Tag Archives: SCD

Before You Give Up On Your Diet

By NMajik at en.wikipedia (Own work (Original caption: “Source: Self”)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By NMajik at en.wikipedia (Own work (Original caption: “Source: Self”)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is the last post in my little Specific Carbohydrate Diet series. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is just a real food diet, with some added food tweaks that good observers throughout history have discovered reverse disease and promote healing. It is not the holy grail of diets, although for some patients, it is the cure they were looking for. (You may prefer the word “control” instead of the word “cure,” since these patients will probably never be able to go back to DiGiorno pizza.) I definitely suggest the SCD for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis as a starting point diet because there is research behind it. (See here for a short summary of the evolution of the SCD diet with references.)

When I used a form of SCD for my gastrointestinal issues (not inflammatory bowel disease), I ran into a few issues and the diet stalled for me, even regressed. I don’t give up easily when I think there’s a way to accomplish something, and so I played around with the diet and I read what other people trying the diet were saying. I’ve compiled a little list of things to try if SCD is not working for you.

Remember, nothing here on my site is medical advice and should always be investigated and explored. Talk with your doctor and maybe get a referral to a dietitian for help. This is the internet. Believe nothing. Question everything.

Eliminate “pesky” foods that are allowed on the diet: nuts, peanut butter, eggs, dairy. Foods that we know cause life-threatening allergies can also cause other immune reactions in the body that aren’t nearly so serious. Even though they aren’t life threatening like true allergy, they still can cause bad, uncomfortable immune reactions, especially at the interface of the gut lining (but not limited to the gut lining).

Common food allergens like nuts, peanuts, dairy, and eggs are notorious for more than just anaphylaxis and hives! If you read research studies, you’ll see them coming up again and again for things like migraines, eosinophilic esophagitis, and eczema! I feel like medical doctors only communicate the life-threatening aspect of these foods (which is super important, of course), and ignore their involvement in so many other disease states. So people walk around treating their problems with creams, puffers, and pills, when they could be investigating their diet.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet allows eggs, almonds, nuts, peanut butter, homemade yogurt, cheeses and butter. All good foods! But also all known top allergens that can perpetuate illness in susceptible people.

(Coconut is not necessarily a top 8 common allergen, but I’ve read of many SCD’ers having trouble with it, particularly the flour. I’d add it to the “pesky” list.)

How do you know which “pesky” to take out? Well, you can start with the one you have a sneaky suspicion about. Or you can see if your doctor will order you an IgG blood panel (which has such variable results for people), although you need to know up front that many conventional medical doctors disapprove of them. Or you can eliminate them all, and slowly bring them back in one at a time.

Whatever you do, be smart and make sure you’re getting any nutritional deficits accounted for!

Cut down on baked goods. When people switch to the SCD, they often, understandably, try to recreate the diet they had been eating: muffins, breads, pancakes, and cookies. ALL of these things can be made on the SCD and are super tasty! However, the ingredients for them come from the “pesky” category (almond flour, eggs, butter, and so on), so they really shouldn’t be routine food fare. They also come with a big whop of sugar; yes, I know it’s honey, but fructose in excess has its own negative effects. Baked goods are great as a transition to ease families into eating more real, wholesome foods. If my kids hadn’t had a baked good, I would  have had some runaways.

In any area of the diet you may be lapsing and skimping in, get strict again. Get back to eating only the legal foods with “no exceptions.” It’s so easy to let products back into our kitchens. A little guar gum here. A little BHT there. Some maltodextrin there. Some modified food starch. And then you’ve walked down the slippery slope and fallen. Crash and burn for a few little ingredients that really weren’t even that important to you!

Studies indicate that emulsifiers may cause problems for inflammatory bowel disease, so if you’re struggling, get the “small stuff” back out!

Alternatively, perhaps the idea of “being strict” is sabotaging adhering to the diet well, and adding in a few select real, whole, foods, like rice and/or potato may be helpful in overall adherence to the diet.

Even though certain foods are not allowed on the diet, that doesn’t mean that a person’s body and disease will not tolerate them. Yes, it’s best to adhere to the diet as it is written, but it is VERY likely that adjustments will have to be made. Remember, the diet is not magic. It can’t prophesy exactly what your body will and will not tolerate. If adding in a food that may not be problematic anyhow is the price to pay for keeping on the diet instead of giving up completely, it’s worth a trial! Make sense? (But do talk with your healthcare provider who is overseeing your diet. They might have some other tips they’d like you to try first.)

