I don’t know about you, but when someone is on a special diet, I get sort of turned off listening to all the things they can’t eat. The conversation makes me sad because it makes me think about all those delicious things that I love to eat, now forbidden by the rules of this special diet.
The flip side to my reaction is that if you give me a list of the things you can eat and like to eat, then I immediately start dreaming of how I would feed you if you came over for dinner. I suppose this issue of special diets is philosophical: do you dwell on the bright side of things, or do you linger in the dark shadows, feeling trapped by the rules and restrictions?
I prefer to look toward the light because I like the freedom that accompanies choices. It is with that idea in mind that I wanted to discuss exactly how I will be following the principles of the SCD this week.
There are three main principles that guide the everyday eating habits of an SCDer. The first is to eat whole foods. The second is to eat the right carbohydrates, namely simple monosaccharides and insoluble fiber (such as that found in apple peels). The third is to eat foods that provide beneficial bacteria, such as cultured yogurt or fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. My niece, by the way, loves sauerkraut and eats it like candy.
The SCD pantry is not nearly as bare as you might imagine. While there are no grains, there are all sorts of other goodies, such as whole nuts, nut butters, almond flour, coconut (including shredded unsweetened coconut, coconut oil, and coconut butter, the latter of which my sister-in-law shared with me—she’s the nicest person ever!), and honey. Inside the refrigerator are eggs, yogurt, different cheeses, butter (or ghee for the extremely lactose-sensitive), and pickles. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are allowed, although starchier vegetables like potatoes and corn are not allowed. The starch in these foods is difficult to digest because it is a more complex carbohydrate.
For non-vegetarians, meat, lard, and gelatin are SCD-friendly, but I won’t be eating any of these products because I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian. My vegetarian philosophy is that I don’t eat products that can only be obtained by killing the animal, so that’s why eggs are in but lard is not. As an aside, I want to mention that I am a vegetarian for environmental reasons, not for personal health reasons or because I oppose the consumption of animal products. I cast no judgment upon people who choose to eat meat.
In addition to grains, there are a few foods that I will not be eating this week in order to adhere to the SCD principles. This list includes fresh milk and cream and all forms of chocolate. The chocolate ban makes me very sad, but it’s only for a week so I’m going to try not to think about it too much. I’m trying to follow the SCD as my niece Lydia does, because this whole project is inspired by her digestive troubles. Lydia reacts badly to canned foods that have been treated with citric acid, so I will be trying to avoid citric acid. I am not exaggerating when I say citric acid is everywhere—canned tomato products, canned artichokes, canned coconut milk. I believe it’s used as a preservative and may be derived from corn. We know that Lydia is sensitive to corn, so she may be reacting to a corn impurity in the citric acid. Lydia also reacts badly to bananas (of all things!), so I won’t be eating bananas this week.
Finally, honey is the sweetener of choice for SCDers. The reason for this is that the sugars in honey are mostly fructose and glucose, simple monosaccharides. Honey is also a mostly unprocessed sweetener, at least unprocessed by human hands. One could argue that honey is very processed, but bees do the processing for us! According to Wikipedia, honey does contain some other carbohydrates, so that might be useful for strict SCDers to keep in mind when eating honey. I’ll be using honey in my baking and cooking this week.
I have thought quite a bit about how I want to approach the SCD principles, especially when it comes to work functions where food will be served. I’ve decided to give myself a free pass at work functions, so I will not be adhering to SCD principles at those times. All my home-cooked meals this week will be SCD-friendly, but if the food is prepared by someone else, and I’m expected to eat it, I’m going to bow to social pressure. In addition, while I will not be drinking fresh cow’s milk this week, I am going to use up my storebought yogurt before making a homemade batch. I also have half a jug of buttermilk (organic! made from the milk of grass-fed cows!) that I plan to use this week because it’s a cultured milk product and it would be a damn shame to let such fine dairy go to waste. Frugality triumphs again! Finally, I’m a little torn about what to do with a few leftovers that are sitting in the fridge. I may decide to eat them because I hate wasting food. I hope you understand, dear reader. I believe these exceptions that I’m allowing myself are balanced by all the SCD-friendly food that I’ll be cooking this week and sharing with you via this site.
And on that note, it’s time to get a pot of soup cooking! Happy Sunday, dear readers! May your pantries and your bellies be filled with great food.