“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Honey, You're No Longer My Honey

   Today is a follow-up to my last post-slash-rant about my frustrations with the SCD. My symptoms have seemed to plateau recently. Although I still consider myself 90-ish percent healed, I’m impatient, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel makes me want to run there faster than my body will go.
   The conversation I outlined in my last post really happened, and is really still happening. For about 36 hours I ate only these SCD-legal, SCD-prepared foods:
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Cooked carrots
  • Yogurt
  • Beef
  • Small amount of Swiss cheese (because I can’t stand plain beef)

   Before I start, I should point out that I stopped tracking, in detail, my daily food intake, and I stopped filling in my symptom charts about six months into the diet. After about six weeks of recording food and seeing no real changes for the worse in my symptoms, I got lazy. I know! I know! Practice what you preach; track your stuff and maybe figuring this out would be easier…see my posts on tracking diet and tracking symptoms. My dad used to say to me, “Do what I say, not what I do.” I’m a work in progress.
   The above food list is not exactly the beginning diet (pretty close), but it was all I could muster, and I did it for as long as I could stand it. See, I’ve had suspicions that certain SCD-legal foods have deleterious effects for me, but as of yet I haven’t been able to pinpoint what it could be.
   Let me give you an example. I love apples. If I were still eight years old, someone would tell me that if I ate any more apples I might turn into one. I have eaten cooked, peeled apples fairly regularly since about the 2nd or 3rd month of the diet. But what I really crave is the cool, crisp crunch of a REAL apple—none of this soft, mushy, tell-myself-it’s-just-as-yummy crap. So, I added them into my diet about four months ago with success (yea!). I limited myself to one per day. I noticed that on days I ate crisp, raw, juicy, gorgeous apples (peeled of course) my gut seemed happier…And then one day my gut wasn’t happy. To my knowledge nothing else had changed. I ate two apples—still not happy. I ate three apples. S**t.
   Such has been life now for about three months. I have had the same experience with other foods too, and I eat SCD-friendly fruit pretty freely. All the while I keep hearing my wife’s voice, “Maybe it’s not something you can figure out; maybe it’s not something you can control.” Control. Why did I ever allow her to know me so well?
   If I could have a nickname that described me, it would be control. However, since no one has yet given me that nickname, and since I’m not willing to hand my colon to fate just yet, onward I press, to figure out why my stools have loosened (more) over the past two months, why my gut seems to be as disgruntled as department of motor vehicles worker.
   I have to say, I didn’t know where to start until I read about fructose malabsorption from the guys at SCD Lifestyle. See their post here. The idea is that there is only so much fructose that a person can absorb in one go, and the rest is fermented by colonic bacteria or excreted. This fermentation might just cause some extra gas and soften the stool in a gut-normal person; however, in those of us with injured colons it spells trouble. Those sort of fun, fermentable foods are just what the SCD tries to avoid—it’s anathema to the SCD as a treatment for IBD.
   Ding! Now there’s an idea! So I did a little research and some consumption reflection.
   The one food that has been ubiquitous in my SCD adventure, my one constant companion, my counselor when others are eating chocolate—the one food that has greeted me in the morning, and tucked me in at night has been (wait for it…) HONEY.
   It turns out that the symptoms of fructose malabsorption (FM) are similar to what I’ve been feeling. It also turns out that there are dietary guidelines for people with FM, and that reducing fructose intake has demonstrated positive effects in people with IBD. Hmmm?
   Do you know which, of all the SCD-friendly foods, has the highest fructose content? You got it—HONEY.  Honey has a fructose content of 40.9g fructose/100g honey, while one serving of apple has only 5.9 g fructose/100g apple. I eat a lot of honey. See my post on handling cravings for a good example.
   It could be that as I got better and better, and as I ate more and more (in quantity and variety) fruit, that I crossed the threshold of absorbable fructose, how much my body could process, and now the leftover is feeding the bad bacteria in my colon. Maybe that's what has kept me from reaching the end of the tunnel. S**t again.
   So I’m going to try it. I’m going to cut out the honey for a week (to start), cut my fruit consumption to two pieces a day, and make sure that I eat only the FM recommended fruits and veggies. I’ll keep you posted.
   Below is my list of SCD-friendly, FM friendly foods to which I’ll stick, according to the FM guidelines. This list is not exhaustive, but is nuianced towards the fruits and veggies I like and eat regularly.
Apple (sad)
Green or honeydew melon
HONEY (so sad)
Red Ripe Tomato

Peaches (peeled)
Strawberries (caution b/c seeds)
Oranges of all types
Ripe banana

Onward to Health.


  1. Have you ever considered getting tested for food allergies? Hidden food allergies can cause inflammation. My sister-in-laws recently found out they have a high carrot and apple allergy (among others) according to an IgE test. They didn't have any obvious symptoms other than digestive complaints. Sometimes food allergies/sensitivites can develop when one eats the same things over and over. Good luck to you.

  2. Thanks for the idea. No, I've never been tested for food allergies. I will look into it.