Troubleshooting the SCD Diet: How to Pinpoint the Foods Stopping You from SCD Success

by Jordan Reasoner

My body and I communicate really well, now that I have been on the SCD diet for a over a year. When I work on introducing a new item, I can quickly detect how my body reacts to the new food and whether or not I should continue trying to mix it into my diet or not.

In the beginning, things were not this way. I was still so sick that it seemed like everything I ate was causing problems and I was chasing my tail trying to figure out what was causing all the problems. I was stuck in an SCD holding pattern for months… and I couldn’t figure out what to do to improve and move forward. I learned the hard way how to pinpoint foods that were causing me problems and stopping me from SCD success. After I figured out the basic process, I needed to go through to get rid of foods causing a problem, my health advanced quickly and things haven’t slowed down since.

The basic rule of thumb is 4 days. Try completely eliminating a food item for four days to truly gauge how it was impacting your digestion. At times, I have found that I notice a negative reaction goes away relatively quickly – within the same day. But other times it has taken up to 4 days for me to realize that the food was negatively impacting me. I can’t stress enough that when you are trying to troubleshoot the SCD diet, it is vital that the rest of your diet remains consistent with the go-to foods that you have confidence in. If you deviate from this and can’t figure out what’s causing the problem, you will be a mess trying to play around with your diet to figure out exactly what triggered it.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how to troubleshoot the SCD Diet and take your healing to the next level.

–  Start by eliminating one of the big three: The protein in eggs can be a trigger for many people with digestive diseases. Once I realized that I was eating eggs at a couple meals a day, I tried life without them for four days… and it was incredible! I felt better very quickly and found a way to make due without egg and still don’t eat them to this day. Start with egg and see if you experience any changes (remember, keep everything else the same). If it’s not egg, be happy you can still eat them and move on to the next step.

–  The next big offender is dairy. Dairy also has a protein that is very reactive and eliminating the cow’s milk yogurt and cheese alleviated many of the symptoms I had that were still bothering me. Once I went dairy free for four days I was at a level of health that I never thought possible. Don’t panic if you can’t have dairy. You can always try goat’s milk products in place of cow’s milk products, because the protein is a little different and you might have better luck. If you’re like me and that doesn’t treat you well either… then it’s on to almond milk yogurt and no cheese for a while, but very much worth it!

–  If you try eliminating egg and dairy and are still having issues… look to high concentrations of sugars. By that, I mean start with juices. There is a lot of SCD legal sugar packed into the Welch’s Grape Juice that caused me to still have horrible gas. Once I stopped the grape juice, the gas stopped and I felt better than I ever could have imagined. I also had to take a little break from guzzling honey because that high intake of sugar was driving some horrible gas, even though it was SCD legal sugar.

–  If the big three are not causing your issues, keep narrowing the list by applying the same principles. If you are eating any raw food, like ripe bananas or avocados, give those a rest for four days and see how it goes. Sometimes, those can cause issues with people in the beginning as well. Otherwise, keep picking different items that you eat frequently and whittle the list down until you see the positive change you are looking for.

Believe it or not, most of the time it’s just one food that is keeping you from SCD Success… find that one food and eliminate it and you are well on your way to feeling amazing.

What has been your experience troubleshooting the SCD Diet? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below…

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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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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike July 26, 2010 at 8:18 am

Great and timely post. Really got me thinking. I’ve been struggling for a while now, even just on my ‘go to’ foods. I hadn’t considered that maybe it was one of them that could be causing problems. I have heard that over time intolerences and allergies can change, particularly when you eat the same thing a lot which could definitely be true in my case. Keep up the good work! Mike

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cheryl cravino July 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

Hi Guys,
Wanted your take on rice and potatoes. I have had crohn’s for 7 years and was introduced to SCD about 2 years ago. I continue to struggle with weight loss regardless of how much I eat, and recently I was given a book by DR. Dahlman…his theories are very similar to Elaine’s but he eliminates dairy completely-yogurt included and he allows rice and potatoes? I like the 4 day info you have provided, I have alwsy been told 48 hours..there are times I drive myself crazy trying to figure out what trigger I have eaten. I thought I might try the above purely for caloric reasons? Your thoughts?
Thanks,
Cheryl

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Steven Wright July 26, 2010 at 11:26 am

Hi Cheryl – Thanks for stopping by, rice and potatoes are not necessarily the devil when compared to wheat or other grains, but eating them would mean you’re not following the SCD diet.

