Trial and Error


What do you do when you’ve been feeling GREAT on the SCD for a long time? Do you go off the diet, do you stick with it, what?

I find that I tend to get confident in my health and indulge in things I shouldn’t. Sometimes I don’t have a reaction, sometimes I do. It really depends on the person’s convictions on the subject of diet. Some of you may balk at the idea of trying new, “illegal” foods because you are doing so well. THAT is GREAT. To maintain your determination can be hard when you are feeling so good you almost forget you even had a gastrointestinal disorder.

For others, like myself, I grow weary of my restrictions and look for something outside the diet to satisfy my cravings.

That is not to say I shelved the diet. Not at all. Instead, however, I allow gluten-free products in OCCASIONALLY… and I try to keep them sugar-free as often as I can, too.

Unfortunately, my way of handling things I would not suggest to anyone who is still very new to the diet, or who still has frequent relapses. I cannot judge how your body reacts to food as opposed to mind, so advice is out of the question. ūüôā All I can say is to read your body, understand how it works, and move on from there. It’s a matter of trial and error, and some people understandably don’t wish to take the risk. I didn’t either at one time!

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Gastrointestinal Disorders and Seasonal Change


Have you ever wondered why, after months of eating the same thing and not having a reaction, that you suddenly have a painful bout of gastrointestinal upset? On the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, have you ever suddenly become sensitive to a food that is considered 100% legal?

I have, and it was confusing until I started seeing a pattern.

You see, every year, approximately between August and October, my sensitivity to food escalates. When I first started eating the SCD way, I was always in the hospital within that time period.

My first gastroenterologist explained to me that it is often the case that the change of the seasons affects our immune systems. One of his patients was always in the hospital in August, every year, without fail.

Thank God I am no longer in that boat. Two years ago September 15th, I paid my last visit to the hospital.

So what have I done to prepare for this seasonal sensitivity? I keep (or try to keep) to the diet diligently, and perhaps limit my intake of certain foods I know to be more hazardous at this time of year.

Let me give you an example. For me, fibrous foods have always been hazardous if overdone. For the most part, I watch my fiber carefully, but at this time of year, I would perhaps pick a non-fibrous food over a fibrous one, or cut my portions even more than I do on a regular basis.

Everyone’s situation will be different. It’s all part of learning to read your body correctly and plan ahead for the times when you are weakened.

Mountain-Moving


“So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them'” Mark 11:22-24.

As Christians, we talk about the faith that can move mountains. We say we believe the promises of God. We say we trust in Him to take care of us. But deep down, I don’t think we get our mind fully around the idea fact that faith can move mountains. Often we say to the mountains in our lives, “be moved and cast into the sea,” not really believing that it will actually happen. We “hope” it will happen. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful–a miracle!–if such and such would just disappear from my life forever.”

“…Believe…and you will have.” How much plainer could Jesus be? Jesus will grant our requests if we truly believe they will come to pass.

This doesn’t mean that, if it isn’t the Lord’s will, our requests will still be granted. The Lord decides what is good and right for us. But if we are living in God’s will for our lives (obeying His commands), and if our requests are in accordance to His will, why wouldn’t He grant those things which we so desire?

The gospel of Matthew gives a clear example of faith becoming reality.

“When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, ‘Son of David, have mercy on us!’ And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to him. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’ And their eyes were open” (Matthew 9:27-30a).

Because the two blind men did not doubt that the Lord could heal their eyes, Jesus granted them their sight.

Why can’t we believe that the Lord will heal us of our maladies? Lord willing, it will be, if we believe without doubting.

Amen and amen.

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?

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. ūüėČ 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.

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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.

Giving Thanks… In Everything


“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Is that verse up there saying what I think it’s saying?

Yes. I kid you not. I quoted that verse word for word. I even emphasized that one certain phrase in every way possible so that y’all are sure to see it.

I’ll quote it again for good measure.

In everything give thanks.

What does that mean? Does it mean we should be thankful for all the good things God has given us, every gift Christ has bestowed on us through His precious blood? Well, yes, of course it means those things.

Does it mean being thankful for the whole earth, all the resources available to us, all our family, friends, etc? Again, yes.

Does it mean being thankful in the midst of dealing with a gastrointestinal disease? Cancer? Death?

