This post sharing the benefits of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for those suffering from Crohn’s Disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, cystic fibrosis, autism, and more, contains affiliate links.
You may have heard of The Specific Carbohydrate Diet when reading through recipes on this site. They are usually titled Specific Carbohydrate Recipes or SCD Recipes for short. If you are not familiar with this diet, continue reading this post to learn about how this grain-free diet has helped many people who are diagnosed with conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, cystic fibrosis, and even autism.
There are many health benefits to following this restrictive diet. Some dieters find that it helps eliminate symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and even helps those who suffer from chronic diarrhea.
Why Follow a Specific Carbohydrate Diet?
The reason I started this diet is the same reason most people stumble upon it, they are suffering from digestive health issues. I have been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis which is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, not to be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The word Colitis means inflamed and the word Ulcerative is referring to ulcers that may be more recognizable to those who may not be familiar with inflammatory bowel disease.
I was diagnosed in April 2014 after a couple of years of symptoms I finally got a colonoscopy. This test helped the doctors give me a name for the symptoms I was having although they are still not completely sure if what I have is ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease at this point, they are certain that I suffer from inflammatory bowel disease.
This debilitating disease affects more than just your digestive system and has no cure and no known cause. Many patients have been prescribed a variety of heavy medications that come with quite a bit of side effects. This has led many, including me to look into alternative methods for treating the disease. While there is no known cure, there are certainly many ways to help alleviate symptoms through diet alone. That’s where the Specific Carbohydrate Diet comes into play.
After begin diagnosed I was then put on a slew of medicines and I hated taking them due to side effects and worries of what kind of toll they are taking on my body. Some of the more common medicines prescribed for inflammatory bowel diseases are known as biologics. These medicines are a powerful tool designed to help quickly reduce the amount of inflammation in the body and it’s wonderful that we have these medicines for when we need them but they do come with quite a bit of side effects.
One of the biologics I was prescribed really concerned me because I was told that it increased my chances of having cancer of the lymph nodes. As someone who watched my mom battle this type of cancer twice and was well aware that it ran in my family, I decided to look for a different way.
I began looking for a more natural approach to healing my body that didn’t come with a ton of side effects like the medicines I was prescribed.
Who Created the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?
After a few months of daily searches on google and reading, every book I could find, I stumbled across a book about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet called Breaking the Vicious Habit by Elaine Gottschall.
I read about the creator of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Pediatrician Sydney Haas, MD, and why she created this diet. It turns out that it was originally created to combat celiac disease but Elaine Gottschall whose young daughter battled Ulcerative colitis saw results implementing it. While Dr. Sydney Hass is credited with the creation of this diet, it took a supermom and biochemist named Elaine to spread the news about how nutrition and gastrointestinal health are linked. In 1987 she wrote the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health through Diet and helped spread the news that this diet can help others.
I bought the book on Amazon after reading about how it provides an alternative way to help combat digestive disorders using dietary changes. I even joined a Facebook group that caters to those with illnesses like mine that also wanted a more natural approach to healing.
In this group, I read many testimonials about how the diet helped heal others who were diagnosed with many inflammatory diseases. This really interested me after hearing from my own team of doctors that this was not even possible. I felt validated about my suspicions that food not only could cause more issues but that it may even possibly contain healing properties.
I have also found it to be a practical book that addresses the problems of intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis, and Celiac Disease. This diet helps to combat the overgrowth of harmful bacteria left in the gut from carbohydrates that are not properly digested.
I was excited at the possibility that I could be naturally healed. The idea that food was not only the cause of my problem but also the cure, really sold me. I have questioned my Gastroenterologist about what role food plays with this illness and he really made me feel like there was no hope. I got a second, third, and even fourth opinion on this subject only to find out that many healthcare providers believe this to be the case.
Despite so many professionals doubting the possibility of food changing anything, I still had my suspicions. So, after learning everything there is to know about the diet plan, I began sticking to a strict Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?
While this diet does allow some carbs and bans others, it isn’t a low-carb diet. Although it is possible to eat low carbs while following a strict Specific Carbohydrate Diet plan. I found this diet to be similar to a lot of the low-carb and keto diets I have tried out in the past. One of the biggest differences with this diet that stood out to me was that you are allowed some fruits and vegetables that are high in carbs which makes them off-limits on keto.
