I generally try to be a positive person, and I completely 100% believe that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is the proper treatment for me. I also realize it might not be the treatment for everyone. This diet is a challenge. Crohn’s is a challenge in itself, but I guess when you add on an unusually strict diet, you meet more challenges. I don’t think I’ve taken any time to really recognize the downside of SCD. Recently I felt like I was bombarded with some of these issues, so I think it’s time I mention them.
One challenge I’ve had in the now seven months on this diet is social gatherings. In the span of a year and a half I’ve had or will have around four or five cousins getting married. In addition to that, there’s some family gatherings, friends-of-the-family weddings, and other big social events. One of my immediate fears is that I won’t be able to eat anything (yes, my first instinct is to think about food). It’s hard sometimes in situations where the food is catered or no one really knows about your dietary needs. Even in more every day social situations, I feel stuck. One a recent school organization’s trip to Columbus, the group I was with decided to go to Potbelly‘s for lunch. Now, I had no idea what that was, but I got the idea that it was a sandwich place. Trying not to draw too much attention to myself, I asked one of the officers if there were things other than sandwiches. There are salads there, but as far as SCD-approved salads, there is only one. It wasn’t a very good salad, either. After, maybe ten bites, I couldn’t bring myself to eat anymore and decided I would wait to eat until I got back to Athens. I guess to reason I went along with this is that I didn’t want to be a burden to the group. I didn’t want them to change they’ve dining decision based on my needs. I was stuck because I really couldn’t eat anything there, but I didn’t want to inconvenience the rest of the group.
In an off-shoot from social gatherings, I also get this paranoid feeling that people are silently judging my treatment decision. When I have to explain why I can’t eat bread or why processed meat will hurt me, it seems like people look at me oddly. I recognize that it’s not a conventional way (yet) for treating things, but I always try to explain why it’s so important to me. I feel like I have to make a case every time and defend my choice. There’s a little script that plays in my head, over and over again:
Me: Sorry, I can’t eat that.
Person: Why not?!
Me: Well, I have Crohn’s disease and I’m on this diet that supposed to keep me off medication.
Person: Oh… okay….
Me: Yeah, it’s a little strict, but it’s keeping me so healthy. If I didn’t try this I’d be paying $200-500 a month on meds and would be taking 14-16 pills a day.
The dialogue varies, but that’s the gist of it. If I just said “I’m on a diet,” I think people would even be more critical of me. They might be thinking, “kid, you weight like 100 pounds, why the hell are you on a diet?” If I’m feeling lazy that day, I might just say I have food allergies and leave it at that.
As I kind of mentioned before, there is a challenge when it comes to dining out. Sometimes my restaurant options are limited because there menus mostly contain illegal foods. Awhile ago, my mom, completely forgetting about my diet, asked me if I wanted to go to Benihana, which is a Japanese-style restaurant. Their food has soy sauce, rice, and starches written all over them, so naturally, there’s not likely to be anything for me there. When I’m going out with friends, I had to give them a list of places I can go. Again, it’s like I’m burdening this friends of mine.
Delicious Mint Chocolate Chip from Graeter's
My last real issue with SCD, right now is the fact that I can’t go out for ice cream. This is sad and kind of juvenile, but definitely something I took for granted. I can’t count the number of times in my life when my parents have just taken me out for ice cream or stopped for ice cream on the way home. In my hometown, Graeter’s is the best ice cream you can get. It was always a treat to go to Graeter’s. Nowadays, if I want my ice cream, it’s got to be homemade (and, no, not the Homemade brand… real homemade ice cream). It’s hard having to say no to Cold Stone trips here in Athens, but if I did try to eat it, I’d be in a world of pain.
As I’ve been writing this post, I realized that this might seem a bit whiney or rambley. I apologize, but this has been on my mind, and I think it’s relevant to those trying to gain an understanding about SCD and, I hope, relatable to those who are on SCD. There are sometimes when I just want to give up. I want to go to my doctor and say, “okay, you win. I’ll go on meds.” but then I think about how much I hate meds, how much healthier I feel on this diet, and how it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks, I’ve got to do what’s right for me.