The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet


Food Fight

November 1st, 2003

Grafton’s Elaine Gottschall has dedicated her life to helping people overcome colitis and other digestive diseases with the right diet, writes Karen Hawthorne.

In the early 1960s, when her little girl kept having nosebleeds, seizures and hallucinations that terrified her half the night, Elaine Gottschall reached a breaking point. She had taken her to doctor after doctor after doctor, and the answer was always the same — her four-year-old daughter Judy wasn’t going to get better.

She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a severe inflammation of the lining of the colon that was unresponsive to standard medical therapy. She was sick and malnourished; food would rapidly pass through her body, almost completely unabsorbed despite Elaine’s frantic attempts to find something that her child’s system could tolerate.

By the time Judy was eight, Elaine and her husband, Herb, had taken her to several different specialists who said that surgery was the only option — her colon had to be removed, she’d have to wear a bag for waste collection and continue on steroids.
“ I couldn’t let that happen,” Elaine says. “I have certainly prayed enough, but when she became sick, I almost lost my faith. Why do bad things happen to good people?”
The worst of it came when Elaine broke down sobbing at her doctor’s office. Instead of offering comfort, he fired an accusation: “What are you crying about? You have done this to her.”

“ I couldn’t believe it,” Elaine recalls. The incident left lasting scars, but it also became her defining moment. She would help to save her daughter’s life — and the lives of people around the world with her sheer determination.

She got the name through a friend of a 92-year-old physician in New York City, Dr. Sydney Hass. He had developed a nutritional approach to intestinal healing and published a textbook available in many medical libraries; however, his colleagues had abandoned his work in pursuit of new versions of the standard drugs and surgeries.

After examining Judy, he asked Elaine what she had been feeding her daughter. It was that simple — Judy needed to eat mostly meat, fruits and vegetables, and cut out carbohydrates such as grains, flour and sugar. She could have foods baked with nut flours, including ground almonds and pecans, bread made with boiled beans, specially-prepared yogurt, and some natural cheeses. The diet was not hard to follow, although it required extra food preparation and planning, and it changed her life. “ Within a week, the seizures stopped never to return, it was incredible,” says Elaine. In two years, Judy was symptom free and continued on the diet.

While her daughter became healthy, Elaine became angry. This was the early 1960s and research on lactose intolerance dated back to the early 1900s. Her daughter had suffered so terribly and she wanted to know why? Why had the medical community ignored food science? Dr. Haas had died and Elaine feared that unless someone acted to carry on his legacy, his simple diet remedy would die with him, robbing other patients of the chance for recovery.
“ I said, ‘Herb, I’m mad. I’m truly mad.’ So he told me to get back to school to find out what the blankety-blank is going on.”

At 47, the former secretary and stay-at-home mom decided to go back to school, earning degrees over the next 19 years in biology, nutritional biochemistry and cellular biology. “ I had to have the background and the credentials to debate this,” she says. She went from being a “Leave it to Beaver mom” to teaching at Fanshawe College in London, starting a consulting practice and self-publishing a book, Food and the Gut Reaction, in 1987. She saw it as the only way to get her message across and to help real people who were suffering. That was the beginning. She ramped up to self-funded distribution and publicity campaigns, appearances on the Dini Petty show and coverage on CBC radio.

Today, at 82, Elaine still loves freshly-made carrot juice and cold spinach soup. She is as much a go-getter as ever, blending her passion for growing hollyhocks and vegetables with saving lives. With connections to a number of on-line support groups, she checks her e-mail at least three times a day, pouring over questions from people all over the world who want information on treating digestive-related illnesses: chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, celiac, even autism and cystic fibrosis. Above her desk, a poster reads: “Be true to thine self”.

“ I’ve given up caring that it will be accepted,” she says of the reaction of the medical community to her books and research. “The world’s a crazy place anyway and you can’t do much about that.”

Her second book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, is now in its eighth printing and has been published in more than a dozen different languages. She runs her publishing company — packs up her books and ships them off to Chapters locations, health food stores and private individuals who call her up — out of her Grafton home, perched on a hilltop with an inspiring view of the surrounding farmlands.

She and her husband moved here six years ago after selling their farm outside Stratford; Herb died two years ago after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
“ As Herb used to say, it’s one step down from heaven here,” she says. Her daughter, Judy Herod, works in Port Hope and lives in nearby Fenella on 12 acres conducive to following the diet, about 85 per cent of the time, with home-grown vegetables, fruit, poultry, eggs and home-cultivated honey. Judy, her husband and their two children are hardly ever sick. “I had my life turned around (by the diet)” thanks to the determination of her parents.
“She’s indomitable — I really admire what she’s doing,” Judy says. “Sometimes people call her up three times in a night. She helps them all. She has so much empathy.”
Elaine insists that she hasn’t done anything unusual, and she’s not about to give up now:
“ If one parent is helped, by God, I’m going to keep going. That’s good enough for me.” J

Based in Port Hope, Karen Hawthorne is a freelance writer and editor of Go! Magazine.

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This book has turned my life around. It took an amazing amount of self control to follow the diet but once I started noticing the benefits it became almost enjoyable! A really informative book that tells you all you need to know to get your health (and life!) back.
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- Georgina
Amazon customer

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