Category Archives: Nutritional Intervention

Explaining That Diet Does Help Severe “Stomach” Problems

baadsgaard-alfrida-ludovica-vi-opstilling-med-ananas-druer-ogImagine having diarrhea 15 times a day, every day. Add some blood to that. While you try to walk across a university campus. Or coach basketball.  Or serve on a Navy ship in the middle of the vast ocean. Or learn to add, subtract, and multiply.

This is life with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, collectively called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). And when I was a medical student on general surgery, I swear it seems like we were digging around every day in some poor patient’s intestines due to his or her inflammatory bowel disease. Many emerged from surgery with bags to collect their liquid bowel movements.

I feel like I’ve heard it a thousand times. “My doctor says it doesn’t matter what I eat for my Crohn’s disease.” Have you heard that? Do you believe that? That’s 100% false. Research since the 1970s shows that patients can go into remission with special “nutritional shakes.” 

Patients are often convinced that food impacts their disease, but they can’t always pinpoint how or which foods. Medical studies weren’t very helpful in the past; they looked at things like fats, amino acids, and vitamin D, finding some correlations, but nothing to hang their hats on. So hard-working doctors just shrugged their shoulders and said, “It doesn’t really matter, dear patient. Just eat.” [Scram. I’ve got 8 patients waiting to see me. I don’t have time to listen to you speculate about whether or not milk gives you diarrhea.]

But fascinatingly, studies have shown for forty years now, plus or minus, that IBD can be controlled with nutrition! Well, more accurately put, researchers and patients controlled IBD with exclusive enteral nutrition. Exclusive enteral nutrition, EEN for short, is basically just a “nutrition” shake kind of like Ensure or PediaSure, only it tastes much worse. The ingredients in the shake have been pre-digested so they can be absorbed completely in the small intestine.

Studies have repeatedly and reproducibly shown great results for IBD patients and EEN, particularly Crohn’s disease. How great? Well how does upward of 100% sound to you for a remission rate? Would you even settle for a 70% rate? Yeah. That good. I’m cherry picking a little; some studies didn’t have such high success rates, but most did. And some studies that didn’t look all that good to begin with looked better after the study results were adjusted for patients who just couldn’t tolerate the special liquids (often quite a few). Also, results were consistently better for pediatric patients [who often heal more quickly and have to be compliant whether they like it or not—and sometimes choose to be compliant because they feel so much better!]. (Kansal, 2013)

But patients and doctors, I guess, weren’t having that. Too yucky. Too restrictive. (Just for interest, I notice that Nestle seems to make many of these nutritional EENs.)

What’s in that shake?

Great minds pontificated about what it was in the EEN drink which could cause these patients to do so well. They played around with the liquid formulas with good success, trying to make them less repulsive and less expensive. Then they pondered, “Well, can we let our patients eat [cake] and take some of this EEN stuff?”

So researchers let patients drink the liquid EEN formula and have free access to table food at the same time. Yum! With free access to table food, despite the nutritional “shake,” the remission rates weren’t as good as when a patient ate only EEN liquid—but they were better than the patients who received no EEN at all. Aha! So it’s starting to look like something in table food perpetuates increased inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease patients. (Triantafillidis, 2015)

Okay. All Mama’s good table food really threw a wrench in the great effects of the EEN shakes. What next?

Well, allowing table food was a step backward, and researchers thought, “We need another twist. What can we do? This is fun.”

So researchers gave patients nutritional “shakes” and they let them eat only certain allowed foods. (NO CAKE this time. Sorry.) Bingo. Success rates held at about 70% of patients showing improvement and or sustained remission. (I know a lot of doctors who made just 70% in class and are successfully practicing. Pass equals MD, baby. Seventy percent is pretty good.) That’s awesome. How happy would you be to be symptom-free and able to eat some real food?  (Sigall-Boneh, 2014)

It’s 2017. Can we ditch the EEN altogether and just eat real food?

Now, we have to cap it off. Could patients get off of the disgusting “shakes” altogether? (Good-bye, Nestle…) Well, the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology is about to publish a study done by a Dr. Suskind (and his team, of course!) from Seattle Children’s Hospital. Ten pediatric patients followed a diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for three months, and 80% of them had symptoms improve significantly and even resolve and lab markers normalize. Eighty-stinking-percent! Let me repeat: eighty percent success. WITH FOOD.

Way to go Dr. Suskind and team. Way to take medicine back to truly patient-centered, do-no-harm care! And most importantly: WAY TO GO PATIENTS AND PARENTS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THIS STUDY! Changing how you eat is hard work, and most people balk, standing in the corner cowering with too much fear to leave their pizza and bread behind. Not you. Not you. (Suskind, 2017)

[Click here for a readable summary of Suskind’s report and here for an abstract of it.]

