Saturday, March 12, 2011

Constructive Criticisms of BTVC

Constructive Criticisms of BTVC

Now that you know how grateful I am to Elaine Gottschall and her work, I would like to share some constructive criticisms of her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. These criticisms do nothing at all to undermine her work, they are just indicators that she was a real human being and none of us are perfect.

There are a few things that somehow she writes as permissive items to ingest even though they all go against the diet and the diet premises. Here are items that she says it’s ok to consume that I completely disagree with:

1) “Artificial sweeteners other than saccharin should be avoided… Low calorie diet foods often contain sorbitol or xylitol as sweeteners. Occasionally low calorie diet chewing gum or candy containing these sweeteners may be used. However, excessive use of these products can cause diarrhea and bloating. Pg 44

My counter is NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS INCLUDING SACCHARIN. Saccharin isn’t good for you. Get over your mental need for hyper sweetening everything and your taste buds will follow, I promise. It’s amazing how sweet a piece of fruit is after you haven’t been consuming sugar and artificial sweeteners. And, honey is wonderfully sweet while containing all the enzymes you need to digest it properly without getting a blood sugar spike. Just make sure you are buying minimally processed honey or raw.

Also, my counter includes a furthermore of NO GUM OF ANY KIND OR DIET CANDY. Gum is on the “illegal” list for SCDiet, so don’t chew it because it will hold back your healing if not prevent it. We’ve already been through the fact that all artificial sweeteners are bad for you, and that includes diet candy. Low calorie candy is still candy and worse for you than regular candies in many instances. Candy is a processed food, and the more its ingredients are manufactured the worse it is for you. Foods that cause you diarrhea and bloating should be avoided, not occasionally tolerated.

2) “Processed meats… ordinary smoked bacon may be eaten once a week if it is fried very crisply.” Pg 53

My counter is NO PROCESSED MEATS OF ANY KIND AT ALL EVER. Not only is processing generally bad, even if you are avoiding sugars and fake smoke flavor you must also avoid cancer causing nitrites. Processed meats come with additional health hazards on top of SCDiet legalities. Just don’t buy processed meats at all. And please do not fry anything. Look back to my “Fats in Your Foods” entry for why. As long as you are looking for someone else to do all of the work for you in preparing a food, you will have many opportunities to fail. If you follow the diet fanatically, your chances of succeeding increase. As long as you feed a few microbes, you will stay sick. It’s your choice, but I don’t think a piece of bacon is worth your health and well-being.

3) “Diet soft drinks are permitted occasionally. Those sweetened with aspartame or Nutri-Sweet may sometimes contain lactose and should be avoided, if possible. However, if this is the only type available, one per week is permitted. Diet soft drinks sweetened with saccharin need not be limited to only on a week: 2-3 weekly would be permissible.” Pg 57

My counter is NO DIET SOFT DRINKS OF ANY KIND AT ALL EVER. There is no reason to consume artificial sweeteners of any kind, as stated above. There is also no reason to consume cancer causing caramel coloring or artificial flavoring. All artificial food is fake food and it is bad for you. Ingesting this kind of poison is not a good choice, and especially not as a routine. There are no health benefits to soda pop and this is another prime way to stay sick with permission to ingest fake foods.

These exceptions to the no exceptions rule really bother me. Not only are they bad for your health, they counter the diet, they counter premises the diet is based on, and they give permission to cheat, to not adhere to the diet fanatically, and to fail. These three very explicit permissions to cheat should be disregarded entirely. You should not set yourself to cheat at all, let alone routinely until your symptoms return or get worse. That’s not healing. Cheating on this diet undermines the diet. Doing any one of these things is the same as saying, “I’m not a smoker. I only smoke when I go out to the bar with my friends once or twice a week.” You are not on SCDiet if you consume illegal foods. After years of watching folks on list serves talk about the same things, the same issues, and the same desires, I think Elaine did a great disservice in introducing how to cheat on SCD with her nod of approval. These exceptions are nowhere in Dr. Haas’ work.

This leads me into my next critique. I noticed this in 2006 while reading BTVC again (my first time was 1999 when I first went on SCDiet) and reading Management of Celiac Disease by Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas. Here is the paragraph from BTVC on page 50, “The strictness of this diet cannot be overemphasized nor should the difficulty of adhering to it be minimized. Faithful observance requires intelligence and vigilance on the part of those taking care of the individual or on the part of the person who cooks for himself or herself. It is surprising how many times a child will manage, despite the best supervision, to get hold of forbidden food. It is equally surprising how many parents will decide, despite all warnings, that ‘just a taste’ of ice cream, cookie, or candy will do no harm. Such infringements will seriously delay recovery and it is unwise to undertake this regimen unless you are willing to follow it with fanatical adherence.” This is a politically correct version of what Dr. Haas wrote. This paragraph isn’t credited to him, and that bothers me as a form of plagiarism.

Here is his version on page 131, “The strictness of this diet cannot be overemphasized, nor should the difficulty of adhering to it be minimized. Faithful observance requires intelligence and vigilance on the part of the mother or the person taking care of the child with celiac disease. It is surprising how many times a child will, despite the best parental supervision, manage to get hold of forbidden food. It is equally surprising how many parents of apparent intelligence will, despite all warnings, decide that "just a taste" of ice cream, cookie, or candy will do no harm. Nevertheless, treatment is best carried out in the home, with frequent visits to the doctor's office. Of the cases reported here, only two were hospitalized.”

So, my critique is not only about her giving proper credit where credit is due to Dr. Haas, but also about the content of the copied words. Elaine obviously needed to hear that message again herself as she was giving permission for just a taste of gum, low calorie candy, diet soda, and bacon. I really hope that you don’t cheat on the SCDiet with these or any other illegal foods. If so, you are cheating yourself. On top of that, please do not say that you are following SCDiet if you are not following it fanatically. The dilution and distortion of the original tenants of the diet undermine the diet and its efficacy.


  1. I have wondered about those same things in the book. I think it's weird that aspartame and saccharine are acceptable but stevia is unacceptable. I do drink Zevia soda sometimes. Those sodas have a lot less ingredients than regular diet sodas.

    I do eat bacon, but I make sure it is nitrate free, though I guess I've had it at a restaurant a few times.

    I do not chew gum or eat candy.

    I started the diet in 2000.

  2. Hi Arden,
    I think she meant you could have those items once in awhile if all your symptoms were gone. This does not mean that I think it is a good idea to consume those things, because I don't. As far as I'm concerned, all artificial sweeteners should be bottled with a skull and crossbones on them! After battling my way back to a reasonable facimile of health, there is no way I am going to throw it all away by drinking diet soda or chewing gum, etc.

  3. Hi,

    I think its one thing to say don't eat so and so because it is detrimental to your IBD/IBS/Autism.

    Its another thing to say "All artificial food is fake food and it is bad for you. Ingesting this kind of poison is not a good choice, and especially not as a routine."

    Thats just opinion and not fact and has nothing to do with Elaines book and hypothesis.

    Nitrates DONT cause cancer, and fake FOOD does not poison you. Its your opinion that you suspect it does.

  4. From what I understand about nitrates/nitrites, they are actually found in higher concentrations in vegetables like celery and arugula, and even saliva, than they are in bacon and processed meats. To me, the concentration of nitrates/nitrites in bacon is not enough of a reason to disuade me from eating it.