Naturally Gutsy

Surviving SIBO, IBS-C, Celiac Disease, Motility Disorder, & Pelvic Floor Dysfunction …. with a smile.

1 Year SCD Anniversary!

On November 20th, 2012, I celebrated successfully adhering to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for ONE WHOLE YEAR and the progress in my health that God has given through the diet.  I also celebrated in my heart by remembering all the things friends and family have done for me since I began this dietary journey.  When I have been too sick to cook or clean, my friends have shown up with smiles and a happy willingness to serve me in the love of Christ.  I am one very blessed woman!

birthday candle steak 1 Year SCD Celebration Frosted Vanilla CupcakeI celebrated the day very simply; nobody else was around…just me and my thoughts.  I wanted to stick a birthday candle into a cupcake or something like it but cupcakes simply aren’t make-able with the 15 or so foods I tolerate, and a birthday candle in steak is just…weird.  Therefore I found the next best thing – a vanilla icing cupcake scented candle!  Yes, it smells amazing!  So I lit it and celebrated by enjoying the scent.

Two days before my 1 year celebration I went with a friend to Trader Joe’s grocery store.  I used to shop there ALL THE TIME but since I’ve been eating about 6 vegetables, a few meats and fats I’ve begun shopping locally at Aldi’s and Harris Teeter.  I love Trader Joe’s, however; all the employees there know me and they are knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to dietary issues.  My friend, Mike, has been getting to know me since May of 2012, so he’s seen me since I’ve made progress on the diet and wouldn’t know how very sick I was before starting SCD in 2011.  But the employees at Trader Joe’s knew how sick I was…I was dragging every time I came in, pale, and struggling to find ANYTHING to eat that wouldn’t

scd flowers

make me sicker…staring for 10 minutes at a box of gluten free waffles and trying to hold back tears as I wonder why I couldn’t eat them without suffering.  This visit to Trader Joe’s was so different from previous trips, however!  I didn’t even make it through the door before Terri, a TJ’s employee, looked up at me and said “Sarah!  Wow!  You look great!!!”  Rachel and a bunch of other employees heard that I was in the store and they all stopped to tell me I looked so good, strong, and wanting to know about this diet I’ve been doing.  They were so excited for me!  In fact, they gave me a free boquet of beautiful fall-colored flowers to celebrate 1 year on SCD with me and support me in my progress!  I felt so encouraged and valued – I was beaming a smile from ear to ear.  :D

My friends have seen me through the process over the last year, so while they appreciate how far I’ve come, my progress has been gradual and has lost its shock value.  But for the friends who have not seen me for many months, the changes are dramatic.  As we left the store with our purchases and the free boquet of flowers, I felt like I’d just won a gold medal in the Paralympics.  I asked Mike, “So, that was different.  What did you think?”  He answered, “They were really happy to see you; you’ve got a lot of friends.  You’ve made a lot of progress and I’m proud of you.  I didn’t realize you were that sick before.  You’re really courageous to stick with this diet.  I get to keep the flowers, right?”  At which point I elbowed him in the ribs, defending my hard-won boquet.
steve jordan scd lifestyleThe progress I’ve had on my customized version of SCD simply wouldn’t have been possible without  Jordan and Steve have helped me so much through their books and advanced SCD course.  When I consider what I’ve spent my money on in the last year to improve my health, the books and information I’ve bought through SCDLifestyle have been the most important contribution to my health progress.  The second most important purchase has been my supplements which help me digest much easier…and if it wasn’t for Steve and Jordan, I would never have known which supplements to take!

I am excited about the progress I anticipate in the next year and beyond.  I know there will be times when I still crash and burn, often due to unknown causes, but I believe they will continue to decrease in frequency and intensity as time goes by.  I’ve not come this far to give up now or sabotage my progress by eating illegal foods.  So you can expect that Gutsy Girl will be sticking to SCD for the foreseeable future.

scd flowers 1 yr

How long have you been doing the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?  Will you celebrate your anniversary each year, and if so, how?



