Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Some Changes at the Kimball House

September 22nd, 2010 · 95 Comments · Big Changes, My Story

I have some news.

I hope you won’t be disappointed about the delayed schedule, but I won’t be baking bread as often as I promised this fall.

And there’s a good reason for it.

Sandra's Bread (2) I know, I know, you’re all thinking there won’t be buns in my oven because there’s…you know…a bun in the oven.

I hope you’re not disappointed about THAT not being the case. I’ll be sure to let you know if number three blessing is on the way so you can all bring me meals when the baby is born. (I always think moms-to-be really need the meals during the first trimester, when looking at raw eggs and meat can make one run to the bathroom in horror…among other things. Don’t you think?)

Now I hope you’ll forgive my little tangent. I thought it would be fun to play a bit.

Are you having fun yet?

Okay, I know.

The news.

We’re going grain free at the Kimball house for a while.

So as much as I love the KS community and was really, really looking forward to finding the perfect whole grain bread recipe, we’re just going to have to wait. (UPDATE: The perfect whole wheat bread recipe series did begin!)

Life happens.

People get sick.

People who blog about food tend to help their sick husbands get well via food.

My husband, who will absolutely hate every second of this post, has Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune condition of the small intestine that causes inflammation, poor absorption, pain, and bad digestion.

He was diagnosed in college, did the medication thing for a while and eventually was on steroids (not the big-muscle kind, the make-your-inflammation-stop-but-lots-of-side-effects kind). He managed to avoid most of the side effects, but just before graduating college landed in the hospital with a possible hole in his intestine.

They almost didn’t let him graduate. After donning cap and gown and receiving his diploma, the poor man had to eat jello and broth instead of celebrating with a steak and a beer. He was on a liquid diet for the surgery two days later, at which time he had 10 inches of small intestine removed.

That was eight years ago, and he’s experienced nary a symptom since.

It’s been wonderful.

When we pray at night, we often go weeks without remembering to thank God for its absence and beg for it never to return. Sometimes I am surprised that it’s still there, lurking in the darkness. When I do remember the disease, I worry and pray for my children.

You see, Crohn’s is chronic. It will always be there, even if masked. It’s also hereditary, one of those mystical diseases that no one understands completely, but there are both genetic and environmental factors.

I wonder about my children. Will the city water with fluoride and chlorine set off whatever gene they may or may not have inherited from their father? Is it chemicals in processed food? (His mother’s best dinner guests are Mr. Stouffer and Mrs. Sara Lee.) Could the way I serve them grains throw the switch one way or the other? Does my son’s tendency toward loose-goosey BMs, so different from my daughter’s occasional constipation, mean he’s got a tendency toward Crohn’s, too? Or will she be the one?

It makes my heart expand and tickle my face, crushing my lungs with the weight of the “What if?”

The Beast from the Deep

After eight years of freedom, the monster has surfaced again.

About four weeks ago, my husband starting experiencing symptoms of chronic diarrhea. Nothing fun or glamorous about that, and when you have Crohn’s, even though it didn’t feel “Crohnsy” (yes, we often make up words in our house), you worry. You wonder. You push on your stomach to see if it hurts. When it doesn’t, and the symptoms still won’t go away, you have to try to figure out what’s going on.

We still don’t know if he’s experiencing a Crohn’s flare-up, an anxiety issue, or just the result of a month of compromise eating more than usual, a fluke.

Regardless of the origin of the problem, with 80% of our immune system and as many nerve cells as the spinal cord, the gut is where we’re going to focus our efforts.

I got to hear Jordan Rubin, author of The Maker’s Diet and survivor of near-fatal Crohn’s Disease, speak last week right here in Grand Rapids. I don’t believe in coincidences.

I don’t believe it was a coincidence that Donielle and Kelly were there to support me in my questions. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that Donielle has been grain-free for two months and could lend me The Maker’s Diet and the GAPS book. (Check out her gluten/celiac series from earlier this month that started with Gluten: The Silent Cause of Infertility and went all week.) I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that I’m well acquainted through Twitter with Kat Garson who follows the SCD (specific carbohydrate) diet, often recommended for Crohn’s, as well as Stephanie Langford, who has a bunch of GAPS diet recipes on her site along with the story of her family’s experience.

The fact that I challenged you just days before hearing Jordan Rubin speak to “Test Your Grains,” including perhaps going grain-free? That I tried gluten-free during Holy Week and had some coconut flour hanging around? Coincidences, none of them.

I know that God is going to take care of us, and I really can’t wait to see what He’s going to do.

Really – I can’t wait. test your grains challenge

The last six days have been rough on my husband.

He misses his ice cream.

We’re not only cutting out all grains, including legumes (and that one is KILLING me, as a lover of beans), but my husband is cutting dairy as well.

We need to figure out what, if any, sensitivities he has, and these are the usual culprits. We also need to heal his gut, so I made a big pot of chicken stock last night, and I’m learning about the SCD Diet, the Maker’s Diet, and the GAPS diet to try to figure out which one is the right one to embark upon.

