My story

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The first thing to mention is that I’m not worthy. Please believe me when I tell you that I’m a Big Mac and chips girl at heart; the kind of person who used to think that crisps and beer counted as supper. And who used to drink only coffee and diet coke because I thought water was for wusses. And who used to think a meal was not really a meal unless it was 89% carbohydrate based. I was also the kind of person who got a bit annoyed when vegetarians came for dinner (fancy expecting someone to make a special meal just for you, I’d think). Oh, and I didn’t really believe in food intolerances and allergies.

But then everything changed when I was diagnosed with colitis (a form of inflammatory bowel disease; could you devise a less glamorous condition for a 20-something single gal?). A few years after that, in a bid to stop taking medication, I started following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet which is, actually, more exclusive than the Groucho club.

Since following the diet, this is what I have to avoid: sugar; all grains (so: no bread, pasta, couscous, polenta, rice or even quinoa); yoghurt (unless I make it myself, over 24 hours), cream, milk, soft cheese, chick peas,  sweet potatoes and potatoes, soya, broad beans and butter beans. Help! No wonder I didn’t eat out for two years. Quite apart from the diet being so punishingly restrictive (and, at first, it really did feel like I was being punished), I couldn’t bear the idea of being so high maintenance – you know, being that person; Oh I’d love to come for supper – but I can’t eat pretty much anything you are probably thinking of cooking and you’ll have to spend half a day getting your head around the things that I can eat, muttering all the while under your breath about what a fusspot I am and how much you wish you’d never invited me in the first place.

It was unbelievably hard at first to stick to the diet. I had to scrutinise food labels before buying anything, and subject waiters to ten minutes of interrogation before so much as ordering a side of spinach. It took me two or three years to properly get my head around the rules of the diet and I kept on relapsing as a result (who knew how many foods contained sugar, gluten and soya?). For a while, it felt like my diet had become the focal point of my life.

Slowly though, instead of looking at what I CAN’T eat, I learned to focus on the things that I CAN eat. That’s pretty much all fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, spices and herbs, oil and butter – and cheese (as long as it’s hard). I still drink coffee and wine. And I have even worked out how to make delicious cakes (it turns out that greed, not necessity, is the mother of invention).

I do have to cook pretty much everything I eat from scratch. At first I was dismayed (I really did used to eat a lot of pasta). But slowly I started to experiment and really got into the challenge of finding a way to eat that didn’t leave me feeling deprived. And now I eat more interesting and varied food than I ever did before (although eating out is still a bit tricky).

Gradually, I began to feel significantly better. About six months in I came off medication completely. That was about six years ago.

People often ask me what I miss most on my diet. The honest answer is that I miss being ‘normal’ and just being able to spontaneously go out for Indian food or go to someone’s house without giving two hoots about what they might be cooking.

But learning to cook really delicious food that doesn’t taste compromised has helped make my life so much better.

Most of these recipes are pretty quick and easy to prepare. Some of them are as much ideas as recipes, because when I started the diet I was looking for inspiration about how to eat (when it felt like I couldn’t eat anything at all). But there are also some suggestions for food you can cook from scratch that doesn’t take all day.

Two really important things to mention: I am not a chef and I’m also not a food stylist OR a photographer so please don’t judge me on the pics!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “My story

  1. Hi Tory,
    Quite a journey. With such a healthy diet, no wonder you look so great. I’m going to try your almond pancakes. They look yummy and I think my girls will love them. Fabulous idea to use your new found knowledge to create this blog.
    Hope you are well and happy.
    Kate (Secker-Walker as was )

  2. Hi Tory
    You are an inspiration and just the kind of person I’m looking for to include their story in my upcoming book ‘Flare To Repair – How to conquer inflammatory bowel disease’
    This is a paperback book not an ebook, I already have a publisher and a New York Times Top 10 best selling author to write the forward for me. I went on the SCdiet with my son when he was diagnosed with Crohns and couldn’t believe there wasn’t more help and advice from our doctors about this way of healing bowel disease. That’s when I vowed to write a book to get the word out and hopefully give the thousands of IBD sufferers out there hope to take back control of their own health.
    If you are interested in helping me out and agreeable to sharing your story, that would be awesome. Please get in touch and we can have a chat.

  3. I have just read your article in Sainsbury’s magazine, well done!
    Excellent tips and advice. I was diagnosed with ceoliacs disease just over 4years ago, your article captured exactly how I felt, especially regarding eating out and accepting invitations. I took very much the same approach as yourself, although blessedly I can eat rice and gluten-free flours, but struggle with cream and yoghurt. I cooked from scratch and played about adapting recipes . Good luck with your blog keep writing.