SCD Lifestyle Book Review – Surviving To Thriving

I’ve been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for 318 days as of today (not that I’m counting or anything…).  I’m very excited about celebrating my 1 year anniversary on November 20, 2012; I’m planning a party!  :D

Since 2011 I have made very significant and celebration-worthy progress in my health and it wouldn’t have been possible without SCD Lifestyle, faith in God’s sovereign goodness and daily prayer, the support of friends and family, and a few dump trucks worth of self-control.

Overwhelmed with both my severe health problems and seeing SCD as my “last ditch effort” (oh how many diets I’d tried before!) to achieve any amount of relief from the debilitating pain and symptoms I endured 24/7, I had hit Rock-Bottom Desperation.  Unfortunately, I was about equally overwhelmed with the restrictions of SCD, especially since I knew I had nut allergies and could not make baked goods (effectively making most BTVC recipes “no can do’s”).  I was scared, and rightly so; my health had deteriorated so drastically in several years and I felt like I was dying and nobody really knew how to help me even though I’d done “everything right” according to what my doctors told me to do – I was the PERFECTLY gluten free Celiac, and I was still dying.  I felt alone.

Then, I met Steve and Jordan of SCD Lifestyle.

I somehow stumbled across them through the ‘World Wide Web’ while googling questions I had about SCD.  I read the free chapter of their SCD Lifestyle – Surviving To Thriving E-book that they offered online, and I bought the book the same day.  The hot tears rolled down my cheeks as I read Jordan and Steve’s story because I could relate so personally to their challenges and I’d finally met real people who were “speaking my language” and shared my experience – I was just so relieved to not be alone anymore!  I let out a big sigh of relief because it was clear that these guys knew their stuff and they were no longer just surviving gastrointestinal illness – they were truly thriving.  I was hooked and I had to keep reading!

While I couldn’t possibly be more grateful to Elaine Gottschall for her life work on transforming Drs. Haas diet into its next iteration in the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I also felt that the practical steps of making it “work for me” were missing.  There were many questions I had which were unaddressed in BTVC and in online forums and message boards, and I felt that so much of Elaine’s time had been given to defending the diet and why certain foods were not allowed rather than breaking the diet down into very practical steps or addressing issues for folks who still seemed to be unable to tolerate many SCD Legal foods.  After her passing, this job was left to her followers; Jordan and Steve picked up the baton and ran with it!

With Steve and Jordan as my guides, I followed their advice through their book step-by-step.  As they instructed, I wrote out my commitment to do the diet with 100% fanatical adherence for at least 90 days and posted it on my blog and told my friends about my commitment so that I would be held accountable.  I also emailed the guys about my three biggest fears in starting SCD, and they wrote me back which gave me the motivation and “pat on the back” I needed to get going.  One of the exercises in their book told me to imagine with all my might what being healthy would feel and look like.  This was a very powerful exercise for me – when you’re constantly sick, it can be scary to even hope or dream, but I bucked up against my fear of hoping and imagined what being healthy would be like and decided I was going to make my own personal goals to achieve this state as much as possible.  I started the Intro Diet and slowly learned to cook for the first time in my life (wow did I have some kitchen failures – and one kitchen fire! – but that was my fault).  The book breaks down how to cook each Intro Diet food including peeling, de-seeding, and pureeing.  This process was very time-consuming and overwhelming to me in the beginning so I was very glad to have the pictures to guide me through the process.  Surviving To Thriving really helped me cope with the mental challenges of giving up food and Steve’s stories of cheating and the consequences helped me stay on the Legal path.

The food phase charts and sample menus included in the Surviving to Thriving book were immensely helpful and I lived by them for the first 6 months I was on SCD.  Now I know what I can eat and what I can’t and my list of Legal can eats is pretty small, but my GI tract is improving so I’m content.  I finally have that “unshakable Food Safe Zone” because I listened to my body and followed the food phase charts in the book.  The guys made the process of testing new foods easy to understand with their four day formula and even though the process felt like it took “forever” before I had variety in my diet, I knew that when I got it right I was going to be all set because I was methodical about how I tested my foods.