Elaine Gottschall, the author of the diet, did not intend for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet to be a forever diet. She advocated moving off the diet once symptoms were well-controlled.

Read about FODMAP foods. Foods have natural sugars and molecules that we don’t absorb and that feed our gut bacteria. It’s actually a good thing. But sometimes, guts that are compromised need a break from these too, or else they’ll have painful bloating, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation.  FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAP foods can cause pain outside of actual inflammatory disease and would be worth exploring. I have noticed that many people suggest cutting down on fruit if the SCD isn’t working well for you, and I can see where certain fruits will exacerbate a FODMAP condition. Here’s a good site with FODMAP information. Just click on the symbol, and it brings up a nice handout.

Take away the power struggle. When it comes to kids, they MUST understand the diet and their bodies. Kids usually make good decisions when they’re given good information and see the impact of certain foods on their bodies. Make it a point to understand the diet and read the book, then paraphrase it and explain it to your child. Kids need empowered, not controlled. Sometimes our fears lead to a strong need to control, but kids will buck this. Well, at least mine do!

The mind-body idea. We KNOW that there is a BIDIRECTIONAL process between the brain and the gut and conversely, the gut and the brain. It works from the bottom up. And the top down. If you’re ready to take it beyond diet and supplements, maybe it’s time to move inward. Google things like mindfulness and IBD. Or hypnotherapy and IBD. See what you think. This area has definitely piqued my interest. It takes me months and years to write, so you’ll definitely want to read in this area before I get any posts up on it!

Well, that’s it for today. I’m sure there are other tweaks. I think the best tweak is to know you’re going to be okay. Know that nothing can get you, because you’re bigger inside than anything you can comprehend. If you’re on the religious side, know that you’re a spiritual being forever with a human body but fleetingly.

Feel welcome to post any tweaks you’ve found beneficial.

Over.

Terri

 

Are You Still Doing GAPS?

Chunky squash chicken soupI’ve fallen completely in love with nutrition. So I decided to do an interview with myself about the first, crazy, named diet I ever tried: GAPS. Read with a mild sense of humor at times. Please don’t use anything on my site as medical guidance. (I always say “please,” but I mean it…) Use what I write to scoff. Laugh. Plagiarize. But not as medical treatment or recommendations. Even thought I think I’m right, you should know that I’ve been known to lock myself out of my house, leave fully loaded grocery carts standing in the parking lot, and call my husband by my first real boyfriend’s name.

Are you still doing the GAPS diet?  No.

Got a longer answer than that?  Of course!

Why did you start the GAPS diet? It seems a bit loco sounding. I mean, bone broth and sauerkraut? Really? How did a legit, well-trained, seemingly-normal MD like you go off the nutritional deep-end like that?  Well, honestly, it doesn’t sound too extreme anymore. Now, it all just sounds like good, old-fashioned, traditional food minus a few things. But to answer your question, I had a severe form of a very common problem. In fact, I was told never to talk about it with people, they don’t like to talk about it and they don’t want to hear about it. I suppose I can tell you. I trust you. I started the GAPS diet because my stupid gut wouldn’t move, even with medicines, more than twice a month. Anal retentive woman, I guess.

Did you try any other more normal diets before this?

Oh, like– vegetarian-in-a-box? I’m kidding. A traditional vegetarian diet I think is actually a powerful way of eating, especially if one throws in an occasional egg and/or some fish. But so many vegetarians think a vegetarian diet is about just not eating meat–and they sacrifice their own bodies to the industrialized food package.

Well, anyhow, the standard medical repertoire and more than 4-5 doctors had finally 100% failed me, and I scoured the internet hours and hours for alternative “cures.” I started reading tons on-line and trying this supplement and/or that food, falling into the idea that “one” thing would help.  I tried a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for a couple of months while I researched.  I tried an elimination diet with only sweet potato, lamb, and white rice too.  Repeatedly, though, I kept hitting on people talking about special “healing diets.”

A healing diet? Pft. What in the heck is a healing diet? I know. I know this sounds so stupid to newbies and nutritional novices. When I first started reading about this stuff, I thought, “These people are crazy. CRAZY. WHAT do they eat? How can they think a person should cut THAT out of their diet? Oh, the gullible heap.” (I have a little judgmental problem. Life is working on it.)

And this leaky gut they keep talking about? I can’t remember which staff doctor in training told me that leaky gut wasn’t a real thing, but I know I was taught that!

