So you’re ready to start the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)! You’ve prepared yourself, you’ve picked your date and now you’re ready to go with the intro diet.
The intro diet is one of my most frequently asked questions from those starting the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Most people want to know how long to follow it and if it needs to be followed exactly.
When you’re getting started I can’t stress more that you still need to be following the instructions of your doctor if you’re still working with them. At the time I started I wasn’t on any medications, I was trying to prevent recurrence of Crohn’s symptoms. However, I have known of people who decided on their own to stop medication. This can be dangerous.Even if you sometimes feel at odds with your doctor, you do need continue to work with them. Changing your diet is a way to help yourself, but it’s not a substitute for medical treatment while you’re still having active symptoms.
I’ll address some common questions below:
I’ve started the Intro Diet. When will I feel better?
According to Breaking the Vicious Cycle* most people will follow the diet for about five days (pg 51). This will vary depending on your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe you’ll want to do the intro for the five days to give your body time to adjust and heal. If you’re not feeling better at all after five days it’s time to assess your symptoms. A few years ago one of my readers wrote to me asking the very question above. They had been on the intro diet for about two weeks and were still feeling pretty sick. They had bloating, and heartburn. They also felt like they had to go to the bathroom all of the time, but they weren’t actually able to relieve themselves.
This alarmed me. I told them it would be a good idea to visit their doctor because it sounded like they might have an intestinal blockage. These were the exact symptoms I had before I was admitted to the hospital with a full blockage. My blockage was caused by scar tissue, which wouldn’t be helped by changing diet. A couple of weeks later they wrote b back to let me know they did indeed have a partial blockage and had been admitted to the hospital. Luckily the hospital was able to treat the blockage without surgery and they were now on the road to recovery and ready to start the diet again.
I don’t say any of this to scare anyone, but just to remind that assessing and accepting your symptoms is important. If you’re feeling so bad that you can’t eat, work, or get out of bed it’s always a good idea to get checked out.
Do I really need the yogurt and do I really have to make my own?
Yes! Yogurt is a very important part of SCD. There is a whole section on yogurt in Breaking the Vicious Cycle. In my edition it comes after the recipe section, starting on page 131. This section outlines the importance of yogurt and provides instructions for making your own.
In a nutshell, yogurt provides good bacteria that helps heal your gut. We make our own so we can allow it to cook for at least 24 hours in the yogurt maker, which allows the lactose to be cooked out of it. You won’t be able to substitute Greek yogurt or any commercially made lactose-free yogurt and get the same result.
What do I eat on the intro diet?
The short answer is not much. This is something to prepare yourself for. When you start the diet it will be restrictive and the intro is the most restrictive of all. If you’re not feeling well you might not mind too much, but if you’re not feeling too bad, or when you start feeling better, you’ll have to be prepared. As time goes on you’ll discover tons of SCD-friendly foods you can try.
In the intro you’ll need to keep it really plain:
Yogurt, chicken broth, plain broiled meat, cooked carrots, and gelatin made with fruit juice.
I know, it’s not much! But you’re trying to get yourself to feeling better and to a whole new way of eating!
You’ll also see dry curd cottage cheese (DCCC) in the intro diet, which leads me to the next question.
I can’t find dry curd cottage cheese, do I need it?
Unlike the SCD yogurt, DCCC is not quite as essential. In fact I hardly ever buy it. Granted, you might want it because it’s something else you can have, but you can have success on the diet without it. It is hard to find and kind of expensive so don’t worry if you don’t end of including it.
I much prefer to strain my yogurt so it’s extra thick. Personally, I don’t really care for the “cheesecake” recipe that is in the book and a part of the intro diet, however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. Everyone has different tastes!
When you’re ready, start the intro and study the Specific Carbohydrate Diet chapter in Breaking the Vicious Cycle that goes over permitted (and not permitted) foods. I’ll be talking about this in my next post!
Have any more questions about the intro diet? Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message!
*All references to Breaking the Vicious Cycle refer to the 7th edition published in 1999.