Along with SCD comes the term “fanatical adherence”. Most veterans on the diet agree – don’t bother doing the diet if you can’t do it 100%.

I think this is a wrong statement, even though the people who say it mean well. I have seen this attitude with just about every diet, supplement plan, and exercise regime I’ve followed. The people who are there to offer advice are the ones who are most adamant that this is the right (and only) way. Before being on SCD I was on a completely opposite diet, lots of white rice, white bread, sugar and very little meat. People on that diet assured me that if I followed it 100% I would not suffer. Boy did I suffer. Now on SCD I see the same thing. If it’s not working for you, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough. If you’ve had a setback on SCD, it’s the mysterious “x-month relapse” or “die-off”. Only 100% compliance will allow you to recover.

(Side note: I’m not quite sure how this 100% fanatical adherence came from Elaine’s work. For people who can’t gain weight, she even says they may need to temporarily return to a ‘normal diet’ to gain weight before continuing with SCD. She recognized that there are cases where the diet can’t be followed 100%. She did however push for people to follow the legal/illegal list faithfully.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad these people are there to help us, on message boards, list-serves, and blogs. I take their word as I would an expert’s, not only that but an expert who has personally experienced what they are talking about. I am always forever grateful to have the chance to get advice from people more knowledgeable than me on these subjects. However my own journey has taught me that no matter how much something works for someone else, I have to figure out for myself what to do, what diet to follow, what supplements to take. A lot of it is research and asking what others have done, but at least 50% of it is trial and error.

Many people on SCD don’t talk about exercise, they encourage you to reduce the number of supplements you’re taking (or the opposite, take more, try this one! or that one!), and don’t talk about psychological aspects like stress. I had noticed immediate good changes when I started SCD, but I have come a long way from simply relying on diet to ‘cure’ me. And this is where I have come to a cross roads with the 100% fanatical adherence.

In the beginning I was eating so plain. No ketchup because my efforts to produce a homemade ketchup that I liked were useless. No mayonnaise because I don’t have the patience to drip oil while stirring. No canned vegetables that make life so much easier, because that is illegal. No soy sauce, that’s illegal.

And so here are my confessions:
I eat store-bought ketchup from the natural food store. It’s unsweetened and I add honey to it.
I eat store-bought mayonnaise from the natural food store. It has no sugar in it, it lists honey. The spices are listed individually and seem legal.
I get canned artichoke hearts to make my favorite recipe, chicken with artichokes (lemon, honey, garlic sauce).
I use naturally brewed tamari sauce I get from the natural food store. No wheat added, but still illegal because it’s made from soy beans.

There you have it. I ‘cheat’. If I have any symptoms, you bet people would be almost yelling at me “But you’re eating illegals!!! What do you expect!”
Thing is, these small little cheats (the first two which may not even contain illegals) give me loads of stress relief and some degree of satiety and happiness with my food. To me, that’s worth enough the chance that the food may cause a tiny amount of harm. I feel now that if I balance my diet and my psychological stress, I will feel better. And it has worked.

I don’t encourage anyone to stray from the diet and use illegals. I highly encourage everyone to make everything themselves at home with ingredients they know. I am hopeful that soon enough I will figure out how to make a ketchup and mayonnaise that I like. In fact I really want to make a mayonnaise that uses olive and coconut oils. For now I’m happy doing what I’m doing.

I hope people don’t think I’m being disrespectful to those who follow the diet 100%. I have admiration for those who manage it and make it such a big priority.

I hope people don’t see me as lazy. I have been working harder than anyone I know for the last 7 years to make myself better. It’s not about laziness – it’s about figuring out how to make myself better in all ways. With a couple little ‘cheats’, I have just a bit more happiness, and a bit more time for yoga, reading, and spending time laughing with friends.


I have been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet since January 2008 to recover from Celiac disease. As part of the diet, I don't eat grains, sugar or potatoes and prepare all my meals from scratch.