To answer your question, a healing diet takes into account the fact that the condition of our gastrointestinal tracts helps determine our health—whatever part of the body we want healthy (skin, brain, intestines, joints, etc.). And food predominately determines the condition of your gut.

So, using food, a good healing diet will look to keep the immune cells of the GI tract happy. It will look to offer the nutrients the cells lining the intestines need. It will look to make sure the GI’s immune system is not barraged. It will look to make sure the mucous (Did you know mucus is the noun form and mucous the adjective? Cool, huh.) protective layer of the GI tract is regenerating. And it will nurture beneficial gut microorganisms and weed out not-so-beneficial microorganisms.

A healing diet will remove foods that commonly inflame the entire body and will provide abundance of foods which carry necessary nutrients and restorative properties. The best healing diets will also force you to address more than food, things like sleep, stress, skin care products, and so on.

Okay. I see what you mean about a healing diet now, I guess. But why GAPS?

SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) then GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) were the first “nutritional intervention” diets I kept hitting on. They seemed maybe to be the rage, fad diets of the time. I don’t know. (I later learned of others. And I’m sure there will be plenty more.)

I read all the pertinent websites and bought the books to read. I decided to set out on the GAPS diet to give diet a full attempt to prove to myself that nutrition would not change anything in my health–because I was 100% convinced that diet would change nothing.

Why GAPS?  It seemed the most radical and extreme!  (Have I made it clear enough that I seriously thought all of this was INSANE.  Detoxification?  Gut dysbiosis?  Leaky gut?  Liver support?  Adrenal fatigue?)  But if there was something I could do to avoid a colectomy later in life, I was willing to try! And GAPS seemed, at the time to me, to be one of the most stringent diets, and I wanted to cut to the chase, do the hardest first, and cross diets off my list.

I knew nothing about nutrition, and that’s how I made my choice. Brilliant, eh.

How long did you stay on GAPS?  I stayed on GAPS for about 18 months.

Eighteen months! New humans are turned out in less time than that. Did you cheat? Sometimes on accident. And  sometimes I’d choose to “cheat” and see if I could expand my diet without having any problems from it. But the GAPS diet book says it can take up to two years, so I wanted to give it its due chance. If I clearly could see I had no issues with a food, I’d eat it on special occasions, like maple syrup or a baked potato. And dozens of times I struggled with eating too many dates, honey, almond flour, and peanut butter, all “allowed.”

Why did you stop GAPS?  My constipation finally became manageable with lots of magnesium and the GAPS diet. I became enchanted with nutrition and kept reading. I stumbled across something called butyrate for gut health when I was interpreting a Metametrix stool test I had taken (I know. Weird. A stool test.) and decided to try it as a supplement for my GI tract. Its effect was magic on my gut–GAPS had gotten me part of the way and this seemed to finish it!  But butyrate is still a supplement, and I don’t like supplements.  We (well, our gut bacteria) can produce butyrate naturally from certain foods, so I next added in potato starch (Bob’s Red Mill) and began eating food sources of butyrate, like sweet potato (cold), rice (cold), green plantains, green bananas, potatoes (cold), and a few, diverse legumes.  So after about 18 months, I think you have to technically say I came off of GAPS because I was routinely adding in foods not on the diet.

I still keep a lot of the ideas that GAPS taught me in my diet:

  • Homemade broths for gelatin, calcium, magnesium.
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
  • Offal, such as liver, heart, tongue, and marrow.
  • Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. (Some say GAPS doesn’t advocate carbohydrates and raw vegetables.  I don’t think that is accurate.  It is not written as a low carb plan per se. It allows a person to eat navy beans, lentils, parsnips, pumpkin, butternut squash, peanut butter certain fruit, and honey as tolerated by a person. And it only excludes raw vegetables until a person’s symptoms improve. Now, how each person will interpret and follow the diet will vary.)
  • Minimizing exposures to environmental things I can control and helping the body deal with them–such as avoiding plastics, excessive fluoride, unnecessary skin care products, etc.  Taking Epsom salts baths.
  • Well-placed supplements.
  • A never give up attitude.

I will continue this long, verbose self-interview later. My kids need food and school…

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

 

 

Salmon OCD Dip

 

Today’s recipe is my take on a delightful appetizer made by a mysterious, black-haired, smokey eyed, Romanian gypsy who weaves her Eastern Romanian fare with Italian and Camaroonian accents.  With her help, I have learned to appreciate wpid-IMAG1331.jpgtraditional foods full of nutritional goodness.  I could sit all day and listen to her stories of growing up in a Communist state.

