Congratulations! The most important part of starting to get well is making the decision to start the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. But now that you've decided, where do you start? It all seems so overwhelming at first! We’d like to give you some help.
1. If you’ve only read or heard about the diet on this website or from some other source, you should get the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle,” by Elaine Gottschall, and read it. She is the person who did the research and presents the diet to us, so it’s very helpful to read her rationale and explanation so you will understand what you’re trying to do. You can order the book from our Amazon store below or you might find it in your local library. While you’re waiting for the book, you can still get started on the diet.
2. You will need to go on the Introductory Diet for 2 days to a maximum of one week when you start the SCD. See this page on the official SCD website to see further information for Beginners.
Note: Dry Curd Cottage Cheese (DCCC) is mentioned often as a versatile and legal ingredient. We want you to know it is definitely possible to do the SCD without DCCC, but if you can find a legal kind it does open your horizons a bit. The important thing is to find legal DCCC, as there are many types that are not legal. For a list of legal DCCC around the country, visit this link. Also see the following links for a little more information on DCCC: Dry Curd Cottage Cheese; Farmers Cheese.
If you can’t find legal DCCC in your area, you can drip your yogurt to make it into a thicker consistency and use it as a substitute for DCCC in recipes, although it will be more sour. Find directions on how to make your dripped, Greek style yogurt at this link. Adding a little salt to the finished yogurt helps cut the sourness.
If you want quicker results thickening your yogurt, put a little more than the desired amount of yogurt between stacks of paper towels and let it sit for 5 minutes. Flip and let it sit for 5 more minutes. Use a rubber spatula to remove the thickened yogurt from the paper towels and use it in your recipe.
3. Purchase a Yogourmet Yogurt maker. We strongly recommend this brand because it has the capacity to make SCD yogurt the way it has to be made. The yogurt has to be incubated at around 110 degrees for 24 hours, and some other yogurt makers don’t maintain a steady temperature like the Yogourmet does. Take a look at my demonstration video at the bottom of this page where I show how to make SCD yogurt with the Yogourmet Yogurt Maker.
**TIP: I have two Yogourmet yogurt makers and 3 accompanying containers so I can make 1 gallon of yogurt at a time, with enough containers to make another batch when I’m half done with the last batch. This way I never have to be without yogurt!
Order some Yogourmet starter packets at the same time (you can order them below from our Amazon store or you might find them at a local healthfood store.) You can also use ½ cup Dannon All Natural Plain yogurt or Fage plain yogurt as a starter (just milk and culture, no pectin or other added ingredients), but it’s nice to have a box or two of the Yogourmet starter packets in your refrigerator in case you run out of the Dannon or Fage yogurt sometime and need to make a batch of yogurt quickly. (Note: Make sure you buy the Dannon All Natural Plain regular yogurt, NOT the low fat version which contains pectin, which is not SCD-legal.)
4. Some other helpful appliances to have in your kitchen: crock pot, pancake griddle, food processor, and a blender.
5. Go or send someone to the grocery store to buy items from this shopping list.
6. Print off these recipes to get you started.
Introductory Diet Chicken Soup
Introductory Diet Jello
Introductory Diet Cheesecake
7. After you have been on the Introductory Diet for 2-5 days to clear your system, Elaine Gottschall recommends adding cooked fruit, speckled banana, and additional cooked vegetables to your diet. Foods she recommends staying away from until diarrhea has substantially subsided are vegetables in the cabbage family (such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), and dried legumes can only be cautiously added after being on the diet for about three months. See more information in "Breaking the Vicious Cycle."
When you're finished with the Introductory Diet, these are just a few recipes you could try that are easy on the stomach for some people:
8. Once you are feeling significantly better, you can begin to try any of the other legal foods that look good. You probably need to take in plenty of calories, so go ahead and try things, keeping in mind that some foods may irritate your system at first, so you may need to stop a given food and try it again later. In addition to the many downloadable recipes we've put on the website for you, we also have a wonderful selection of legal recipes in each of our magazines, booklets and our cookbook, "Favorite Chicken Recipes".
9. Some additional tips for starting the diet:
10. It’s very helpful to keep a food journal, where you write down what you eat for each meal/snack along with any symptoms you had that day. If you develop symptoms, you can trace them back pretty easily to the item that is bothering you. Eliminate that item and cautiously add it back later (if it's legal), after you’ve had time to heal. Download a food journal page here, and print off as many as you need!
11. What if you have a flare-up?
When I had a flare-up when first starting the diet, I would eat foods that were very easy to digest, such as the chicken soup on the Intro Diet, or Breakfast Smoothies with a minimum of fruit in them, or SCD yogurt with some honey mixed in. I have heard that flaxseed oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, so you could also add a teaspoon or so of the oil to your smoothies and see if that helps you out as well. You could also try very ripe bananas. Once you start feeling better, go back on the regular diet slowly and make sure you’re getting enough calories and nutrition by eating a variety of foods.
12. If you have questions, you can go onto one of the online SCD support groups. To learn more, visit the Support Page of the official SCD website. We also cover many topics of interest in our 2009 e-magazines, I Want To THRIVE. The January/February edition has articles on "Dating and the SCD" and "Finding a Doctor," in addition to ideas on budget tips and time savers. Our March/April edition will help you do recipe makeovers, understand what "Natural Flavors" are, manage your thoughts, and find ways to pamper yourself. The May/June edition is loaded with very helpful information about travel; from camping to flying to road tripping. Our July/August magazine helps you orient your thinking to becoming a happy home cook with articles about shopping, menu planning, grilling and more. September/October's magazine has articles relating to family matters and the SCD, such as "Helping Your Child Own the SCD," "Off to College" and "Pregnancy & Nursing on the SCD." It also includes an inspiring article by a mom whose son went on a 10-day backpacking trip, with her help. Our November/December edition is loaded with festive recipes that will please everyone any time and especially during the holidays! All issues contain great recipes with a photo of each one, to inspire you.
13. Another very helpful resource is the Legal/Illegal foods list on the official SCD website.
14. And you can always put your question out to me and others who are on the diet on our NoMoreCrohns.com Facebook page.
Menus to get you started
When I was newly on the Diet and moved to Washington D.C. to complete a White House Internship, my mom knew how challenging it would be to prepare my meals as well as maintain a hectic work and commute schedule. She was right! I was so glad that she had the foresight to help me prepare menus ahead of time. She put together three weekly menus that I lived on throughout the semester. Each recipe is very delicious, and can be proudly served to non-SCDers as well. (Items in parentheses are ONLY for NON-SCDers!) She changed them a little, to serve more people, and we'd like to pass them on to you.
I hope these menus will help you start the diet. It is important to remember, however, that Elaine Gottschall recommends you start the Beginner's Diet first, as explained above. When you finish the Beginner's Diet, I hope the three weeks of menus will help you as you get organized on the diet.
Note: When these menus were made we had legal Friendship Hoop Cheese readily available in our local Albertson's so some of the recipes call for it. Since then it's become hard to find a brand of dry curd cottage cheese that is legal and available so we no longer include it in our daily diet. You can still thrive on the diet without dry curd cottage cheese!
Follow this link to find the downloadable menus I used as a college student living on my own in Washington D.C.
Erin shows how she makes yogurt.
Two yogurt makers and jars for the Yogourmet are available below. Erin is now also using FAGE plain yogurt (just milk and culture) as another option for a starter, in addition to the specific type of Dannon mentioned in the video.