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.
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
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 – SCDLifestyle.com – 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.
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.