There won’t be much bread baking in the house this fall, but we’re still going to Test Our Grains. It’s a challenge, to be sure.

In the next week, I’ll share some of the grain-free meals and grain-free snacks we’ve been having and will give you a synopsis of Jordan Rubin’s talk as well.

Tomorrow, I will give you the information you need to embark on the Test Your Grains Challenge with us. You can sign up at that post and let us know what you’ll be trying, if you’ve decided. I’ll give you the observations you should take for a baseline (what’s “normal” for you) and then will continue to observe as you change your grains.

UPDATE: more thoughts on trying an elimination diet

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

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For tons o’ info on wheat, gluten free and grain free, visit Donielle’s carnival, Wheatless Wednesday. You’ll also love Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

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95 Comments so far ↓

  • Jamie

    Hi! I just wanted to tell you that my hubby also has Crohn’s. He also has had a surgery and been on meds and he did a couple of Remicaid infusions… However the most healing he has seen has been with diet. One thing in particular does him wonders… maybe you can try this if you haven’t already. GREEN SMOOTHIES! We usually use organic raw spinach or some other organic greens, a nice ripe banana, some kind of berry or berry mix usually they are frozen… today I added 1/2 grapefruit… I also add some probiotic powder, 1-2 small scoops of chia seeds, flax oil, either almond milk + water or SO Delicious coconut milk + water, I also will toss in various other fruits if I have any on hand, a couple scoops of frozen OJ concentrate… and oh yes, bee pollen from our local area in Montana. This is like a miracle drink… seriously he has done so well on this. I am trying to also cut out grains and dairy… he loves cheese though, especially on burritos. I have taken ice cream and pizza away and that has been really good. Anyways, good for you guys and I hope this helps!!! Love your blog btw!

  • Jamie

    Oh, sorry I just wanted to add that I never buy the SO coconut milk or almond milk sweetened, I ALWAYS buy the unsweetened version, and I think this makes a big difference, limiting the sugar etc.

  • Jamie

    Ok, last comment, sorry :) I knew I was forgetting something… I really love the Daily Boost Herba-smoothie herb blend for smoothies that is sold at The Bulk Herb store. We add I teaspoon into the smoothie… and sometimes I toss in some dried elderberries and rose hips as well that I get from the same company. Here is the link to that: http://www.bulkherbstore.com/Daily-Boost-Herba-Smoothie

    Sorry for bugging ya! Take care :)

    Katie Reply:

    Jamie,
    You fit the whole kitchen sink into those smoothies! That’s awesome. I do some green smoothies, but I definitely don’t have the extras like that. We used pasteurized cheese for the first time this week, and although he did okay on raw cheese, either the store cheese or the nixtimalized corn chips made bad things happen. Time to take two steps back…

    Katie

  • Trishia

    it is super easy to make homemade coconut milk. Just take 2 c. organic (unsweetened!) shredded coconut and soak it in 4 c. water. After soaking for about 2 hrs or so, blend in powerful blender such as a Vitamix and strain the coconut meal out with a nut milk bag. You can use the coconut meal in recipes to replace flour if you don’t want to throw it out and waste it. The milk tastes delicious and make it into kefir and put in our morning green smoothies. yum!

    Katie Reply:

    Trishia,
    That’s awesome! I found a recipe for similar recently but hadn’t tried it yet. That would so much less expensive than the canned stuff, and no BPA or additives. Nice! I wonder if a weak blender does any good. ?

    Do you dehydrate the leftover meal to use as flour, or just put it in a recipe mushy?

    Thanks! :) Katie

    Trishia Reply:

    well, i don’t have a dehydrator so I just store the leftover meal in the frige and put it in as is. when i strain out the milk i can usually get most of the moisture out because it strains really easily. you can try a regular blender… but you may have to do 1/2 batch at a time. and when using the meal up in recipes, i don’t substitute all the nut or grain flour…just some of it and you don’t even know the coconut is there! you could also just use the meal in any recipe that calls for regular ol’ unsweetened coconut.

  • Sheryl

    I am reading that you are not having bread. I am on the SCD diet and I make bread with almond flour. It is wonderful. I can make all kinds of things—rye bread, cinnamon raisin, zucchini, banana, on and on. Have you tried the recipes?????

