Do I need to do the “Beginner’s Diet” and follow the stages outlined in Breaking the Vicious Cycle?
This will depend on the severity of your disease and you should include your doctor and/or nutritionist in this decision. Some patients do great without the Beginner’s Diet and diving into the “full” SCD, while others do not.
What does a typical week of food look like?
This will vary from person to person depending on their level of physical activity and food preferences, but you can view this SCD Sample Meal Plan for inspiration. Refer to the Food List for allowed ingredients.
Is there certain equipment I need to prepare food for this diet?
Technically, no. But there are plenty of gadgets that can make food preparation easier and open doors to new recipes. For example, with a dehydrator you can make beef jerky and even chips out of fruits and vegetables (you can also make these in the oven too). A powerful blender like a Vitamin can really power through food to make smoothies, nut butters, soups and more. A veggie spiralizer can turn zucchini, yellow squash, and other veggies into noodles of all shapes and sizes. Storage containers will allow you to meal prep easier and store plenty of food for the week. Check out the Books and Gadgets page under the Explore section to see recommended products.
Does everything have to be home-made?
Ideally, yes. It is highly recommended to pre-make meals and snacks at the beginning of the week to stock the fridge and cabinets so food is ready to go when hunger strikes. When you do meal-prep, double or triple the batch if possible and freeze the extras to save time for another week. However, it’s obvious that weekly meal prep isn’t always feasible for some families’ lifestyles and that’s okay! Simply SCD provides Recipes that are quick and easy to help accommodate those with busy schedules. In addition, many products are now coming to the market with SCD-safe ingredients. However, like with eating out, there are no guarantees with products being entirely SCD-safe because the companies technically don’t have to list everything on the ingredient label. If you want to be confident in eating the product, you can contact the company and even request the complete ingredients in writing. Products that are likely safe based on the ingredient label can be found on the Food Products page.
How do you eat out on the SCD?
Although doable, eating out on the SCD is just like eating out with food allergies. There are no guarantees for safety and you’ll need to modify dishes. You need to know what you can and can’t have and you need to be comfortable communicating to the waiter/cook your “allergies”. It is not recommended to modify a meal on the menu because there may be ingredients not listed in the item description that are not SCD safe, and ingredients that the waiter or chef may not know of that are in products they use. For example, A LOT of mixed spices have binders and starches in them. The best and safest strategy to use is to ask your waiter what fresh or frozen vegetables they have (NOT CANNED VEGETABLES) as well as what meats they have that are not seasoned yet. Then request those items, veggies steamed and meat cooked with olive oil or other safe oil and salt and pepper. Also, see if they have a cooking surface for allergies as a lot of cooktops use unsafe oils, and meals prepared on these cooktops have still caused discomfort for SCDers. Typically, just communicating you have “severe food allergies” to dairy, grain and refined sugar will get the waiter and/or chef’s attention to cater to you. Keep an eye out on the Restaurants page to see places that offer SCD “safe” meals & treats.
How do you travel on the SCD?
The options will depend on where you are traveling to, but the key strategy is to meal prep and/or prepare food at your destination. If you are going camping or visiting a friend’s home, nearly any recipe can be mixed or prepped ahead of time and stored in a freezer bag, kept cool, and cooked at the destination. Baking muffins or cookies, bagging up dried fruits and nuts, and grabbing some SCD-safe snack bars work great as snacks for traveling. If you are traveling where restaurant accommodations are available, you can follow the tips recommended in the question above. Traveling on SCD can be just like preparing for most other days (meal prepping, packing snacks, packing a lunch, etc.).
What about parties/events on the SCD?
Depending on the type of event, see if food accommodations can be made ahead of time at the restaurant or by preparing and bringing your own food. Also, so you don’t feel left out, you can bring a SCD-safe dish or dessert to share. If you’re not thrilled about sharing your dish and don’t want to explain why you’re bringing one, you can always say you have allergies. Allergies are so common these days that people are typically very understanding and sometimes those that are willing to try your dish, actually enjoy it! If you’re not quite comfortable eating “different” food than your peers, then maybe just enjoy your meal/dessert before or after the event. There are plenty of picky people out there that don’t eat certain food or dessert, even if they can. Overall, being open with your classmates, teachers, and co-workers about your diet and “allergies” can help make them more sensitive to ask about needed accommodations at group events. More often than not, there are other guests that need accommodations and perhaps some that could benefit from learning from you.
What about holidays on the SCD?
There are plenty of tasty recipes that take a SCD-spin on holiday favorites. Check out the Recipes page for ideas. Regarding holidays such as Easter and Halloween where there are traditions around candy, you can again make alternative recipes or come up with new traditions. One idea is to offer kiddos money for each piece of candy collected on Halloween or each egg collected at Easter. Above all, the meaning of each holiday should stay at the center of the celebration rather than the junk food!
What about items not listed in Breaking the Vicious Cycle?
