Tag Archives: Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Holiday Survival Strategies

Holiday lights

I had a really trying Thanksgiving.

My husband, Chris, and I traveled back to Pennsylvania to celebrate it with our families. Both sets of parents live there and we haven’t been back for the turkey day festivities for over 10 years. It should’ve been wonderful… and most of it was, except that I was dealing with some major gut issues. I was suffering from my old nemesis, fructose malabsorption AND was having major problems with the rest of the FODMAPs, too.

We ate Thanksgiving dinner at his parent’s house, at my sister’s house, then at my parent’s house. You know what was on my Thanksgiving plates at all 3 of those places? Slabs of turkey. No cranberry sauce, no green beans, no nut butter-thickened turkey gravy. Turkey. That is it. My body simply wouldn’t stand for anything else.

Since then I’ve been doing much, MUCH better. I’ve really incorporated the low-FODMAP diet into SCD and have seen WONDERFUL results. Really, it is amazing.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I’ve navigated the holidays waters and have come out the other side without too many scrapes.

The following are my strategies to remain sane during digestive-problem-flares (to be utilized during any time of the year):

1.  Take care of yourself

First and foremost, make sure that you have plenty of your feel-good food. For those of us who suffer from malnutrition or have lost weight during the introduction phase, get enough calories. If you need a few extra portions of frozen chicken soup, make it and stick it in the freezer. If you believe that bone broth will help heal you, by all means, buy those stewing bones, drop them in a pot and let it simmer away on the stove!!

It is also critical to get enough sleep. I’ve borrowed this next part from the Paleo folks; make your bedroom dark and get to bed early! Bow out of those get togethers before your normal bedtime. Sometimes we all must draw those boundaries and guard your “recharge” time. For goodness sake, it will help you ward off colds and leave you feeling ready to face any holiday gatherings that you’ll attend. Best of all, sleep will give your body a chance to heal.

2. Pamper yourself

Over Thanksgiving, I had a few cups of tea everyday. I really enjoy a steaming mug of green tea or peppermint tea, but what you drink is your choice. It always makes me feel better.

I also love to sit by the fire with a good book. Or snuggle up with a cozy blanket around your shoulders and watch a great movie. For the men out there, watch a good football game.

For the women out there, other ideas include getting a manicure/pedicure or paint your nails yourself! A hair cut and weave always leave me feeling good and well taken care of, with little energy expended (but my wallet is a bit lighter when I leave the salon). Buy some special lotion or facial scrub, whatever will make you feel happiest.

3. Do NOT watch the Food Network or Cooking Channel

This one is self-explanatory.

4. Steer clear of bakeries and eateries with incredible (SCD-illegal) food/beer

When my health is poor, I often feel wistful about the food that I used to eat. And what I enjoyed A LOT was baked goods and fantastic restaurants. Damn those inventive bakers and chefs.

This category includes microbreweries with awesome ales (ah hem… this one is for the men) and wine/beer stores. If you must go into a store like this, steer clear of the dangerous aisles that are stocked with lots of craft beers. Stick to the aisles of dry wines (wines with low residual sugar) and buy something that you’re dying to try.

5. Focus on anything other than the kitchen and food

It really helps to keep my mind and body occupied with other thoughts and activities.

Wrap presents. Run errands for your mother. Get that last minute holiday gift (but avoid the mall’s food court).

Those ideas work during the holiday season, but what about during the festivities? These are my strategies to employ during holiday meals or parties:

1. Only help with the food preparation if you must

It is difficult to cook/bake food that you can’t eat, depending on how you feel.

2. Don’t look at the food on the table (if it is filled with stuff that you can’t eat)

Seriously, at Thanksgiving, I focused on my plate and on other people’s faces at the table. I didn’t let myself look below their faces. I kept my gaze fixed on them from the neck up and pretended that the table was just blurred out and fuzzy.

3. Focus on others by asking them questions

This useful strategy is a great mind-distracter. I used this one while at a Christmas luncheon at work. My colleagues ordered a few amazing appetizers that weren’t SCD-legal. While they began eating, the discussion lagged. I took this opportunity to lead the small talk. Not only did I learn more about my co-workers through my questions, but it also gave me a chance to tell them about things that interest me, which I usually don’t mention.

At the very least, employ one of these lines (depending on who you’re talking to):

Are you ready for Christmas?

