Specific Carbohydrate Diet Friends: Cheryl Cravino Beats Up Crohn’s

by Steven Wright

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.

Our Specific Carbohydrate Diet friend of the week is Cheryl Cravino, who beat her Crohn’s Disease and now lives medication and symptom free.

Her story is one that I can relate to. Not receiving the care we need from traditional medicine, a chance meeting offers an alternative that almost everyone refuses to accept. Diet matters. Now Cheryl is returning the favor by sharing her story.

After 3 years on SCD, Cheryl has some great wisdom that I wanted to highlight:

I would start by saying don’t look at it as a “diet” (that is a four letter word that most people would define as: “something your mind struggles with, an unachievable goal”)

Expect to make mistakes……….we all have! Be patient; remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!

It (SCD) has allowed me to regain my life back, just the simple things in life, simple things often taken for granted: going for a walk, gardening, shopping, walking the dogs, and even traveling. You all understand what I mean…just no more bathroom worries.

I couldn’t agree more!

I made a ton of mistakes when I started and it was frustrating, but believe me it gets much easier once you accept and embrace the new lifestyle. In the end, Cheryl’s right. It’s totally worth it, I promise.

So, without further ado, I’ll let Cheryl tell you about her healing journey.

Why did you start the diet?

My memory takes me back almost 10 years ago, 7 of which were filled with dietary distress, dramatic weight loss, misdiagnoses, endless prescriptions, severe medication allergies, many visits to the emergency room, countless doctors, and thousands of trips to the bathroom!

In 2008, in a last ditch effort to avoid surgery, I was told about Remicade and the promises it held for patients with Crohn’s. I was to have five infusions and while sitting in oncology waiting for my last infusion, I was questioned by another patient, waiting her turn as well. She asked why I was there, and as I was giving her my nutshell version, she was called by the nurses and taken away. She turned to me and said, “You need to break the cycle, my daughter did and her Crohn’s is now gone.” I asked her what she meant, and her only response as she disappeared behind the curtain, was “it’s all about a diet.”

Two weeks later, I learned the infusions didn’t work and my doctor began discussing my surgical options. I brought up diet, which up until now had never really been mentioned; the only dietary changes that had ever been discussed with me were to avoid spicy foods and maybe bread. He disagreed that diet alone would help the severity of my Crohn’s and he thought I was foolish to believe that. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what I was told that day and knew I had to find this diet and at least try. Extensive research brought me to the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle; I read it cover to cover in one night and have never looked back. In what seemed like forever, but was actually 104 days on the diet, my symptoms, for the first time, lessened and today, nearly 3 years later, I am both medication and symptom free! Thanks to SCD.

How has SCD changed your life?

It has allowed me to regain my life back, just the simple things in life, simple things often taken for granted: going for a walk, gardening, shopping, walking the dogs, and even traveling. You all understand what I mean…just no more bathroom worries.

SCD has educated me and taught me right from wrong in living a healthy eating lifestyle, not just for me but also for my family. It has taught me patience, and that success does not happen overnight. It has shown me I will make mistakes, but I can recognize them and learn from them. It has given me willpower, now I can take on anything. And, lastly, it has provided me with a foundation to be creative, creative in the kitchen, something I never really spent much time doing before. I look at food very differently now, I know the enemies from the allies.

What was the biggest challenge you faced on the diet and how did you overcome it?

Don’t be fooled by my statement of 3 years medication and symptom free. That did not come easy! I did read the book cover to cover in one night, proceeded to clean out my cabinets and refrigerator, which in turn led to a complete meltdown!

The reason for my meltdown was 2 things, well maybe 3; one I was a vegetarian, although I ate somewhat healthy, my diet was composed of mostly carbs. (Which upon reading the book made me realize this was probably most of my issues?) Secondly, I was 88 pounds soaking wet, and experienced drastic weight loss every time I flared…….so what the heck was I going to eat to give me enough calories to sustain my weight and not wither away to nothing?!? And oh thirdly what about my dreaded sweet tooth and snack attacks?!?