Meh. Study needs to be bigger.

Now, I showed someone Suskind’s research summary, and she replied, “But there’s only ten patients. I wish it was bigger.”

Sigh. So do I. But it’s what we’ve got. And it’s so promising. I’m ebullient. Diet alone! Eighty percent remission! With real food. No diarrhea! No bleeding! No stomach cramps! Virtually 100% safe. No injections! No risk of white blood cell counts crashing. Why won’t people try this?

Reminds me of a verse I learned from a big book, although I’ve adapted it. “The fiddle plays and you won’t dance. The singer wails a mournful tune, and you will not cry.” We are hard to please. Impossible nearly. What do we want? A magic bullet pill with no side effects?

I must close now. But you will not want to miss my next post about the amazing stay-at-home mom who made it her life mission to show the world that inflammatory bowel disease can be controlled most of the times with real, whole food. And I’ll explain a little about the diet that saved her 8-year-old daughter’s life and which she spent her life studying and evangelizing.

Terri

Citations:

Kansal, S., et al. “Enteral nutrition in Crohn’s disease: an underused therapy.” Gastroenterology research and practice 2013 (2013).  https://www.hindawi.com/journals/grp/2013/482108/

Triantafillidis, John K., Costas Vagianos, and Apostolos E. Papalois. “The role of enteral nutrition in patients with inflammatory bowel disease: current aspects.” BioMed research international 2015 (2015). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352452/

Sigall-Boneh, Rotem, et al. “Partial enteral nutrition with a Crohn’s disease exclusion diet is effective for induction of remission in children and young adults with Crohn’s disease.” Inflammatory bowel diseases 20.8 (2014): 1353-1360. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263548102_Partial_Enteral_Nutrition_with_a_Crohn’s_Disease_Exclusion_Diet_Is_Effective_for_Induction_of_Remission_in_Children_and_Young_Adults_with_Crohn’s_Disease

Suskind, D. L., Cohen, S. A., Brittnacher, M. J., Wahbeh, G., Lee, D., Shaffer, M. L., … & Giefer, M. (2017). Clinical and Fecal Microbial Changes With Diet Therapy in Active Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. Abstract only: http://journals.lww.com/jcge/Abstract/publishahead/Clinical_and_Fecal_Microbial_Changes_With_Diet.98120.aspx

Tips So Kids Don’t Waste Meat

2048px-foodmeatIf you want your kids to eat meat, then you’d better give a little effort to make it look enticing.

This Christmas, my husband roasted the best tasting roast beef. I usually frantically try to plate my kids’ food for meals, not because I’m a control freak, but because observation has led me to see they don’t eat unsightly plated food as well as attractively plated food. So foods they might not eat so well, I work extra hard to make look tempting and plate for them. Sometimes presentation alone gets them to eat things they normally wouldn’t.

Well, I wasn’t the one to plate their food this time around. And that perfectly prepared, rare roast beast dribbled juicy, pink trickles linearly in each direction–and that “don’t fly” with most kids. That, to kids, is blood. I could have been reliving my childhood:

Eat that meat.”

What’s wrong with that meat?”

“There’s nothing wrong with that meat.”

“That’s expensive meat. Don’t you waste it.”

“Here, give me that meat.”

Oh, my dad would get so mad at me as I stared at my plate, pushing food around with my fork.

Meat is a valuable source of easily absorbable zinc, vitamin B 12, and iron. Certain kinds and cuts are rich in DHA and vitamin D3 and different amino acids. I’ve noticed among my four kids, one will eat meat like it’s candy. One will stare at it like it’s still alive on her plate and I’m making her eat it. The other two are kind of in the middle.

We are an omnivorous family, and to make life more simple, the kids need to eat what’s for supper. Sometimes it’s centered around meat. And sometimes it’s not. But I don’t like it to be wasted, particularly meat. It makes me super sad to waste meat.

Tips so kids don’t waste meat:

  1. Cut it into bite-sized pieces for them.
  2. Give them the most savory pieces.
  3. Serve them with flavorful, attractive drippings. (For example, when I roast a chicken, I drizzle a little of the drippings over their cut pieces, being careful to keep it right over the chicken itself.)
  4. Important: Sop up any unpleasant looking trickles, dribbles, or pools before giving them the plate, so you don’t have to answer the “Is that blood?” question.
  5. If you know they don’t like a particular meat, then don’t give them more than 3-5 average bite sized pieces.
  6. Get them to eat it while it’s still hot.
  7. Have them try it with a bite of something else that complements it.
  8. Sauces, sauces, sauces.
  9. Explain that meat has vitamin B 12, a nutrient that is very important for our brains and nerves to function. A nutrient difficult to get anywhere else.

