In general, I’m not a big fan of the “D” word—diet that is. I believe you need to find what works best for you, and treat your body as an individual unit. For example, I know I do best with little to no fish and meat, some nuts, yogurt, lots of veggies and fruits, little to no grains, and I must keep the sweets to a minimum.
There’s one diet I do need to mention, and that’s the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Every so often a reader will ask me what “SCD” is, and until now I haven’t explained much – I’ve just linked to other pages. Since I categorize a lot of my recipes under this umbrella, here is a bit about SCD and my experience thus far.
The best introduction to the diet is to read Breaking The Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall. There’s a fascinating story behind the formulation of the SCD diet, and many live by it, have healed themselves with it, or have healed a child with it. The goal of the diet is to starve out bad bacteria in the gut so that your intestines can heal. I’m simplifying it of course, but to get a full understanding, read the book.
SCD is effective for Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis, Celiac Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Autism, as well as many other diseases that are affected by or result in intestinal issues. The other interesting and important aspect of the diet is how it helps both gut and brain, and how they are connected and affected by imbalance in the gut. And, it’s a gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, lactose-free diet as well, so it serves a lot of folks with food intolerances and allergies.
The SCD diet is the culmination of Elaine Gotchall’s experience with her daughter, who at a very young age had a digestive illness. You can read a more in-depth story here, but the bottom line is that she spent a lot of time figuring out what would heal her daughter, and SCD is a product of that tireless effort that many of you may relate to.
So is SCD working for your son?
Quite often I’m asked if diet alone is working for my son who has Crohn’s Disease. The short answer is no, diet alone is not working for him at the moment. But the full answer is more complicated. At some point soon (because I really need to do this anyway), I’m going to post a timeline of what has worked and what hasn’t, but remember that your mileage may vary.
We first tried SCD about 6 years ago and it did work for him for about 8 months (after a 2 month dose of prednisone—yuck). Then I talked to some folks who said some bread is ok. So I occasionally let him have some bread, which of course backfired on us for two reasons: 1. The diet can’t tolerate cheating, and 2. He has an intolerance (immune reaction) to gliadin, which is a component of gluten, and therefore he can’t eat bread (which I didn’t know for sure until about 6 months ago when we had him tested without any drugs in his body at all). While he still doesn’t test positive for Celiac disease, he tests positive for a severe reaction to gliadin. More on this weirdness in another post at another time.
Several readers have already posted comments on Comfy Belly recipe posts to support SCD, but if you have a story about SCD or any tips to share, please feel free to leave a comment to encourage others along this path. This is not an easy switch, going SCD. And I’ve been told it takes time to heal, at least a few years.
Here are some other things I’ve observed when my son has been on SCD:
- the most basic recipes are the easiest and the best
- avoid additives and processed food
- if you’re not sure, try one thing at a time
- start slow, or start with the intro diet; do what works best for you
- freeze food and buy in bulk when possible
- modify it for your body; if you need to go dairy-free, do it
- try eating small meals throughout the day
- drink lots of water, broth, and/or electrolytes
- avoid lots of sweets; balance out your diet with other foods
- don’t try to live on almond flour
- think Paleo (many Paleo recipes are SCD-compatible)
- prepare lots of snacks for travel
- know what brands of food and drink you can have when you’re away from home
- think low residue, easy-to-digest foods all the time (cooked veggies, fruits, smoothies, soups)
- find out if you’re vitamin or mineral deficient and then supplement with vitamins, shots, or IV nutritional fluids
- Do what’s right for you. Ignore comments by others, bring food you like to parties, explain in simple terms that you have some food intolerances. It’s becoming increasingly common, unfortunately.
Try not to get caught up in balancing your diet based on food pyramids – they don’t apply here; nutrition level does though. You may be forgoing some things by not having grains or cereals so you’ll need to balance that out in another way (and/or take vitamins) which I think is essential for healing and general mental health.
One last note: many folks combine SCD with a mild treatment of drugs with great success. This can be a stepping stone to getting off drugs. Again, everyone is different, so your mileage may vary.
And now for my favorite egg salad recipe on some toasted cashew bread.
Ingredients (makes 2 sandwiches)
- 3 to 4 eggs
- 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of honey (optional)
- 1 stalk of celery, diced into small cubes
- 1 small dill pickle or 5 slices of dill pickles, diced into small cubes
- salt and pepper to taste (optional)
- Place the eggs in a saucepan with cold water; fill with water until the eggs are immersed.
- Bring the water to a boil, and gently boil for about 12 minutes.
- When finished boiling, immerse the eggs in ice cold water to stop boiling them.
- Let the eggs cool while you prepare the mayonnaise.
- Peel the shells off the hard-boiled eggs. I find tapping the bottom of the egg on the counter makes a good enough crack to then peel the shell off.
- In a mixing bowl, add the eggs, and mash the eggs until they break up into small pieces.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and blend well. Add salt and pepper to taste.