    Katie Reply:

    Sheryl,
    No, I haven’t tried grain-free bread as of yet, mostly because I’m hoping we can get back to grains pretty quickly here and didn’t want to learn something new that I wouldn’t have to continue using. I also don’t have a way to make homemade almond flour. If we need to do it, it’s good to know it is possible and yummy to make grain-free reads, so thank you! :) Katie

    Merry Jo Reply:

    I’ve heard you can make your own almond flour by using blanched almonds and grinding them in a coffee grinder. (Just don’t grind them too long or you’ll end up with almond butter! :) ) I just made a “legal” apple pie the other day using almond flour for the crust and it was so good! I’ve also made biscuits for my hubby. I’m using a couple cookbooks: “Grain Free Gourmet” and “Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet” that have helped me tremendously. I just purchased 5 lbs of almond flour on amazon for about $36, which is a good deal (much better than $12/lb at our health food store). It gives me enough to play around with. :) Oh, and I also have a recipe for coconut flour bread, but my hubby REALLY didn’t like that. Now, I somehow have to use up 6 lbs of coconut flour…

    Katie Reply:

    Merry Jo,
    Does he like coconut at all? I’ve had some amazing successes with it in muffins, and pancakes, even brownies. Try the recipes on Tropical Traditions. I listed some here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/09/28/a-grain-free-life-menu-ideas-to-keep-it-simple/

    Gotta use that up! :) Katie

    Merry Jo Reply:

    Thanks so much! I’ll have to check it out. He really doesn’t like coconut usually, but it’s because of the texture, not the taste. The recipe for bread I used had so much butter and eggs in it, it was just overkill. I’ll have to check those recipes out. He really likes the almond flour, though! :)

  • A Grain-Free Dinner (& What's On Your Plate?)

    [...] plates have changed an awful lot in the past few weeks as we embarked on a grain-free lifestyle. I never thought we’d survive without the bread, rice, pasta, oatmeal, around which we generally [...]

  • Merry Jo

    Hi, I don’t know if this has been said or not (I don’t have time to read 80 comments :) ), but we are following the SCD, and have been since April. My hubby has also had digestive issues, although thankfully it isn’t Crohn’s. You said your husband is cutting out all dairy, but he could probably have homemade yogurt. We allow ours to ferment for 24 hrs, which allows the bacteria time to break down all the lactose in the milk. Really easy and so yummy!

    Katie Reply:

    Thank you, that was the first thing we introduced, and it went great! :) Katie

  • Emily

    hi! i know this post is from 6 months ago, but i wanted to encourage you in this effort. my dad has had Crohn’s for 25+ years, and his doctor (who has lots of Crohn’s patients) says he’s the healthiest of his patients. my mom puts a lot of effort into diet and he followed SCD for almost 5 years and got so much better! i hope your husband is doing better, too.

    Katie Reply:

    Emily,
    I really appreciate that! We’re again looking at the gluten issue, so GAPS or SCD might be in our real future sometime soon depending on what we learn. It’s amazing how many people don’t understand/believe that our diets can impact diseases like Crohn’s – diseases of the GUT of all things! Thank you for the encouragement! :) Katie

  • Conny

    Hi Katie,

    I’m almost wheat free since two weeks and love it. Right after I started my bread business….
    Try to read as much as you can about Paleo diet. There are lots of wonderful recipes out, online and in books. Even my kids love it!

  • Ann Guthrie

    Wow! It’s like I am reading my own husband’s story with Crohn’s. He has been in “remission” for about 9 years following his surgery. I am slowly gathering information (and courage!) to try GAPS for us. I have read The Maker’s Diet too. In any case, I think grains-free could really be good for both of us (I have endometriosis and am infertile) because God has been nudging me slowly in this direction for several years now. I am looking forward to following along with you as you try to heal with diet too. Good luck!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Ann,
    This post was 2 years old – I linked to it on Facebook because my husband and I were reminded of how far we’d come in 2 years. Grain-free completely fixed his diarrhea in 2 days, and we’ve stayed “low gluten” ever since. It was obvious on re-introducing rice, then oats, then wheat, that it’s gluten that gets him. Good luck to you! :) Katie

  • Leslie

    I know this is 2 yrs old, but just in case someone reads this post again…..Just wanted to put another plug in for SCD. My husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s (10/09)which was precipitated by a cleanse of all things! We knew someone who was cured of Crohn’s by being on SCD. She was on it strictly for 3 years and still sticks to it pretty much. He’s been on it strictly since then. He has had 2 flares, both happening in the fall. We are praying he doesn’t get it this fall. So far so good. Last year’s flare was less serious than the year before, which he attributes to the diet. He does go on medication, but has been able to wean himself completely each time. I’ve been able to cook some really delicious meals on this diet. It’s helped us all to eat healthier! I’d be happy to help you too. BTW, I live in MI too.

  • Vanica via Facebook

    Similarly, within a week of going grain free my crohn’s symptoms drastically improved. There’s NO going back!

  • Tawni via Facebook

    With our priest’s blessing, we’re planning to go on GAPS during the Orthodox Nativity fast. I pray it makes such a quick and noticeable difference in my husband’s symptoms as grain-free did with yours!

  • Jill Sims

    OH MY we will be making a very similar change after our trip to MIN. We will be going Wheat free. It is very interesting that your kids are just like mine and I mean it. My daughter tends to be constipated while my son has very loose stooles. We started juicing at the begining of the summer and that has helped my daughter but there is no relief for my son. We just ordered a Vitamix so that we can make smoothes on a daily basis but my husband and I both believe that going wheat free will help not only the kids but him as well. I am very nervous about this but I know that it is what is best for my family

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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