Closing

I wish you the best in leading your kids toward eating real, whole foods. Some people feel best eating a meat-rich diet, while others can’t tolerate it. I see all sides from a scientific standpoint. You don’t need to defend your stance to me. But please try to eat real, whole food. Avoid chicken nuggets breaded with maltodextrin and milk protein and fried in vegetable oil. Avoid cold meat laden with potato starch. Try to steer towards unprocessed meats and include a broad range of cuts so your kids are getting the best array of amino acids. Don’t just eat the muscle meats.

And so important: Include an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables!

Let’s encourage our kids to eat real and try not to waste! So, what tips do you have that I left out?

Sincerely,

Terri

Help Me Stop This Destructive Pattern

Okay, dear friend. You said you can’t stop eating. You asked me to set you straight. So here it is.

  • ONE) It is winter. The body is craving dense, high fat, high caloric foods. It wants food. The light is low. It’s freezing. The body knows what it has done for thousands of years. Thank it for doing a good job for you. Its job.
  • TWO) Eat your foods. Enjoy them. Eat them gone. Eat a little then toss them. However you want. Binge. Savor over days. Eat them plain. Make your favorite dish with them. However. Be happy that food tastes so good. That temporarily it makes you feel so good! What joy is there in eating cardboard?
  • THREE) Accept you will feel crumby for a few days. Accept it may even exacerbate things over the next month. Don’t fight it. Don’t beat yourself up. Just accept it. You did what you did. You had your reasons. And now, you’ll journey forward. Pointing fingers simply wastes time and emotional resources. Pointing fingers is not productive except to tell you that there is resentment, fear, and anger.
  • FOUR) Resolve, after the food is eaten, to move from this place. You know your safe diet. You know what you like to eat to feel your best. Reassure your body that the feasting and celebration was great, and you thoroughly enjoyed it. You have let guilt go in favor of true appreciation. But you will now move back to where it likes to live. Routines are nice. Routines are reassuring. Rigid schedules are not. You’ve proved you’re not rigid. Good. But get back to the routine if you know that is ideal for you.
  • FIVE) When you try to get back to your routine, and you keep falling off, explore that. Again, no pointing fingers. That’s wasteful. Look. Are you really hungry? Are you really bored? Are you really sad? Are you really just wanting a distraction from the kids or the housework? Are you feeling sorry for yourself because it takes more work for you to feel good compared to other people? Are you simply tired?Then, ask yourself, what can you do. What can you do to go back to your routine? Is that routine really best for you? Or is there something about your food routine you need to change that is keeping you from easily jumping back on board? Do you need to eat earlier? Do you need to include a food that you know is marginal in your tolerance? Do you need to deal with a relationship? Are you feeling trapped by your diet, lifestyle, life?

    A struggle with the routine says there’s something that needs communicated to yourself. Either about the routine itself or the person who wants to adhere to the routine. Maybe it’s not the right routine. Or maybe it is, but the acceptance isn’t there. Just the ten pointing fingers. (Pointing fingers. Again, I say. Bad.)

  • SIX) NOW, GET YOUR HEAD ON STRAIGHT AND DO WHAT NEEDS DONE!!!!!!! WITH LOVE AND COMPASSION! 🙂 And recognize, it may not be what you thought at the beginning needed done!
Merry Christmas time! What a wonderful time! If you’re feeling stressed and frazzled, regroup. Prioritize. Lower or change expectations. Accept. Offer love and compassion to others and yourself.
The Homeschooling Doctor logoTerri

Are You Still Doing GAPS? Part II

wpid-IMAG0924.jpg
Welcome back to my self-interview about this voodoo diet called GAPS–

Wait–why do you call it a voodoo diet? Ha! I took to calling all this alternative stuff “voodoo” because, as a conventional medical doctor, I didn’t believe in it. It seemed like tricks and magic without real, tangible evidence and results. (Snake oil. Voodoo. Quack, quack. $Ching, ching, ching. All these people seemed in cahoots together.)

The GAPS diet especially seemed like spooky voodoo because it repeatedly talks about making and drinking broth from bones–bone broth– and eating animal organs. If that ain’t  “voodoo” sounding to a refined, civilized girl who eats cereal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch…

Do you still think it’s spooky? Nah. Now I realize it’s just a traditional way to recoup the needed minerals, proteins, and vitamins that are stored in bone and the organs of animals. It’s basically just using the whole animal, as cultures historically did before us.

