If you’re thinking of starting the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet), this next excerpt, from The SCD for Autism and ADHD, may be helpful, especially if one parent would like to use the diet for a child, but the other parent is not so sure.
How Building Your Support Network Can Help
A support network is critical for families successfully implementing dietary changes for their children. This network may be a large, extended family or simply a close friend or relative.
Here are some ways in which your support network may help:
- Picking up your groceries or babysitting while you go to buy food.
- Assisting in the kitchen: for example, spending several hours on a Saturday preparing meals that may be frozen for future use.
- Offering to watch your child for an afternoon in order for you to gain some cooking time, or simply rest.
- Listening to concerns you may have about making dietary changes.
- Reading through this book with you and researching relevant information.
Before starting the diet, please start talking to friends and family about the support you will need.
Getting Your Partner/Spouse on Board When Starting the SCD
Your partner may prove to be the most important member of your support network; in fact, success rates are much higher when both parents support dietary changes. (Please note that this sub-section although written out as a mom/dad relationship, will also apply to whatever relevant family structure your child lives within.) Unfortunately, the following scenario is played out in many homes:
- Mom and dad (or relevant parental partners) have little time to sleep. They live with the thought that their child who suffers from autism (or IBD) will need care for the rest of his or her life. The prevailing attitude is “This is it. Doctors cannot help much more.”
- Mom begins to read about and research other treatments, including diet. Mom makes an initial appointment to discuss the SCD with a dietician or registered nurse who specializes in SCD (Pamela Ferro, R.N., runs a private clinical practice in Massachusetts where they have over a decade of experience in using the SCD, including a dairy-free version of the SCD for children with autism spectrum disorder) This appointment lasts 1 to 2 hours. Before the appointment, she may talk to other mothers. Mom leaves with a basic understanding of the science behind the diet. She is exposed to the logistics of dietary changes, from preparing the kitchen to getting a friend to help. She’s excited. She’s going to do this for her child!
- She arrives home filled with enthusiasm but dad is skeptical. He asks some questions, and maybe mom doesn’t remember the answers to everything. Dad probes more, trying to point out faults. (If this diet is so good, why didn’t the pediatrician recommend it?) Mom starts getting frustrated. Dad is not on board. Alone, Mom tries to implement the diet at home. Dad tolerates it but is not helpful in regard to compliance. He thinks: “What does it matter if their son has a few Cheerios?”
- Result: Frustration, and if the dad is not vigilant about the diet, lack of success.
When both parents attend an initial appointment, there is a greater probability of success. Each has a chance to ask questions and address their own concerns. Healthy skepticism on the part of one partner or the other may be discussed. In those situations, everyone learns and both caregivers commit to trying the diet strictly for several weeks.
Sometimes one partner’s initial skepticism is quite apparent. Here is a scenario reflecting events that have happened more than once in Pam’s clinical practice:
- Dad is skeptical. He holds an advanced science degree and sits with his arms folded across his chest. As the gastrointestinal effects are explained more, he starts listening up. By the end of the session, he’s talking about his own (not insignificant) gastrointestinal issues. The parents leave with reading material and a plan to start the diet in several weeks.
- Success rates are much higher when both parents understand the rationale for trying the diet and support the effort.
- Result: Parents commit together to using the diet for their son or daughter for at least 6 weeks.
Sharing the Work
Both parents don’t have to do everything. Partners in a relationship know where the boundaries lie. In some cases, partners split responsibilities evenly. Other times it makes sense to divide up tasks based on each person’s strengths and schedules. Common tasks include:
- Reading and learning about your child’s condition (autism, IBD etc.)
- Buying food
- Meal planning (e.g., making sure lunch is ready for school and that snacks are available)
For example, one parent may be reading and preparing much of the food while another makes sure that shopping is done on time every week and that the kitchen is cleaned up. Partners should discuss how to split up responsibilities based on their schedules and their own strengths.
If you would like additional support on the SCD diet, check out our fully prepared, packaged frozen SCD meals. Caleb’s Cooking Company makes grain and gluten free chicken nuggets and enchiladas that have no preservatives or added sugars. Buy online and we’ll ship directly to your home.