Today marks 90 days on SCD – the goal I set out to achieve based on the challenge in Surviving to Thriving. Jordan Reasoner and Steve Wright – the authors of the book and founders of SCDLifestyle.com – used the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) to help heal their guts after being ravaged by IBD, and continue to survive – and thrive – on the diet today.
I came across this diet last year, after researching alternative ways to fight my ulcerative colitis. I was newly diagnosed and my symptoms were under control thanks to steroids and chronic medication, but I knew I wanted to take a more active role in healing myself, and I knew that diet was integral to that. Most importantly, I knew I didn’t want to be on meds for the rest of my life.
Fast forward to January 2014, and after reading the book, I finally made the commitment to do its 90-day challenge. And here I am, 90 days later, having followed it to the T (albeit cheating once!).
Why I decided to document my 90 days
I started this blog for others who may have wanted to take up the challenge but who, like me, were unable to find any resources that explained, on a day-by-day basis, what it would be like to be on this diet. After all, the idea of the diet is terrifying! It’s extremely difficult, it takes a TON of patience, willpower, perseverance and commitment, and it’s definitely not easy – at least at first.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I went for it. And what I can tell you is that:
- It is difficult
- It is doable
- It is absolutely worth it
- YOU can do it
Apart from anything else, knowing that you are taking an active role in your own health, and discovering that you have the stamina to stick with something really hard, even in the face of daily – hourly – temptation – gives you a sense of accomplishment that is hard to beat.
Many of us fighting IBD got here due to poor diet – at least in part. I don’t know about you guys, but prior to SCD, I never met a sweet treat I said ‘no’ to. In fact, I discovered on this diet that saying ‘no’ is the best yes you can give your body (read about that here).
I realised that I needed to take responsibility for my health, so that if I ever end up facing surgery one day, at least I’ll know I did everything in my power to prevent it. How could I allow myself to continue on my unhealthy path knowing that I might be throwing myself under the bus? Moreover, I really hope to get off the meds one day – who wants to spend their life on Asacol and steroids?
After researching SCD for several months, I decided it would be worth a try – thousands of people swear by it. I finally took the leap and I’m so glad I did.
Did SCD work for me?
SCD has definitely helped to reduce some of the discomfort I experience, but more to the point, it’s helped me to pinpoint what is causing it (veg, mainly. Sob).
It’s also helped me to look more closely at some of my ‘less ideal’ eating habits, like binge eating, over-eating at meals, eating too fast and not paying careful attention to everything that I put into my body.
It’s allowed me to overcome my fear of flares. As you’ll know if you have IBD, the thought of flares is terrifying: you never really know when they’ll hit, but you may know that certain foods can trigger them. On SCD, I’m not eating ANY foods that are known to cause my flares (this is different for everyone). It’s great to not live in fear of the next flare striking.
It’s also taught me (out of necessity rather than choice!) how to make the most amazing foods at home – like nut milks, 100% natural meals and YOGURT! I make my own yogurt, guys (recipe here). I mean, that’s insane! It’s taught me how to pay even closer attention than I did before to food labels; it’s taught me how much crap can be found in foods that we’re tricked into believing are good for us. And it’s opened up a whole new world of fresh, natural, organic foods (including desserts!) that actually help to heal my body as I’m eating them.
Has SCD ‘healed’ me? Well I can’t say at this stage. I’m still taking my meds, as it would be silly for me to come off them without the green light from my doctor. However, at my last check up in February, there was ZERO sign of inflammation – something that I’ve had since 2012!
Also, I was really hoping that SCD would help me overcome bloating, but that’s still a work in progress – as is the quality and consistency of my BMs. But again, this is okay – there’s no blanket cure that works for everyone, which is why any diet such as this must be tweaked over time to meet your body’s needs.
I’m going to do another 10 days on SCD, and then I’m rewarding myself with a well-deserved holiday to Malaysia and Bali (actually, the timing is purely coincidental, but I like the way it worked out).
I plan to transition to a paleo diet, as I feel that my body copes better with meat and protein than with veg and carbs, and also, I like the idea of paleo – I’m hoping it’ll work for me. It’s also grain, dairy and refined sugar free – items I intend to avoid indefinitely (plus I’m lactose intolerant) – and I love that it’s so clean. When I get back from Bali, I’m hoping to turn out whole apartment into a paleo zone! It’s going to be so much easier if we’re both following the diet.
Did I cheat today, on day 90? Nope! Although I did do something naughty that I warned you guys about waaaaaaaay back in the early days: I ate at a restaurant (probably only the third or fourth time I’ve done this on SCD), and I didn’t ask them to cook my food without seasoning (here’s what not to do at a restaurant if you’re on SCD).
I ordered steak and veg, and luckily all the vegetables had already been added (successfully) to my diet: zucchini, green beans, broccoli and spinach. The steak, too, was fantastic, though it all came with seasoning and I suspect the veg had butter on it – eek! Bear in mind that dairy is totally fine on SCD after about 30 days, IF you can tolerate it. Butter is SCD legal, as are certain cheeses.
And of course, you’ll see the stem of my wine glass – we had the most delicious merlot to accompany our meal, and I toasted to the final 10 days on the diet. So cheers to that!