I mean, it seems even a generation or two before us, kids were still forced to eat their liver. Not “their” liver, but the cow liver on their plate. They didn’t all run to the store to pop some vitamin D, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C pills. And ask the grandparents! You’ll find some of them who have an affinity for an organ they haven’t eaten in years!

My dad loves liver. My father-in-law heart. I remember eating the tongue with my own farming grandparents when I was a kid. Each meat cut and organ has its own vitamin, mineral, and amino acid profile! So by only eating white meat or steak, we are completely missing the gamut of beneficial nutrients, due to our snobbery and “advancement.” It’s a sad misuse of an animal. I’m so sorry to be perturbing  my vegetarian friends’ sensibilities. I know it sounds yucky.

Well, it does sound a little gross, I have to say. Anyhow, I have read some bad things about the GAPS diet? Can you mention some of those concerns?

Yes, well, there’s the concern of lead toxicity in the daily broth requirement.  If the animal is raised on a bucolic, yet lead-laden farm, then the animal can have a higher concentration of lead in its bones, seeping into your broth. I’ve read you can’t really predict which land will be high in lead levels because the lead can permeate the air, travel, and settle in a different area, remaining for years and years. Remember, we used to use lead in gas for our cars. So I’m not sure you could predict without testing, which farms will have higher lead than others. But I’m no expert. So, sure, there may be an unpredictable risk of lead.

Another concern is the effect of a sudden carbohydrate drop on the body. GAPS doesn’t have to be a low carb diet, but the introduction diet is way too easy to be almost no carbs at all! Most people just enter ketosis with uncomfortable symptoms, like headaches, fatigue, and a little nausea.

Other people, and kids are pretty sensitive, react violently to the ketosis transition, with horrible nausea and persistent vomiting. This really puts them at risk for electrolyte disturbances, which could land them up in the hospital! Most likely, and I’m not a GAPS provider or expert and you shouldn’t use my blog for medical advice, this could be avoided by making sure to eat carrots, winter squashes, pumpkin, and honey in the recommended tea. I personally think a slower transition to a low carb diet is much safer. When I transitioned, when I felt that low-carb feeling, I eased it with some cooked carrots and honey in my tea. I’m a weenie. But a safe weenie.

Food obsession is a definite concern too. The GAPS food list becomes a Bible. I remember my husband coming home when I was doing GAPS and showing me an article about orthorexia. This is an eating disorder where people obsess about eating healthy, judge themselves and others by how they eat, develop anxiety due to food choices, and basically, their whole life simply become wrapped up in food. I was glad he showed me this article. We talked about it together, decided no, that’s not where I was at, and then I proceeded with a new awareness of something that can easily afflict health-conscious people–myself included—if awareness is not high.

And then we get into raw eggs and raw milk and raw fish…

Oh, uh, yummy…by the way, what do you eat on GAPS? Well, the book has a whole list of do’s and don’ts. But, basically you eat lots of vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, squash. Meats, trying to incorporate grazing animals that roam pretty freely outside–and not just eating one cut of meat, but the whole animal, including organ meats.

Eggs, seafood. Fruits. lentils and specific beans, soaked. Nuts. Honey. Peanuts are okay, too. And then daily consumption of fermented foods for probiotics and homemade broths (using leftover scraps and bones) for the minerals and amino acid profile.

But what shocks most people is that there are no grains or potatoes allowed. Not even sweet potatoes. GAPS’ carb foods are things like carrots, squashes, lentils, honey, navy beans, fruits, peas.

Did GAPS “cure” you?  No. It did improve me, though to the point that my GI symptoms were very tolerable. It also showed me that the many headaches I was getting wasn’t just my kids. (Love you, girls!) Ha! I had some sensitivities to particular foods, like eggs, which give me headaches. But I had to carefully do and re-do the introduction, elimination type part of the diet to figure that all out.

What do you mean? Sensitivities? Geesh! You had to take out MORE foods? Yes! A full GAPS diet would have been disastrous for me, but because I went through the introduction and followed the author’s suggestions on watching for food intolerances, I was able to identify problem foods I had: dairy, nuts, eggs, chicken, coconut.  After 18 months on GAPS, those foods still bothered me (and still do).  GAPS helped me but did not cure me.

But the GAPS diet is laden with foods that will bother many autoimmune-ish people, like dairy, nuts, eggs, and legumes. All very “healthy” foods that I think should be in a person’s diet if they are tolerated.

WAIT a minute. Are you kidding me? Some people have to take it further than GAPS or Paleo?

