I’ve followed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for 12 years, and it has helped me tremendously. If you are considering it, I whole-heartedly recommend it.
For the unenlightened: The SCD theorizes that Crohn’s is caused by a bacterial imbalance in your digestive tract. An abundance of bad bacteria is causing your immune system to attack your intestines- gross! The SCD protocol speculates that removing certain foods from your diet will starve off this ‘bad’ bacteria, and allow the good bacteria to thrive- cool!
Functionally, this diet is similar to the Paleo Diet. It allows meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and some diary. I eat a preposterous amount of chicken. There are tons of excellent resources for SCD recipes, but here are some of my favorites:
Unfortunately, you probably won’t hear about this diet from your doctor. Gastros like to say that there isn’t enough evidence to support the SCD, and that it is too restrictive to provide proper nutrition. Some studies are underway that will hopefully prove the benefits of the diet, and help it gain recognition from the mainstream medical community.
I began the SCD about a year after my diagnosis, in 2002. I was taking Prednisone and Pentasa, but still felt awful. My doctor was imploring me to try immunosuppressants, and my family was desperately seeking out other options.
We first heard about the diet through a family friend, who learned about it from Dr. Ronald Hoffman’s radio show. Dr. Hoffman was sort of like an early 2000s Dr. Oz, but way more legitimate. My mom kindly made the trip (and dropped the cash- this guy is not cheap) to visit Dr. Hoffman and his excellent nutritionist, Dr. Robert Pastore. They were kind, intelligent, and firm in their conviction that the SCD was the best course of treatment for me.
I began the diet, and started to feel better in about a month. I started to grow and gain weight again. Within a year, I was completely medication free, and feeling like a normal 12-year-old.
I’ve been on the diet since then, and it continues to help me. I spent a few really lame rebellious years in high school eating junk and making myself sick. I got serious about it again in college, and am now fanatically diligent about it.
I wish that I could say that the SCD has cured my Crohn’s, but unfortunately, it has not. I still have bad days, and a recent colonoscopy showed that I have inflammation and an ileal stricture that may require more aggressive treatment. I think that the benefits of the diet wildly outweigh the risks: It’s healthy, the food is great, and it makes most people feel much better. However, it may not put every patient in complete remission.
I’m currently researching new treatments to add to my regimen. Specifically, I am seriously considering the Anti-Map protocol, which you can read about here.