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What is the SCD Diet?

Most commonly referred to as the SCD diet, the acronym stands for Specific Carbohydrate Diet. This article provides an explanation of what the SCD Diet or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is, along with it’s potential benefits.

We believe that there is no diet that is right for everyone, and each individual’s body reacts differently to food, and nutrition sources. Many people thrive off just eating a “clean” diet, while others need more specific diets.

What is the SCD Diet?

In it’s essence, the SCD Diet is an elimination diet. There is an “Intro” stage, and then 5 more stages to follow in which you should monitor your body’s reactions to each new food reintroduction. Here is an easy breakdown of these stages.

The diet takes the stance that complex-carbs (disaccharides and polysaccharides), being difficult to breakdown, promote overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in the small intestine. The science behind it’s effectiveness is that by eliminating many of these complex carbs (consuming foods containing only monosaccharides, or no carbs at all) the gut can heal, optimize digestive function, and work towards reaching a healthy microbiome.

Research has shown that this has been incredibly successful for many! Numerous gastroenterologists are now prescribing this diet as treatment and maintenance for those with IBD or GI related issues, with Seattle Children’s being one, among many others.

Who is the SCD Diet for?

The SCD diet actually dates back all the way to the 1920’s when it was first developed by Dr. Sidney Haas as treatment for Celiac’s Disease. However, the diet gained it’s popularity when biologist, Elaine Gottschall used the diet as treatment for her daughter who had IBD. She later wrote the book: “Breaking the Vicious Cycle“. This book goes in-depth regarding the science and specifics of the diet. Today’s article will cover the basics.

fall salad
This Fall Salad recipe is SCD Diet compliant

What can I Eat on the SCD Diet?

The SCD diet functions based off of a “legal” and “illegal” list. This will provide you with the information needed to ensure specific foods are acceptable to consume. With that information in hand, a basic overview of the diet is as follows:


Most Fruit

Most Vegetables (excluding high starch vegetables like potatoes, plantains, etc.)


Herbs and Spices with no additives

Nuts with no additives

Meat with no additives

Lactose Free Dairy (some very sharp cheeses, SCD homemade yogurt, etc.)

Some Legumes (with gas-free soak, and proper preparation)



Grains (including pseudograins)

Processed Foods

Artificial Sweeteners (and most sweeteners with the exception of honey)

Most Legumes

Most Dairy

SCD Diet Recipes

Before getting into specific recipes, it would be a disservice to not tell you about my two favorite SCD diet bloggers: Comfy Belly and Healing Family Eats .

Both have blogs with a huge variety of the most amazing SCD recipes you’ll ever taste. These two women are your go-to’s!

6 Best SCD Diet Recipes

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe: Butternut squash, the squash used in this recipe is a winter squash as well. It offers a sweet, nutty flavor, and is often compared to sweet potatoes, or pumpkin. Butternut squash works great in a variety of recipes, but purees great in soups, sauces, and dressings!

butternut squash soup

“Oatmeal” Raisin Cookies: These things are addictive, and only take a few minutes to whip up! I love replacing the almond butter for sunbutter for a more mild flavor. The sunbutter is also much easier on my stomach. Try crumbling these in Fronen’s Vanilla Ice Cream (also SCD) for the most satisfying, simple dessert.

Stuffed Acorn Squash: This Stuffed Acorn Squash is not only easy to make, but it’s an incredibly nutrient-dense meal in-and-of-itself! With the perfect mixture of sweet and savory, you’ve got to try this festive dish this fall!

Banana Cinnamon “Oatmeal”: If oatmeal is a go-to breakfast for you, this is the perfect replacement!

Apple Pie Parfaits: With 3 mouth-watering layers of caramel, spiced crumble, and pan-fried apples topped with ice cream, nothing satisfies a sweet tooth quite like these! Oh, and did I mention they’re made with all clean ingredients? They’re paleo, SCD, vegan modifiable, vegetarian, and AIP. Seriously…what do you have to lose?

English Scones (Biscuits): Bread is definitely the most difficult thing to let go of when switching to an SCD lifestyle, but these biscuits make the transition much easier. They’re crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and pair amazingly with homemade jam!

The Power of Food and Proper Nutrition

Although this strict of a diet isn’t for everyone, it can be extremely life-altering for those in need of GI healing. We truly believe in the power of food and proper nutrition, and the definition of this is one that just simply can never be the same for everyone.

If you think the SCD might be a good fit for you, we recommend working with a functional specialist or nutritionist that can help guide you down this path.

Please come to us with any questions or comments. We’d love to know, do you or anyone you know follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?

Madison Suttles

Madison is passionate about health, fitness, and Jesus. She has lived with autoimmune symptoms nearly her entire life, but was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 2016. She shares her experience with Crohn's and living on a modified Specific Carbohydrate Diet as a resource to others on their health journeys.

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Kate Jay

Saturday 25th of April 2020

Thank you so much for the shout out. I'm so pleased you like my recipes :)

Aimee Harris Niedosik

Thursday 30th of April 2020

We LOVE your recipes and hope to send some traffic your way!! xoxo, Aiimee

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