Well, nobody has to do anything! Right!? It’s important to remember that! This is always a choice! But, yes. Some people will find much relief in taking their diets down to whole food and then further eliminating nightshades, legumes (beans and lentils), all nuts and seeds, all dairy, eggs, all grains (wheat, soy, corn, even rice and quinoa). Also, watching out for reactions that are very individual, like avocados or shellfish or coconut, etc.

But remember, the goal is not to be a martyr or to be “cool,” the goal is to feel better, to feel like yourself. And your own diet tailoring will take you there, not somebody elses.

Are you sure this stuff, it’s not all in your head? Or those people’s heads? Could be. But my head really wants it to be okay to eat pizza. I’d love me some pizza. My head wants pizza. It’s my favorite food. But when my head starts eating pizza, my body gets mad. My head is like, “Ah, see! That wasn’t so bad, and it was delicious.” And my belly is like, “What did you just do to me?”

Would the “you now” recommend the diet to the “you back then”? 

When I started this nutrition stuff, I needed an extremist to bring me to my eating knees. All my food came from a box. It all had dairy and wheat. And I didn’t really see anything wrong with that. Mostly, I’m not extremist in anything. I always thought that a really good diet (and life) allowed absolutely anything in moderation. But my gut and headaches didn’t agree, and food definitely played a role. I haven’t read a better book at explaining how to eat 100% unprocessed food than Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) book.

I mean, she taught me that even tea bags were processed and that “whole food” tea would be the loose leaf tea, or even better, the mint you grow in your garden. However, the GAPS book is not really written in a scientific manner, it is more evangelical–and maybe even fanatical?

It is written to drive things home and to allow for no exceptions.  I needed Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s unique, rigid approach. There’s no looking for GAPS-legal processed foods because honestly, none exist.  (Heck, even nuts are supposed to be soaked!) If I had a loophole, I would have wriggled my logic right through it. 

Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS diet book breaks things down in a simple, general way for pretty accurate reading–but could definitely be considered reductionisic or “fruity” by anyone with a medical or scientific background.

I would recommend to myself back then that I not be afraid of any real, whole food, and that I introduce it slowly, seeing how I do. Not just follow the GAPS list of foods. Start with those, and then not be afraid to journey forward.

Do you believe everything in the book?

No.  Not as stated.  But yes, I do see now with my research that the gut and its bacteria play a huge role in the body’s pathology. I see where soaking nuts and beans helps. And where eating organ meats and bone broth supplies needed nutrients.

I do not find her “allergy testing” on the skin to be useful or practical. It may even be dangerous. Someone with a severe food allergy may think, because their skin doesn’t have any changes after putting some of that food on their skin overnight, it’s okay to eat a known allergenic food.

I’m still not a fan of raw milk. Sure, if it’s my cow, I wash the teats, and I milk the animal.

Mostly, I know that one plan will NOT fit all. Ever.

Well, let’s stop talking and see if anyone wants to comment. Okay. Good. I hope people remember that this blog is a place of sounding ideas, sharing ideas, not one of guidance. Ha! “Like the blind leading the blind, shan’t they both fall in the ditch…”

Questions? Comments? Gripes? Complaints?

Terri

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Recipe Adaptation Tips and Links

sweetcashewcream-1Are you struggling with any Thanksgiving recipe adaptations? Have an awesome adaptation discovery you’d love to share? Please stop by today’s post!

My greatest adaptation tip is that most of the time, I can substitute olive oil for butter—-in baked goods, for topping steamed vegetables, and in casseroles. Obviously this won’t work for something like caramel! Another tip I’d like to share is to not give up on a beloved recipe; there’s almost always a way to adapt it. I have kept all my old recipes and over the last few years, I’ve been slowly adapting them as I learn new cooking and baking techniques and supplies.

Okay. Let’s look at how to adapt most of those Thanksgiving favorites.

Mashed Potatoes: I use tons of good quality olive oil, some full-fat coconut milk, and salt and pepper.

Tips: Don’t use too much coconut milk or they’ll taste like coconut. I use about a 50/50 oil to coconut milk ratio (heavier on the olive oil, more scant on the coconut milk), and my family is good with that. If you do get more coconut flavor than you’d like, it can be countered by adding some garlic, rosemary, and/or chives.

Gravy: Arrowroot flour/powder is my go-to thickener now. It works but it is finicky like a princess’s cat. I suggest that you do NOT add it to boiling substances or you’ll get a snot consistency. And when you add it, whisk like your life depended on it. Tapioca starch/flour is similar in nature, and I treat it the same. I have noticed that performance does depend on the brand! My higher quality flours perform better.

