SCDROCKS Conference Echos
October 6 & 7, 2018
By Robin Cox
Ever since last fall when Jeffrey Berger asked us to speak at the SCDROCKS Conference, Erin and I were talking and thinking about what it would be like, what we would say, what we would wear (!) and how all the details would work! When my husband and I were visiting Erin in Colorado last April we lined up all the airline tickets - me and my husband to Denver, then Erin and I going on from there to Providence, Rhode Island, the nearest airport to the conference location. At the same time our oldest daughter Heidi, who lives in Texas, decided she’d like to join us, as a support person! It was really going to happen and we were filled with anticipation!
The summer was for planning our talks and creating two slide shows. Later, Sunday afternoons were for calling each other to practice and update our talks and slides. All was in readiness when we set out on our trip on October 3rd! Everything went according to plan, though we didn’t sleep on the night/morning of October 4th/5th, due to a delayed flight into Rhode Island. When we landed, Heidi was there to pick us up, and took us to Duke’s Bakery in Fall River for an SCD legal breakfast plus cupcakes and muffins. What a treat!
After refreshing ourselves a bit, we headed over to meet Jeffrey, Tammy, Sophia and Raman at their hotel! They were all even friendlier and more wonderful than we imagined and we had a great time getting acquainted. Jeffrey urged Erin to post our latest updates immediately on the various face book pages, so she did! Thanks, Jeffrey! Good idea!
Bright and early the next morning we headed to the community college where the conference was being held. Being from California, I loved seeing the leaves changing color and enjoyed the beauty of the campus. All was well planned, with support personnel and security on hand. Duke's Bakery catered breakfast and lunch both days and it was fun to watch the happy SCDers filling their plates with eggs, sausage, jam, baked goods, and fruit for breakfast, and salads, grilled chicken, tasty casseroles, baked goods, and more for lunches. The food was a high point! The conference was opened by Jeffrey Berger who outlined the progress leading up to the conference. He introduced the new non profit, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet Association or S.C.D.A., which has many forward thinking plans for promoting the SCD. We are so grateful for Jeffrey’s vision and leadership and urge everyone to donate!
We sat around tables in a friendly manner, both to eat and to listen to the speakers. Saturday’s speakers were extremely interesting, with Dr. Suskind from Seattle Children’s Hospital offering the keynote address. He shared that when one of his patients turned up completely healthy as a result of being on the SCD, he asked to visit the home, where the parents could show him exactly what they were feeding their child. He’s been a big supporter ever since, recommending it to his patients, and showing how the SCD plays a central role in healing inflammatory bowel disease. He urged us all to work to make the SCD easier to follow.
Following a break where we were served a large assortment of legal cookies and goodies, we returned to hear Dr. Joshua Korzenik, from Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, sharing with humor and interesting detail about his research on the gut micro biome and its influences with diet, probiotics, FMT and other medical advances. He showed pictures of twins at the twin convention where he went to collect fecal samples for further study. Both doctors then joined up for a question and answer time that was very interesting. They both emphasized the importance of going back to your GI after you're better so they can see how healthy you are on the diet, or they will never have the opportunity to learn about the SCD.
The afternoon speakers were equally informative! Cathy Malone, a Registered Dietitian at Mass General Hospital for Children explained the nutritional needs of people on the SCD and what kinds of supplements might be helpful. She said that every SCDer she knows of who has been tested has been low on Vitamin D, and she encourages people to get sunshine when possible and also to take legal Vitamin D supplements.
Beth Secosky, a health coach who has greatly improved the life of her autistic son by putting him on the SCD, shared how she helps people with further food sensitivities who need to overlay other elimination diets on top of the SCD to gain back their health. She shared her own journey and experience and has a coaching business called the SCD Kickstart System where she helps people figure out how to make diet work for them, offering help and encouragement.
