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Back from a short (mental) break


It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted and this is mostly because I had a bit of a mental breakdown. The pressure of getting my work done for my Master’s degree coupled with the insane amount of will power and time necessary to do the SCD diet eventually got to me. I have always been a perfectionist and a bit of a worrier. This caught up to me and I ended up having many panic attacks over the past few weeks. I’ve never had panic attacks before, and of course thought I was having a heart attack and going to die. A trip to the emergency room only calmed my fears temporarily.

I didn’t just sit back with all of this, but decided to finally ask for help; something I realize I have never really done. The entire time on SCD I have never asked my parents to help out with cooking, grocery shopping or dishes. Finally I told them I was exhausted and needed them to help. They were glad I finally asked them too. I also started going to see a counselor at school. So far I’ve only been twice, once for an initial visit and one full session. It has been helpful but once again I find myself searching for my own way to make myself better. While seeing my naturopath, I searched and found the SCDiet myself and then went on it with her approval. Similarly, I feel like I’m searching for techniques to get over this panic, worrying, pressure feeling on my own, while seeing a counselor to sort of ‘check in with’ and get approval to make sure I’m doing the right thing. Either way, it seems to be working for both my diet and mental health to search on my own, so I guess I’ll continue. I realize health in general requires a lot of self searching, and being somewhat selfish in devoting a lot of time to yourself.

I have still not strayed at all from the SCDiet and continue with the very basics, yogurt, cheese, meat, broth. I have stopped following the Pecanbread guidelines however. I just wasn’t seeing any improvement trying to follow those stages. I think Pecanbread doesn’t place enough emphasis on broth. I’ve been having 1-2 cups of broth per day and it’s helping. I’ve been eating stewed vegetables (any kind) in small amounts. It doesn’t seem to be what vegetable I eat, more like how it’s prepared and how much. I have also been juicing vegetables with my new juicer for a few weeks. It’s nice to have something ‘raw’ and refreshing. So far I’m just sticking with carrots, celery and cucumber because I’m enjoying the taste. I have been looking around at other dietary advice as well to get a broader look at food and health. I’m reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price and it’s fantastic. I’m also looking into the Gut And Psychology Syndrome diet but don’t have the book yet (library doesn’t carry it, and hey, I’m too cheap). The GAPS diet is like SCD but places more emphasis on juicing and broth. I may try the fermented veggies soon.

To anyone not having success with SCD, realize that you may need to customize it for yourself. This doesn’t mean adding in illegals, but more like figuring out what foods really are healing for you and what you really can’t do with. Don’t kid yourself, you’re the one suffering. Take the time to find your safe foods. Now if I have a touchy stomach day (so tame now compared to pre-SCD) I can rely on chicken broth, stewed chicken or beef, baked fish, homemade yogurt made with whole milk or cream, and natural cheddar cheese. That’s my base diet I know I can fall back on no matter what.

For mental health I have been practicing some relaxation techniques like breathing. I practice the breathing when I’m in panic mode, but also just at a random time of day when I feel fine. It’s amazing the more you do it, the better you feel, and the easier you can calm yourself down. I’m doing belly breathing and counting 4 counts in, hold for 4, then 6 counts out. I also do some gentle exercise and get lots of sun. Bike riding, rollerblading and volleyball are my choice activities because I enjoy them and they don’t take much effort.

I cannot believe how tanned I am getting this summer. It’s only June, I’ve been out tanning in the sun a handful of times, and I’m darker than I’ve ever been. There is definitely a diet component to this. I have not burned once nor turned pink, while my friends around me are all complaining of burning. Also, I haven’t used sunscreen AT ALL. The most I’ve been out at one time is probably about 1 hour, which doesn’t sound like much, but last summer I’d be burnt to a crisp if I did that without sunscreen. Some of my friends have burned with only 1 hour outside while I developed a nice bronzed tan. Some things I attribute to this: eating tons of homemade yogurt made with cream, cheese, butter, and coconut oil. The fats and fat soluble vitamins are so protective against the sun. Vitamin A specifically seems to help and has some relationship with vitamin D. The more vitamin A, the less I burn. Another note, my elbows are about as soft as a baby’s bottom. No joke. Those normally wrinkly dry itchy patches on my elbows are completely soft and supple. And tanned too.