Procedure: I use about 1 tablespoon of arrowroot for each cup of liquid. First, I make an arrowroot slurry by mixing the arrowroot in the smallest amount of lukewarm temperature water as possible (maybe a tablespoon for a tablespoon), and I set that aside. Next, I bring my gravy broth to a boil, shut off the heat, move the pan over off the burner, THEN add the arrowroot slurry, whisking like crazy.

Green Bean Casserole: For this one, I make my own onion rings, dipping onions in a gluten-free flour and then frying them, and I make a homemade mushroom soup. It’s a lengthy process but my family loves it so much. Here is my recipe. I like it better than other ones I’ve seen out there because the onion rings are closest to the ones I remember from the can.

Cranberry Gelatin Salad: In place of Jello, I use plain gelatin and juice to make my own gelatin. I use maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. Everything else is just the same as the recipe has been handed down through the generations. Here is my recipe.

Corn Casserole: I haven’t adapted this one to reach the near 100% whole food mark yet, but I’ve adapted it for gluten-free, dairy-free. Everyone’s favorite family recipe is a little different, but you can find gluten-free, dairy-free cornbread mixes at the store. There are gluten-free, dairy-free brands of canned cream corn you can use. Use olive oil in place of butter. If your recipe calls for sour cream, you could try making some cashew cream as a substitute. (But plan ahead, you have to find raw cashews and soak them for several hours.) Have you perfected this adaptation?

Pecan Pie: Easily adaptable. I use olive oil in place of butter, maple syrup in place of corn syrup and brown sugar, and arrowroot in place of flour for thickening. Here is my recipe.

Pumpkin Pie: Another easily adaptable pie. I use maple syrup in place of sugar and any dairy-free milk for the milk.

Coconut cream, banana cream, and peanut butter cream pies: I’ve had success with adapting these using alternative milks (coconut cream is best for the consistency as it has the most fat) and arrowroot in place of flour.

Pie Crust: There are very pleasant gluten-free, dairy-free pie crusts available frozen in the store. My daughter makes her own crust using Bob’s Red Mill (I believe any gluten-free flour combination will work. We have tried just using arrowroot for this recipe. But it got stringy, so best to make it with a “combination” gluten-free mix.) I believe I also featured this recipe in my pecan pie post.

Granny’s Adapted Pinch Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup of gluten-free flour (tested with Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Follow these directions very closely. It’s not hard, but the wording is confusing!

In a 1/2 cup measuring cup, put in 3 tablespoons of milk and then fill, IN THE SAME 1/2 cup measuring cup with the milk still in it, up to the 1/2 cup mark with olive oil.

Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Whisk together to immerse. Add the flour and mix well. Use your hands to knead gently and briefly.

Push into the pie pan.  We do this by forming about 8 or so little balls and placing them around the pan. Then, we push them together, up the side of the pan, and a little bit over the lip of the pan Next, we use our fingers to flute the edge.

Use as directed in your recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole: We make the kind with the pecans and glaze on top. It is so good. Here is my recipe. However, there are some marshmallows you can buy now that don’t use any food coloring, if you need to do the marshmallow topping.

Whipped cream: I make a sweetened cashew cream. I haven’t posted the recipe yet on the blog, so I can’t link to it. But it’s very similar to the ones that are out there on the internet if you care to Google it. Or ask below, and I’ll type it in the comments for you.

Stuffing/dressing: I don’t have this one adapted yet. My family doesn’t miss it too much. But there are some great recipes out there. Do you have one?

Need to be egg-free? Following an auto-immune diet? Lastly, I highly recommend The Curious Coconut and her autoimmune recipes for more rigid food restrictions. I don’t know her at all. But I have purchased her holiday e-cookbook and it is amazing! I recommend trying some of the recipes ahead of time because they’re a little tricky and can give unexpected results! We have made a couple of the dinner rolls, and they looked so cute in her photos…

What questions do you have about adapting recipes? Are you stuck on one? Are you scared to try? Do you have an AWESOME one you’d love to share?

Choose food that doesn’t make you sick and doesn’t make you overeat. Best wishes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Terri

 

 

Do You Have Some Medical Misconceptions?

Four years ago I stepped into a new medical realm to fix some GI problems. I bought lots of books, joined some internet forums, and read like the dickens. I can distinctly remember the feeling of smugness when I first started reading forums, as the members talked about so many things I thought I had the best information on. Some fallacies I started with include:

  1. Leaky gut is not real.
  2. Folic acid is just as good as natural folate.
  3. We get enough iodine.
  4. Cholesterol is bad for you.
  5. Fat is bad for you.
  6. Saturated fat is really bad for you.
  7. Vegetable oil is better for you.
  8. Diets should be rich in whole grains and fat-free dairy products.
  9. The American Diabetes Association and nutritionists had the best diet figured out for diabetic patients.
  10. The American Heart Association had the best diet figured out for heart patients.
  11. Not much crosses the blood brain barrier, thereby making the brain an island unto itself.
  12. Gluten-free, dairy-free diets are foolish fads.