What are you going to do for New Year’s Eve?

How was your Hanukkah?

4. After the meal, get away from the table ASAP

It is better not to linger at the table, especially when there are serving dishes with a few pieces left of delectable-looking fill-in-the-blank left on them. Do the dishes while coffee and dessert is being served. The hostess will thank you for it! If you must, go watch football with Uncle Billy and your 2 brother-in-laws. Get your nieces to show you what their favorite presents were. I’m not kidding, just get outta’ there!

I hope that you, dear Reader, are in good health and don’t need these strategies, but if you do, then good luck.

You will get through the holiday season. If I can do it, you can do it.

Happy Holidays and XO,

Theresa ~SCD Griddle

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Beginning, Blog

The Double-Edged Sword

I’m on a journey to heal myself through diet modification.

When I first learned of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), I immediately read Breaking the Vicious Cycle. Elaine’s book gave me the rules; for one to adhere to SCD, all you have to do is go through an introductory period, then the diet consists of meat, specific fruits and veggies, yogurt (and certain cheeses) and nuts. Simple, right? Really, that’s it.

I didn’t give it much thought. The science made sense to me. The rules were straightforward and in I jumped! (Of course, there are other great approaches like Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) for example.)

But I’ve come to realize that this simplicity is a double-edged sword.

Let me explain.

My journey on SCD has led me to a place where my health has drastically improved. I feel great, have tons of energy, my weight is normal again (thank the Lord) and have returned to a semi-normal workout schedule. Yogurt or nut butter (alone, or on bananas, or with almond flour pancakes) used to be my go-to snacks. They were yummy. I was happy. But while my body has been healing, my gut has informed me that it does not want to digest certain foods, like eggs, anything dairy, and large amounts of nuts (nut butters and nut flours). And I can’t rely on fruit when I want to grub because I’ve gotten fructose malabsorption and I don’t want it again!

The diet is a double-egded sword for me because – I flourish when I consume meat, specific veggies and small portions of fruit – but I can only eat meat, specific veggies and fruit. No more yogurt as my easy snack choice. And I certainly need to limit my consumption of nuts.

So, these goodies are off my list of acceptable food items and these mini-meals have become my downfall. I struggle with it everyday. Instead of noshing on yogurt, I must quiet the cravings for something, anything. Darn, it is hard, especially when I have time in my schedule (and I am not overly focused on something, like I was while studying for some licensing exams).

In battling the urge to snack, I realized something;

I devour treats in response to emotional triggers.

Some people believe that food is love. Others eat goodies as reward. My biggest emotional trigger is boredom. “Hmmm…” I say to myself, “do I want to escape my doldrums?”

My answer is always a resounding, “YES!!!” and I walk to the fridge to swipe a snack. And that bit of tastiness actually takes away that feeling for a few seconds.

Another reason I grab a bite is to buffer the transition from one activity to another. Do you understand what I mean? Like, I’ll be watching television, but it is time to take the dogs out. So I get up to walk them, but first I go by the kitchen and grab a muffin, stuff it in my mouth, then leave with the pooches. This is the pinnacle of mindless eating.

The only way to modify why I eat is to actually feel my emotions and then respond in ways other than eating.

UGH. It is tough. I don’t like feeling bored and I certainly enjoy a little bite of something when I get home from work. (Why do I feel like I’m on The Oprah Show?)

These are my strategies for dealing with the urge to snack (whatever the reason).

When I want a treat because of an emotional trigger, I stop a second. I try to identify the feeling. Then I acknowledge it and tell myself that I don’t need to put food into my mouth based on x, y or z emotion. I literally say to myself, “I am bored. That doesn’t mean I have to snack.”

It is hard to face the cold truth. It even harder to turn around and leave the kitchen without a decadent bite.

Another way I’ve dealt with the urge to nosh to ask myself, “Am I hungry enough to eat leftovers?” If the answer is yes, then sure, I’ll warm something up. Sometimes I find myself standing in my kitchen contemplating the leftovers are available for my consumption. A lot of times I leave empty-handed after this question, too.

I have also found that if I stay in the present and focus on the activity that I’m doing (or need to do), it will sometimes stop the incessant chatter in my brain, but only if I’m super-focused like a laser beam. This one doesn’t work very well for me most of the time, my urges are too basic, too built-in, too established.