She made this appetizer for a get-together and served it with Belgian endive leaves.  I told her I think she is a great cook.  She attributes it to the fact that, because she has been many places besides the United States, she has no preconceived idea of what she “needs” to make to please people.  So she is free to “just make.”

I think this would be a great dip to take to a Super Bowl party.  It is called Salmon OCD Dip to help you remember why it is so good for you.  Omega-3.  Calcium.  Vitamin D.

Salmon OCD Dip

1 can of salmon, 14.75 ounces (I use wild-caught, intact salmon, meaning the bones and skin included.)
1/2 tin of sardines
10 capers or more
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
1/4 cup of softened palm shortening or leftover bacon drippings
Juice of one lemon
1/2-1 teaspoonful of salt
Optional:  2 small, thin anchovies

Put the salmon in a food processor, blender, or mini food processor.  Don’t look at the disgusting mixture.  Just think and repeat “omega-3, calcium, and vitamin D.”  Process well.

Add the sardines, capers, onion, palm shortening or bacon drippings, salt and lemon juice.  (And the anchovies if desired.)    Process well.

Transfer to serving bowl.  I prefer to serve this with fresh carrots and sliced apples.  My friend served it with Belgian endive which she had separated into “boats” and arrayed on the serving platter.  Lovely.

Family “gustar” report:  My kids won’t try it.  If your kids love seafood a lot, it may go.  If they don’t, probably won’t.  My husband and I both think it’s great.

I wish you health and hope that you will consider what intensive nutrition could do to help you attain it, even if it seems like a problem that would have NO nutritional connection.  You may be very surprised.  I was.

Terri

Fabulous Folate Smoothie

Green smoothie rich in folate

Putting Knowledge Into Action

So the last two posts have been about folate versus folic acid.  (First post and second post.)  Lots of science to explain why the folate from real foods is better than folic acid from enriched, processed foods and vitamins.  But let’s put it into action!  How can we get folate into ourselves and our families?  Smoothies.  Everybody likes a smoothie.  Right?

Smoothies are deceptive foods.  A banana.  A spoonful of nutbutter.  Some yogurt.  A little chocolate.  A splash of sweetener.  Taste.  Needs more banana.  Oops.  A little bit more of nutbutter.  Add some ice.  Taste.  Dang.  Overshot.  Needs a little more sweet.  Have the kids taste.  Needs more chocolate.  How about some vanilla?  Perfect.  Kids drink half theirs.  I drink all mine and all their leftovers.  So much for a “healthy” snack.  Guarantee I’ll have a carbohydrate crash nap after about an hour.  Zonk.

But a well-placed smoothie with a purpose.  Now that’s a shaker.  That’s what I like.  To reach dietary folate goals, I started drinking green smoothies during pregnancy.  My kids weren’t too hip on them.  The greens can really impart bitterness.  But I didn’t want to give up!  I get tired of chopping up vegetables for a folate rich salad the family will all eat or cleaning the skillet from sautéed greens.  I deserve a break–in the form of a blend!  Well,  finally, here is a recipe that I and my kids can all agree on.  (In fact, my daughter made the photo design for this post.)

Fabulous Folate Smoothie

1 cup of loosely packed spinach (Any greens will work but spinach has the best folate profile.)
1 well-ripened large mango which is about 1 generous cup (Mangoes are a fruit rich in folate.)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon maple syrup (Or use honey or Stevia to taste or whatever you use for sweet.)
10 ice cubes (I use two single handfuls.)
Enough liquid to blend, if needed (Choose one of the following:  your favorite tea, Kombucha which will add even more folate, orange juice which will add even more folate, or your favorite kind of “milk”.)

Place into blender and blend until smooth.  I put the greens in last so the mixture blends evenly.

This recipe made the above two glasses full you see in the photo.

 

Smoothie Folate Content and Recommendations From the National Institute of Health Fact Sheet

The folate content of this green smoothie is about 160 micrograms.  Recommended folate intakes are as follows in the table taken from the National Institute of Health Folate Fact Sheet.  DFE refers to dietary folate equivalents.

