The specific carbohydrate diet (SCD™) is a strict, rigorous regimen known for easing the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBDs), cystic fibrosis, and even Autism. Based on the idea that our bodies have not properly evolved to process modern foods, the specific carbohydrate diet is meant to starve any bad bacteria living in the gut by restricting complex carbohydrates and sugars. For some, achieving results can take up to a year with a return to eating a “normal” diet afterwards; for others it may be a lifestyle change that must be accepted as indefinite. The consensus among converts is that you must commit 100% to reap the benefits.
If you are considering the SCD™ path to healing, it will take the right amount of mental, emotional and practical preparation. Here are a few tips and resources to consider before you start:
Read Breaking the Vicious Cycle
Now in its 13th edition, the SCD™ diet was popularized in 1994 by the late biologist Elaine Gottschall in this breakthrough publication. The book serves as a guide and cookbook for patients wishing to heal naturally. It provides an overview of the diet’s history and biological reasoning. It does not condemn Western medicine, however many patients have been able to get off meds completely due to their strict adherence to the diet. If you’re already researching SCD™, you’ve likely stumbled upon the online overview of the book where you can find a complete list of legal/illegal foods, instructions for home-fermenting yogurt (a vital skill for any SCD™ disciple) and essential recipes for the “starter diet”. This is an excellent resource, but be sure to obtain a copy of the complete book and read it in full. Although thorough and informative, it is not that dense and can be completed in one sitting. It will also prove as a valuable reference text to have at your fingertips in the kitchen and while grocery shopping.
Visit some blogs
The volume of resources for patients considering the SCD™ course has increased immensely since the first edition of Breaking the Vicious Cycle. There are now a plethora of blogs and forums where patients can go for support, advice, recipes and cooking tips. Here are a few of the highlights:
Pecan Bread: This is a very pediatric-friendly site for SCD™ families. There are separate sections for parents looking to treat kids with Autism, and families fighting IBD. There are also links to support forums.
Comfy Belly: Authored by the mother of a kid with Crohn’s Disease, this site has great recipes- even for dogs! On the rare occasion a recipe is not strictly SCD™, they can always be modified with ease.
SCD™ Lifestyle: Tips and musings on embarking on the diet from two college buddies with gastrointestinal issues.
SCD™ Adventures: Authored by a mom with Crohn’s who shares her disease experience and offers coping suggestions and recipes.
Test recipes before you officially start
SCD™ success relies heavily on proper pacing- you begin slowly with the starter soup, and advance to different foods over a course of months. As you advance you will be eager to eat tastier foods, but if you don’t know how to cook them properly you will regret it. If you mess up a batch of almond-flour crackers or a casserole you won’t be able to run out to the store and grab a quick bite instead- this diet is very unforgiving. Check out sites like Comfy Belly for tasty recipes to try before you start the diet. Figure out which ones you like and which you don’t, which are quick and simple, and which require a significant amount of time. This will also help you to:
Pre-stock your kitchen
So many things are verboten by SCD™ that you will find yourself rapidly running out of essentials like honey and nut flour. In addition to staple ingredients be sure to research the tools needed. Just a quick perusal of sites like Lucy’s Kitchen Shop will prove that a quality food dehydrator is a must-have for every SCD™-friendly cook. There will also be a lot of batch cooking involved, so invest in some good Tupperware.
Brace your bank account
Although it is a small price to pay for feeling healthy, the SCD™ diet can quickly add up. Make sure you are financially prepared for the amount of food shopping that will be involved. Don’t forget to factor in things like transportation costs to and from the grocery store, as well as shipping when ordering specialty items online. Don’t let this deter you from giving it a go- the investment will likely be worth it.