My last strategy for dealing with actual hunger during non-meal times is to have savory snacks on hand, like beef jerky. This is a no-brainer. It quiets the urge and is substantial enough to take away any hunger-pangs. My only problem here is that I go through it too quickly.

These are my anti-snacking strategies and they have helped me confront my emotional triggers. They aren’t pretty. Diet modification requires a change in behavior and mindset. But you know, I’d rather grit my teeth and slug through personal choices and routines than be sick all of the time.  And if I can deal with the double-edged sword, you can too.

xo, Theresa SCD Griddle

4 Comments

Filed under Beginning, Blog

The Only Constant is Change

The only constant is change.

We’ve moved from the scorching furnace of summer into the harvest-time of fall.

The days gradually shorten. With an abundance of darkness, I’m tempted to try hibernation.

But I digress, I like to celebrate this time of year- it is Halloween.

I usually don’t go overboard with costumes and decorations, but I embrace the holiday in my own way.

My city holds an annual pumpkin festival. It is held in the park down the street.

While enjoying the activities and booths of arts and crafts last year, my husband and I came upon a pumpkin carver.

He sculpted the most wonderful jack o’ lanterns.

Aren’t they great?

As the tree leaves turn color and the autumn weather turns more crisp, I continue my journey on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

The SCD has revealed itself to be much more of a journey than I expected.

One of the biggest ways that I welcome the transition into fall is by altering what I cook.

These are my most recent undertakings:

I’ve been roasting pumpkins and seeds.

Who doesn’t love pumpkin? Wonderful in soups, amazing in baked goods.

And the seeds are great simply prepared with ghee and salt.

Or if I feel more adventurous, I add a few generous dashes of Penzy’s Spice mixtures.

The pumpkin seeds are crunchy and I was surprised that they didn’t give me trouble- I must be healing! 🙂

(After 7 months, I hope so!!)

Baking meats…

This turkey made a great dinner – with plenty of leftovers!

Don’t you love how the act of oven-roasting heats up the whole house?

Nice and warm and full of great scents.

I totally enjoy squashes…. roasted butternut squash is tasty.

Especially if I leave it until there is a touch of brown caramelization.

Add a bit of chopped parsley and it makes a perfect side dish!

It is so sweet that it is almost like dessert.

(But I’m sure you already knew that).

And speaking of dessert…. I whipped up this cheesecake. The recipe is in Breaking the Vicious Cycle.

Now that my diet is stable, I’m really drilling down to make sure I know what my sensitivities are.

That means that I need to try new things. So I baked up a batch of cheesecake, which is made with dry curd cottage cheese.

It went well at first…. then after dealing with my body reacting negatively over the course of a week or two, I realized that dairy and I don’t get along.

HUGE epiphany.

And yes, dairy includes yogurt….maybe I won’t cut yogurt out completely yet.

I’m surprised by the foods that I thought were my friends!

Now that I’ve cut way back on dairy, except for ghee,  I feel better!

Dairy is now the enemy.

I want to substitute  yogurt and dairy treats like cheesecake for a little meaty snack…

Something to keep on hand when I need some extra calories. Something safe.

I’m considering beef jerky.

Know of any good recipes? 🙂

Have I told you how much I like pecans and cashews?

I soak and dehydrate nuts weekly. These little babies made excellent snacks.

We seem to get along pretty well if properly soaked.

Never forget to soak them. Trust me.

This concludes my latest endeavors.

The SCD has revealed itself to be much more of a journey than I expected.

I’m surprised by the foods that I can’t tolerate… I thought many of them were my friends. Apparently not.

I’m surprised by the need for constant evaluation. My food tolerances keep changing; it definitely keeps me on my toes.

But I can take the continual modification because it means that I will just feel better and better.

And that is always a good thing.

I couldn’t leave you without one last picture of the magnificent jack o’ lanterns!

Happy Halloween!

xo, Theresa ~SCD Griddle

6 Comments

Filed under Beginning, Blog, The Griddle

A Balanced Life

Lately, I’ve had a lot to do.

I’m busy and you’re busy. We are all people with places to go and people to see. I don’t know how you deal with stress, but when my schedule gets hectic, my priorities become obvious.

For many years, what I regarded as important was wrong-headed. In the past, my husband was first on my list of priorities, followed by a very close second and third (I’m sorry to say), my job and my night classes. My health and “stomach problems” were somewhere much, much lower on the list. In fact, they were so low on the list that I ignored them for years.