  1. Good post – it made me think. I cheat with some supplements that I’ve found are helpful and raw honey that isn’t clear (but it makes my maked goods turn out a whole lot better. There are probably other ways I cheat that I’m not thinking of right now. I didn’t really stop to think about my cheating before (meaning, I knew it, but still counted myself as someone who does the diet “legally.”) Thank you for posting this. I’m glad you pointed out the live and laugh factor – so good to remember that stress plays a part in our health and recovery.

  2. I am so grateful for this post. I am trying to feed 6 of us on SCD. Stuff happens, we have to leave the kids at my parents’ house, we run out of our staple foods and we have to eat something with an illegal like sugar or xanthan gum.

    Our budget cannot support the SCD 100%. Two of us are celiac, the other four are along for the ride and are benefitting. We are trying our best to make this work, but I just can’t follow it 100% though it’s my goal.

    We have to look at our lives as a whole and learn what we can tolerate and what we can’t. The perfect diet and lots of stress is unbalanced. All of life needs to be balanced and that can only come through trial and error.

    It’s such a learning curve! But I have found that there is very little to no discussion outside fanatical adherance. I’ve been so afraid to even voice that! Thanks for your courage.

    Blessings to you,

  3. As for mayonnaise, while I can’t imagine your high-quality mayo being problematic, I will say that making mayo at home is easy with the Cuisinart I bought. It has a small hole in the bottom of the feeding tube explicitly for making mayo. It does the slow dripping for you! Who knew?

    I think there are many canned and bottled foods available at Whole Foods or other conscientious places that are perfectly fine, but on the illegal list because you absolutely couldn’t find such high-quality canned goods in middle America 10 – 20 years ago. It’s not cheating. It’s progress.

  4. Hi Kat,

    I’m with you re “cheating.” I think the primary thing is to be educated about where the danger zones lie. Then you have to experiment until the “diet” is right for you. Sugar is my big issue and I can’t do much fruit. So to get some potassium, I’ve reintroduced potatoes (!) and I’m fine. Never gave up tamari, either. We are each an experiment of one. Be well!

  5. Sherry: add supplements to my list of cheats. I take a multi-mineral with iron in it. I don’t need the iron, but cannot find another multi-mineral that works as well as this one. I tried replacing it with Freeda’s SCD multivitamin with awful results.

    Betty: I admire you so much! I’m doing this diet for 1. I cannot imagine feeding 6 on it. Keep up your good work! I wish my family had adopted better eating habits when I was younger.

    Kevin: I will get to the mayo eventually. I think I would need another appliance for it, like the Cuisinart. So many appliances lol! I agree with the canned foods probably being legal now. I do notice that I feel better when eating fresh vegetables though. Not sure if it’s something like preservatives or materials used in canning.

    Sue: I’m glad you’re finding your way on the diet. I’m hoping to introduce some kind of grain or potaoes soon. I have the recipe book Nourishing Traditions which shows how to prepare grains properly. Just have to decide which to try first!

  6. I totally agree with you. If adhereing to a diet strictly causes you a lot of stress and/or leaving you feeling deprived that can absolutely cause a bigger cost than what you gain by following the diet strictly.

    Haha, I don’t even know what diet I am doing anymore. I think I am pretty much doing something close to a healthy normal diet, though I eat a lot of chocolate and candy. Need to replace that again with more nutritious snacks – not for my gut though but for general health.

    Keep up the good expermimenting work. 🙂

  7. Ulrika hello! Yeah I think I’ve caused myself more stress than necessary lately with the diet. But it could also be that coming to the end of my degree I’m just on edge about everything.

    I plan on trying to add a lot of stuff back into my diet when I have time. I’m hoping to start with grains that have been prepared properly (like soaking them before cooking). I would love to have a bowl of oatmeal in the morning! We’ll see what I can tolerate and what I like the taste of.

  8. thank you for this post. i felt so guilty for having a little cheat every now and then. this is great. if only we could share more of these we’d all feel a little better knowing we are just human and trying to heal ourselves without being miserable trying. good on you. this was a fantastic post.

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