This lasted for about a week, and then I stopped feeling sorry for myself. Realizing I had no choice and I had to do this, I began the diet. I had to find it within myself to look beyond my beliefs, and break my faithfulness to a 20-year promise and I began eating meat. My belief was not of the religious kind, but of the humane kind, so as you can imagine this dietary change still weighs heavy on me today.

This, however, I would soon learn, was not to be my biggest challenge, it was keeping the menu options fresh and innovative, main meals and sides were not the issue, that seemed easy. It was the “befores,” “afters” and the “in-betweens” that were missing. I constantly looked for ideas and recipes, bought the few cookbooks I could find and even these couldn’t curb my cravings and ward off my sweet tooth. Most of the recipes were very gourmet-like and took too much time to prepare. I wanted quick, easy and tasty all in one! Easier said than done I thought, until one day I stumbled across an article on the health benefits of honey and how it can be substituted in most recipes. I began experimenting with some of my old recipes and before I knew it I had quite a collection going. Today, I am putting the finishing touches on this compilation of recipes I will call “Sweet & Savory.” They consist of salsas, dips, chips, salads, soups, appetizers and desserts. So, whenever the snack attacks or the dreaded sweet tooth strike I can strike back and still stay compliant!

What is the number one piece of advice you would give someone thinking about starting the diet?

I would start by saying don’t look at it as a “diet” (that is a four letter word that most people would define as: “something your mind struggles with, an unachievable goal”); you will fail before you even begin.

You need to go into this thinking and knowing it is a healthy lifestyle change, it’s about eating for the good and good of your body. Get the family involved, they too will benefit health-wise. Keep the menu fresh and innovative; don’t forgo the snacks and desserts. You are only limited to your imagination!

Expect to make mistakes……….we all have! Be patient; remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Eat well, Be well, Stay well!
Cheryl

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About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy May 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I like the term “healthy lifestyle change”. I’ve been looking for a way to explain what I’m doing without getting into the gory, personal details, and this sums it up. Especially because when you are skinner than everyone around you, people look at you strange when you say you are on a special diet. Thanks Cheryl.

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Barbara Olsen-Henderson September 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm

hello Cheryl. my husband suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome suffering particularly with gut problems and no energy and lots of other stuff associated with it. his mother had Crohns disease tho died of cancer. i think there’s a link with his mother’s Crohns and Alan’s gut related probs. we are vegetarian and although he eats fish, wants to try this dietary regime but feels going back to meat after 35 years without it, might create more problems than it solves. have you continued to eat meat or gone back to vegetarianism? do you have any suggestions around leaving the meat out? i have only just downloaded the book so haven’t read it yet. i am a chef and have a good understanding of nutrition so i’m hoping i can figure something out for him. we’re already using the Weston Price ideas regarding fermented food etc and that’s been a help already. thank you BARBARA

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Barbara Olsen-Henderson September 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

COMMENT? I thought i just left a big comment in my questions. hope this submits this time

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Sally Pike October 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Hi Cheryl
Thanks for sharing your story and giving us some hope – my son was diagnosed 3 years ago with Crohns and we have just started the SCD diet as his doctor wants him on steroids which fills us with horror. Nearly a month into it he’s a little better but nothing miraculous has happened as yet – but we will keep trying as the alternatives are truly horrible.

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Debbie January 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Hi there, I am hoping to support my son to start on scd- any help would be welcome I have read breaking the viscious cycle and bought some recipe books. Is there anywhere in the UK I can purchase the yogurt starter?

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Jordan Reasoner January 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

Hi Debbie – congrats on being an incredible mom and working so hard to support your son! Can you find yogourmet yogurt starter in the UK? I’d start there and see what you can find.

Let us know how we can help 🙂

Jordan

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danielle February 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Cheryl – you stated above you were compiling your recipes. Will you be selling them in a book or ebook form?

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