Sunday, July 05, 2015

Diet ditched, and other health-related news

Those bored with my "health" posts are cordially invited to read about the recent ordination of Orthodox Women as rabbis, instead.

I was hoping that going on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet would help me with my FODMAPS problem--almost all of the foods that give me grief (cabbage, gluten, dairy, dried fruit, and nuts) are on one FODMAPS list or another. (Lists from different sources are not consistent.)  But the Specific Carb Diet is really intended largely for people whose health condition gives them chronic diarrhea, and since my problem is currently more episodic than chronic, this diet had me going in the opposite direction (or rather, not going much at all).  One good piece of advice that I got from Jordan and Steve is to listen to one's own body--if the diet says that a certain food is permitted but you react badly to it, ignore the diet and avoid that food.  In my case, my body said that avoiding grains was created a problem that I didn't have previously, so I listened to my body and ditched the diet.

But I did learn a few good things from my two and a half weeks on the Specific Carb Diet.  One was that I really have to be much more careful about my consumption of sugar (which is forbidden on the SCD).  I've been cutting back for over a decade, due to infections and leg cramps, restricting my sugar consumption mainly to weekends, and, more recently, to Shabbat (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (holiday).  I've now decided that, particularly since the gluten-free oat rolls that I use for the motzi blessing (which is required on every Shabbat and Yom Tov) have so much sugar in them (and are so high in fat) that they practically pass for cake, I should have no more that two cookies or one small piece of cake (such as one quarter of one of my beloved chocolate chip mini-cakes from good old gluten-free, dairy-free By the Way kosher bakery) on a Shabbat or Yom Tov.  Yesterday, I ate only half of a biscotti and one other cookie.

Speaking of chocolate chip cake and listening to my body, another thing I learned was that I really must stop eating so much chocolate (cocoa being forbidden on the SCD), which has been giving me acid reflux and/or heart palpitations for years.  No more chocolate pig-outs on Shabbat or Yom Tov--a little or none is much better for my health.  Yesterday, I had no chocolate at all.

In better news, I got some very useful information from Elaine Gottshall's Breaking the Vicious Cycle (the "Bible" of the Specific Carb Diet), namely, a list of high-lactose (forbidden) and low-lactose (permitted) cheeses.  I was first diagnosed as lactose-intolerant when I was a college sophomore, so knowing what products to avoid and what I might be able to eat is very helpful.  Forbidden are all processed cheeses (goodby, American cheese) and all soft cheeses (including cream cheese, ricotta cheese and regular cottage cheese). My formerly-beloved mozzarella sticks are now permanently off of my diet.  Permitted are cheeses from which most of the whey has been removed and which have been "cured" of (most?) lactose by the addition of a bacterial culture.  I'm still not sure about the permitted dry-curd cottage cheese (sold in this part of the U.S. under the name "farmer cheese"), which doesn't seem to sit that well in my tummy.  Swiss cheese, on the other hand, might now be my new friend.

My husband chimes in with another health concern
After much research online, my husband has concluded that non-fermented soy products have a deleterious effect on one's health, and we've begun to purge our diet of all of them.  This is discouraging, as we originally started eating soy foods decades years ago, and only stopped on a chiropractor's advice a few years ago, in the hoping of reducing our cholesterol intake.  Unfortunately, with newer research, it now appears that unfermented soy products create more problems than they solve.  Soy's phytoestrogens increase women's chances of getting breast cancer and decrease male hormones.  Soy, which is forbidden on the Specific Carbs Diet, is also considered one of the eight most common allergens.  (Heavy soy consumption made a vegetarian friend of ours quite ill.)  Therefore, with great regret, we have bid farewell to both Mary's Gone Crackers cookies and Lucy's, and will be sticking with Enjoy Life for our cookies. Good-bye and good riddance to non-fermented soy products.

My apologies for posting about food on a fast day--maybe I was trying to distract myself from the fast.  :)


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