 

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Folate [2]
Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
Birth to 6 months* 65 mcg DFE* 65 mcg DFE*
7–12 months* 80 mcg DFE* 80 mcg DFE*
1–3 years 150 mcg DFE 150 mcg DFE
4–8 years 200 mcg DFE 200 mcg DFE
9–13 years 300 mcg DFE 300 mcg DFE
14–18 years 400 mcg DFE 400 mcg DFE 600 mcg DFE 500 mcg DFE
19+ years 400 mcg DFE 400 mcg DFE 600 mcg DFE 500 mcg DFE

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Smoothie Carb Count

The carb count for those interested is about 71.  If I’m the only one drinking this, I will often use only half a banana and Stevia instead of maple syrup.

Closing

Eat real folate!  It’s good for you!  Try to get your nutrients from food if you can.  Make every bite count!

Do you drink green smoothies?  Do your kids?  Does your spouse?  I’m converting mine over finally!  Two years.  Two years into this.  It’s not a fast-paced game to convert your family to this way of eating!  But it is worth it!

Have a great day!

~~Terri

“My” Diet Has Not Helped My Pregnancy Sickness

Fresh blueberriesThe Food-Health Connection Is Real

Discovering the power of food changed my life about two years ago.  Although my mom isn’t very happy with me, I just can’t tell you how much better my husband and I feel (and we wouldn’t even have been considered “unhealthy” by most in the first place.)  Invincible.  Empowered.  THIS is where it’s at.  Let my friends, family, and (ex) colleagues think I’m crazy, I’ve decided this food stuff is no voodoo.  Medical doctors have their heads buried deep in the sands of guidelines and HIPAA and OSHA and Medicare check boxes–they are NOT making time to learn about this stuff.  I didn’t make time when I practiced and trust me, it’s not a part of required typical continuing medical education.

Countless food journals, diligent symptom logging and persistent elimination/reintroduction phases have led our family to be able to control most symptoms we used to medicate.  I never, ever would have believed this a few years ago as a practicing physician, and I sometimes think I must be “goofy” to believe it even now.  Occasionally my medical brain–which I paid so much money for–insists on denial that a real food-body connection exists.  That’s when my husband just shakes his head, “Why’d you eat it?  Why?”

They Said, “Maybe It’ll Be Different With ‘Your’ Diet!”

So I’m all about nutrition nowadays, and if I don’t watch it may put too much store in it.  But life is about learning.  (Homeschooling, if you will.)  And the last few months I had to learn that sometimes even the best diet fails and you truly are helpless to the whims of internal physiology and biochemistry.  (I DID know that already, really, but I guess I needed to FEEL it.)  In November, I was feeling so great.  I felt like all my hard nutritional work over the last two years was really, really paying off, and I was even starting to reintroduce some problem foods with a little success.  Then I got pregnant.  Oh, boy.

Friends and family get informed very early when I am pregnant.  (Sometimes store clerks do too when I lock myself out of my car or forget my wallet.)  None of this waiting 12 weeks here to tell.  Withholding information only serves to make me seem quite irritable, neglectful, and remiss to others if they don’t know “the secret.”  Plus, I have miscarried in the past and people didn’t know I was pregnant.  The first they hear about it is when I’m headed to the OR for a D & C.  “I didn’t even know you were pregnant!”  Nice.  Sob.  I was.

Well, anyway, this fifth time around, many people exclaimed,   “Maybe ‘your’ new diet will make the sickness not so bad!”   I secretly hoped with them. I was secretly confident. I was eating great and had been eating great for two years!  All the recommended “voodoo” stuff:  broths, liver, seaweed, tons of organic vegetables, pastured meats, avoidance of inflammatory foods, some fruit, probiotic, magnesium (plenty of that!), B vitamins, fermented cod liver oil.  What am I missing?  My body was armed and it was ready.

Despite “My New Diet” Pregnancy Symptoms Chewed Me Up.  (Just Like All the Other Times.)Zucchini pizza

The nausea increased and increased. The overwhelming exhaustion consumed me. Odor aversion sickened me all day. Food cravings and aversions hit.  I was so hungry all the time but so nauseated. Some foods left horrible tastes in my mouth. I over-salivated like a loving puppy (medical terms for hyper-salivation: ptyalism or sialorrhea). No matter what I ate, the sickness continued.  Bloating kicked in to the point it hurt.  Constipation fluttered back in and out as it wished.