Journaling?  Ah, that was one of the hard parts for me.  While the guys say right from the beginning that your food journal will be your best friend for trying to figure out what is going right and/or wrong, I had kept food-, poop-, and other symptom-related journals for so long prior to starting SCD that I was really burned out on body-related journaling.  This slowed down my progress and my ability to identify foods that were causing me problems.  When I finally got around to being consistent on my journaling, I was able to really establish that unshakable Food Safe Zone…but not before I got serious about it.

On SCD Lifestyle’s website, there is frequently talk about the Four Horsemen.  I mention them frequently in my blog as well because the guys have identified the major trigger foods for folks who are otherwise doing “everything right” but just not seeing the results they were hoping for.  I’ve been in that camp more than a few times.  Some of these foods (dairy, nuts, fruit, eggs) I was relatively quick to stop eating because of the consequences, and others I hung onto for a long time because I was emotionally not ready to “let go”.  Holding on held back my progress, and if I had listened to Steve and Jordan earlier, I would have felt even better sooner.

The great thing is that every suggestion of theirs that I’ve taken has only lead me up, not down.  They have never steered me wrong thus far, and given how temperamental my body is, I think that’s simply amazing!  My medical case has been impossible for so many doctors to improve, yet some simple – and not-so-simple – diet and lifestyle changes have made a drastic difference.  Has it been easy?  Nope.  I won’t lie; it’s been hard.  But have the lifestyle, habit, and diet changes I’ve made been worth it?  Oh you bet they have!  The fact that I want to even leave my home and bathroom to go to a party I’m planning is evidence of that!  :D

I would have taken months to start SCD 100% if it had not been for Steve and Jordan from SCD Lifestyle, and I would have had much more difficulty emotionally adjusting.  Perhaps even more importantly, I wouldn’t have found the tweaks I needed to get my “tough case” body on the right track because, for me, SCD alone isn’t enough – I’ve had to craft and personalize the diet to my body’s specific needs, and SCD Lifestyle lead me through that process in their book and then in the Advanced SCD Course.

On another note, while Steve and Jordan do talk a lot about SCD because their niche and focus is GI disorders, they’ve also begun branching out more recently into the Paleo community as well and into a broader view/acceptance of making a diet that works for each individual (N=1), whether it is GAPS, SCD, Paleo, or something else entirely.  I really appreciate this viewpoint as I myself have had to add Atkins restrictions to my personalized SCD.  I’m sometimes amazed by how one diet may work so well for person A but utterly fail for person B.  Even Elaine Gottschall said that about 20-25% of people who try the SCD will find that it doesn’t work well for them.  Granted, that leaves the 75-80% who are seeing good to miraculous results if they practice what she calls “fanatical adherence,” but that 25% DOES still exist, and it’s okay to be one of them.


Just as a disclosure, I wanted to tell you that I am not being paid or in any way compensated for my time in writing about SCD Lifestyle or for reviewing any of their products.  I’m simply an extremely happy customer who has benefited greatly from their products and likes to write the things I’m passionate about, and SCD is one of them!  I hope that this review will lead folks on the internet to check out SCD Lifestyle for themselves.  Want more information about my take on SCD Lifestyle?  Read here – Why You And I Need  Cheers!

Gutsy Girl

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Low Carb SCD with Fructose Intolerance

Ok, whew!  This month has been a whirlwind and it’s been “long time no write”!  So rather than apologize (I just remembered it’s my blog and I have no reason to apologize), let me catch up in summary.