I’m still dealing with acne pretty bad, and I do realize now it’s so much worse when I’m stressed out. Hopefully working on the panic attacks and worrying thoughts will help clear that up. In the meantime I’m trying a few home remedies. I’m putting SCD homemade yogurt on my face as a mask, I use my dripped whole milk yogurt with no honey added. I’m putting coconut oil on my face at night, helps moisturize and keep it soft. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that this helps acne too. Also I’m juicing vegetables, I heard this helps acne too, certainly can’t hurt. I only juice about 4oz per day, because I’m lazy, but I’m enjoying it.

I hope to post soon about some of the books I’m reading, although I’m not putting any pressure on myself to update really often. Plus it’s summer, we should all be outside enjoying the weather, not stuck inside looking for blog updates, right? lol

The picture for this post is my bicycle. It’s a new bike, but an old ‘cruiser’ style. I love it! Not super complicated (only 7 speeds) and such a comfortable ride. No sore crotch/butt/hands on this one. I have used it probably 3 times a week to go to the store for groceries or the library for books. It’s fun!

Kat

I have been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet since January 2008 to recover from Celiac disease. As part of the diet, I don't eat grains, sugar or potatoes and prepare all my meals from scratch.

9 Comments

  1. Hi there!

    I was wondering what you were up to. πŸ™‚

    Good to see you’re dealing with the mental stuff. And I am impressed with you for sticking with your strict diet. Good for you.

    I have been less strict. Basically I rely on the loperamide to keep the baseline symptoms gone, and then I use the diet to handle variations above that. I don’t do the SCD strictly anymore – it’s more like, I let my current state decide how much I dare stray from the SCD at the moment. The component that varies is to a little extent what type of veggies I use and to a big extent how much carbs I allow myself to get. In general I don’t have grains with my food, but I do drink rice milk for the calcium plus I like the taste. But I try to only have it when I am not eating a big meal. When I have a good few days I allow myself some stuff like candy and cookies, but I try to limit my intake of stuff like that. It still seems dairy products are fine sometimes but cause problems sometimes. I’m not sure really. Hard cheese seems fine though at least in moderation. Apart from that I think I am more sensitive to meal size and amount of calories per meal than the actual components of the meal. But since protein and fat is so much more important for the body than carbs I think it is certainly more reasonable to limit the carb intake.

    I have gained quite a bit of weight! Will soon have to watch what I eat – so I don’t get too much – now that’s new! At the switch from EFI to SCD I weighed about 47 kg and now I weigh 51, so that is something like 8-9 pounds. Yaaaayyyy!!! πŸ™‚

    I’d like to ride my bike too, though exercise is still problematic for me. Hope to do that more after I’ve had surgery. Oh, maybe I haven’t told you – I am on the waiting list for a colostomy now! It won’t be until October at the earliest though. But I feel great about the decision.

    I am also getting stronger mentally. Learning step by step to not push myself so hard. Work is going better than it has for a long time, so that’s good. (I am the type that don’t even feel like trying something if I don’t think I’ll excel in it. But I am learning…)

    I might try some hypnosis again, but for stress and stuff like that, because for things like that I do believe it works.

    Anyway, we had great weather for a while (highest temperatures in Europe in fact) but now it’s raining, which was necessary. We’ll spend the day indoors watching the EC football (or do you too call it soccer? ;)). Sweden plays today.

    Jonas got a stomach bug again and was sick yesterday evening. Hope it’s just something he ate. (I still have something like a stomach bug phobia.)

    Anyway, great to see how you’re doing. Take care now! Wish you good gut and mental health. πŸ˜‰

    Hugs,

    Ulrika πŸ™‚

  2. Kat,
    You can add yogurt to your diet in new ways with yogurt cheese.
    We like it so much we wrote a cookbook and guide to expand its uses. I hope you will allow us to share our enthusiasm: Yogurt cheese (or YoChee as we call it is a wonderful versatile ingredient you can make at home to improve your own yogurt. Simply by draining it. It has substantial health, taste and cooking benefits (a creamy food which is low or no fat plus high protein and calcium). I hope you will take a look at,” Eat Well the YoChee Way” our guide and cookbook to this important food. We even paid to have yogurt cheese analyzed in a lab for nutritional content. The book really increases the use of yogurt cheese to main courses, soups, sauces, desserts, and much more. (Nutritional content included). Our website YoChee.com contains a free yogurt cheese how – to slide show, nutrition information and free recipes.

