“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friends and Extended Family, Cooking for You on the SCD

I break this post into three parts, mostly because that's what makes sense to me. I'm linear.

Almost two months into the SCD, I went with my wife and two children, to visit my parents. The buzz around our house was, How do we explain this to your parents? How to we help them cook for me (my parents love to cook for me)? Almost a year, and several trips later, here's how we do it. We use largely this same approach with friends too.
Describing the SCD to extended family:
This will depend on what your relationship is like with family members, but I have a good relationship with my parents and, lucky for me, they were interested to learn and support me. At the beginning, I tried to get them to read Breaking the Vicious Cycle, but that didn't take. So, I tried to get them to read some good SCD websites, but that didn't happen either. So finally, I printed the "legal/illegal foods list" for them. Boy, did that inspire questions. So I explained the diet in intricate detail, because I love details. So should they right? Wrong. Eyes glazed over, and I lost them after about 90 seconds. We tried all sorts of different approaches. My dad began to get it when we started cooking, TOGETHER. My mom just kept asking questions. So you can't eat red potatoes? What about rice? For the third time, no and no.

Bottom Line Learning: Describe the diet in terms of what you CAN eat, not what you can't. You'll save yourself time and frustration. When people ask, I tell them I eat: Lean Meat; Fruit; most Veggies; most Nuts; Real butter; Olive Oil; Aged Block Cheese; I make my own Yogurt; and I don't eat any additives or sugars except salt and honey. They inevitably ask, "So, what about agave?" or something like that. Nope, just what I listed. Nothing more. Of course there is more, but too much detail at once and I usually get confused looks. Hey, I still ask my wife, Can I have...?

Helping Them Cook for You
There's no better way to do this than to dive in with them. I bring my two favorite SCD Cookbooks (here and here) and some recipes I am working on, and we dive in together. I tell them not to go to the grocery until I get there, and we'll go together (this has turned out to be a blessing. I get quality time with the family member I go with, and they get hands-on learning about the diet while we're there). I try to go with a different family member each time. The best way to help extended family members cook for you is to do it with them. Now, almost a year into it, we've built stronger relationships with my parents, and inspired them to healthier cooking. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Bottom Line Learning: Dive in and cook with folks. There's no better way to teach them the diet, and to help them feel like they are contributing to your progress (i.e., let them help to be a part of your healing process). You'll build the relationship(s) along the way.

How They Can Support You
I think the best way extended family can support you is to advocate for you and make sure you have your needs covered. Wherever the context, be it family gatherings, restaurants, traveling--family can help ease the burden of haranguing another waiter, or going hungry at a Thanksgiving because there weren't enough SCD-friendly foods there for you to eat. For example, at family pitch-ins I'd ask them to bring SCD friendly foods. My family has been really helpful by just letting me have the run of the kitchen when we swing through their neck of the woods. I make oodles of food and put it in the fridge. That way whenever I get hungry, I'm not tempted by the bagels on the counter. If you're having a really hard time, you could consider asking them to try eating like you do while you're there. I have to be honest with this one: I can't even get my wife to do that, so you can try, but don't get your hopes high.

Bottom Line Learning: Family can help relieve some of the work associated with the SCD by advocating for you, and including you in gatherings. They can do this by intentionally cooking SCD friendly, and reminding the rest of the family of the diet. I told my mom once, Just ask a simple question: Is there food here that my son can eat? If not, then she could help me by making some.

Onward to Health.

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