Recipes, SCD, follow my journey!
I’m a little late in the game, in terms of posting and in terms of starting to see if this is the diet that will save my life. BUT! Better late than never is what they always tell me 🙂
I will put my story in a nutshell here an expand on a separate page, which I’ll link later, but here’s the basic story. In the past year, I’ve had health problems like I’ve never had before. I was always quite the healthy girl, with high metabolism, and running on the cross-country team and playing soccer with the boys. I wasn’t an athlete, but I loved running, and I loved eating healthy for the most part. That’s how I was raised.
When I came to China, I was actually pretty depressed and I stopped taking care of my body as well. I even started partying pretty often and drank much too much alcohol for my little Asian body to take. But, I was still fairly healthy, and of course, I am still fairly young (I turn 25 in 3 months!). This year has been a real challenge.
It all started back in February, when I fainted on a treadmill (I used to run half-marathons!), and I was convinced it must have been that I was out of shape. I started zipping in and out of different hospitals, at all hours of the night, because I was either having heart palpitations, or some sort of panic attacks that would give me tremors and difficulty sleeping. I must have gone to 4 or 5 different physicians and cardiologists, doing all types of MRI scans and sonograms, and no one could tell me the problem. I went off gluten, not 100%, or intentionally, but was just having plain white congee for about a month when I started to feel a lot better. I was convinced that I was pretty much healed, and I really started to feel better after a few months. The only difference now was that instead of feeling cold in my extremities like I used to, I would get these hot flashes constantly, especially after I ate. It was more apparent after certain meals than others, mostly dinner or lunch. I thought maybe it was just God’s Spirit dwelling in me or something. I don’t know. Still, I ate pretty healthy, and cooked most of my own food, so I didn’t put any crazy things in there. All in all, I felt quite okay. Though I was still constantly fatigued, I was having diarrhea again, and I started having these mini-migraine headaches which I never had before. Fast forward to October 2nd. I started having this killer fever at a youth conference, and you know what, I just ignored it and did what I was meant to do there — serve and love on the youth. But I got home and the next morning, I thought I was going to faint. I had a killer fever, and when I went to the doctor, he gave me antibiotics through IV drip, and then I really thought I was going to vomit and faint. It was just the worst. I got a bit better a day later, but was set to go to Indonesia for a week. I got there and I was feeling fine, but you know, the third day I was there, I had some noodles and beer (bad choice for gluten intolerants) and I was about to faint on our way up the staircase of this outdoor temple. In the hospital, they gave me probiotics and rehydrated me, but I was back in the hospital the next day after I realized I had white toast the night before. What a stupid choice. Anyway, they rehydrated me again and gave me antibiotics (Ciproflaxin). As you know, these things are just not good for your digestive system, but I tested positive for Salmonella. So, after a few days, I was back in the hospital and they gave me Metrodinazole, apparently a black-label drug. I got back to Shanghai, finished my antibiotics, and I was still having diarrhea. The only thing that wouldn’t give me diarrhea was my good ol’ bowl of plain white congee (with NOTHING inside, not even salt, just water and white rice boiled and simmered).
I felt like I was getting better so I experimented with hummus, and the diarrhea came back. Back on the rice diet. Then I tried to experiment with bananas, and back to diarrhea, again. Even a doctor here bought me vegetable soup from City Shop, and made me some pre-marinated chicken. I felt so tired. When I got home I was still hungry, and I tripped up, had a bowl of cereal and milk, and an hour and a half later I thought I was going to faint. OF course, I don’t need to mention the headaches, the fevers, the nausea. It was just the worst. A friend of mine recommended coconut water, which seemed to do a good job keeping me rehydrated and my stomach handled it quite well. But even mangoes were not so great for me. It seemed like white rice was the only thing I could have. I visited another doctor for final confirmation for me, and the decision was that I should fly back to the states ASAP. He was more worried about my heart issues, but the more that I think about it, the more I think it’s this entire gluten-intolerance causing my body to just go haywire! Hence the hormone imbalance and all the crazy headaches that I never had before in my life. Anyway, I’m leaving for the states in 5 days, and I will just be on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and of course, eating gluten-free and as simple as possible. That means, plain white rice congee and this recipe, minus the vinegar (there is gluten in vinegar) and the salt (my stomach can’t really handle it yet) and the garlic (which is apparently toxic to the human body), so I’m just playing it really safe for now.
It’s really crazy that you really are what you eat. I’m glad that not everyone has to eat gluten free or avoid certain foods. That’s great your body is digesting it well, but I really do believe that a lot of the issues we’re having (obesity, cancer, chronic illness) can be attributed to our diets. I mean, if I really am gluten intolerant, and I already know I’m currently lactose intolerant for sure, that means that my body would finally stop attacking itself because of the poison that gluten really is.