Low-Carb SCD with Fructose Intolerance

One of my biggest fears since starting SCD was that I’d end up having to cut out honey and fruit and the carbs I so love.  I said so many times in my head, “I’ll lose my sanity if I have to give up _______ (list foods here).”  Well, I felt this way about dairy too and I gave up all dairy less than 1 month into SCD (December 2011).  Do I still miss dairy?  Oh you bet – especially my goat cheese!  But I feel so much better for it, so I’ve been a “good girl” and remain dairy free until my body has healed enough to digest casein.

I also felt this way about giving up tree nuts when I learned that my allergies to tree nuts included much more than just almonds.  No nut flour to bake SCD breads or treats which means, for the most part, no breads or treats.  I actually cried for two days about that…then again, I was also having PMS…………  *Shrug.*

There were several other foods and food categories I had to give up after I started SCD, but the fact is that I DID IT and I’m alive to tell you about it today!  :D  And so it is with fructose which is a sugar found in honey, fruits, some vegetables, and in processed “foods”.

Blessings and Curses of the Food Journal

I had fallen off the food journaling band wagon for a while despite its inclusion in my Healing Plan.  I was just tired of thinking about “food food food” and wanted to get on with “life life life”…but had to find out the hard way (again) that getting on with “life life life,” in my case, typically requires being 100% focused on “food food food” so that I’m healthy enough to then focus on “life life life”.  When I don’t stick to my daily food journaling, I lose track of trends and I’m not able to figure out what food or what food category is hurting my poor gut.  I also tend to eat more carbs (fruit and honey especially) because they tend to be faster to prepare or grab on-the-go than my fats and meats.  This, I’ve since learned, can lead me into a flare-up quickly.

Frustrated at being stuck on this current plateau, I went back to food journaling without excuses and saw that honey and fructose were potentially causing me problems (severe bloating still, pain, less-than-friendly Bristol scores).  I guess I just got frustrated enough that I was willing to do whatever it took to move up to the next level of health, even if it meant waving goodbye to honey and my favorite fruits.

Saccharin (Sweet-N-Low) on SCD

So two plus weeks ago I ditched the honey and decided to try saccharin (which is allowed by Elaine Gottschall on SCD) and to re-write the recipes I use most frequently.  I’m finding that there are a few things Sweet-N-Low is useful for, and many more it’s NOT useful for, as the omission of honey from recipes changes their texture.

Now, before someone spends 10 minutes lecturing me on the cancer and health risks of saccharin, please consider:

*  I have literally little to no appetite most days, so getting calories in is extremely difficult – and if it doesn’t taste at least edible, it’s going to be a fight to get it down the hatch.
*  Without enough calories, I feel awful and I get very weak within 3 days.
*  My diet is cleaner than 99.5% of Americans (REAL, non-processed foods!) and I also take very few medications (Rx or otherwise) and typically use all-natural (i.e. baking soda and vinegar) cleaning products in my home, thus reducing my cancer risks.
*  There is a time when benefits outweigh risks, and I believe that time for me is now.
*  Besides, the Sweet N Low ad above gives me hopes that by using Sweet N Low I will get a hunky husband!  ;D

Was THAT “Low Carb Flu”?

As my gut was starting to thank me for knocking out the honey and drastically lowering my fructose intake, I thought I’d feel better.  But I started feeling worse!  It wasn’t my gut that was killing me, however; it was EVERYTHING ELSE!

Exhaustion made me feel like there were 15 pound weights attached to each appendage, it required effort just to breathe, I couldn’t open my eyes more than half-way even though I was awake, and even speaking became more slurred and difficult.    I began sleeping 15 hours per day out of pure necessity.  Crazy carb cravings and three days of migraines were also par for the course.  On the worst days, I felt absolutely DRUNK even though not a drop of liquor was involved.  I took myself off the road on those days, not that I had any desire to go anywhere given how exhausted I was.  I could barely put a sentence together and I would do stupid stuff like stare at lettuce in my hand for 5 minutes, not sure what I was supposed to do with it!  It would have been funny if it wasn’t so pathetic and scary.