The foods you are allowed to eat on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet are referred to as “legal” food and the ones that are off-limits are called “illegal” foods. It’s a pretty easy concept but implementing this can be very difficult. Foods like ketchup, common household spices, and most store-bought or prepared foods usually contain “illegal” ingredients. In order to be certain that a product doesn’t contain illegal ingredients, I had to contact many brands to inquire about hidden ingredients.
What foods are Illegal?
For example, some foods that are not allowed in the Specific Carbohydrate Diet are sugar, grains, potatoes, milk, and chocolate. Many of these foods can easily be replaced with a healthy alternative because the legal list of foods is thankfully pretty long.
What Foods are Legal?
Some of the legal foods are almond flour, unprocessed meats, certain cheeses, many different vegetables, fruits, nuts, and honey. Click here for a comprehensive list of legal and illegal foods for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
A lot of illegal foods can be swapped out for legal foods to make your favorite recipes SCD compliant. It can be overwhelming at first but it does get easier, just keep in mind that illegal foods are to be avoided completely, there is no room for error.
For this diet to work, you have to be certain that you are not consuming any illegal foods. Eating out is also tricky. Once you figure out a few safe foods and restaurants that will accommodate the diet, it gets much easier. A lot of people give up following this diet before being able to see any benefit because it can be really overwhelming in the beginning.
How do You Follow a Specific Carbohydrate Diet?
I found that the best way to go about any major lifestyle change is to be overly prepared. The book helped me greatly and the love of cooking was also another tool that made this diet possible for me.
I started experimenting with different legal ingredients and creating my own versions of my favorite foods with only legal ingredients. At first, I struggled to make even the simplest of meals, it was hard to figure out what I could and could not eat. It really felt like it was impossible to follow the diet without eating the same safe foods but I didn’t give up because I was already seeing results.
I reminded myself of the long-term goal and refused to give in to the temptations of eating anything with illegal ingredients. This meant cooking separate meals for myself and my family as well as bringing my own food when dining out. It was hard to watch everyone else eat pizza, fries, ice cream, and whatever they wanted while I sat at the same booth with my SCD legal foods.
While it was awkward and very difficult at first, it got much easier once I found restaurants that could serve me SCD legal foods. I usually stuck with a plain piece of meat without any seasoning alongside a nice helping of legal vegetables. This is an easy way to eat out without having to bring in outside food. Find a restaurant that will comply and stick with it until you get a better handle on the temptations of illegal foods.
Where Can You Find Specific Carbohydrate Diet Recipes?
Once I started seeing the benefit, nothing could stop me. I tried a lot of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet recipes found in the book and even began creating my own recipes using legal foods. Before long I was making cookies, cakes, ice creams, and all of my favorite treats with SCD ingredients.
You can find all of my Specific Carbohydrate Recipes here and keep in mind that I am always interested in adding more. If you are struggling to find a recipe or food replacement that you are craving, please leave a comment. I love to experiment in the kitchen and would be happy to share!
Some of the most popular recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet are desserts. I think this is because it’s almost impossible to purchase pre-made goodies for this diet. most bakeries and prepackaged snacks contain many illegal ingredients so it is better to make your own. If you don’t feel like scrolling through the full list of SCD Recipes on this site, use the search feature and type in keywords to find recipes. Or take a look at some of my favorites.
Homemade Yogurt Recipe for SCD
Simple Flourless Sandwich Bread
Easy Crockpot BBQ Ribs for Specific Carbohydrate Diet
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Saturday 23rd of April 2022
I don't follow the specific carbohydrate diet but I know that one of my friend's daughter suffers from Crohn’s Disease so will share about this diet with her
Saturday 23rd of April 2022
Being overly prepared for a big lifestyle change is very clever. That's how I deal with things too! I am glad you got more information and figured out what worked best for you.
Friday 22nd of April 2022
Trust chocolate to be on the illegal list. It's good to hear the legal is is quite lengthy. I know people that have struggled with eating out due to this. It helps when you are able to make your own food with options that you are able to eat without any issues.
Becky, Cuddle Fairy
Friday 22nd of April 2022
I too am all about natural remedies, and changing your diet is such an important one. There's no point taking prescription meds when a change of diet would sort it. Best of luck to you with this.
Friday 22nd of April 2022
I have never heard of it before, thank you for sharing this with us.