About the time the nausea started lifting at the end of the first trimester, I got a new twist.  Horrible, migraine-like headaches and an apathetic, flat mood.  I felt like I had gone out of the hot pot of typical morning sickness and into some frying pan. Since adhering to “my diet” clearly had not helped in the first trimester, I had gotten mad in the throes of it and let in foods which I don’t normally eat/eat much of (like egg yolks, nuts, potatoes, tapioca bread, and rice).  “What difference does it make?” I thought.  “I feel horrible one way or the other.”  (Just an FYI.  I tried a cheese quesadilla, a real one, and it was unmistakably unacceptable.  Guess you can feel worse than worse with certain food choices in pregnancy.)  Mess with my GI tract but please don’t mess with my brain.  When my head started getting “attacked,” I ran back to the safety of “my diet”–the home-tailored GAPS/PALEO/SCD/Autoimmune PALEO diet that had got me feeling so good.  I don’t know that it helped, but it offered me some sense of control.

Despite feeling so good prior to pregnancy and eating so well early on, it was turning out NO differently than all the other four pregnancies.  How could life have selected for pregnant women to be so sick?  I would have had to have been left behind by the tribe 10,000 years ago!  Left to die holding the prized liver awarded to pregnant women back in those days.  “Bye-bye.  See you guys.  Thanks for the liver.  I’ll run from wolves the best that I can.”

This isn’t my first pregnancy.  I’ve Googled all this “morning sickness” (it’s more than just nausea–it’s overwhelming exhaustion, smell aversion, increased salivation, headaches, you name it) stuff before seeking relief.  I’ve sat through lectures on it.  I’ve counseled patients on it during obstetrical rotations in residency.  I’ve tried this and that and this and that.  But I searched again.   A re-Google did NOT help.  I found things like “The Real Cause of Morning Sickness”, which pinpoints diet, magnesium, and B vitamins.  I was so mad.  “The Real Cause of Morning Sickness,” my foot.

Garden broccoliChin Up and Eat Nutrient-Dense Choices For Two

All this nutrition “jazz” worked for the author of that post and other similar posts out there.  But here is MY post saying, “Hang in there, chic.  Despite your best diet and supplements, pregnancy-induced sickness may bark up your tree.”  It is barking up mine.

I’ll be the first to back nutrition and say you gotta’ try it.  You gotta’ eat right.  I’ll tell you to try to play it safe and not eat some of those urging craving choices, like a cheese quesadilla.  But I’ll admit when I’m defeated, too.  In the Food vs. Pregnancy battle, Pregnancy won here in this house–despite copious pre-pregnancy magnesium, B rich meats and vegetables and supplement, and vitamin D enrichment.  So if this is you, too, it’s okay.  Chin up.  It doesn’t last forever.  Your body is just doing its job and for some reason that makes you (and me) exceptionally uncomfortable.  Eat the best you can and stay in the game.  Don’t let miserable pregnancy symptoms knock you too far off your nutritional choices and goals.

Even if it doesn’t make our pregnancy symptoms better, we have to come out of this pregnancy as strong as we went in.  Baby will take what baby needs.  Reproduction is numero uno in life.  So eat well to make sure you have enough for BOTH of you!  I didn’t come out of pregnancy four very well:  kidney stones, daily headaches, allergies, exhaustion, achiness, and hormonal issues.  I’m determined to come out of this one better than I went in.

Has “Your Diet” Helped Anything?

Yes.  Typically no matter what pre-pregnancy weight I start at–I’ve started anywhere from 135-148 pounds–within the first trimester my weight soars to about 160 pounds.  Seriously.  Right off the bat.  I thought it was just me and my body.  I never fretted since it happened every time and I was healthy.  I always gained over forty pounds each pregnancy.  And each baby has gotten successively bigger–7 pounds, 8 pounds, 9 pounds.  So I’m curious to see how much weight I gain and what this baby weighs.

This time around, I’ve gained 6 pounds and I’m at 16 weeks.  I haven’t done anything except put forth a tremendous effort to stick to whole foods–call it Paleo, GAPS, SCD, whatever you wish, I don’t care.   I’ll be interested to see if it holds.  But as for all other pregnancy associated symptoms, my diet has not helped.  But I know it’s going to help me tremendously in the recovery period.  (And if it doesn’t, I’ll let you know.)

How Far Do I Shake My Conventional Training?