Breaking the Vicious Cycle does not include every food item out there in the world. For now, skip these items until you are established on the diet, have read Breaking the Vicious Cycle, and are comfortable with applying the principles of the diet to determine if the food item in question is of a particular structure allowed on the SCD. However, there can still be a bit of a gray area with this distinction so it is best to steer clear from it until you work with your physician and/or nutritionist to decide if the food item is safe for you and if it should be introduced into your diet. If it is, symptoms can be helpful for determining if it’s tolerable for you. However, if you aren’t having symptoms, that doesn’t necessarily mean that damage couldn’t be happening inside at a low enough level for you to not recognize or feel it.
I feel like I can’t eat anything. What am I supposed to eat?
I’ve been there. You may not be looking in the right area. Typically, if you walk the perimeter of a grocery store, you will find plenty of fresh produce and meats that are SCD-safe. It’s when you go up and down the isles reading ingredients of packaged and processed products that make you feel like you can’t eat anything. Also, focus on the idea that SCD isn’t cutting food items out, it’s simply replacing them. For example, you may not be able to have your typical white or whole wheat pasta, but you can have lentil or zucchini pasta. You can still have ice cream, but instead of cow’s milk, it’s made with almond or coconut milk and maybe even bananas. You can’t use common baking flours, but you can make cakes and cookies out of nut and coconut flours. There will definitely be an adjustment in your taste buds in the beginning, but soon you’ll see there are many options on the SCD and you can have some of your favorite dishes, just with cleaner ingredients. Follow the Simply SCD Blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for inspiration.
How do I avoid temptations of non-SCD safe food?
Ask your support system for help and accountability. Always have a snack on hand. It can also be helpful to have your own designated shelf in the refrigerator or own cabinet if you live with non-SCDers. Ultimately, remember that you’re not being deprived of anything you need. Corporations and our society have done an excellent job revolving our lives around food and make taste a priority rather than quality. The motivation of companies putting out those sugary cereals and prepackaged dinners is to make money, not create a product that is nutritious and healthy for you. Also, do some research on what organizations actually made the original “food pyramids”…this can give some insight that might help your perspective. Our society has made food seem like that’s what life’s about. Our ancestors didn’t have or NEED rainbow cereal, decadent scones, pre-packaged meals, etc. They ate simply from the earth. Food should still be enjoyable and fun, and it can be while you’re on SCD. Just really focus on embracing foods that your body is meant to have. There are plenty of great tasting recipes out there that you and the whole family can enjoy! One member in the past has shared the quote, “Don’t live to eat, eat to live.” If you’re struggling with this diet, really think about what that quote is saying. You CAN and SHOULD enjoy food while being on SCD, but ultimately food is meant to properly nourish our bodies, end of story. & definitely treat yourself to your favorite SCD recipe when you say no to temptations (it does get easier over time!).
Do I need to take probiotics or supplements?
Probiotics can definitely be beneficial whether you are on SCD or not. Work with your GI doctor and/or nutritionist to find the right probiotic for you. Supplements are really only needed if you are deficient in something. In general, if you eat well balanced meals on the SCD, you shouldn’t become deficient in any nutrient unless there are other lifestyle factors or genetics that cause a deficiency. If this is the case, again, work with your doctor and/or nutritionist to determine the appropriate supplements for you.
How do you prevent becoming underweight on the SCD?
Transitioning to the SCD from the typical American diet can initially lead to a daily caloric intake reduction. It may be helpful to log the food and amounts you eat for a few days to calculate the average number of calories you are taking in and compare it to the recommended daily caloric intake amount for your age and level of physical activity. This can help guide you if you need to eat more, less, or are around the right number of calories. If you need to eat more calories, eat larger portion sizes or utilize high calorie foods such as nuts, oil, coconut products, avocados, beans, and meats. For those that need to get more protein, you can use pure egg white protein powder or pea protein powder in smoothies, pancakes, muffins, and more.
Is there any research on the SCD?
Check out the Research page to learn more about publications and upcoming clinical trials about the SCD.
Are there any other tips available?
- Mix up how you eat your veggies. Roast them, grill them, steam them, bake them, or eat them raw! Drizzle them with different oils and use different combinations of seasonings.
- For smoothies, mix up the liquid (fruit juices, coconut water, almond milk etc.) and the fruits. Pre-cutting banana slices and throwing them in a freezer makes it easy to add to smoothies to create a creamier texture.
- Don’t be afraid to use different mustards, vinegars, fresh herbs, spices and seasonings in your recipes. Even adding a touch of hot pepper or pinch of lime or lemon, oils and extracts to your staple recipes can create some variety.
- Most grocery stores allow you to try it before you buy it! Don’t be afraid to ask!
- Roasted nuts are never typically SCD-legal so create your own flavors by roasting nuts in the oven with different oils and seasonings.
- For baked goods that turn into a mushy mess, throwing them in the dehydrator or in the oven at a low temperature overnight can turn these messes into crispier treats.
- Instead of tortilla chips, use carrots (baby carrots, carrot chips, etc.), dehydrated sliced veggies, or even sliced bell peppers.