Name: Marilyn Alm
Location: New Orleans, LA
SCD experience: Marilyn Alm started using the specific carbohydrate diet in 2001 for IBS and is a frequent contributor to the SCD listserv. She has brought her inventive New Orleans cooking skills to the SCD--including helping mothers create recipes for hard-to-feed children with autism.
In the conversation below she talks about some of her SCD experiences, including staying on the diet during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
She may be reached through LouisianaSCDLagniappe@gmail.com.
I visited a vet specializing in natural pet care. She recommended putting the dogs on a raw homemade diet.
I gave them raw meaty bones (50% meat, 50% bone), vegetables, and some yogurt. The dogs' weight normalized, their stools became normal, and their problems disappeared. (I was worried about salmonella, but dogs' stomachs are more acidic most humans'.)
He noted that as a vet he wasn't licensed to prescribe for humans but he had come to believe that humans needed grain about as much as dogs did--very small quantities if at all. He also noted that he and his wife had gone grain free and felt much better for it.
After hearing that, I began to search for a grain-free diet for humans, because IBS had really
taken a toll on my health.
Then someone in a natural medicine forum, wrote "Get yourself a copy of Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall."
When the book came I read it cover to cover. It took me about 2 hours. I lay there on my bed going, "Oh my God! This makes so much sense."
At that point I was mostly on the diet, except for the spices--my spices still had additives not allowed on the diet. I was still getting up the nerve to go cold turkey.
This was in mid-September 2001 and on Sept. 15th of that year I began having back spasms which I thought were due to a previous back injury. My doctor gave me painkillers for my back which didn't help since it turned out that I had severe gall bladder disease. When this was finally diagnosed, my doctor said, "Go directly to a surgeon. Do not pass go."
On November 4th, I had my gall bladder removed. My liver enzymes were so high that afterward the surgeon said he had expected to find liver cancer.
Unfortunately, I didn't react well to the anesthesia and had to remain in the hospital for four days--but still stayed on the diet. Harry, my husband, even made me SCD legal jello.
After the hospital, I tolerated only four foods: pork roasted with garlic, beef roasted with a slather of legal Creole mustard, steamed zucchini with shredded cheese, and soft-boiled eggs.
Within a month after the surgery, by the first week in December, I was back at work.
As my gut issues became worse over the years, so did my emotional state. I often became unhinged about things. I understand entirely what the moms on www.pecanbread.com are talking about when they say "my kid went into meltdown after eating something illegal."
Christmas dinner is a bit of a trial. I usually have one major meltdown in the middle of preparing. That December my mom was concerned over the idea of serving this weird SCD food to family and friends so I made parallel meals--the normal one and one for SCD.
I made up recipes as I went along. I made up recipes for cranberry sauce and turkey dressing. I made up a recipe for pumpkin casserole, another for a pumpkin cake.
After dinner, when everyone had left, Harry and I were sitting together. The dinner went off beautifully*. No meltdowns or anything. I never noticed. But Harry noticed and commented and then said, "I like SCD. It's nice to have the woman I married back."
That was the determining point: come hell or high water I would continue with the diet.
(*What was interesting was that all the SCD food was eaten. The ordinary food was left.)
Eileen lives with her husband and her youngest daughter, a total of 3 people. During Katrina, 12 of us lived there--family, friends, and one man who was stranded.
We had no electricity for three days. I was in charge of meal planning--figuring out what we could cook, on a propane burner or the backyard barbecue, that could feed everyone and still allow me to stay SCD legal.
We even spent time engineering an SCD spice mixture which tastes like Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning.
We drove to Atlanta, arriving at 6am with SCD food and two dachshunds, smuggling the dogs up in the elevator. We stayed for the conference, five or six days, and then stayed with another friend in Alabama.
Tanya (from the SCD list) mailed us a yogurt maker and starter. In addition, the friend we stayed with became involved with the cooking. He bought a meat grinder and a food dehyrator. We made homemade beefsticks, homemade pepperoni, homemade barbecued beef, homemade blackened beef, homemade salt and pepper beefsticks.
For toilet paper and paper towels, we had to go to Baton Rouge, 90 miles away. For fresh vegetables, we went across the lake to a farmer's market in Covington. That's 50 miles each way. But it was good to see the vendors--to know that everyone was OK.
We also had to throw out our freezer and refrigerator. We survived on two small dorm fridges. We returned to New Orleans in the beginning of October but we weren't able to get a freezer or fridge until January.
We lost a lot of food.
4 flats of blueberries
2 batches of peaches
15-20 lbs. peeled jumbo shrimp
3 or 4 containers of jumbo lump crab meat
Lots of catfish and sea bream. This was all wild caught, bought from local fishers.
12 packages of pasture fed bacon
Sauce from 150 pounds of heirloom tomatoes which I had peeled and cooked down
Pasture-fed steaks, roasts, everything.
We simply had to drag it out and throw it away.
Do you have any tips for people starting the diet?
Most people can handle the idea of a Foreman grill. Undo a block of frozen chopped spinach, steam it. Throw a burger patty, boneless pork chop, steak, or chicken breast on the grill. Close the lid for 3 or 4 minutes and then take the food off. That's dinner. Breakfast can be soft-boiled or hard-boiled eggs. Or an extra piece of grilled beef.
Crock-pots are phenomenal. I was throwing chuck roast and beef seasoning into the crock pot in the morning. I'd let it crock all day while I was a work. Come home, dump veggies in, and eat an hour later. Keeping it simple is super important for people who work full-time, are full-time parents, or both.