So many misconceptions! How did I learn those things? Well, let me tell you. The pace of medical school and residency is breakneck. My professors and staff doctors verbally handed me the information that they thought I needed. Some of them were bigwigs on boards and in associations. They helped make guidelines. They wrote textbooks. They taught medical continuing education.

I took notes. I filed away what they said. I did a good job.

And I kept right on passing that information along.

It’s not right, folks.

  1. The best thing you can do for your health is inspect what you eat. If you pop or smear any medicine at all (for allergies, headaches, coughing, heartburn, skin rashes), you need to take it down to 100% whole food as a bare minimum place to start. 100%.
  2. Then, you need to look at the known allergenic foods (often called the Top 8: dairy, eggs, peanuts, nuts, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish—I’d personally also throw corn in there from talking to a lot of moms) and think hard about trying an elimination diet to take those out for a time, slowly reintroducing them back in one food at a time. Talk to your healthcare provider about this.
  3. You need to find some real vegetables and real starches you can ingest and feel good on. Great vegetables are broccoli, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, Brussels, asparagus, spinach, kale, endive, radishes, cucumbers. Great real starches are potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, parsnips, butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin, cassava root.
  4. Get good sleep.
  5. Move.
  6. Get outdoors.
  7. Use your brain to think more and solve more problems. (Not necessarily the world’s problems, probably best to start with your own. I suppose if you don’t have any, then it’s okay to proceed to the world’s at your own risk.)
  8.  Tackle your misconceptions about yourself, your friends, your spouse, your family your enemies. Then, get right with yourself, your friends, your spouse, your family, your enemies. See another viewpoint.
  9. Modern medicine tries to separate “us” from the body. I think that’s a huge misconception and would like to suggest something. Pray every single day for yourself for five minutes consecutively to Someone Out There. (Any health hacker up to the challenge?)  I’m Christian. I don’t know or even really care what you are. But over the last year, I’ve tried something a little foreign to me. I’ve taken to praying for myself. I used to think it was selfish to pray for myself. So many other people had big, bad, scary problems; I needed to pray for them first! And by the time I got through them, I had fallen asleep already. Oops.But over the last year, I’ve taken to praying for myself first. Hardest. Most. One month, in fact, I only allowed myself to pray for myself. (Heavens, of course I cheated.) And that has been life-changing for me. Looking at it now, I feel so “duh.” Of course I needed my own prayer the most! We all do! Well, anyhow. Science is showing that meditation, yoga, mindfulness, whatever, that these things affect our health. So try it. Pray to Someone Out There. Pour out your fears, your challenges, the people who get under your skin, your petty grievances, your body aches, your anger, your hurt, your desires–pour it all out to this Someone Out There. I dare you to try it every single day, on your knees or back or toilet even (so sorry), for five minutes a day for 30 whole days in a row. Just try it. No one else allowed in your prayers except you and The Someone Out There; you can pray for other people later.

Well, I’ve digressed. I wish you the best success in feeling good with life and fixing your own misconceptions. What I learned in med school was great. I’m glad I did it. Modern medicine is amazing. Just this month it saved my little girls’ life. 100 years ago, she may have died or been permanently affected. We need modern medicine. But we also need to do the other things.

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I’ll get back to writing more regular. I’m so excited to be reading about the blood brain barrier, microglial cells, and brain fog. I don’t know how it will all come together, but I can’t wait to summarize it all up and share.

Terri

 

 

Can I Get That Banana in Pill Form?

YOU THINK YOU EAT vegetables, fruits, and plant matter just to get your daily dose of vitamin C or folate? Perhaps so, but since you can get those from vitamins and supplements, why go to the pain of cooking when you could pop a pill? Goodness, even boxed donuts are fortified with iron and B vitamins! So vegetables, fruits, and plant matter that nobody really wants to eat seem senseless anyhow.

Right?

No way.

Interruption: Thank you SO much to Molly Green Magazine for giving me a spot to share the medical value of eating real, whole food. My article here you’re reading today ran to help provide an alternative viewpoint to a ketogenic diet article running in the same issue. I just love that the editor loves to keep things balanced! And for the record, I absolutely see a place for ketogenic diets, but I am very wary of protecting the microbiome too.

