In 1998 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I remember that I had been feeling quite unwell - feverish, tired, faint and suffering urgent bowel movements. After undergoing a colonoscopy I was diagnosed with severe Ulcerative Colitis. I spent years researching the disease and trying all kinds of medication and diets.
It was not until 2004 that I finally arrived at Elaine Gottshall’s website supporting her ground- breaking book Breaking The Vicious Cycle. I was amazed at the reviews and worldwide acceptance of Elaine’s findings. Judging by the massive raves on the internet, her Specific Carbohydrate Diet had a great success rate. By that time, I was quite anaemic and extremely nervous about going out in public with uncertain proximity to public toilets. I started the diet immediately, carefully heeding Elaine’s warning to follow it on the strictest basis, starting solely with the chicken soup and jelly for the first three days. I built my yogurt maker out of a polystyrene box and 40W lamp, then carefully measured the starter yogurt, heated the milk, poured the mix into jars and nervously waited 24 hours for my first batch to be completed. It tasted great! (I now have a dedicated cupboard in the kitchen with a small built-in lamp with wall switch.)
My body reacted immediately. My bowels stopped bleeding after just three days. I carefully progressed to other recipes from Elaine’s book for the next 7 days, then followed on with more recipes from the internet and have not looked back since! I still occasionally display minor symptoms such as gas and urgency, but only if I have eaten something that doesn’t agree with me - ‘legal’ or not ‘legal’ - but definitely not for me. Dried apricots (legal ones), for example, send me running. So I stay away from them. I learned to listen to my body like a piano tuner listens for the wrong note. Then one sunny day in April 2006 my body hit the right note. I had reduced my medication and was taking the absolute minimum amount. I finally took my last pill and haven’t taken one since. There is still a packet in the medicine cabinet, untouched for a long time, as a safety blanket.
SCD Home and Away
I have learned to be a very humble ‘pain in the ...’ at restaurants. I generally scan the menus for the most likely meals to be ‘improved’ upon and explain apologetically to the waiter, that I have a “quite severe allergy” toward certain ingredients in foods. At the very worst I order a piece of fish or meat without the dressing and ask them to swap the inevitable potatoes with something else. A lot of sugar goes into savory foods in restaurants, so I have learned to ask the waiter to check with the chef. Another little eccentric thing I do is take a small container of my homemade Caesar Dressing with me and order a Caesar Salad without the croutons and dressing. I then sneak the dressing on when nobody is looking. It also gets lathered onto the fish or meat. I just love my really tasty condiments and it makes eating out something to look forward to.
My Chewy Date & Macadamia Biscuits, Toffees, or Cheddar Crackers are constant companions, for enjoyment as a dessert or deployment as emergency fuel. Sometimes when I’m away from home and I’ve forgotten to take something to snack with me, I am amazed that I cannot find anything quick to eat that hasn’t got bread wrapped around it. I have bought a sandwich, discarded the bread, only to find a thin slice of cheese, one piece of lettuce and a sad looking sliver of tomato. Not enough to survive on.
Friends and the Diet
My family has no problem with my diet. They eat what I eat. I’m the cook so they don’t get a choice when they eat at home. There has never been a complaint and everyone has their favorites. I have made the sticky date pudding so many times now that I could make it blindfolded! The ice-cream is my son’s absolute favorite and HE can make that blindfolded. My friends all have a collection of my recipes and make them for their families, even though they do not suffer from any digestive diseases. The two things I miss the most on this diet is chocolate and ... well... chocolate. There is no substitute for this. So I remind myself that the taste is short lived and it rots your teeth and makes you fat. Actually it’s the worst foods that I sometimes crave, just like an ex smoker craves a cigarette. Potato Fries, Pizza, Croissants. When you look at the foods you cannot have on this diet, it’s really all the foods that aren’t all that good for you anyway. I am in my 40s now and if I was allowed to eat anything I wanted I would be as big as a house. So this diet has become a lifestyle for me. I exercise on a regular basis, I eat great food and I am healthier than ever. One final point I would like to make about the SCD Diet, is that it is very easy to follow. In comparison to weight loss diets it’s an absolute cinch. I have read that one of the major complaints from people on this diet is that it is ‘too difficult’ to follow. I think you will find that once you have made yourself familiar with my cookbook, cooking for the SCD Diet will become as easy as any other way of cooking. In addition, again I would like to urge you to read Elaine Gottschall’s book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, as it is essential you begin with the introductory diet, before you progress onto Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Crohn's and IBS.
A necessary disclaimer is that you MUST seek medical advice before you give up your medication. When I broached the idea of stopping medication my gastroenterologist gave me a very concerned look, quoting statistics that showed inevitably the disease would reoccur. She felt my remission from the disease was thanks solely to the drugs (She had not heard of the SCD diet.) She suggested I take the drugs for the rest of my life. I chose to go against her advice, as the health risks from the drugs were too great to ignore. My symptoms had been gone for over three months and I felt quite confident. My commitment to sticking to the diet on the strictest basis was by then very resolute. I was dreaming up some wonderful SCD recipes and was learning ways to incorporate the diet into my social life. I have been off medication now for over a year.