If your struggling with keeping the weight on, there are plenty of ways to get more calories while remaining SCD legal. The easiest way is to really strive to up your fat intake. Some ideas are: eating an avocado a day, cooking with/drinking coconut milk (be cautious of reactions), and adding butter to everything. There are plenty of other ways such as eating more nuts if you tolerate them well.

I’m curious if you have ever tracked your calories using fitday.com or a similar program? Without doing this it is often hard to understand the link between different foods, calories and body weight changes. Good Luck and don’t abandon the SCD diet yet I’m sure we can get it figured out for you!

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cheryl cravino July 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Thanks Steven…..I really do hesitate adding them in….and the thought of having a potatoe slathered in butter…well let’s not go there. I will definately check out fitday.com, I do add butter to everything and I do several spoonfuls of straight up almond butter a couple times a day, but don’t tolerate whole nuts and or coconut milk well as of yet.

thanks again,
Cheryl

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Steven Wright July 26, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Cheryl – Skip the potato and eat a bowl of baked butternut squash swimming in butter and cinnamon! There is no way a potato tastes as good as that combo!

I would try to cut back on the almond butter and instead take spoonful’s of coconut oil. Almond butter can be like cocaine for us on the SCD diet and I know that more than once it has bitten me and caused some pretty bad digestive repercussions.

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cheryl cravino July 27, 2010 at 9:24 am

Steven….excellent advice! love butternut squash……and never thought to check if the almond butter was the culprit!…will eliminate for a couple days and sub with the coconut oil.
Thanks!
Cheryl

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Kathy Davis July 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Thanks for the good advice. I recently ate a meal at a restaurant that I thought would be OK, and it gave me a lot of trouble. It was at a Chinese restaurant, so I suspected monosodium glutamate. I bought some Accent (MSG) and tried it on salad. Found out I have HUGE problems with it. So sometimes it’s not the food itself, but something added to it.

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cheryl cravino August 4, 2010 at 8:42 am

Steven wanted to follow up with you and say thanks again for the coconut oil recommendation! One week in and I feel fabulous, done a little research and coconut oil has great healing properties. If you haven’t done an article yet you need too!
Cheryl

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Denise August 24, 2010 at 11:42 am

I’m confused by this post, not about the idea of sorting out food sensitivities, but about what someone starting the SCD diet is supposed to do. My husband is starting it, but if he is still not feeling well after a few weeks, do we start eliminating eggs, dairy and grape juice? There’s nothing left in the starter diet, so I don’t know what he might eat.

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Jordan Reasoner August 29, 2010 at 9:20 am

Denise, if your husband is still not seeing results, it might be a good idea to try eliminating dairy for four days and if that doesn’t show some improvement, then try egg, then grape juice. It is common for people to have issues with casien in dairy, egg, and the massive amount of sugar in the grape juice. Consider trying to eat more meals throughout the day instead of 3 big ones. Start off breakfast with a simple SCD turkey sausage recipe made from ground turkey cooking in olive oil. Also, he should be transitioning into phase 1 of the diet and having much more meat variety at this point so that will be where the most calories will come from. Email us if you have more questions and we can talk some more. Hang in there, the diet will work!

In good health,

Jordan

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blackbass February 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm

do you have problems with butter? seems like if butter is made from cream…i bet the cream contains carrageenan…unless you make your own butter…you dont know what is in the cream…food for thought! is butter considered dairy?

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Steven Wright February 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

@ blackbass – carrageenan is not SCD legal and it causes leaky gut and other digestion problems, so don’t eat that. But butter that is just butter is fine to eat. It does cause some people problems because its only 98% fat. If your trying diary free, then eliminate it along with all diary for at least 7 days before re-introduction.

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Lyssy22 March 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I have leaky gut but no other major illness (Chron’s, Celiac, etc.) that I’m aware of. I tried the butternut squash as well as the acorn squash and neither of them agreed with me. I had that “full feeling” high up in my abdomen upon eating each. If it’s an easily digested food I was wondering why I had a problem with it.

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Yael April 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I am also in week 5 of the SCD diet and still having a lot of problems.
I eliminate dairy what can I eat to stay full?
Thankyou

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Steven Wright April 15, 2013 at 9:08 am
Jordan April 12, 2013 at 10:16 am

I’ve just finished the intro diet and am phasing into phase 1 of the intro diet. Eggs don’t seem to agree with me so I am cutting them out. I saw the turkey sausage recipe and it looks fantastic. I’m a big fan of smoothies but dairy is a problem for me as well. Can I substitute goats milk in? It’s hard to figure out what to fill up on because I can’t have eggs or dairy so the morning breakfast can be a little frustrating.