In addition to my article, this quarter of Molly Green Magazine features articles on “Aquaponics: A Fishy Business,” “Duck Egg Delights,” “Strawesome: An Alternative to Plastic,” “SEO: The Key to Growing a Business,” and “Help! My Homeschool Teen is Being a Pain”—and other fascinating topics for exceptionally curious minds! Check it out! 

Bacteria and Macaroni and Cheese

You can’t have the easy way out! Nice try. The real reason to eat plant matter is for the trillions of bacteria living within you. It sounds strange, but our intestines are perfectly designed to function in sync with billions of bacteria living and giving inside of us—as long as we feed them properly. Unfortunately, the processed foods that we rely on, such as most breakfast cereals, macaroni and cheese, most store-bought bread, crackers, and pizza (and certainly white sugar), do not make it to the lower part of the intestines where these bacteria live. We are starving out some exceptionally friendly, essential bacteria that we need for our health.

The Case of the Missing Fiber

Those essential bacteria need fiber. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you loftily say. “I’ve heard of fiber. I eat lots of oatmeal and salads.”

No. That won’t cut it. It’s not enough. There’s one type of fiber that was naturally included in traditional, healthy cultures which is virtually absent in today’s civilized, processed diet. It’s called resistant starch. Yes, you’re reading correctly; the fiber that you need and probably are not getting is a form of starch. It’s not broken down by the body to be absorbed like other starch is (and thus you don’t get all those calories), so it makes its way to where the bacteria live in your colon.

When the bacteria there eat this resistant starch, they make beneficial, natural substances that bathe the colon cells and reduce colon cancer. However, the bacteria’s by-products also work to fight diabetes, boost the functioning of the brain (perhaps decreasing dementia), soothe the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and support a healthy metabolism. In fact, this kind of “fiber” is so important food companies are researching ways to add it to your food!

But there’s no need to wait and get it from a box or modified plant. Of course not. Real food always wins! Get the benefits of resistant starch and its power without spending any extra money on your food bill and without your family giving you dirty looks. I mean, they eat rice, potatoes, and bananas, don’t they? Yes! You’re in business. Health is on the way. If you want to get fancy, green peas, lentils, beans, and plantains can be added to the mix.

The Value of Leftovers

Wait. This is too good. You know there has to be a catch. Well, there is a small one. Resistant starch is a bit fussy and might go away as a food ripens or when a food is cooked, at least when it’s cooked and hot the first time around. It’s related to some fascinating physical chemistry. Although Grandma didn’t know the physical chemistry, when she served leftovers or made a potato salad, bean salad, or rice salad, she was serving resistant starch.

For potatoes, resistant starch is available in raw potatoes, but most people don’t like those too well. (Did you know that despite what people say, eating raw potatoes is not toxic? Green potatoes are potentially toxic, and cooking does not inactivate the toxin.) Cooking potatoes changes the resistant starch to available starch, which is nearly all absorbed so your gut bacteria don’t get any food. However, cooling the cooked potato in the refrigerator re-forms resistant starch. Eat the potatoes cold (as in potato salad) or reheating them up at this point still preserves the resistant starch.

When it comes to cooked rice, cooling it down also allows resistant starch to form; fresh, hot, cooked rice has little to no resistant starch. Lentils and beans (especially navy beans) contain some available resistant starch when cooked, but they will also form more as they cool down in the refrigerator, too. Grains, nuts, and seeds contain some resistant starch, but potatoes, green bananas and plantains, and legumes contain more. As for bananas and plantains, resistant starch is found in green fruits. As the fruit yellows, the starch becomes plain starch which feeds you more than your bacteria.

It’s Not about Roughage

For people who are on low-carbohydrate diets, such as for weight loss, diabetes, or to control other health conditions, it is vitally important to eat fiber, including resistant starch.

Unfortunately, when people think of “fiber,” they think of “roughage.” It is so much more than the “rough” matter in the vegetables and fruits we need! The roughage may be the least important part because the bacteria do not create beneficial substances from it! If our gut bacteria are not fed properly, the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract can be compromised, the colon cells will not receive the beneficial substances formed by the bacteria, and the rest of the body’s functions will be affected.

It’s a little confusing how bacteria living in our digestive tracts can affect the neurons and myelin sheaths in our brains—or how they can regulate our blood sugars and body size. But research is proving this to be true, and science is backpedaling as it realizes how far off base we have gotten in our modern eating habits.

A diet rich in whole, real plant matter feeds us not only our vitamins and minerals, but also feeds our gut bacteria important substances like resistant starch. Maybe health doesn’t come in a pill after all. Eat whole. Eat real.