These days I’m following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to heal myself. Feeling healthy and taking care of myself is much more important to me now. I’m willing to compromise unnecessary things in order to maintain a balance. It is hard to do, but I am determined to take care of my family while I consistently eat well to improve my health. Now that I’m in a crunch time, I’ve kept my schedule in equilibrium by shifting a few things; I get up before the sun rises  to work a few hours, then I go to my job. When I get home, I can focus on my family without feeling stressed.

I’ve cut out a lot of things in order to keep this balance.

I don’t watch much television anymore and I go to bed early. But these days, I actually have time to go on a date night with my husband. Or see friends. Imagine that! What has really helped me maintain order and harmony in my life is the SCD. This also requires some give and take. Yes, I’ve cut out complex carbohydrates and refined sugar. But meal preparation is a snap, thanks to bulk cooking, and my health is still improving.

I cannot describe how happy I am to have my diet and my health under control. And I’m glad to have my priorities straight.

 

xo,

Theresa ~ SCD Griddle

 

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under Beginning, Blog

The Best Approach to Diet Modification: Contentment

Bad attitudes will get you no where quick.

Since the beginning of March, I harbored a bad attitude. See, I’m on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). I struggled for 4 months while I tried to solve a few gastrointestinal problems by modifying what I ate. I went about doing the physical work of eating the proper items listed in Breaking the Vicious Cycle and in the stages listed on Pecanbread. Little did I know that my attitude toward SCD, or any kind of diet modification, would ultimately determine my success.

Fast and furious.

I approached SCD with a fast and furious attitude. When I began, I attempted to power through the stages because the faster I progressed, the quicker I’d be able to eat like a “normal” American. Basically I was unsatisfied, wanted more variety and I was hungry. I missed my creamy (real cream) coffee with sugar, I longed for a piece of cake and I craved chocolate. I desperately ticked down the foods listed in the stages. I spent hours in the kitchen; peel, cook, puree! I ignored many of the signs that my body tried to give me. Like the time my stomach felt flip-floppy after I devoured bananas fried in olive oil. I carried on, grateful that I didn’t end up in the bathroom after that banana, although many, many other times I did.

My new way of eating took over my life. I constantly stopped by the market to pick up this or that. With all of the busy-work, I didn’t face my ingrained attitudes. They remained un-mined and unexamined. I put on blinders and endured months of little success on SCD. By June, things got so bad that I faced the decision: quit or keep going. I stayed on SCD. I had more work to do.  I researched my issues; fructose malabsorption, leaky gut and phenols.

I started over. From the beginning. But this time around, I was armed with way more information. After a meal, I listened to the signals that my body gave me. It has told me lots of things. I have been doing the physical work of food preparation, which has dramatically decreased, and I’ve also scrutinized my deeply-held beliefs.

This time around, I have an attitude of contentment.

Being satisfied is the most powerful health-building attitude. Previously, I endured a few frantic months of utter failure, but now SCD is working for me. I am advancing through the food stages slowly and purposefully. My bodily reactions are my guide and I am extremely grateful to have arrived at this point.

Who knows if I’ll ever get back to a semi-normal American diet. At this point, I don’t really care. I am just happy that I’m not in the bathroom.

 

How did you approach diet modification? Did it work for you?

 

xo,

Theresa ~SCD Griddle

10 Comments

Filed under Beginning, Blog

Fructose Malabsorption Series Part 2: My Fast from Fruit

In part 1 of this series, I wrote about being on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and still having intestinal issues.

Fructose Malabsorption (FM) is the decreased ability to absorb fructose in the small intestine. As a result, there is undigested fructose in the gut, which in turn causes an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Just to reiterate, fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar that is found in fruits, vegetables and honey. It is  abundant in high fructose corn syrup and granulated fructose, both of which are illegal on SCD.

After a process of elimination, I realized that I was suffering from FM. Apparently, this is a common problem among people with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. So I searched for answers. My research turned up a few internet websites that listed the fructose quantities in both fruits and vegetables. However, the measured levels weren’t consistent from site to site. They weren’t even close.

Well, of course! Amounts of fructose differ according to ripeness, fertilizer levels in the soil, even the type of soil the plant is grown in effects the fruits and veggies.