I don’t get scared easily about things going “wrong” in my body.  I mean, after all, I’ve lived with this body all my life and I know its ups and downs.  But I do get scared when feeling THIS EXHAUSTED and “DRUNK” goes on for more than a few days in a row.  It’s scary for two reasons – 1) I don’t think any of my doctors would understand how awful I feel just by looking at me and that they would press further to find answers and 2) I have no control of the situation and no idea of the cause.

So more than a week ago I began asking myself, “Is this perhaps an unbelievable case of die-off/herxheimer reaction?”  I went to my favorite SCD website – – and searched for “die-off”.  This is what I learned:

*  Die-off usually lasts 3-7 days.  Low Carb Flu (Low Carb Adaptation) can last 2-3 weeks.
*  Die-off-like symptoms that last longer than 7 days are more likely either Low Carb Flu or a reaction to a food/supplement.

The Low Carb Flu is basically your body adjusting to utilizing fat as your primary source of energy rather than glucose/carbohydrates.  The body needs time to build up the enzymes it needs to break down and use fat as energy in your body but this process doesn’t happen over-night; hence the flu-like exhaustion and other symptoms which persist and then wane as the body becomes adjusted.

What’s Next?

Well, I started feeling a *little* better yesterday and significantly better today, so I am hoping that this process is nearly finished and I can go on with my new lower low-carb lifestyle without frequent recurrence of this Flu-like beast.

Before going low-carb (especially on days I wasn’t being careful about my ratios of carbs to fat to protein) I could easily average 175 grams of Carbohydrates, 50 grams of Fat, and 60 grams of Protein each day.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t work well with a gut that likes to ferment carbs and a gut that needs lots of fats to keep Bristol scores nice and soft!

My new ratio goal per day is: 75 grams Carbs, 100 grams Fats, 75 grams Protein.  So far I’ve been able to keep my carbs down to 75 grams per day (some hard-core low carb folks go even lower!) with the use of Sweet-N-Low and still feel satisfied.  Increasing my fats is helpful for my gut and, as my body will be using fats for energy, it also will hopefully give me a boost of energy in the next few weeks.

I believe I’m doing the right thing for my body.  I’m always striving to improve my health and super-excited to see what kind of progress will come in the next year or two!  There will be bumps in the road, and adapting to a low-carb diet is definitely one of those bumps.  Knowing when to listen to my body and when to ignore its screaming and just keep pushing through is key.



SCD Restaurant Review – Carrabba’s Italian Grill, A++

Carrabba's Italian Grill SCD Legal Restaurant

Carrabba’s Italian Grill SCD Legal Restaurant

Restaurant: Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Website: Rating: A++

Last Friday, I went out to eat for the first time without my SCD cooler.  I ate real food at a nice restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  I was nervous about potentially eating something SCD Illegal, but I followed SCD Lifestyle’s guide to eating out which helped me prepare by asking the right questions before I set foot in the restaurant.  Because I was prepared, my anxiety was decreased, and I had a lovely time enjoying the food and the company.

I’ve had previous good experiences with Carrabba’s Italian Grill before I started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  Carrabba’s has a Gluten Free menu and their chefs and kitchen staff are well-trained to understand food allergies and cross-contamination issues.  I’ve never been glutened when eating at Carrabba’s.

When I called Carrabba’s and asked the receptionist if I could speak with a manager regarding preparation of foods for a person with severe food allergies and intolerances, I was immediately transferred to the manager’s line.  The manager was kind and spoke with me for 12 minutes and didn’t rush; he listened carefully to my concerns and answered my questions with more-than-adequate detail.

Here are SCD Lifestyle’s questions with a summarized version of the answers I received from Carrabba’s manager and the Carrabba’s website:

- Do they marinate any of their meats?
No, Carrabba’s does not marinate their meats.

- Where does their meat come from?
Carrabba’s website says, “Our scallops are harvested and shipped to our restaurants free of any preservatives….Our poultry is all natural and free of any preservatives,” and the manager told me exactly where they raised their meat animals as well as what they are fed!