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you liked the article and yes, eating out is the trickiest thing! And although I am not coeliac, all the recipes on here are gluten free, so ‘coeliac-friendly’…

  4. Hi, i have just read you article in Sainsburys magazine March 15. I too have Colitis and AS, they often go hand in hand. I found the Scdiet about 8 yrs ago and have been on it ever since. Like you i also stumbled a few times especially as i also avoid modified maize starch, which is in many so called glutenfree products.This diet is not so commonly known about for helping AS sufferers so wanted to mention this. Will enjoy reading your blog and trying some of you recipes. Well done

    1. Hi Cherry and thanks for your post. Am actually wondering what AS stands for and am now very curious! Really hope you like the recipes – I am enjoying finding new things to try so will keep posting.

  5. Hi, I have just read your article and thought this may be of some interest to you. I live on the Costa de la Luz in South West Spain and I think you would find shopping in our local supermarket (Mercadona) a lot easier as they sell a huge amount of ‘Gluten Free’ products all clearly marked ‘sin gluten’. They are not on a ‘special diets’ area but scattered all around the store and they include pasta, mayo, ketchup, crisps & pizza’s to name but a few. Something I have discovered is that if you buy original mayo it is gluten free but low cal/fat free is not. Quite a few Heinz products I have discovered are also gf and Kikkoman do a gf soy sauce.

  6. i just read your article in Sainsbury’s March edition. It’s really interesting. I am taking part in a Gluten Free food fair this weekend and will certainly be telling people about your blog. I’ve already passed it on to a coeliac friend.

  7. Hi and thanks again – I think also that Cherry is referring to ankylosing spondylitis which I have along with a little bit of irritable bowel syndrome and quite bad dysbiosis (imbalanced gut flora). I have read of lots of people using Paleo and other low starch diets (eg the London diet) with some success for all these conditions. When I did Paleo I had no energy and got very flat so had to add in rice and occasional potato and banana which I seem to tolerate and which keep my mood up. I’m so delighted to find your blog and your article in Sainsbury’s magazine. Can’t wait to make the pizza as well as the broccolli fritters! Can I ask if you have any experience with using and /or making sauerkraut? Cheers 🙂

    1. Hi again, and thank you for the info about Ak and the general information – really interesting. I also haven’t made sauerkraut but love the idea of doing so (if I can find a way that is SCD legal) and, again, if I do so you guys will be the first to hear about it!

  8. Hi Tory, thanks for your article in Salisburys mag. I was diagnosed coeliac in February as well as diabetic and lactose intolerant. I can’t see a dietitian until July (Nhs!) so your article was an inspiration to me as I’ve made several mistakes, vinegar for one. Love you recipes. Keep blogging!

    1. Hi Diana, and thanks so much for your lovely message – so pleased you are enjoying the blog and that it’s helpful. I can’t tell the you the journey I went on when I first started following this diet – lots of mistakes and confusion while I was finding my way. But it’s so worth it once you start feeling better. Good luck!

  9. Hi Victoria,

    Can you please contact me, I would like to discuss with you the opportunity to write for our next edition of The Allergy + Free From Guide, distributed with the Mail on Sunday – 1st November 2015.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards

    William

    William Robbins
    Managing Director
    Gateway Publishing Ltd
    T: 0203 283 8199
    E: wr@gatewaypublishing.com

  10. You say “Gradually, I began to feel significantly better. About six months in I came off medication completely. That was about six years ago.” Yet the implication is that it wasn’t medication but your diet that cured you. This is typical obsfucation by alternative types. I read your piece in the Telegraph and none of it was backed up by evidence based medical science. Your diagnosis was vague (colitis just means a painful colon!) because it is a vague condition with no known cause and thus little in the way of medical treatment. Thus sufferers turn to quackery and ascribe any improvement in their condition to that rather than natural ups and downs in the progress of the disease or even, like you did, to medication. You take on a huge responsibility blogging about medical problems without medical knowledge or proper advice.

    1. Thanks for your comments and for reading my article in the Telegraph. This blog, and also my article, is very much about my personal story and what has worked for me. I’m – obviously – not a doctor, and I am not giving anyone any advice. This is purely about my experience. But also, for what it is worth, the medication I was taking for ulcerative colitis (which unfortunately is far from being a vague diagnosis but is a recognised medical condition and a form of inflammatory bowel disease) does not claim to cure the disease as there is currently no medical cure; it only manages the symptoms, which is why I started looking for a longer term solution and I am happy to say that I have found one that works for me.