A good friend of mine, Andrea, has become an expert on all these things because she’s had the exact same symptoms that I’ve had. She’s not Chinese like me, so her genetic make up is different, so we’ve already seen some differences in the way we have to handle our diets. But for the most part, she’s been an extremely big help. I’ll try to post some of the recipes that I’ve learned work for me, and hopefully, it will help some of you, especially you Asian GF eaters!
So for now, I know that we Asians are okay with white rice congee 🙂 When Andrea first started out, she couldn’t even have that. She had broth, lentils puree, and different sorts of roots (carrots, yams) in puree form. I think the way I’ll structure this blog is I’ll have different recipes, and other times, I’ll be posting links and articles that I’ve read that I’ve found helpful for me. Of course, we’re all made different, and that’s the way God made us, so you might respond better to one type of food than another, but the key is to have self-control, and only taste a little and see what your body does. I’ll also be writing down my food diary, but that’s more for my own records.
For me right now, I can’t even have a hint of gluten. I had taken a bite of some buckwheat noodles my friend made a week ago. Unfortunately it was store-bought buckwheat noodles, which meant that it was probably only 2 % buckwheat and 98% wheat! It’s just horrible. Anyway, I’d like to share the first batch of useful tips I have (mostly taken from my friend Andrea, but also some from personal experience!):
Tip #1: READ ALL LABELS. This might seem like an obvious one, but especially here in China, you really need to be careful of anything store-bought. The front of a carton of coconut milk might say, “100% pure coconut!” but studying the side panel, you realize the first ingredient listed is SUGAR. I really really do not recommend buying rice or beans out of those troughs (that’s kind of how they sell it here in China). Buy everything packaged, and I recommend imported if you can’t read Chinese. In addition, check the internet for labels, especially from bigger companies. They do a good job of putting it online, even if it’s not on the actual box. Tricky, I know.
Tip #2: CHEW SLOWLY. I know this is also a simple one. But when you are just starting out your diet, you want to take it one step at a time. It’s difficult because, like me, you must be starved! You want to eat slowly, and actually after the first bite/sip, I would try to wait 10-15 minutes and see how your body reacts. If your as sensitive as I am, your body will let you know right away if it’s happy about what you just did or not. If your not as sensitive, I recommend introducing only one new substance per day. I know it sounds crazy to you. But, say you know that plain congee has been working for you. When your diarrhea and symptoms subside up to a point where you are can be pretty aware of your body, you can try adding in a little bit of salt into your congee. See what happens during the next 24 hours, and the next 48 hours. If your body is okay, you can try introducing maybe some ginger, or steam one type of vegetable to put into your congee. It seems like an arduous process, but I think that’s the only way to go, my dear.
Tip #3: TRUST YOUR BODY/ BEWARE OF THE INTERNET and even DOCTORS. I know that this is.. a blog. And I’ll be linking you to a lot of different sources on the internet, BUT trust your body above the judgment of the internet. See, the internet said that all rices were gluten free. I think that’s true. But did you know that the shell of brown rice HAS GLUTEN? If you are as sensitive as I am, you can’t handle that. So, take it slow and trust your body. I’ve said to many of my doctors that I think/have a hunch I may be allergic to gluten, but most of them shrugged it off and said, “That’s impossible, we would have known earlier.” Well, my friends, your body was created (I believe) in wisdom by the Creator. I’m not saying he made you gluten free, but I’m saying he made your body this well-oiled machine that can really diagnose itself quite well. So listen to it! This goes out to you crazy work-out folks too. REST. Anyway, I’m getting off topic. Also, remember the thing about doctors is, that though a lot of my friends are doctors, they are taught to say certain things to patients. And western medicine has its limits. I’ve actually gone to an acupuncturist before but he just said I must be anemic (which I’m not). SO, again, I say, trust your bodies and how they react.
Tip #4: JUST BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR HIM, DOESN’T MEAN IT’S GOOD FOR ME. There are TONS of ads out there about why we need to be eating 10-grain bread, and have so much wheat in our diets. In fact, I even remember learning about it in nutrition class (Thanks, FDA!). But is it really that great for us? Sometimes it’s good to be skeptical. There are all these diets out there to eat completely raw, and the Atkin’s diet (that might be an older fad), but seriously, listen to your body. If you try a diet, and it works, but then it fails you, then you know you can’t keep doing it, no matter how great Jane looks after she was on the raw food diet. Do your research, but in a way, you really have to be a guinea pig and see how your body reacts.
Tip #5: AVOID HOT FOODS. I mean, seriously, when your nerves are exposed in your stomach and intestines, don’t torture yourself. room temperature is the best. Warm is okay, but I’d just go with room temperature.
Well, this is the journey. Here we go! I hope it won’t be too painful!