My Story, Part III
Alright, we’re now onto the last of my three-part health story, bringing me to today. As continued from yesterday …
During the first week of the SCD (the intro diet, specifically, which must be followed for the first 3 – 5 days and is crucial to the healing process), I was tired and lethargic, but my body felt extremely light. The light feeling was probably because I wasn’t bloated or experiencing discomfort for the first time in a a very long time. It’s not uncommon to feel this way during the intro diet because the body is going through a lot and it’s essentially the initial die-off period of the bacteria. Additionally, the foods allowed on the intro portion of the SCD are very limited (as in a handful of foods to choose from) and do not yield many calories, even if you try to eat a lot. Because I was still going to yoga and working out during this phase, I really had to increase my intake of these foods, but it still wasn’t enough. Even though I didn’t weigh myself, I know I lost weight during that week. The foods I ate during this phase included eggs, unflavored gelatin made with 100% pure grape juice, homemade 24-hour yogurt, dry curd cottage cheese, eggs, homemade vegetable broth (I didn’t do meat then) and some baked fish fillets. I ate variations of these foods for all my meals during those five days.
I made it one month on the SCD before I made the decision to add chicken and turkey back into my diet. I was having a hard time getting enough protein, especially for how active I am, and knew my body needed it. I did a lot of research and spoke with my naturopath about it. She thought it was a good idea, but did not push or force me in any way to do so. It was my decision. So, Jesse and I bought a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods to eat for dinner one night, and he cut me a little piece. As soon as I tasted it, I knew it was exactly what I was missing. It tasted good and felt good too. Needless to say, I asked for more, and the rest is history.
Fast forward to today, and I’m now in advanced stages of healing and will reach my one year mark on the SCD in October. I plan to adhere to its guidelines through the end of the year, and will then maintain a more standard version of paleo. This will basically give me the chance to eat such foods as sweet potatoes/yams, parsnips, cocoa powder, balsamic vinegar, plantains, sunchokes and so forth. These are all examples of foods that are illegal on the SCD, but allowed on regular ol’ paleo. I know I’ll have to go slow and take it easy on some of these foods though (specifically the starches) because my body may not tolerate it well at first.
It took a lot of patience to get to where I am now, along with a lot of reading and research. I didn’t eat anything raw for the first several months (including fruit — everything had to be cooked with the exception of avocado and ripe bananas), didn’t eat nuts in any form for the first month and didn’t even start eating raw nuts on their own until late winter/early spring. I tried eating raw mixed greens a couple months in, along with a raw apple (with skin) and was in total agony, and didn’t do it again until I knew my body was ready. Also worth noting, I now eat other high-quality meat as well, specifically beef, bison and buffalo, and even enjoy dark meat and crispy skin (was a white meat only girl growing up, no skin either!). I still haven’t tried lamb (I’ve actually never had it in my life) and don’t really eat pork, mainly because I don’t care for it much. I’ve even tried pasture raised chicken liver in pate form! I had never had that in my life either. I didn’t care for it, but hey, I still tried it!
One thing that was super helpful throughout my healing was the phases charts from the SCD Lifestyle Surviving to Thriving book from scdlifestyle.com. I don’t actually own the book, but my naturopath gave me a copy of the phases charts. Even though the phases are all individual and not a specified amount of time (for example, it doesn’t tell you to stay in a phase for one month before moving to the next), they’re helpful because they tell you which foods to try and in what form (raw, cooked, peeled, etc.). It takes some patience and experimentation to know when to move into the next phase. I definitely didn’t rush any of the phases.
In the beginning days of this diet, I was bummed that I could no longer eat tempeh, brown rice, chickpeas and quinoa, and anticipated eating these foods again once I was healed. Now, with everything I’ve read and learned, along with how I feel, I have no desire to eat grains, legumes or soy again. I know what those foods do on the inside and how great I feel without them. I’m much better off, especially now that I eat meat. I actually could try such legumes as black beans, navy beans, lentils and split peas (properly soaked and cooked), which are all advanced foods on the SCD, but again, I have no desire. Why put my body through that and turn to suboptimal forms of nutrition, especially when I’m eating meat?
A few interesting things that I’ve noticed about my body: besides the absence of my symptoms, I no longer get a bump around my tragus piercing (hard, pointy piece of cartilage by the ear canal). I used to consistently get a bump around that piercing, which would often fill with pus or blood, nearly every few weeks. It’d go away and then always come back again, and this had been going on pretty much since I got it pierced (after the initial healing process). Keep in mind, I got it pierced over four years ago, back in 2008! Anyway, I no longer have any issues with this, which is awesome. I also notice that my skin has more of a glow than before, and have even had people comment about it, which is always nice to hear! Something else that I was not aware of, but my mom shared with me, is that I no longer have a weird smell about me. I know that sounds strange, and it is, but she said there used to be this odor – not like bad breath or anything, but just an odd smell – that came from my breath. When I went home for Christmas back in December – only two months in on the SCD (and after taking the antibiotics) – she shared this info with me for the first time and said that the odor was gone. She said she had been noticing this odor for years and was blown away by its disappearance. I was thankful to hear it was gone … after all, that’s a bit embarrassing and I had no idea! It obviously had to do with the bacteria and hydrogen in my gut. Crazy, huh?
So, to sum things up, I’ve been on quite the journey over the past several years, but have learned so much along the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my former experiences, whether they were good or bad. I’m proud and happy where I am now, and have never felt better or stronger. I’ve become extremely passionate about health, yoga, fitness and nutrition and owe it to this journey. I’m excited to finally be pursuing these passions (from a career standpoint), so that I can help and teach others, and continue to share my story. I appreciate all your support and thank you for coming along for the ride.