As I was grocery shopping for what seemed like the 14th time this week, it occurred to me that I haven't ever gone into much detail on what day-to-day life on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is like for Crohnies (and UC patients), most likely because way back when I started this here blog, I was already down to about 95% SCD-compliant, which, as any true SCDer will tell you, means you are not actually doing SCD at all.
SCD, you see, requires what its major proponent (the late, lamented Elaine Gottschall) called "fanatical adherence". Since it's predicated on eliminating every rogue bacterium in the gut, and since rogue bacteria can have a company picnic on one potato chip, there has to be a zero-tolerance policy towards fucking around. After all your symptoms are cleared up for a year, there's cautious talk about introducing "illegals", but most people on the SCD choose to remain on a modified version of the diet indefinitely, since it's way healthier and they're way scared of a repeat on the room-clearing gas and projectile diarrhea that brought them to the SCD in the first place.
Initially, my few cheats were small, but big: a half-piece of particularly toothsome bread, something I hadn't tasted in 2 1/2 years, on an early date with The BF. A lavender cupcake at a friend's film opening two months later.
But then I hit on what I should really use my cheat allowance for: dealing with the rogue illegals that turn up in virtually all restaurant food, no matter how 'clean' you try to order. Restaurant dining becomes more enjoyable by an order of magnitude when you do not have to grill the server on every, no, seriously...EVERY ingredient. In the steak. Or the steamed spinach. Or the "absolutely plain" house vinaigrette. Because I can almost guarantee you, that "absolutely plain" vinaigrette will have a minimum of three to five non-SCD-compliant ingredients which, in the early stages of recovery, could send you running for the toilet.
Everything was going relatively well (no pun intended) until last December, when I decided to get jiggy with the starches for the holidays. Mind you, my recent transgressions, an entire piece of rye toast at breakfast AND a forkful of potatoes AND a salad with Thousand, all in the same 24-hour period, were nothing compared to my old, "thank-you-drive-thru" ways. But a little too much fast & loose, plus a heavy round of antibiotics after some incredibly minor skin surgery and I was done fer.
So now I am back to square one, at least as far as the diet is concerned. Everything cooked and peeled. Nothing "challenging" like, oh...say...peppers or mushrooms or, heaven forfend, onions. After almost knocking myself out with my noxious wind after ingesting a stray piece of onion in last Saturday's steak dinner, onions are off le menu for awhile. Along with steak.
It is not all bad, though. Tonight we are having baked acorn squash, sautÃ©ed baby spinach and bay scallops with shallots in a butter and wine sauce. (Smaller member of the onion family = smaller farts.) There's a vat of homemade applesauce in the fridge (because the commercial stuff might contain sugar), along with homemade yogurt (because the commercial kind definitely contains lactose) and leftover homemade chicken stock (because the commercial kind contains, among other things, starch, stabilizers, gums and the dreaded catch-all "spices").
Collectively, though, they represent dozens of man-hours of shopping, peeling and cooking. That is the hardest thing about following the SCD: finding the time in which to do it. With planning, you can really streamline operations, but the bottom line is it much, much harder to make everything from scratch than it is to 'cheat' with canned broth, pre-made yogurt and a thousand other modern convenience foods. When I'm on SCD, my convenience food is stuff I've made in bulk, portioned up, and frozen.
On the other hand, if you want a lesson in patience, humility and gratitude, you'd be hard-pressed to find one better than fanatical adherence to the SCD. Barring subjection to a major natural disaster or life-threatening illness. And with the worst of Crohn's behind me (there's that ass-punnery again, dammit), maybe it's good to have a little refresher course in the difficulty of day-to-day living for most of this planet's inhabitants. At least I have supermarkets, and a car to drive to them, and the relative security of knowing I won't be shot at while shopping for them (although that graffiti-tagged car in the Vons parking lot this afternoon shook me up a little).
My complaints are tedious and few, and I tire of the whiny voice in my own head as I head out for the store yet again to get what too many people would weep with gratitude over being blessed with.
And so to dinner. And, after we wail through the leftovers, to the grocery store again tomorrow, I'm sure. I've been craving muffins, you see, which can only mean one thing:
Muffin cup liners...