  3. ACK — Kat, I enjoy your blog and leave comments from time to time. I marvel at all you are able to do — the diet along w/ your studies, etc. When you weren’t posting I’d hoped you were off enjoying the summer, so I was sorry to hear otherwise (that you were dealing w/ panic attacks). I have suffered with them for years (more than I care to quantify!) an of course they tend to exacerbate the gut issues.

    Read an interesting article not too long ago which I found useful:

    β€œThere’s a trick to panic attack,” said David Carbonell, a Chicago psychologist specializing in treating anxiety disorders.

    β€œYou’re experiencing this powerful discomfort but you’re getting tricked into treating it like danger.”

    If we can overcome that tendancy, and bear in mind it’s not dangerous, only uncomfortable (okay and damn scary! LOL), it won’t become full blown.

    I’m glad you asked for help and hope you’ll be inclined to do so more often in future. You’re made of tough “stuff”, but hey, we all need a helping hand to get through some of the rough spots.

    I couldn’t agree w/ you more re: what you posted as to tailoring the SCD to meet your own needs as opposed to following it in the generalized sense. I’ve done that too, after amost 10 years on it (“duh”!) and have had more success than when following the stages or eating all things compliant when for *me*, they were contrary.

    Be good to yourself!

    -D.

  4. P.S. — Love your set of wheels! Enjoy. I’m taking a page from your book today and am going to try to catch a few rays!

  5. Hi Kat,
    We’re actually working with Dr. Natasha’s
    Gut/Psychology book in our nutritional support class. She is very pro fermented foods and broths. I think you are on the right track with that.
    I have the book, it’s been a bit of a bible to us lately.

  6. Hello Kat. It seems you and me are somewhat in the same boat. However, I’m not a grad student, I was supposed to finish my bachelor of science in May, but I had to skip the last two months due to my ulcerative colitis. I’m currently on the SCD, just started in May, and I messed up A LOT in the beginning. Horribly. Now I’m just trying to get back on track, and it’s going so slowly. I’m itching to find a job, but am dealing with horrible usual morning sickness and great fatigue. I don’t mean to complain so much, really, I thought i’d just share what’s been going on with me because I completely understand where you are. It’s good to see your blog. Take care

  7. Ulrika: Good to hear from you! I like that you’re enjoying your food a lot more these days πŸ™‚ I’m still super-strict but trying to make it seem more natural now. Trying to stop thinking about everything I put in my mouth! Still haven’t gained weight..

    Nikki and David: yep I’ve been making yogurt cheese with goat yogurt and it’s great. I like the site you guys have put together.

    Anonymous 1: 10 years! Wow, I’m very impressed!

    Anonymous 2: Do you think the book is worth buying? So far I’ve been loaning books from the library but they don’t have the GAPS book. I’d have to buy it..

    Eric: Sorry to hear about your troubles, SCD does get a bit easier in the sense that it becomes a new ‘normal’. I found it took me at least 4 or 5 months to really figure it out. Stick with it!

  8. Hi Kat,

    I read the GAPS book first and it’s what made me start our family on SCD. I couldn’t find too much supporting information on the web so I turned to the PecanBread site. We started off with the PecanBread stages but after 2 weeks, we just started eating off the legal list and threw the stages out the door, lol. I did buy Breaking the Vicious Cycle because of the recipes people were referring to but I didn’t read the book all the way through. It was quite boring to me. The GAPS book held my attention from the first page I started reading. All through the GAPS book I was having aha moments. I definitely recommend the book along with visiting the GAPShelp-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and http://www.gapsdiet.com/. I haven’t redone the intro yet. I want to but my kids really like the nut butter brownies and pancakes and I’m not ready to take them away πŸ™‚

  9. Hi Karen,
    Yep it was hard for me to give up the almond butter goodies. But it wasn’t working for me at all. Neither was the PecanBread stages. I’m now just figuring out for myself what works and what doesn’t and I’m having better results.

    I was actually having those Aha moments reading the BTVC book. I haven’t read GAPS but have read about it on lists and the main website. Someday I’ll get around to getting that book.

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