Hi everyone! It’s been awhile since I last posted, so I thought I’d catch you up. When I last wrote, I had been recently diagnosed with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis, and I had started researching natural treatments. I tried slippery elm bark powder, acupuncture, gluten free diet, specific carbohydrate diet as well as just eating whatever.Though in the beginning I was optimistic about staying vegetarian, I realized it wasn’t really an option for me after researching the most successful natural methods for healing IBD. However, for what it’s worth, I do source all the animal products I consume from local, humane and organic farms. Nothing I did made a lot of difference until I experienced a pretty bad flare in the week after returning home from New York City and probably indulging in a few too many inflammatory foods. I ended up spending a few days in the hospital and receiving a blood transfusion. I also started taking Apriso (an anti-inflammatory) and Prednisone (a heavier-duty, immune-suppressing steroid), and increased my iron supplementation.
I’m still on those medications, and I’m not feeling as sick as I was before, but my concern is that the pills aren’t actually healing my body; they’re just hiding my symptoms. It’s nice not to feel sick, but I want to create lasting change to improve my health, not just camouflage the problems I know are still there.
For that very reason, I recently started the GAPS diet, which stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It’s loosely based on Elaine Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet (for those who don’t know, that’s another gut-healing diet), but was developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride as a more gentle form of SCD intended to ease bacterial die-off and add foods more gradually. In addition, the GAPS protocol also includes instructions for phasing out of the diet once healing is achieved, which is very motivational. After all, I would like to eat a few more croissants before I die, you know?
I started out on the intro diet, but it really wasn’t giving me enough energy to drive (!) to my college classes (!!) and generally function as a human being. Therefore, I decided to follow a limited version of the SCD/GAPS diet. As of now, here’s what I’m consuming:
- homemade bone broth, at least 3 cups daily with a few teaspoons of probiotic fermented vegetable juice added
- free range organic chicken (slow cooker or oven broiled)
- grass-fed beef
- cheddar cheese
- muenster cheese
- fermented pickles
- lactose-free kefir
- lactose-free homemade 24-hour yogurt
- some cooked veggies (carrot, zucchini, onion)
It may sound boring, but compared to the intro diet, it’s quite enough variety for me. I learned the hard way that trying to limit myself too much at the beginning only makes it harder to stick to the diet, and I’ve already fallen off the wagon twice. This way, I can focus on intro healing foods without making myself crazy or extremely tired. Also, the diet prohibits starches, grains, unfermented dairy, and sugars (except raw honey) of any kind, so no dessert recipes for the time being. However, there are alternatives as I add foods later on. I’m trying not to rush into anything, because I want to give my body time to heal itself, but I’m chomping at the bit to try new recipes and share them with you all.
In the midst of all these changes, I’ve also started taking classes at a local college, and I’ve been working on application materials because I want to go back to school full time. This past Saturday, I took my first dance class in several months, and I’ve committed myself to taking part in a local casual company that meets weekly. My body is definitely sore, but I’m excited to get back to dancing. Even though it wasn’t the right career choice doesn’t mean I have to completely abandon it, after all.
I think that’s about it! As I think about how much my life has changed within the past few months, or even weeks, I’m amazed at how unpredictable it’s all been. I never thought I would get UC, I never thought I would stop dancing, and I never thought I would be living at home at nineteen. But, there you have it. I guess it goes to show that no one can predict what will happen. I’m excited for all the changes to come, and I’m hoping this diet will heal my colitis, or at the very least help me feel better without having to take quite so many pills. I’m not promising to stick to a schedule, but this isn’t the last you’ll hear of me.
If any of you are interested in either the SCD or GAPS diets, I’m linking the websites for them here and here. If you are thinking about trying either, I would highly suggest reading the books associated with the diets as well, as they specifically outline the rules and science behind it all.