I am sad today. I think I am going to have to bid farewell to a couple of my favourite food friends. Sigh.
As my faithful readers know, I’ve been dealing with ulcerative colitis since the mid-eighties. It comes and goes, based on the amount of stress in my life and how good I am with getting enough sleep. Since 2009, when I had my last really major flareup after my eldest son’s Bar Mitzvah (followed by a wonderful but exhausting trip to Europe), I have kept it reasonably under control with the help of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
The SCD is really just a nineties version of Paleo, except that it includes fermented dairy – in fact, home-made SCD yoghurt, fermented for at least 24 hours, is a mainstay of the diet in that it helps repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria. There is a list of permissible cheeses, which includes most hard (i.e., fermented and aged for a length of time) cheeses.
Before discovering Paleo, I had been vegetarian since 1994 in an attempt to improve my health. It did help, but not enough, so I added wild-caught fish. As a person who values kashrut and needs to maintain it in her home, allowing non-kosher meat and fowl into my house was not an option. However, most kosher meat is raised in CAFOs, which are also not acceptable (and their meat is not good for you anyway). I have moaned about this dilemma in the past. But now its horns have become particularly painful, because I have to give up dairy.
There, I said it. I’ve given up my delicious, local, artisanal cheddar cheese. I’m still hoping sheep’s milk feta cheese will work for me, but I’ll find out this weekend when I eat some during Shabbat. But what makes me particularly sad is that my lovely SCD yoghurt now seems to hurt me as well. I’ve only had a small amount, so maybe the reaction that I had was a coincidence. I’ll keep trying … but life without cramps trumps eating dairy any day. My main problem now, aside from missing some pleasure, is going to be ingesting enough fat and protein. Grains and legumes are banned from the SCD with good reason. I bought a can of wild-caught sardines today to add to my collection of salmon cans. My eggs come from a local CSA, so I’m planning to eat lots of those, but they aren’t finger food. A work in progress.
So why am I sharing this with you? Because I want to emphasise the importance of becoming the expert on yourself (with an acknowledgement here to Dean Dwyer). My gastroenterologist sees me twice a year. He can ask me questions and give me expert advice, but really, the only person who can judge how I feel after doing something (eating something, taking medication, losing sleep, whatever) is ME. So we need to become unafraid to take charge of our own health and declare ourselves the experts on us.
How about you, are you the expert on you? If not, who is?