  11. Hi Victoria

    Just read your article in the Telegraph, I have suffered from colitis for over 25 years, seen doctors and specialists who were no help. Through luck rather than good judgement, I found that if I ate a lot of fresh fruit and natural yoghurt this kept the attacks to a minimum.
    Being a man and thinking things were back to normal, I lapsed and went back to the old eating habits. Along with medication to control epilepsy it is now as bad as it has ever been. Reading your article has given me the kick up the backside that I need to get control of things.

    Thanks

    David

    1. Hi David and thanks so much for your comment and I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear you feel inspired by my Telegraph article. I cannot recommend the SCD highly enough although I would also recommend that you go and see a qualified naturopath who has experience overseeing the diet as it’s quite fiddly and complicated at the beginning. Wishing you lots of luck with wrangling back the control! Oh and I also highly recommend making your own yoghurt according to the SCD recipe, which I recently guest-blogged about here: http://www.womanandhome.com/recipes/537161/how-to-eat-blog?utm_campaign=womanandhome&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

  12. I would be interested it your thoughts around the cognitive effect of following your diet. It is not something you have addressed to date.

    I am strictly gluten free, to the extent that I cannot tolerate rice or grain based alcohol. An unintended consequence of this diet is that my cognitive function has improved considerably.

    1. Hi Colin, how fascinating about the cognitive effect of your diet – I would love to hear more about what has changed for you as it’s not something I have tuned in to as a result of my diet – but who knows, maybe that’s because I’ve been focusing so much on getting better from colitis.

  13. Hi Victoria,

    I’ve just read your article in The Daily Telegraph. A friends mother sent it to me as I too was diagnosed with UC in my 20s & had the very same love affair with pasta/ pizza/ cakes! I altered my diet a few years ago although I slip up every now and then and am really interested to know more about the SCD diet. I have the book but to be honest always found it a bit overwhelming but you’ve inspired me to pull it out again. I avoid gluten, wheat, dairy, caffeine & alcohol & feel very much the fussy girl who is a pain to have round for dinner/ go out with! But if only people could understand what the disease is really like. I’d love to chat some more, if you have time please ping me an email. It’s great to hear of someone who sees that diet plays a huge part in UC and is also looking at other options. As like you say, the doctors currently have no cure or exact idea what causes IBD and although medication helps initially it’s important to look at the long term and only you know and can feel the difference in your body.

    Thank you again for sharing your journey.
    Rebecca

    1. Hi Rebecca, thanks for your message and I am so glad to hear that you feel inspired to re-investigate the SCD. I honestly don’t think I could have done it alone and especially at the beginning was very much hand in hand with a truly amazing naturopath, as mentioned in the piece. She broke it down and made it more manageable somehow although, yes, you become the nightmare high-maintenance supper guest as a result. But it’s worth it! The only thing is that, as the book states, you have to follow the SCD with ‘fanatical adherence’ so, for me, it took commitment to a whole new level. I will send you an email…

  14. My wife is a dietician working in Spain with a group of doctors from Seville who have identified a substance (a molecule) that causes temporary food intolerances (I’m simplifying!) and that this can be a major factor in many digestive problems such as ibs, me etc… She treats many people with food intolerances and has huge success with her patients.

    The molecule is called Histamine. There are a number of papers available in Spanish and English about histamine (it’s not the same effect as the hay fever histamine).
    It isn’t treated with any pharmaceuticals, simply with diet, removing the foods that cause the intolerances.

    Diagnosis is via a very specific blood analysis but allergy tests etc. from other sources do not identify the histamine problems so are of no value.

    This (the discovery of histamine and its effects) is relatively recent and there are very few doctors who are aware of it or (unfortunately) believe the effects it has.

    Some links to information:
    http://www.saeia.es
    http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1185.full.pdf+html

    1. Hi Nigel, that sounds fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing that intel and also for the link, which I will check out forthwith!

  15. Hi, I read an article by you in the Irish Independant – Just always to good to hear stories like yours. I have one myself – Diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 16, told I’d be taking pills until “the day I died” by my doctor – At 25 I cut meat (still eat fish) from my diet, and greatly reduced sugar and dairy and at 32 I am now 4+ years off any medication.

    I feel these are important stories that need telling 🙂

    Great work.

    1. Hi Colum, and thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your story. How incredible that you have been medication free for four years – that’s incredible. Long may it last!

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