It’s been a while since I wrote a blog, but now that school is out, I think it’s time that I got back to it. Here are 5 Tips on starting the SCD. It’s been a bit of a crazy year, a lot of ups and downs, but right now I am feeling really good. I am still working the SCD diet, but I also starting taking CBD (hemp oil), as well as LDN (low dose Naltrexone) and I think the combination of all three has really made a difference. I feel strong and healthy. My last MRE showed that I still have inflammation in my terminal ileum which is why we decided to start these new regiments, but otherwise, I feel awesome.
Before I go on, I think it might be helpful to quickly tell you what the SCD is, for those of you who might not know it. SCD stands for Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It’s a way of eating that basically takes out all foods that are hard to digest, but more importantly cause inflammation in my body. These are almost everything: grains, gluten, sugar, most dairy (although I am dairy-free), preservatives (all processed food) and complex carbohydrates (hence the name). This means no corn, potatoes or rice. It sounds crazy, I know, but honestly you get used to it. I eat a lot of veggies, fruit, nuts, honey and protein. We make cookies, cakes etc from nut and coconut flours which taste almost as good as the regular stuff you would buy at the store. Anyway, now that you have some background, back to the blog.
Consistently one of the questions I get asked is “what’s it like being on the SCD, and what are some tips for those just starting out?” Here are 5 tips for those of you who might just be getting started or even for those of you who might be on the diet for a while and might be struggling:
#1 Starting the SCD- Be Patient
People often ask me how long it took before I started to feel a difference, before I started to feel better and my blood work came back better. This question is difficult to sum up, but can be answered with one word. TIME. Remember, it took time for your gut to get messed up and it’s going to take time for it to heal.
That is the best advice I can give to someone just starting out on the diet or with Crohn’s. This diet (and probably any diet) takes time, on so many levels.This involves waiting for the diet to perform its magic. It takes time physically for the diet to actually work and for your gut to heal, but it also takes time emotionally and psychologically. It takes some patience to wrap your head around what you can and can’t eat. It took around a year for blood results to come back positive after being on the diet. I did see some pretty fast results re: symptoms going away. This meant stomach aches dissipating, bloat going away etc. I had more energy and just felt pretty good fast. But as far as the gut is concerned, that just takes time.
It all comes down to patience. You should not expect the diet to be changing your life after 2 or 3 months.
#2 Read Ingredient Labels
One of the things you need to get used to is reading food labels. It’s a serious pain, but its really important because food manufacturers are constantly trying to sneak stuff in. Who would have thought that tuna fish would have soy in it? Checking the ingredients of all the food you eat is frustrating when first starting out, but read labels of everything you eat. One thing my mom is constantly telling me, if they don’t say exactly what it is and use words like “natural colors or flavors” on their label, you probably can’t eat it. Those are just buckets for ” we can put anything in there that we want to”. My mom knows a thing or two about food manufacturing these days. After all, she makes some pretty mean SCD chicken nuggets.
#3 Starting the SCD – Get Ready for Ups and Downs
If you are just starting out on the diet, you have to keep in mind that there are going to be ups and downs on your journey. There are going to be times when you feel really good and then other times, when you feel like crap (with a flare). But the key is keeping your head straight and remembering to stay strong and have a positive mindset. You have to remember this is a long play, not a short one. Know that you are doing the best thing for your body in the long run. This especially helps when all of your friends are going out for ice cream or pizza and you can’t have any.
Well to be honest, when starting out the diet, everything is frustrating. It sucks to have to ask restaurants what is in every piece of food. But when time passes, it gets better.
I remember when I first went on the diet, I would yell and scream because I could not eat my favorite food, but once you get that out of your system, things take a turn for the better, trust me. Now, I can barely tell that I live with Crohn’s. I just eat the food that I like, and the food that is not on the diet just doesn’t enter my mind.
#4 Don’t Eat too Much of Any Food (even legal foods)
Don’t eat too much of any one food – even legal foods can upset your stomach. This is something that I learned pretty early on – unfortunately the hard way. Sometimes I want to eat all of the batch of SCD cookies, or chicken nuggets, but be sure not to eat too much of anything. Those of us with sensitive stomachs need to be wary, so remember…everything in moderation.
#5 Introduce New Foods Slowly
Also, be sure not to introduce foods too quickly. I tried to introduce small amounts of dairy back into my diet a couple months ago, and it did not end well. You have to make sure that your body is ready to have these new foods in your system. My mom always said something when I was young that I never believed. “You will not crave food anymore if you do not eat it.” And living on the diet, that saying has come to life.
On Thursdays my school has donut day. Now, when I look at those greasy donuts, I don’t even want them. I don’t want them mainly because I know that if I eat them, I will get sick. I would rather stay on the diet for my entire life than have to suffer what I did before embarking on the journey of the SCD.
So, if you are starting the SCD, the one thing that you should take away is this:
Don’t be on the diet because you have to; do it because you know that it is the best thing for your body.
Caleb is 15 and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when he was 9 years old. He has been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for almost 3 years. This diet eliminates all grains, gluten, dairy, sugar and preservatives from his food. He shares his experience of what it’s like being a teenager managing a chronic illness and on a special diet. If you would like to read more of Caleb’s blogs, here are a couple others to check out:
- Life Before Being Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease
- Why Doctors Make my Crohn’s Symptoms Worse
- Crohn’s Sucks – Why I Don’t Want to Blog About it!