Friday, July 11, 2008

Salicylate Sensitivity and SCD - a juggling act performed by yours truly.



The specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) seems to have been the veritable light at the end of the tunnel for my digestive system. With each bowl of steamed vegetables or soothing soup, each morsel of fish and spoonful of hazel butter, my tummy curls like a cat in the sun, yawns, stretches and goes back to sleep again. After the helter skelter of my recent experiences, this calm in my gut is akin to a spiritual experience sometimes! I've still had to experiment and found that dairy just doesn't suit me yet. When Fin complained that my face smelt of cheese - I knew the dairy had to go. If you're not digesting something, it will be apparent on your face - rub your chin with a tissue and smell it - a bit cheesy? You either have dairy intolerance or you need to exfoliate....

Fin however, was a little slower to respond and still seemed to have the crazies on a regular basis. I knew he was eating too much raw food, but after he cried over another lovingly prepared flask of soup in his lunchbox, I relented and bought back the crudites. His stools were also just not settling down - to the point where we had to evacuate the bathroom every time he used the toilet! I took him to my cranial osteopath - nicknamed 'the Jedi knight' by all that have felt her subtle healing hands on their twisted spines. At the end of the session she told me she thought it was salicylates that were responsible for his crazies. It was like a light bulb flickering to life (a low energy one of course) as I realised that Fin's favourite foods were saturated with salicylates. It wasn't the sugar sending him bonkers - it was salicylates!

For those of you who have never even heard of salicylates, they are merely naturally occurring compounds that certain individuals can be sensitive to. Mostly those folks who are on the ADHD scale and those who have a hypersensitive system - asthmatics, hay fever sufferers etc. Salicylates stimulate the central nervous system in these unfortunate people, who are generally already a little over stimulated anyway. The result is a salicylate high followed by a low - a grumpy, lethargic, can't make it home from school on my bike, carry me mummy, flop onto the grass, slump. Not everyone notices such a definite effect and may find it's more of a build up where other symptoms are involved - lots of itching generally. But with Fin it was like someone had put a nest of ants down his trousers and asked him to dance till he felt better - and not worry about being rude to his parents either.

The problem was that all the foods high in salicylates were the ones we were eating lots of on the SCD. Almonds, apples, citrus fruits, berries, honey, pineapples, hard cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, radishes, bell peppers, aubergines and courgettes. The two diets almost seemed to contradict one another! For a moment there I felt overwhelmed with indecision - was I barking up the wrong tree with SCD for Fin? Would we become one of those households where everyone eats a completely different diet, with me and Nick only consuming tomatoes and pineapple juice under the cover of darkness? But you know me - I'm a positive person, a hopeful Aries who rarely looks back long enough to notice I have toilet paper on my shoe. I just got on with it.

So that's why I now use lots of hazels, pecans, brazils and walnuts in my recipes. When I prepare Fin's supper he has a big pile of steamed broccoli, green beans and peas, or some carrots and bok choi. His crudites are mostly carrot and celery, with the odd addition of cucumber and cherry tomato. Juice is mango or pear with apple, made up half and half with sparkling mineral water. Honey is kept to a minimum and he snacks contentedly on dried bananas, chewy strips of dried mango, sweet baby figs and magic lemon bars. It's right - I finally found the right balance for him and he's thriving.

His peachy skin glows with health, his belly is flat and those beautiful sea green eyes shine with humour - not hysteria. When he has a little too much of the wrong stuff (too much fruit or veg!) and his legs find themselves jiggling or he feels compelled to chant insane songs whilst wobbling about on a chair balanced on two legs, we look at each other and he sighs, 'salicylates'......

If anyone out there would like more information on SCD plus low salicylate diet, please email me or comment. For a comprehensive list of salicylate levels in foods have a look at this link.

x x x