Yes.

I don’t say that flippantly.¬†I am scared of these things. While life has its blessings, life is also a tragedy, stained¬†by sin. Just as there are good things in our lives, there are bad things that disrupt our lives and, sometimes, alter our lives forever.

Our natural instinct is to loath these things, to ask God why He ordained such things to happen to His children. To rebel against them with all our being.

In everything give thanks.

That means just what it says–everything. Although I suffer from a gastrointestinal disorder–which I would give anything to be rid of–I give thanks, because I know the Lord is challenging me, as a Father to His child. He is asking me a question. Do I trust Him with my life? Or do I lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6)? Do I depend on my finite knowledge or His infinite knowledge?

God is challenging me for a reason. I may not know what that reason is, but praise God that He sees in me something worth challenging!

Amen.

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 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.

Of Food and Travel


As I’ve said before, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet has worked wonders on my system. Praise God! Knowing that I can control my symptoms with the kind of food I eat has certainly been a blessing.

However,¬†you may be thinking, “The¬†SCD is fine and good in the home, but what happens when I go out? Or when I travel? How can I stay on the diet when others don’t know what I can and can’t eat?”

Here are some easy tips that will make social gatherings easy and stress-free:

  1. Always go prepared. I never go anywhere without a snackbar, cheese, or other SCD-legal goodies. I eat constantly, so even on short car trips, I need something to nibble.
  2. Ask what is being served. I know this may be embarrassing sometimes, but you just need to get over that. If you are going over a friend’s house for dinner, ask what they’re cooking, what seasonings and spices they’re using, and what ingredients are in those spices. Don’t be shy about asking for details. Your health depends on a complete openness between you and the cook. The same goes for public gatherings. Either ask, or just bring something along.
  3. Save leftovers. My family’s church has a fellowship lunch every Sunday afternoon. On the preceding Friday or Saturday, I try to make sure I set aside enough food for Sunday, so I don’t have to rush to make something before church. I’ve found that leftover veggies don’t always re-heat very well, so I just toss in some frozen green beans Sunday morning.
  4. If you are dining out, emphasize to your waiter that you either must know exactly what’s in something, or that whatever you order must not be seasoned at all. I usually ask my meat to be seasoned with salt and pepper and my veggies to be steamed.

Road trips are a little more difficult, because of the need to keep things cool. I attend a church retreat six hours away in the Piney Woods of East Texas. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so I have to prepare my food ahead of time and pack an entire cooler. The food provided at the retreat is delicious, but “illegal.” Fortunately, there is a refrigerator available in which to store my food.

Plane trips are the hardest. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to take certain foodstuffs, such as homemade yogurt, along on the plane. When my family and I went up to New York last year, I was able to board the plane in San Antonio with homemade yogurt, but I wasn’t able to leave New York with it. Airports are more tolerant of storebought goods, since they are sealed and have labels and ingredient lists.

So that takes care of the plane. But what about when you get where you’re going? It depends,¬†really, on where you go. If you’re visiting friends or family, ask them for help. My aunt bought a yogurt maker and prepared some yogurt to be ready upon my arrival. She also bought some cheese, one of my favorite snacks. After we’d arrived, we went shopping and stocked my relatives’ refrigerators with fruit and other legal foodstuffs. My¬†extended family¬†took very good care of me the entire time we visited.

If you’re flying somewhere new, find a hotel room with a refrigerator, at least, if not a kitchenette, depending on what you can afford.

For any road or plane trip, don’t overdo any one thing. Portioning is very important in any situation, but especially when you are away from home. I went to Idaho for a festival back in 2007 and ate nothing but fruit and steak. Needless to say, I was terribly sick after I came back home. Balancing your fruits, vegetables, and meat will keep your digestive tract in good condition.

Sometimes it will be impossible to make yogurt. For these situations, take probiotics along.

Lastly, don’t forget to drink water. As important as it is at home, to cleanse your body away from home is even more important. Your system may already be a little affected by the change in the atmosphere, your different surroundings, the difference in temperature, etc.

To summarize, be cautious. Ask questions, portion your food. But above all, relax and remember to enjoy yourself.

Do you have any travel tips for SCDieters? Feel free to comment below! I’m always open to new suggestions.

Happy travelling!