I’m eating my words. In my 15 years of work as a fitness professional, I have always advised that gluten free/grain free/ dairy free/ keto diets are unsustainable, they’re too extreme, etc. “Everything in moderation” was my mantra. I still believe this advice holds true for most people, but I now have the opportunity to test out just how sustainable an extreme diet like this can be, and I’m giving you all an inside view of life in our household as we start this journey. My family is at the beginning of a new nutritional lifestyle, and it has to be sustainable. Karma is a bitch.
16 months ago, my son was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting the digestive system (I’ll tell that story in another post). His disease affects his upper and lower GI, and he’s improved some with the use of pretty intense medications including biologics and chemotherapy drugs. He still has a good amount of active disease and inflammation in his body though, so even at adult doses, the medications aren’t quite doing the job. He hasn’t grown in 2 years, and his brother who is 3.5 years younger than him is almost the same size- they share clothing. So, at his last appointment we met with the pediatric GI Dietitian at UVA.
She went over our dietary options to reduce inflammation. Our choices included an exclusive formula diet (like Ensure), feeding through an NG tube, or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). All of these diets are shown to produce the same outcomes as a course of steroids, and even potentially induce remission, without the side effects. All are difficult to stick with, but we’re feeling optimistic about the SCD after completing a successful Whole 30 just this past January. We decide to give it a try. Medications will continue and be increased, since he has such a severe case it’s likely that he’ll require both for the long term anyways.
I’m a natural researcher, so I started reading books, researching and testing recipes, and emptying my kitchen of any tempting SCD “illegal” foods. I have to MAKE yogurt?? Sauce from fresh tomatoes? This is going to take a lot of planning. We decide from the start that the whole family will do this diet together to make it easier on my son. When we’re out, away from the house without him, we can be flexible, but no illegal foods at home.
Where are we now?
The SCD diet involves removing certain types of carbohydrates from the diet, including all grains, most types of starches (potatoes, tapioca, etc.), all sugar except honey, any soft cheeses, and virtually any type of commercially produced foods-everything is made at home from scratch. No canned vegetables/tomatoes, no prepared meats, no soy, no cocoa powder. The list is pages long and a lot to digest. I’m happy to have found several support groups for SCD families on Facebook, as well as lots of dedicated websites full of recipes.
What are the silver linings?
I’m excited for our boys to learn to prepare and cook healthy foods from scratch- and they’ll have to help out, there’s just too much for Bill and I to take on alone. All of our palates will probably reset and be excited again by the natural sugars found in fruits. I’m not gonna lie, I’m looking forward to the prospect of maybe losing a few extra pounds as well.
What are our challenges?
My Pinterest app is on fire. I need a professional chef and a full time dishwasher. I’ve spent $900 and a week of my time filling my fridge and freezer full of prepped food.