I’m beginning to think about things I’ve never thought about before.–Do I want my baby to get a hep B vaccine at Interior of a passion fruitbirth?  How about vitamin K?  Should I have them delay clamping and cutting the cord?  What’s this strangeness about eating the placenta?–I know you have more.  So lay them on me.  Food is no longer voodoo to me–but all this other stuff is.  So throw these new sacrilegious ideas out there to let me decide how many waves to make at the hospital.  (I’m a conventional medical doctor.  Bear easy on me.  I love to investigate the validity of these new ideas, but my choices will be skewed by my experiences.  And although I already told him to prepare for some waves at the hospital, my husband is slower than I am to embrace conventional medical practice–but still a great trooper.)

~~Terri

Pigeonholed Doctors

A story.  A medical doctor has been coming to terms with the idea that she may have been brainwashed for years regarding diet, particularly dietary carbohydrates (and even more specifically the dietary reliance on grains).  While she thought it was a benign misunderstanding, the intense undercurrent of hostility from the traditional believing experts in the medical community looms as threatening and leads her to wonder otherwise. 

(Nothing on this blog or in this post should be construed as medical advice.  It is only a story which may provide you with information to look up for yourself and discuss with your trusted healthcare professional.)

A conversation between a husband and wife, both physicians.  Their diet deviates from the recommendations of both the American Diabetic Association and the American Heart Association.—

Her (beseechingly):  I just don’t understand.  We know diabetes is a carbohydrate processing problem.  We know.  More carbohydrate, more insulin.  We know if we limit those patients’ carbs they might even get off their meds.  We know.
Him:  Well, that’s not standard of care.  If you were practicing and put one of your patients on your d—
Her (defensively):  It’s not MY diet.
Him:  Well, anyhow, it’s not accepted.  What if the guy died of a heart attack or something because of “your” diet (he always calls it “her” diet).  You would be held accountable because it’s not standard of care.  It’s not accepted.  It’s not what we do.
Her:  There are studies to support it.
Him:  Doesn’t matter.  That’s not what’s done.  You’re pigeonholed.
Her:  So I have to practice medicine according to some guidelines that were constructed, perhaps faultily, or else I’m liable–knowing that these diets are on to something and that I could help my diabetic patients?
Him:  Yep…

Well, she didn’t want to believe him.  How could medicine pigeonhole doctors that way?  If studies and evidence support a low carbohydrate diet in some situations, why shouldn’t a well-informed physician manage patients that way?  Why? 

Why shouldn’t they?  Because medical peers, so-called “experts” are issuing challenging, threatening words.  Here it is.  Just what “him” was talking about.  Some Norwegian medical doctors want to block their peers from prescribing low carbohydrate, high fat diets.  And they supply misleading, inaccurate information that does not appropriately reflect our current research knowledge.  From a blog called Doc’s Opinion, a post called Taxing Animal Fats is Necessary–Still Chasing the Usual Suspects.:

The message from the experts is clear: The fat diets are a threat to public health in Sweden…A question should be asked whether licensed physicians should be allowed to prescribe  LCHF [low carbohydrate, high fat], which is not supported by scientific studies.”

BUT THESE NORWEGIAN “EXPERTS” ARE NOT MENTIONING IMPORTANT INFORMATION.  Quickly searching, from the site Science News reporting on a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, Losing Weight from either a Low-Carb or Low-Fat Diet Lowers Body Inflammation:

“Stewart [a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine] adds that there’s still some bias in the medical community against a low-carb diet, which, by definition has a higher percentage of fat and protein than a low-fat diet. In their study, 60 people, ages 30 to 65, who were either overweight or obese with excessive fat around their waist, were randomly assigned to go on a low-fat or a low-carb diet for six months. Each group also participated in exercise training three times a week…The participants on the low-carb diet lost more weight, on average, than those on the low-fat diet — 28 pounds versus 18 pounds. The low-carb diet group also had a greater drop in BMI (4.7 versus 2.9), and a greater drop in belly fat (14.3 versus 8.4 pounds). The level of aerobic fitness increased in both groups by about 20 percent.”

And for you to read a list of more studies supporting low carbohydrate diets specifically in Type 2 diabetes, check out here from the site Diabetic Mediterranean Diet, European Guidelines Not In Favor of Low Carbohydrate Diets for Diabetes.

Back to conversation:

Her:  Why are they fighting it so hard?

Him:  YOU DON’T KNOW WHY?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  They don’t care about your HEALTH…

And then we headed into some very political discussions regarding green stuff, sustainability, the Earth’s bulging population, poverty, lack of education, and so forth…

Earnestly wishing you health and a sense of well-being,  Terri