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Steven Wright April 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

All animal milk that isn’t fermented is illegal on SCD. But ferment it and you’ll be just fine.

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Kyle August 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Jordan and Steve – what symptoms were u having when you cut out eggs? What changes did you notice when you cut eggs out?

Kyle

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Brent Kovacs August 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Hi Kyle,

Severe brainfog is typically top of the list… post nasal drip is another. Some can react with violent diarrhea.

It all depends, but hope this helps some =)

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Andy August 15, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Hi, quick question to anyone really…

Does anyone know WHY we get bacterial overgrowth in the first place, where other people don’t? It doesn’t make sense that we can starve off the bacteria by eliminating anything with flavour and then all the symptoms resume once we recommence. Surely, like a pest infestation, once it’s gone, it’s gone? This is something that’s troubled me for a while. I would have thought that transplanting the bad bacteria with good should act as a near permanent solution (such as replacing with kefir?)

Thanks for any assistance!

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Brent Kovacs August 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Hi Andy, thanks for your questions.

There are multiple reasons why one could end up with gut dysbiosis including, but not limited to, the Standard American Diet, overuse of antibiotics, medications, NSAIDS, brain trauma, stress, exposure to pesticides, contaminated drinking/bathing water, gut infections (bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc.) and the list goes on and on.

Research is showing more and more that merely supplementing or trying to replace the good bugs isn’t nearly as effective as going a step further and feeding our existing flora with food and nutrients they like such as prebiotics and fermentable fibers.

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Jo February 4, 2015 at 9:11 am

Hi Jordan, thanks for the reminder. I did this diet 12 years ago with great success very soon after starting it, and had to use it again recently due to first UC recurrence since then. You reminded me that everyone is different and the diet is the foundation to work from, and we need to adjust for ourselves individually, as I had to last time. I am currently trying to figure out what’s causing my issues at the moment; strangely Butternut Squash is near the top of my list. Also possibly nuts and seeds – this was my sticking point last time and once I figured that out there was no looking back. Thank you 🙂

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Kate June 29, 2015 at 3:38 am

Thanks for the great article! Just one question. My son has leaky gut and we’ve avoided dairy for nearly a year now, and I’m beginning to suspect he may be sensitive to eggs. We’re hoping to start scd this week. Would you recommend doing the intro without eggs and yoghurt, then adding them in soon after, or proceeding with the diet including the eggs and yoghurt, then removing them if there’s little progress. I guess my concern is that he may still have some symptoms on them, but if they’re not obvious he may be unable to communicate them to me (brain fog, for example, could be difficult for a 4 year old to describe). Thanks!

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Mariel Heiss June 30, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Hi Kate. We recommend doing the intro diet without dairy (from the yogurt) and without eggs if you think you may be sensitive. Yogurt can be introduced around the fourth week. After you have introduced yogurt, you can try introducing eggs and assess for a reaction from your son. I hope this information helps!

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Dena August 30, 2015 at 4:14 am

Hi there, are there any possible substitutions for the Welch’s grape juice? (i.e. a freshly squeezed juice without preservatives). I tend to have issues with sulfites and so I don’t want to use the Welch’s, but I’m also not sure I will be able to withstand plain gelatin. Thank you!

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Mariel Heiss August 31, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Hi Dena, thanks for asking.

You can sub in a fresh juice (lemon or lime work well) or skip the gelatin and juice entirely.

As for the reasons why you would want to eat the gelatin and grape juice (basically SCD legal jello) is to reward yourself with a little treat and to help stave off sugar cravings. In many cases, people get attached to the idea that they need to avoid sugar at all costs, but this isn’t true. It is too hard to describe in a short amount of time. As for the gelatin, it provides gut healing properties like the bone broth in the chicken soup and amino acids such as glycine and others.

However, if you’re not comfortable with using the grape juice or the products you can find, please skip it. About 50% of people react to the grape juice anyway so it may be best to just do without as it’s not critical for healing. This reaction could occur because of the sugar content or that grape juice is high in sulfites, which is a preservative to keep it fresh. You could simply eat the gelatin plain.

I hope this helps!

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