is likely that, even if you are pain/reaction-free for months, you could have a sudden relapse here and there. Don’t be discouraged. The future results will far outweigh any relapses in between.

If you decide to embark upon this journey, I pray for your continued success. God bless!