December 28, 2012

The Beginning (My Story)

Hi everyone (that is when people start to read this thing)
I wanted to write a quick post to explain why I am starting this blog and hope that at least one person out there can benefit from what I have learned.
I will keep this brief for now, but here is the gist...

Years ago I started having troubles with my bowels (I will be frank- I started having diarrhea). Initially my troubles were episodic. I would get what I would call my “stomach sickness” every few weeks to months. I would come down with severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Each episode would last a few days and then resolve. No one around me ever got sick, so I knew that it wasn’t infectious. I tried keeping a food diary to see if I could find a pattern; I couldn’t. My symptoms lasted for about 2 years before I sought any medical help. I had a number of tests and eventually ended up getting referred to a gastroenterologist and had both a colonoscopy and endoscopy. I was told they were normal and that I “probably just had irritable bowel syndrome.” The doctor told me I could take Immodium for my symptoms. I was devastated and extremely frustrated. Here was the medical expert telling me that all I could do was try to mask my symptoms with a pill? I knew that was not my solution. I didn’t just want to treat my symptoms, I wanted to prevent them in the first place! After that my symptoms progressed. I started suffering from daily diarrhea. At its worst I was having 8-10 episodes per day. Wherever I went I was always on the lookout for the closest bathroom, as I never knew when my symptoms would hit. I stopped going for the outdoor runs that I loved so much, as I could never predict when my diarrhea would come. Life was getting miserable. And did I mention that by this time I had been accepted to, and had started medical school?

I started doing my own research into what I could do to help my symptoms. I tried a gluten free diet for over a year, with very minimal results. I also tried cutting out dairy, and again I saw very minimal changes. It was then that I sought the help of an integrative medical doctor in our city to try to find answers. We tried a lot of things, and I had a lot of expensive testing done. I was treated for a parasite in my bowels, for bacterial overgrowth as well as yeast. I also went gluten, soy and dairy free, and took a variety of supplements including probiotics and digestive enzymes.  I did see some improvements, but I was still having 4-5 loose stools per day, at unpredictable times.  My doctor finally mentioned the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” which is the bible for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). I was reluctant at first because the diet is very different from the average North American diet these days, and I was scared that I wouldn't be able to eat anything. I finally broke down and tried it at the same time that I was starting my medical residency (could I have picked a more stressful time? I mean really...). Anyways, long story short the diet has changed my life. I won't say that my bowels are perfect, but they are MUCH MUCH better. 

After one and half years on the diet and through some trial and error I have come up with a diet that works well for me. I consider it a combination of the SCD, paleo and GAPS diets (I will explain more about each of these at another time). The big diversion I have made from the traditional SCD diet is that I have realized I do not tolerate fibre well. At all. So I follow a higher fat, low fibre version of the traditional SCD diet, incorporating aspects of both paleo and GAPS diets as well. Through this blog I hope to share some of the recipes I have come up with along the way, share tips for those struggling with digestive and other health issues and help spread the word that diet and nutrition can be a very important aspect of healing. 

Ok I think that is quite enough for one night. See ya next time!

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