What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)?

The specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) is a nutritionally complete grain-free diet, low in sugar and lactose. It was developed by Dr. Sidney Haas, a pediatrician, in the 1920s as treatment for celiac disease. The research is still in the early stages, but results show potential benefit to patients. It is based on the theory that by eliminating most carbs (primarily grains, starches, dairy, and sugars) and allowing only specific carbs that require minimal digestion, it can reduce inflammation and make eating enjoyable for people with gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. The specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) involves strict restriction of many common foods and it is recommended that the diet be followed strictly for one month and should only be continued if symptom improvement is noted after the first month.

Allowed foods:

  • Vegetables (except canned)
  • Legumes (except the ones in the disallowed list)
  • Unprocessed meats, poultry, fish, and eggs
  • Natural cheeses (except the ones in the disallowed list)
  • Homemade yogurt fermented at least 24 hours
  • Most fruits and juices without additives
  • Nuts, peanuts in the shell, natural peanut butter
  • Oils: olive, coconut, soybean, and corn
  • Weak tea and coffee
  • Unflavored gelatin and saccharin
  • Mustard and vinegar

Disallowed foods:

  • Sugars: lactose, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, molasses, maltose, isomaltose, fructooligosaccharides, and any processed sugar
  • All canned vegetables
  • All grains: anything made from corn, wheat, wheat germ, barley, oats, rye, rice, buckwheat, soy, spelt, and amaranth
  • Chickpeas, bean sprouts, soybeans, mung beans, fava beans, and garbanzo beans
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, yam, parsnips, seaweed products, agar, and carrageenan
  • Canned and processed meats
  • Dairy: milk, milk products, ice cream, whey powder, commercial yogurt, heavy cream, buttermilk, sour cream, and the following cheeses: ricotta, mozzarella, cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, processed cheeses, and cheese spreads
  • Canola oil, commercial mayonnaise, commercial ketchup, margarine, baking powder, and balsamic vinegar
  • Candy, chocolate, carob

Please consult your gastroenterologist and dietitian if interested in trialing the diet. This diet requires professional consultation and the support of a multidisciplinary team to achieve the best outcomes.

 

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