I’ve been counting down to this day and I can’t believe it’s here! I’m currently celebrating with a sneaky mid-week glass of wine, because since cutting out bananas, I seem to be free of most of the bloat.
So how do I feel on day 45, half way through my 90-day challenge? Pretty damn good! As I’ve said before, SCD is definitely about peaks and valleys, but the peaks certainly increase as the diet progresses, and the valleys become easier to withstand.
I thought that here, at the halfway mark, I’d offer some tips to anyone embarking on (or thinking of embarking on) the SCD.
1. Commit to it. There’s no guarantee that the SCD will work for you. Some people swear by it, and for others, it simply isn’t the right answer. But the only way to know for sure is to commit to it for at least 30 days, but preferably 90. It really is the only way to find out whether it’s going to help you or not.
2. Don’t cheat. People who’ve been doing SCD for months or even years are likely to cheat from time to time. A sneaky bit of carob here, a sweet potato there. But in the beginning stages, you owe it to yourself not to cheat if you truly want to know whether or not it’s going to work for you. It’s easier to understand the importance of not cheating if you consider it a scientific experiment.
3. Tell people you’re doing it. This will help you to stick to your commitment, and will also help your friends and family to understand why you can’t eat out with them for a while – and why you can’t dive mouth-first into a stack of pancakes like you used to.
4. Keep taking your meds. This diet is designed to work in conjunction with your medication and supplements, not as a replacement for them. Keep working with your doctors and nutritionalists to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients and medication you need to keep your disease under control. Never adjust or stop taking your medication without first consulting your doctor.
5. Always have food prepared. Preparing your food on SCD can take ages, especially in the beginning stages. Cooking carrots for four hours is a commitment, guys. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always know that I’m going to have four hours straight to spend in the kitchen. But alas, on SCD, you need to make this time commitment. I set aside one day a week to cook (usually Sunday) and it’s SO worth it. Yes, it’s a hassle and peeling butternuts is hard work, but you weren’t going to exercise on Sunday anyway. Not having food prepared makes it almost impossible not to cheat when you’re hungry – but having food ready makes SCD a (relative) breeze.
6. Speaking of exercise, take it slow. Your energy levels are probably going to take a dive when you start this diet, and could take a while for them to return to normal. Don’t be surprised if you can’t lift the weight you used to be able to. Eventually your energy levels will return. And NEVER exercise heavily when you’re flaring!
7. Don’t ignore drinks. Just because you’re sipping it instead of chewing it doesn’t mean your gut won’t be affected by it. Always choose pure drinks with no additives or preservatives (like pure apple or pear juice), and if you do decide to drink alcohol, wait until you’ve been symptom free for at least 3 months, and stick to legal alcohol only (like dry wines or vodka).
8. STOP if it’s not working for you. SCD is great for some people… but it just doesn’t work for others. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed at life. It just means it’s not the right diet for you. If you experience ongoing nausea, discomfort or sheer I-just-can’t-fucking-do-this-for-another-torturous-moment, opt out and find something else. As this diet progresses, it should get easier, not harder. That’s a sure sign.
9. Take it one day at a time. When I first told my parents about this diet, they made the interesting correlation between SCD and AA. At AA, you don’t say, ‘I haven’t had a drink in one year, two months, three weeks and four hours.’ You say, ‘I haven’t had a drink today.’ If you go into this thinking you’re NEVER going to eat another chocolate or sweet potato fry in your LIFE, you’re going to freak yourself out so badly you’re going to quit before you’ve even started. Rather, go into it thinking, ‘It’s just for today’. Commit to short-term goals and they’ll be MUCH easier to achieve. Before you know it, you’ll be at day 45 🙂
10. Have an SCD buddy. It helps so much to have someone who understands exactly what you’re going through, and who’s prepared to listen when you’ve just had enough – and also when you’ve had a triumph. They don’t also have to be doing SCD (although it’s a bonus). They really just need to be supportive, caring, and understanding of your weird meals 🙂 And they need to not get tired of hearing you talk about SCD, cos it’s going to be a running theme for a while 🙂
11. Don’t forget spices! As limited as this diet is, you can use salt and pepper, which really revolutionises your meals. You forget how these two simple flavours can really turn your meals into something special. Remember to choose pure, non-irradiated spices.
12. Buy good quality meat and eggs. They cost more, but it’s so worth it. Choose lean cuts of meat, and if possible, go for grass-fed, organic, free-range meat and eggs. It’s also ideal to buy organic vegetables whenever possible.
13. Celebrate the small triumphs – they keep you going. Whether it’s avoiding a cheat or identifying a food that doesn’t agree with you, every tiny bit of progress is PROGRESS and you should be proud!
How’s your diet going? Have you started SCD, or are you thinking of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.