Sunday was just as filled with good fellowship and pertinent topics! After visiting the exhibitors and having breakfast, we were delighted to hear Dr. Samir Kakodkar, an inflammatory bowel disease specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago who is on the SCD himself. He shared the results of his five year study of the gut biome on 50 people, talked about why IBDs are more prevalent in the West and discussed co-managing the SCD with medical therapy. He showed pictures of how he grew up in India… playing with elephants and jumping in wells, and guessed that he might not have gotten sick with an IBD if he was still living that life. He showed a picture of his current home - a high rise in downtown Chicago with a Whole Foods Market in the lobby where he shops every day!
While some of the group split off into the lobby area for a much appreciated seminar on how the SCD helps people with autism and other neurological conditions, Erin and I presented our talk with Erin doing the first half on menu planning and how to handle holidays, busy times, weekly plans and more. I followed her, talking about how to take recipes and make them work for the SCD. I encouraged people to consider eating all the legal foods they’re able to eat and see where that will take them - not just eating the same old things over and over. We gave everyone a copy of one of our weekly menus to help people plan a week of tasty meals.
Another delicious lunch was followed by a second presentation by Erin and myself. This time I started by talking about Erin's story and what it means to be a support person. We support in many ways, but we also work to give our loved one a vision of a bright future where they are doing the diet themselves. Erin then discussed the difficulties and blessings of being supported and introduced many of the people who have supported her over the seventeen years she has been on the diet. It was beautiful to see all the people in the audience and the experience of speaking, while a bit nerve racking, was a high point for both of us! We were so delighted to meet many people who have benefitted from NoMoreCrohns, and are thankful they came up and introduced themselves!
Raman Prasad followed our talk, reading a moving excerpt from his book "Colitis and Me: A Story of Recovery," about his experience of being sick and then finding the SCD. He talked about the history of the diet from when Elaine Gotschall learned about it from Dr. Haas to the present, where the good news is spreading, even in the medical community. Raman was a friend of Elaine’s and has worked tirelessly and consistently to promote the diet. Erin and I saw the result of his work in the number of people and even businesses in the North East who follow and promote the diet! It was very inspiring.
The last speaker of the day was Stacy Schlaman, the founder of Liberated Specialty Foods. Her daughter has multiple health conditions that have been alleviated by being on the SCD and she was inspired to create SCD legal foods that would make her daughter’s life easier. She regaled us with the story of starting her business, from having no business experience to buying an old but charming church building that needed lots of repairs. She urged us to be kind - to remember that every business has a face and a person with a vision and a passion behind it. Speak gently, and appreciate what they are trying to offer. She ended by saying that even with all the many hurdles and the great cost to herself and her family, she knows she was born for this and they would do it all over again. We were all inspired!
As we wrapped things up, generous swag bags were handed out! Ketchup and granola from Wellbee’s, crackers from Liberated Foods, coconut shortbread from Ona, a copy of “Breaking the Vicious Cycle,” by Elaine Gotschall, a copy of “The SCD for Autism and ADHD” by Pamela Ferro and Raman Prasad, yogurt starter from Yogourmet, and many other items were packed in attractive bags for our further education and enjoyment.
Our hearts were full as we left, and we felt that much was accomplished to further the diet! So much networking can now take place and we all learned many things we didn’t know before. It was absolutely worthwhile and Erin and I are extremely grateful that we were asked to participate! Thank you Jeffrey, and thank you Tammy, Sophia, Raman, Cathy, Pam and Judy! It was an amazing conference and we look forward to a new and bright future for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet!
More good news: The conference was videotaped and sessions are available for listening!
Conference Photo Album
Heading to the conference on a red eye flight!
Flying into Providence, R.I.
We enjoyed great breakfasts!
Erin loved knowing that everything
on the buffet was SCD legal!
Me with two of my daughters, Heidi and Erin.
SCDA Board members who planned the conference, left to right; Cathy Malone, Sophia Hamrick, Jeffrey Berger, Pamela Ferro, Raman Prasad, and Tammy Irish. Judy Herod, board member, was unable to attend.
Dr. Suskind during his keynote speech. He urged us all to work to make the SCD easier to follow.
A view of the conference.