We make it a priority to highlight SCD personalities from across the internet. We love hearing success stories and want to spread the knowledge of those brave enough to share their specific carbohydrate diet stories. If you would like to be featured please contact us.
This week we have a special guest, Fernpixel who graciously poured her heart and soul out to answer our questions. She has been
blogging about SCD and her battles with ulcerative colitis for almost 3 years! Not only that, she has been producing videos on all kinds of topics related to her progress and SCD for 2 years. She has a unique ability to share her message and SCD in a very truthful but fun and positive light. I’ve watched many of her videos and I really love her witty humor and her ability to make cooking fun.
Fern shared has so much to share that I wanted to pull out and highlight a few of quotes that I thought were really great:
“Even though I have a chronic illness, I’m healthier than ever.”
“I approach the SCDiet cooking like it’s a game. I have to follow the rules but also have fun. The Food Network has been a major help! I find lots of inspiration from what I see on TV and even if the recipes aren’t for the SCDiet, I modify them so I can eat them.”
“So I have to be organized and plan ahead. I make lists, carefully plan out my groceries, and set aside time to cook.”
I think her positive mentality is great, and one that is worth trying if you haven’t yet. Making SCD cooking into a personal fun game is great and I love the food network as well and like to make it sort of a mental battle to see if I can take their recipes and make them SCD friendly. Her approach to making lists, grocery shopping and planning to cook is a great tip for any SCDer.
Below is her powerful story, I urge you to visit her blog and reach out to her it sounds like she is getting ready to make a long awaited come back to the community and I think we should all try and support our own when they are in need!
1: Why did you start the diet (symptoms, health problem)?
I started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet because it was sort of a last resort option. Six years ago, I was suffering from a severe Ulcerative Colitis flare up that landed me in the hospital for eight days. My doctor suggested that I should consider surgery. He mentioned that if I had my large intestines removed, I wouldn’t have to take medication anymore and that I would less likely have flare-ups [because I wouldn't have any intestines available to become flared up]. He made it sound really good, but ultimately it was my decision. I did my own research on what kinds of surgery was available for Ulcerative Colitis patients as well as the procedures and complications. I hate to sound like a diva, but none of them are glamorous. I had to decline the surgery. I really can’t picture myself with a medical appliance attached to me, at least not voluntarily. I don’t think I’m strong or brave enough to handle it.
My decision to start the SCDiet was actually fueled by my financial situation. At the time, I had no job, no health insurance, no savings, and was freaking out on how I was going to pay for a gigantic bill after staying in the hospital for eight days. There was no way I was going to add the cost of a major surgery on top of all of that! The SCDiet was my only hope. I was very lucky that it worked out!
2: How did the SCD Diet change your life?
Oh man, this totally turned my life around. There are both positive and negative aspects to this. On the positive side, the SCDiet helped me to understand food and what it does for my body. I think all of the healthy food improved my immune system overall. Even though I have a chronic illness, I’m healthier than ever. Every year I used to get a cold and sometimes it developed into bronchitis. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but ever since I’ve been on the SCDiet, I don’t get colds anymore.
Looking back, I can’t believe how much horrible crap I’ve consumed in a previous lifetime. It makes me wish I took responsibility for my health earlier. Maybe I wouldn’t be in this situation if I had. The damage is done and I’m taking responsibility for it now. I’m salvaging my digestive system and I believe that the SCDiet has played a major role in my recovery. Another aspect of this is that the SCDiet forced me to learn how to cook and I discovered that I really love to cook! I’m always cooking and experimenting with recipes and different flavor combinations. Its really exciting!
There are some negative aspects as well, the one that sticks out the most is that I often feel like an alien during social situations. For example, in my past workplace the department would often celebrate a co-worker’s birthday with pizza and cake and I couldn’t eat any of it. And believe me, I love pizza and cake! It’s not that I didn’t want it, I couldn’t have it. There’s a huge difference. And for some reason it’s a big deal if I don’t eat the pizza and cake. They said that I’m not being a team player because I’m not joining in with everyone else. It didn’t matter if I was physically there to show my support for a birthday, they wanted me to prove it. To everyone else, the only consequence is that it would make them gain weight. Oh boy! If that was the only problem, I’d gobble it up all the time! But no, for me, I get a special set of problems if I eat the pizza and cake. It’s a struggle but I have to stand my ground and not let what other people think get in the way of my health. I always say no to pizza and cake.
3: What was the biggest challenge you faced on the diet and how did you overcome it?
This is an extension of the last question. Because I am on the SCDiet and I don’t eat the same things as most people, I struggle a lot in social situations. The symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are difficult to understand and very embarrassing to explain. There are lots of times when I have to remember to keep my cool. It’s very easy to get frustrated when people treat you differently. This is still a work in progress for me, but I’m taking steps to make my situation easier. The best thing to do is stay away from the people who are unsupportive of the SCDiet. The only thing they are going to do is make you feel bad about yourself, there’s no use hanging around them.
The second major challenge of the SCDiet is will-power! Believe me, it was difficult to change the way I eat. I love food! I can’t have any of my old favorites anymore. Pizza, ice cream, french fries, macaroni and cheese, donuts… the list goes on and on. It’s almost traumatizing to cut out foods that used to bring me comfort but it’s a sacrifice I have to take if I want to get better. When things get difficult, I have to get creative on how to solve the problems. The SCDiet allowed me to find substitutions for my favorite foods. I have a substitution for almost everything. Pizza? No problem! I make a crust out of mashed up cauliflower, eggs, and cheddar cheese. I turn butternut squash into fries! I approach the SCDiet cooking like its a game. I have to follow the rules but also have fun. The Food Network has been a major help! I find lots of inspiration from what I see on TV and even if the recipes aren’t for the SCDiet, I modify them so I can eat them. I also rely on cookbooks. People who are starting the SCDiet are very lucky! Now there are a great selection of cookbooks that adhere to the SCDiet. My favorite book is called “Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet” by Raman Prasad.
I have two gigantic motivators that helped me get through all the challenges. 1) I didn’t want surgery and the fear of surgery kept me in line 2) If I was surrounded by foods that I’m “allowed” to eat, it’s less likely that I will be tempted to eat “illegal” foods. So I have to be organized and plan ahead. I make lists, carefully plan out my groceries, and set aside time to cook. There are times when I would be cooking at midnight because that is the only time I have. If I didn’t do it, there would be nothing to eat the next day. I know I’m not perfect. I actually had to re-start the diet three times before I got it right and stuck to it.
4: What is the number 1 piece of advice you would give someone thinking about starting the diet?
This isn’t actually my advice, it’s the advice of Elaine Gottschall, the matriarch of the SCDiet, and it goes something like this: Give the SCDiet a try [and stick to it!] for 30 days, and if it works, continue from there. She’s absolutely right.
Science and technology have come a long way, but even so, I get nervous about what the long term effects of what my prescription medication will do to me. I take my prescription medication because I have to, but I sometimes I wonder about the effects on my kidneys and liver. I don’t have the same kind of doubts with the SCDiet. I’m being sarcastic, but there aren’t a lot of studies that show any negative effects from homemade chicken soup! I’m not afraid of chicken thighs, carrots, and celery. I know that the diet may not work for everyone, but giving it a try doesn’t hurt.
Also, the SCDiet doesn’t work if you cheat. It only works if you do it right. This is not as easy as it sounds. You’ll make mistakes, so learn from them and learn them quickly.
And that’s all I have Best of luck to everyone starting the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and for everyone who is already on it: Keep going! I promise it gets better!