IBD & SCD Update

Elizabeth Roberts Health Guide
  • I have now been eating according to the Specific Carbohydate Diet (SCD) for more than 2 years now and thought it was time to give you all an update on my progress.


    When I started the SCD I had been diagnosed with UC 13 years previously and I was "treating" it by taking Asacol daily and Imodium as needed. I was not getting any better or healthier, I was simply treating and masking the symptoms of the colitis.


    When I was first diagnosed in 1998 I had embarked on what was called an Elimination diet (see my post here: http://www.healthcentral.com/ibd/c/2623/92582/elimination-diet/) and while I found it difficult I also noticed that I felt a bit better while eating that way. Turns out, it is the basic type of diet that makes up the bulk of the SCD.

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    In 2011 I met a naturopath who has been able to help colitis patients heal by eating according to the SCD. I agreed to try the diet again for a 2 year period. The first 3 months were the hardest for me. Partly because I was in school full-time in a different city from my home and therefore was also living apart from my husband. But these months were also difficult from a physical stand-point. Even though I had been gluten-free for the previous two years I found my version of the the SCD very restrictive and my body went through some sort of a detox. My version of the SCD is dairy-free - no cheese, no yogurt, no butter, nothin' - because in all of the lab tests my new naturopath did before I embarked on the SCD he found that I am highly dairy-intolerant because I lack the ability to break down certain fats and proteins in dairy. Being a Wisconsin girl who loves her cheese this was NOT easy and if truth be told it still isn't easy 2 years later even though I feel hugely better without it.


    So, back to the detox. Those first few months of eating SCD were tough. I lost a bunch of weight, as is pretty normal when you cut out all those grains and empty carbs. I was tired and lethargic as my body detoxed and went through a bit of die-off, which wasn't good because I was enrolled in full-time culinary school with an internship on the weekends. And learning to cook for my new way of eating was a huge challenge while having to cook a different way in school. I literally spent my days cooking in class and my nights cooking for myself in my tiny apartment. 


    By the sixth month on the SCD things were beginning to normalize. My weight was still low (and would remain so until about the 20th month) but had stabilized. My energy was getting a bit better, the withdrawal headaches I had experienced were gone, acne I'd been fighting since my teenage years was a thing of the past, tremors I'd had in my right leg and arm were gone, I hadn't taken an Imodium in 4 months, and my bowel movements were lessening and my stool quality was improving.


    By 16 months into the diet I decided to try lowering the dose of Asacol I was taking. I had taken 6 tablets/day for nearly 12 years and any time in the past that I'd tried to reduce that to 4/day I paid the price with a UC flare. So, I did not take this attempt lightly but I did go into it with a positive attitude. It worked. Over a 1 month period I was able to drop down to 5/day then to 4/day and that where I stayed for another 6 months. My gut seemed fine. Yes, I still had the occasional day with loose stool or a day when I had 4 or 5 BMs rather than what had come to be a normal 1 or 2, but overall I was doing great. A few months ago, when I reached the 2 year mark of being on the SCD I lowered my dose of Asacol once again, and now take 3/day. In Sept. I plan to go to 2, then 1, and hope by the end of 2013 to be completely off the Asacol I've taken for the past 15 years.


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    I've been grateful for the Asacol and that is was helpful for me. But I'm more grateful that I seem to be healing my gut instead of just treating its symptoms.


    But, my journey to treat my IBD has entailed more than changing my diet. I now exercise regularly, which includes walking, hiking, yoga, bicycling, and swimming. I also have learned to meditate and find this very helpful in dealing with daily stressors that I tend to feel most in my head and gut. I also choose not to allow life to overtake me. It no longer matter is my house is perfectly kept, if the towels are folded at proper right angles, or if all my clothes are ironed before wearing. I now choose to spend more of my time with friends and family on my terms in ways that nourish my heart, my gut, and my whole being.


    This is the journey that is working for me. It may or may not be a path that is right for you. But I do hope that you are able to find a path that helps you to be healthy and happy and content.


    NOTE: The SCD is laid out in great detail in the book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall. This book is the bible of the SCD. While there may be other people out there on the internet claiming to understand the SCD or able to give advice I recommend buying the book and using the http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/ in order to fully understand what is what is not allowed on this eating plan. 

Published On: July 31, 2013