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.

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. 😉 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.

Airplanes, Food, and the SCD


If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t presented any recipes to y’all lately, it’s because my family and I are preparing for a nine-day trip to New York, to see our extended family.

And we’re going by plane. Ugh.

If that isn’t bad enough, airplanes don’t like the SCD. No, they like to offer pretzels and junk-filled peanuts and Biscotti (*YUM*– 😦 ).  So, I have to bring my own food in order to survive.

About two weeks ahead of time, my mom and I discussed the possibilities. Our first decision was concerning Larabars, which are SCD-legal and oh-so-yummy. They are also filling, which is important when I am taking a long trip.

I also plan to bring some storebought applesauce that I have thoroughly investigated and found SCD-legal. Applesauce is a major staple in my every day life, and the cups are small, so there should be no problem getting them on the plane.

I also decided on some cheesesticks, which we’ve found at our local health food store.

I will prepare a small jar of homemade yogurt, already sweetened with honey (and maybe some berries) to take along.

Lastly, I plan on baking a batch of cookies, so that I don’t pig out on the Larabars right away.

Everything will be stored in a small cooler, which we will substitute for one of our carry-ons.

The last time I travelled with food, I put it through the X-ray machine (ew, but it had to be done). When leaving Texas, a lady called me over and examined my food, making sure things were sealed and questioning me a bit about my homemade yogurt. She let me through after that with no issues. However, when returning from New York, they wouldn’t let me take it. I am still going to try and take it to and from this time around, and if they don’t let me take it on the airplane, I will just eat it right then and there! So there! To put it in my mother’s words, “She’s not going to blow up.”

When I get to New York, my aunt will already have my yogurt ready. We also ordered some snack foods to be sent ahead of us, so everything will be available upon my arrival. We may still have to go shopping, but for little things.

I plan on keeping a food log of my stay in New York, in the hopes that it will inspire y’all for future plane trips. I know how hard it is to go different places on the SCD, but I’m here to show you that it can be done, and safely!

Happy travelling!

Substitutions


Hello, all!

I hope your week has been successful in the culinary realm. So far, I’ve not had one opportunity to experiment in the kitchen, but I have done a lot of thinking. So rest assured; I will have a recipe for you by the end of the week!

My topic for today is substitutions. Being on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, it’s sometimes hard to substitute certain ingredients.

For instance, what do you do when you want to make beef stew? We always used to put potatoes in our stew, but since they aren’t allowed on the diet, we usually just leave them out. However, recently I was experimenting on a recipe brainstorm for my cookbook and discovered that mushrooms make a hearty substitute in stews. Hoorah!

Another one of my favorite substitutes has been spaghetti squash. I use it in place of rice and–you guessed it–spaghetti. Italian meals aren’t the same without some sort of pasta, but spaghetti squash looks like the real thing and almost tastes like the real thing with lots of sauce, butter and salt. I even eat it plain. It’s soooo good.

What different substitutions have you discovered over the years?

LARABAR, anyone? Oooh, Yes…


My week was booked with homework and housework, so I am sorry to say that I do not have a recipe for y’all. While this makes me sad, I am taking this opportunity to rave about one of my store-bought, SCD-legal snack foods.

I discovered Larabars when I was in town, having nothing to eat and feeling pretty desperate. Home was 45 minutes away, so I couldn’t go and come back very easily. I was hesitant to try one, since I’d tried one once and hadn’t particularly liked it. But in the end, I just grabbed a Larabar Apple Pie and headed for the cash register. I was HUNGRY.

Well, it was just about the best thing I’d ever tasted. And it tasted *just* like apple pie. And it was made with all natural ingredients (NO gluten, NO sugar, NO soy, NO dairy, NO grains–just fruit, spices, and nuts). And I wanted *more*. 

Right now, I am content to stick with Apple Pie, but I’m starting to drool over some of those other flavors; Key Lime Pie and Ginger Snap, to be exact.

In Texas, Sunharvest and HEB carry them. Beyond Texas, I wouldn’t know, but I think you’d probably be safe to start searching in your local health food store… and then also, they’re on the internet.

If you decide to try them, I would urge you not to just take my word for it, but read each ingredient carefully and compare it to the dos and don’ts of the SCD. This snackbar is not allowed for beginners, but it’s something to look forward to, isn’t it?

Bon Appetit! 😉

(I entered this post in Slightly Indulgent Tuesday 5/18/10)

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!

Pickiness Doesn’t Pay


If you are a picky eater, you know what it’s like to have to go on a restrictive diet. So many options that would be available on that restrictive diet aren’t because you “don’t like it.” I am (or rather, was) one of the worst picky eaters. Most of the time, I’d say that I didn’t like a particular food simply because I’d never tried it. Shame on me!

After months of eating the same old things over and over and over again, I realized that I had to get over this pickiness, or I’d die of boredom on the SCD.

Little things, like putting fruit in my yogurt (which I’d never before found appealing) and trying shrimp scampi, have made a world of difference. I actually found a recipe for asparagus (I despise asparagus) that I might actually try! Once I got over my pickiness, the diet became ten times more delicious. 

So, my advice to you picky eaters is this: STOP IT! (To quote Bob Newhart)

😀

Cheaters Beware


The wedding celebration my family and I participated in was a huge success. The bride and groom were so pleased with the decorations, the way the tables were situated, and the abundance of fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, and desserts we and members of our church came up with.

The desserts were my downfall.

Since I’d volunteered to be the wedding photographer, I thought I wouldn’t be tempted by the petit fours, the cookies, the cream puffs, and the bride’s and groom’s cakes. “Oh,” I said to myself, “I’ll be too distracted to notice.”

Wrong.

I first indulged in a petit four, a pretty pink one my friend had made, with a mouth-watering purple flower on top. It was incredible. I vowed it would be my only “cheat.”

Well, a little while later, I meandered in the kitchen to see some chips of frosting (from the petit fours) just sitting there in a container. I picked on the frosting. More than once.

I went back into the reception hall. The wedding cake was being cut. I swiped some icing off the empty platter. It was So. Good.

Later, I “forced” my sister to take a slice of wedding cake so that I could taste the cake and icing together. Then, before the groom’s cake (chocolate on chocolate) was whisked away, I scooped up a finger-full.

Realizing that I was about to run amok, I made myself leave the kitchen during clean-up. But that didn’t stop me from getting another taste of that groom’s cake at our church lunch the next day.

My point is that even though you may think a little “cheat” here and there isn’t going to bother you, it can mess you up in the long run. I know from experience that letting myself indulge in illegal foods gives me a false sense of security. “One bite won’t hurt” turns into two bites, three bites, and so on.  Illegal foods can have an accumulative effect on your intestines, and it may take a while before the damage is felt. I’ve cheated before on a long-term basis, and six months later, I paid the consequences.

While I didn’t get sick this weekend, I regretted my weakness, and I’m still trying to tame the need for more sugar. Don’t anybody let me loose in a candy store, please.

Coming Soon: “Recipe Remedies”


Have you ever wanted to “fix” gluten, grain, sugar, or starch recipes, but didn’t have the time to experiment? Never fear! I can do it for you. Within the next couple of weeks, I will be starting a new series called “Recipe Remedies.” From the simple to the complex, I will be taking recipes from my ample collection and fixing them for your gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and starch-free needs!

Tell me what you think! Your feedback is very much appreciated as I begin this new project.

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Happy cooking, everybody!