The SCD Trial Period: Making the Diet a Habit… How Long Before It’s Easy?

by Jordan Reasoner

What kind of a trial period does it take to be able to integrate the SCD diet into my lifestyle and have it be normal?

We all know that in Breaking the Vicious Cycle Elaine talks about many people giving the diet a 30-day trial period in order to gauge whether the diet will work. While this is a great idea in principle, there is some new information that might suggest that only committing to 30 days could set you up for failure.

Why Is This 30-Day Trial Suspect?

Most people have heard that it takes somewhere around 21 days to form a new habit. This “conventional wisdom” may or may not be where Elaine got the idea of a 30-day trial period, so I wanted to further explore where the 30 days came from.  As it turns out, in 1960 a study done by a plastic surgeon found that it took 21 days for an amputee, on average, to adjust to the loss of a limb. It was based on this original study that, since the 1960s, most people have concluded that it should take on average, 21 days to form a new habit.

Fast Forward to 2009 – if you follow this link here, you will find some fascinating new research on how long it takes to form a habit. As you can see, on average it takes a person 66 days to form a habit.

It is also a well-known fact among SCD’ers that somewhere around 60-90 days new people on the diet usually suffer a relapse of some type.  Elaine refers to it in her book on page 70, by saying “At about the second or third month, there is sometimes a relapse even when the diet has been carefully followed.” Later, she writes, “Once the individual gets over this, improvement is usually steady with minor setbacks occurring occasionally during the first year.”

So the bottom line is this:

The scientific research tells us that, on average, it’s going to take about 66 days to adapt to a new habit and SCD wisdom tells us that we should expect to have a slight relapse in our health somewhere around 60-90 days. It is clear, then, that 30 days is not going to be enough. At SCD Lifestyle, we do agree that if in 30 days on the diet you have not seen an improvement in your symptoms then the SCD diet may not be for you. However, we feel that you’re lying to yourself by only committing to 30 days on the diet and potentially setting yourself up for failure.

The SCD Approach We Recommend…

We recommend fully committing to yourself and someone close to you who will support you for 90 days. This commitment will allow you to use scientific research and SCD wisdom to give you the best chance to stick with the SCD diet. Recognize that we sometimes stumble on our paths to intestinal health and don’t sell your mind short from the beginning by assuming 30 days will provide all the answers. Focus on the forward progress and how far you have come… not how far you have left to go.

We’d love to hear your stories. For anyone else who has tried the SCD diet, how long did it take you before you thought it was a habit?

-Jordan

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About the author

Jordan Reasoner Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

John Smith January 11, 2010 at 8:14 am

This is great post keep it up.

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Michelle V February 20, 2010 at 11:00 am

I just started SCD last week. Your blog is very helpful and informative!

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Jordan Reasoner February 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Thanks for the support Michelle! Congrats on starting the diet, you will never look back… let us know how things are going.

Jordan

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Miia November 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I was just reading somewhere that forming a new habit can take up to 256 days! I stick to SCD (and actually much stricter than SCD) even though my progress (during my almost 6 months) is not super good for my GI symptoms. Why am I sticking to it is since I can feel it gives me a good basis to heal, which seems to take long for me. And for me it is nowadays a habit, not that stressful and I love the food.

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Jordan Reasoner November 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm

That’s great news Miia, thansk for sharing!

Jordan

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Vibeke November 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I have been keeping to SCD now for 1 ½ years and do see improvements longterm. But I fail to stick to it 100 % which I am working on now, but have gone through a pregnancy and am now in the breast feeding period, so really find it hard to get enough calories. I did much better during the pregnancy, but now not sleeping at night and having 3 other children to care for. It seems that my hormones are really out of balance. I am alone on this diet, because the rest of my family has no digestive problems. So it is really hard to stay away from all the non-SCD foods around my house. Maybe it is all just excuses, but to answer the question on how long does it take getting into the SCD diet, is dependent on life circumstances and on how ill you are, I think. I only recently started feeling a bit normal about having bacon and eggs for breakfast:)

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Steven Wright November 3, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Thanks for sharing keep going! Maybe you just need someone to help you 1-on-1 there could be root causes here that you need to get rid of.

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Vibeke November 4, 2013 at 3:29 am

Thanks Steven for replying. I would love to get some help from you, but money are an issue right now, with 4 children and me being at home looking after them. I also think that me not sleeping at night (baby wake up 2-5 times during the night) really disturb the picture of how it actually is going wit h my digestion. What kind of budget do you think I should consider if you could help me? I can afford 1 consultation, but it is the testing I am thinking of could get expensive?

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Steven Wright November 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm

The testing and supplements can add up. To get every test it’s at least 1500 dollars and supplements are at least 100 a month on avg. However you can go slower and test only certain things which can dramatically decrease the money need. Still figure at least 350 though.

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Amanda November 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I just started the diet about 2 months ago and would say in the past week or so it started to become more routine and less effort (thankfully)! Like you mentioned though in the past week I’ve just started to relapse which is really frustrating since I’ve been so careful to strictly stick to the diet. And a week in it just seems to be getting worse not better – my stomach keeps getting more and more distended, I’m having pains, and my severe constipation is back. The book just says “get over it” and I can’t find any info on anything else I can do to make it better – any advice?

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