When I was about to give up, I discovered a chart published by the American Dietic Association that gave broad recommendations. This is what I needed!

I’ve altered them to be SCD-legal. Here they are:

 

 

 

In order to relieve my symptoms, I modified what I ate and fasted from fruit.

I cut all honey, fruit, and almost all vegetables  out of my diet. Essentially, I consumed mostly protein for a few days. And you know what?

I began to feel better.

Since then, I’ve found that when my meals consist of mostly protein, low-fructose vegetables and fruit (occasionally goat’s milk yogurt), I feel great. I am careful to keep the fruit at very limited quantities because it makes me hyper. I am careful to watch phenol levels in fruits and veggies, too, which also effect me from time to time.

If you are also on the SCD and you are still experiencing problems, I urge you to try your own fast from fruit.

It is difficult because it is July and there is tons of excellent fruit in the markets, but it could make a huge difference in your life. It has in mine.

xo,

~Theresa, SCD Griddle

*Don’t confuse fructose malabsorption with hereditary fructose intolerance, which is totally different. Hereditary fructose intolerance is a rare genetic disorder in which the individual lacks the protein needed to break down fructose. The problem is obvious when the individual is a newborn.

Photo credit: http://www.thekitchn.com

8 Comments

Filed under Beginning, Blog

Fructose Malabsorption Series, Part 1: More Work to Do

A few weeks ago, I was frustrated.

Although I had been fanatically following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for months, I was not getting better. I only felt okay. Sometimes after I ate, I’d experience gastrointestinal problems (read: an unsettled stomach, diarrhea and bloating). These symptoms reminded me of the same issues I had before I started the SCD. I ate according to the SCD way – no complex carbs, no refined sugar and no gluten –  (as outlined in Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall). What was I going to do now?

My health seemed to be improving for awhile, but now I couldn’t progress beyond phase 3 as described in the Stages of the Diet by the Pecanbread website. Surely I thought, I should be beyond phase 3. I was disappointed.  I wanted to quit.

Even though I wanted to give up, I didn’t. Instead, I gathered up my courage.

I decided to take action, because I obviously had more work to do.

This is how it went down:

Last month,  I noticed how my digestion seemed to suffer after I ate almond flour pancakes. Actually, I had known this fact for a while, I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. My digestion wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t good – you know what I mean. Reluctantly, I decided to take a step towards a healthier gut. I stopped eating food that contained almond flour. This was difficult because I loved the bread-like quality of almond flour, even if it made me feel bad.

My sporadic symptoms continued to bother me. The timing of my GI troubles told me that my yogurt, fruit and honey shake was bothering me. The odd thing was, my symptoms didn’t occur after every shake. Well, I shrugged my shoulders and assumed my problems were related to the yogurt. Hestitantly, I cut dairy out of my diet.

Then I noticed that my symptoms were not only still present, but were happening more frequently. I was totally flabbergasted.

I searched for answers. I stared at my Food Log. I went through it page by page. The answer had to be here.

And it was. The answer was in front of me in black and white:

It was the fruit!

I almost always had negative GI symptoms after I ate fruit lately. Of course! I had thoughtlessly tried to fill the voids in my diet left by the numerous food options now deemed illegal by SCD, the almond flour,  and yogurt with fruit. Some days, I consumed 5 servings of it.

This was really, really hard to accept because sticking to the SCD has been one of the toughest things that I have ever done. I am not exaggerating. When I first began SCD, like most other people on the American diet, it was difficult to give up sweets, chocolate and starch-filled vegetables like potatoes. However, I was comforted by the fact that most fruit was legal; I could still partake of what I considered to be the luscious jewels of summer.  Lately, my Food Log told me, I was gobbling it down.

My system obviously couldn’t absorb the fructose present in the quantity of fruit that I consumed and as a result, I had fructose malabsorption. I thought it couldn’t happen to me because I ingested mostly meat and vegetables (or so I thought).

Well, I had more work to do. I got about the business of healing myself. I madly researched fructose malabsorption and investigated levels of fructose in fruits and vegetables. I learned a lot about the subject. I intend on sharing it with you, especially since it is July and seasonal fruit is plentiful.

I’ll tell you what I learned and how I handled things. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series.

xo,

Theresa – SCD Griddle

photo credit: fruiter.org

7 Comments

Filed under Beginning, Blog