Around 70 million Americans suffer from digestive issues every day, and it’s no wonder given that most see grains as a staple of the diet and rely on processed foods.
The good news is that tummy troubles are often resolved with a change in diet. From gluten free to FODMAPS to paleo/primal, there’s a lot of options out there.
One of which is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). To tell us more about SCD, TMBL has enlisted the help of the lovely Deb from An Aussie with Crohns.
Deb has just launched SCDelish – a recipe site for everyone following the SCD – and I threw some questions her way about the diet, the site and her own road to health.
Take it away Deb!
What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?
SCD is a group of foods which are grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free, and unprocessed. It removes many foods that are toxic and digestively harmful. The diet is natural, extremely nourishing and very similar to what our ancestors ate.
Who is it suitable for?
SCD is intended mainly for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, diverticulitis, cystic fibrosis and chronic diarrhoea. However it is a very healthy, balanced and safe diet that has health benefits for everyone.
Describe your health journey ie when and why did you start eating this way, how has it changed your life?
Since I’m now 45, my I could talk about my health journey for a long time! I’ll try and keep it short!
I’ve always had a bit of a funny tummy and I knew what I ate made a big difference to how I felt. I discovered cutting out sugar made a huge difference when I was a teenager. In my 30s I went gluten free and in my early 40s I discovered FODMAPS. All of these really helped me be well, but I was usually exhausted, often got sick and my tummy seemed to get more and more sensitive. Over the last 10 years I had what I now know were Crohn’s flares, but at the time I thought I had a tummy bug.
In October 2011 I had a huge flare which led to my diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed with moderate/severe Crohn’s Colitis and was given a range of drugs to manage it. This was a huge shock to me. I’ve always considered myself healthy and a lifetime of drugs was not something I wanted for my future. I was very reluctant to start taking these drugs but the doctors are very convincing that this is all you can do. I asked about natural or diet related treatments and was told that there were none. I was even told that if I tried something natural and if it didn’t work, that I would be worse off because then I would have more damage to try and repair.
This was a very difficult time for me.
I am so thankful for the internet. I started searching for natural alternatives and found a vegan diet. I tried that for a few weeks, but I lost more weight and got worse. (I now know all of the uncooked vegetables were too rough for my damaged system).
Then I found SCD.
I started it in Dec 2011, with the reluctant support of my GP. My blood tests were very concerning and she said she’d give me 6 weeks on SCD and we’d see how it went. Thankfully, I very quickly saw results – after 6 weeks my blood tests were almost perfect! After another 6 weeks there were completely perfect and that’s where they’ve stayed.
I’m so thankful that I found SCD. It’s all I need to manage my Crohn’s Disease. I take some probiotics and vitamins, but no drugs for my Crohns. I feel the healthiest I ever have in my life! I have wonderful energy, perfect digestion and very rarely get sick.
What tips would you give someone starting out on SCD?
Firstly, be kind to yourself. It’s a huge change of lifestyle and it takes time to get it right, especially when you’re not feeling well! I bought the ebook from SCDLifestyle that very clearly sets out how to start SCD. I highly recommend it.
Also, keep checking the legal/illegal foods list. It’s not easy to know every food and I still now check to see if foods are legal or not.
I was very happy that I visited a naturopath in my early SCD days. She told me dairy and some fruits didn’t agree with me and that enabled me to get better more quickly.
Finally, realise that it takes time to heal. You’ll see improvement, but it took me about a year to be really well. Now after two years on SCD I feel amazing and it’s very rare for me to even be tempted to stray from the diet. At the start I was very tempted and often fell off the SCD wagon. Now I’m so happy with all the wonderful food that I can eat.
Why did you start SCDelish and what is your vision for the site?
I started SCDelish because I was jealous of other food gallery sites! Yes, SCD is restrictive in what you can’t eat, but I prefer to focus on what we can eat. There are wonderful SCD blogs out there and I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were all in one place?’
My vision for SCDelish is that it helps many people in their SCD journey; whether they are just beginning or an oldie like me. It’s wonderful to try new foods! No one needs to be in a food rut! I hope SCDelish also helps spread the word about using diet to heal IBD’s instead of drugs.
What are some of your favourite recipes that you cook regularly?
My family includes three teenagers and, like all families, we all have different tastes, intolerances and favourites. Thankfully, my family all like to eat and are happy to try new things. If you’ve seen my blog, you’ll see I love sweet food. Making sweet treats that I can eat is one of my favourite things to do. Our favourite is the Berry & Coconut Slice.
Savoury regulars at our house include: Cauliflower & Carrot Risotto with Chicken & Mushroom and Fish Fingers.
What’s your “indulgence” food – the treat you save for special times?
This Cashew & Macadamia Nut Fudge is always in my freezer for when I need a treat.
Also, I’m going through a cheesecake phase at the moment, having great fun experimenting with different flavours. This is my favourite at the moment: Blueberry Cheesecake.
What are some of the challenges eating SCD, and how do you overcome them?
Eating out is something my family loves doing, and it can be challenging on SCD. Often, I ask for something that isn’t on the menu, but is simple, like a chicken salad with no dressing. My focus is more on the people I’m spending time with, than on the food. Sometimes, though, I’ve had such wonderful meals when out at restaurants that I’ve been amazed.
What’s on the menu for the festive season in your house?
I’ve always loved to cook, especially Christmas lunch. My two traditional favourites are a chocolate fruit pudding and rum balls.
I’m experimenting at making the pudding SCD friendly; I’m using cacao butter for the chocolate flavour and I’ve found some dried fruits online without preservatives.
I’ve found it’s really important to keep as many food traditions as possible, I just modify them so I can eat them. No one likes to feel like they’re missing out!
For Christmas lunch we usually have a baked ham topped with apricot jam and macadamia nuts (easy to make SCD friendly). I also like to have seafood and salad as a first course, since it’s summer here in Australia.
To finish: chocolate fruit pudding. Yum!
This post was also shared at Party Wave Wednesday