What is SCD?
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a dietary regimen that eliminates all grains (including gluten), potatoes, refined sugar and food additives.
How it Works
SCD was originally designed by Dr Hass for the treatment of children with Celiac disease. It was first called the ‘banana’ diet because bananas were the primary source of carbohydrates used and tolerated by the children he treated. The sugars in bananas are simple sugars (mono-saccharides) which are easily digested and don’t cause diarrhea. Mono-saccharides are also found in honey, fruit and some vegetables. Dissacharides and polysaccharides are sugars that are not easy to digest and contribute to diarrhea. These sugars and starches are found in grains, potatoes and sugars which are all to be avoided on this diet. It is believed that because these complex sugars are not digested easily, bacteria and yeast which feed on them are prone to overgrow in the intestine. When bacteria and yeast overgrow, the byproducts and toxins excreted by them irritate the lining of the digestive tract causing digestive distress. Eliminating the sugars that feed these organisms will return the digestive system to a more balanced state. Elaine Gottschall, author of the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, was instrumental in making this diet known to others.
Who Would Benefit From SCD?
The diet was originally intended for those suffering from digestive ailments. It also works for other diseases, conditions and symptoms. The following is a list of conditions that have shown benefit from this style of diet:
-Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
-Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
-Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
This is not a comprehensive list of allowed foods. Please see the Legal/Illegal list.
Meat: Any unprocessed meat including red meat, fish, seafood, poultry, game meat, organ meats, bones, bone marrow, unflavored gelatin
Dairy: SCD yogurt, hard naturally lactose-free cheese, kefir (advanced)
Vegetables: most vegetables excluding potatoes, rutabaga & turnips are considered advanced and should not be tried right away
Fruits: all unsweetened fruit including frozen
Nuts: all nuts with no added ingredients, nut flours, nut butters
Oils/fats: all animal fats, cultured butter, ghee, coconut oil, cocoa butter, vegetable oils
This is not a comprehensive list of disallowed foods. Please see the Legal/Illegal list.
Meat: all processed meat (check for added ingredients)
Dairy: all fluid milk, cream, buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese, feta, cheese slices, processed cheese
Vegetables: potatoes, seaweed, all canned vegetables
Fruit: canned fruit, sweetened fruit, fruit stored in syrup
Grains: all grains including wheat, corn, rice, kamut, barley, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, oat
Sugars: white sugar, cane sugar, maple sugar, maple syrup, coconut/palm sugar, brown sugar, sucanat, rapadura, molasses
Legumes: chick peas, bean sprouts, soybeans, mungbeans, faba beans, and garbanzo beans
Oils: margarine, butter substitutes
Most people find that this diet helps to normalize their weight. That is, underweight people will gain weight appropriately and overweight people will lose weight. I did manage to gain weight from being too low. It will take time, as your body has to heal and balance out before weight can finally be normal. Many overweight people benefit from low-carb SCD. I benefited from low-carb SCD at time to manage symptoms, but did not follow low-carb for prolonged periods.
You don’t need to take supplements while doing SCD, other than those prescribed to you by a doctor or other health care professional. I highly suggest looking for SCD legal foods that are good sources of nutrients rather than taking supplements. Beef liver is very high in vitamin A, vitamins B, and iron. Oysters are high in zinc. Grass-fed beef, wild salmon, and fish oil are good sources of Omega 3s. Consider finding food sources of nutrients you need and including those in your diet. I use Nutrition Data to see the nutritional value of foods. I also use FitDay to input all my food for a day to see where I might be coming up short.
Some people choose to use supplements to make sure they are getting enough of certain nutrients. I did off and on during the first 2 years on SCD. Some people use probiotics or beneficial yeasts to help re-balance the digestive system. Here is a list of good sources:
–Freeda Vitamins also available at SCDiet.com, Lucy’s Kitchen Shop, and mailing address.
–Probiotics available at GIPro Health, Kirkman Labs, Lucy’s Kitchen Shop, and SCDiet.com.
See this List of SCD legal/illegal Supplements for more specific information.
Also see the FAQ page. If there’s a question you have that you can’t find answers to, feel free to contact me.