- How do they receive their vegetables and fruits?
Everything is fresh and the only things they freeze are bread products. “We make just about everything by hand in each of our restaurants every day from our delicious soups and flavorful sauces to our salad dressings and desserts. Even the roasted cinnamon rum pecans that top our John Cole dessert are made from scratch.”

- Can they prepare my meal in a clean area separate from other diner’s food?
Yes, they grilled my foods away from other foods and even wrapped my meat in aluminum foil to prevent cross-contamination from the grill.

- Does the restaurant cook with butter or margarine?
They will use whatever you ask for. I requested olive oil because I’m dairy, lactose, and casein free.

- What kind of oil do they cook with?
They use “La Rambla extra virgin olive oil imported from Catelonia, Spain” and vegetable or other oils, as you request.

What I ordered: I decided to keep it simple my first time around and to see how it went before ordering anything particularly extraordinary.  So I had some chicken cooked with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.  I had a bed of leafy lettuce with a zingy salad dressing made in-house.  I custom-made the salad because there are only a few veggies I can eat raw without serious consequences.  They grilled some of the veggies for me, including the bell peppers and onions, to make it easier on me.  They made a bruschetta type topping for my chicken, and for dessert I just asked for a few slices of fresh fruit with no additional toppings.  I didn’t over-eat and asked for fairly small portion sizes.  I gave the food an 8/10 rating because the chicken was a bit bland and they didn’t ask me if they could season it with anything else, but the rest was perfect.

Service – Manager & Chef: The managers and chefs were awesome!  These guys were approachable, humble, and excellent with regards hospitality and listening skills.  The chef with whom I spoke paid very close attention to everything I told him and I had no need to repeat myself unless he asked for specific clarification.  It was like he had memorized my Danger Foods within 45 seconds, and I was amazed!  I had brought my LIST (it’s Looooong!) of foods I cannot have and my short list of safe foods, but he didn’t need it because he had it down pat just by listening to me.  Everyone treated me like a queen and I felt very cared-for.  Nobody once criticized or questioned my food intolerances; they just worked to make my dining experience a good one and let me know that I (and my food intolerances and allergies) are welcome at Carrabba’s.

Service – General: In general, my table was very busy!  Between the normal wait staff checking in frequently plus managers and chefs making frequent calls, it seemed like having a conversation with my friend was a bit challenging.  None of the staff was rude in any way; they were just doing their job and making sure that everything was okay.  I’d rather have them double check and ask me more often rather than less often, so I was pleased, but in the future a few less check-ins may be more conducive to having a relaxed meal and less interrupted conversation.   My friend didn’t seem to mind, however, as with more frequent check-ins he was able to get his order quickly and with exceptional service!

Would I return to Carrabba’s Italian Grill for future dining?  You bet!  The good folks at Carrabba’s have won 1st place on my list and I’m super excited to have a place where I feel safe eating SCD legal foods!

Just remember – especially if you receive excellent service – to tip them well!  Catering to the needs of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is hard enough, and even more difficult if you’re a gutsy person who has additional food allergies or intolerances.  These chefs, managers, and all the kitchen and wait staff have worked hard to provide you with a safe meal and comfortable dining experience, and generous tippage is well-earned.

If you’re new to eating out with a special diet, check out Jordan and Steve’s tips at SCD Lifestyle to make sure you ask the right questions of the restaurant staff before you dig into your food.  Having the answers you need will help you feel relaxed and confident so that you can focus on the friends and family with whom you’re dining rather than on just your “special diet” and your food worries.

Here are posts from other folks who have traveled similar paths in search of SCD Legal food away from home:

Eating SCD – Dining Out, A Cautionary Tale

My Cranky Gut – SCD-Legal Restaurant Dining

Austin SCD Friends – A Guide To Eating Out SCD Legal

Gutsy Girl

Was this review helpful?  Let me know in the comments!  :D  Thanks!  Gutsy Girl

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