How to Use Psychology to Beat Any SCD Setback

by Jordan Reasoner

Today sucks. Today I don’t feel good.

I have been on the SCD Diet for almost two years and I still have bad days every once in a while. I have to preface that the last few months my digestion has been flawless – nothing but better and better days.

Then, all of the sudden I started feeling bad last night and today I have been in-and-out of the bathroom at work. Today is an SCD setback for me. Tomorrow, I know I will be fine and I want to share with you why I know that and the psychology I use to beat my SCD setbacks.

If you can learn what I am going to share with you and implement it on your down days, you will be able to control emotional cheating days, quiet the voice in your head telling you it’s pointless, and alleviate the constant drive to use Google to diagnose your latest ailment.

Good Psychology = SCD Success

This diet is more mental than anything else. More than the food, more than the sickness, more than the social anxiety – this diet is about your head.

The good days are great and the bad days suck. But the reality of it is that you’re getting better, albeit slowly, you’re getting better and better.  But it’s so easy to ride those highs and let those lows drown you. Trust me I have been through many of them.

If you’re anything like I was at first this morning, as soon as you start to get that inkling that something down there is going wrong the voice in your head starts to gets loud.  Here’s how my morning went:

“God, I feel like crap – I wonder what it could have been?”

“Maybe it was the new batch of sauerkraut I made the other day”

“No, no that can’t be it. It must be that I ate too much avocado over the last two days”

“No it can’t be that, I wonder if it was the raw broccoli I ate last night?”

“Dang, this sucks, I should just fast all day and eliminate some things from my diet.”

“I wonder what Google has to say about this?”


Once you fall off the deep end and start Googling, it’s over. You’re going to be chasing a new diagnosis like “fungus of the left earlobe” or something, and soon enough you will be ordering a super secret herb that you can’t pronounce from some place in China that is sure to cure you.

How do I get through a setback anyway?

It’s all in your head. And I have to keep telling myself that this morning and all day. I’ve used the following four step process to use psychology to beat an SCD setback:

Step 1: Accept that I don’t feel good today and be OK with it. I just realize I am sick today and I just ride it out like a wave. It will crash to the shore eventually and I know I will feel better. The number one thing is to know that I am sick, communicate that to the people I love, and make an effort not to make any big decisions today (like buying that new car that might make me feel emotionally better for five minutes).

Step 2: I stop panicking about what caused it. I logically open up my food journal and review what I have been eating. If nothing is obvious like “I tried raw almonds last night,” then I am just going to make sure I don’t overreact. In many cases, it’s not even related to food! Sleep and stress have more to do with your digestion than you might ever want to admit to yourself.

Step 3: I take a step back and review my journal to see, how was I feeling 30 days ago? How was I feeling 90 days ago? How was I feeling a year ago? That really puts things in perspective for me. I know that a year ago, I was just happy to be able to hold a poop for 20 minutes. Now, I get cranky if I get gas! That’s important to review because it tells you the big realization of “I am getting better slowly over time.” There are going to be ups and downs – you just can’t let yourself follow them.

Step 4: I make sure not to give into emotional decisions that I will regret (like chugging half a bottle of honey). It’s so easy to fall into the trap of, “I already feel like crap today, what’s it going to hurt if I just eat a whole batch of SCD blueberry muffins.” When I am looking for emotional comfort during a setback I “change my mental state.” So, do something physical like 10 push-ups, or chug a glass of water, or brush your teeth (thanks for that one Paul). Do something to change your mental state away from emotional and stop thinking about that emotional comfort.

If you follow these 4 steps carefully to use psychology to beat an SCD setback, you will be able to control emotional cheating days, quiet the voice in your head telling you it’s pointless, and alleviate the constant drive to use Google to diagnose your latest ailment.

Remember that sometimes it really isn’t about the food. There are so many extraneous things that can affect digestion. Once you get a good diet in place, you’re simply going to have setbacks that you can’t explain every once in a while. I know by looking at my food journal that I really didn’t change much. So, I also I know that tomorrow I will probably be fine and back to another upswing, even if I keep eating the same things. Now, if I’m still feeling bad four days from now, it’s probably something I’m eating and I would start to get more serious. The point is: I don’t overreact.

These are all parts of a bigger picture. 90% of the SCD Diet is mental (seriously), which is why the first two chapters of our eBook are all about your brain and how to use it to be successful. If you want to learn more about using psychology to ensure your SCD success and get through any SCD setback, click here to see what I mean: “SCD Lifestyle – Surviving to Thriving.”

What tricks do you use to get through setbacks? Leave a comment. Maybe it will help someone else if they don’t feel good today.

– 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 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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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

David February 19, 2018 at 10:34 am

Man I would have initially thought that on the SCD you CAN eat a whole batch of SCD muffins. It’s a shame that even with the “legal” foods it’s really still only some of the legal foods and in small to moderate quantities

Donnie Pruett October 23, 2015 at 1:39 pm

After reading your comment about Googling on diet setback symptoms (Was it the raw broccoli or too much avocado that I ate that caused a setback), I had to comment. Your quote that “You will be Googling fungas of the left earlobe” was hysterical. I am still laughing! It made my day. The psychology element of a restrictive diet is indeed important and to keep the hope that eventually you will get better! Have you tried the drug Naltrexone LD? My doctor suggested it & I am trying it as soon as it arrives. It re-balances the immune system. She gave it to her husband that had Lymphoma & he is now cancer free. Several chemo treatments had not worked for him. Take care!

Mariel Heiss October 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Hi Donnie – thanks for your kind comment 🙂

We’re really glad we could provide a laugh, as staying positive is so important when you’re dealing with health issues.

Jordan used low dose naltrexone very successfully – you can read about his experiences here:

I hope it helps you and you’re feeling much better very soon!

Johnny April 22, 2018 at 3:10 pm

How do u no if it leaky gut not bad reflux my anxiety levels are higher now then ever rat to doctor last night thinking it was heart attack it felt like it doc just give meds which don’t work I eat healthy nuff but do like the odd treat I’ve cut out cows milk and cheese I just don’t no Wat to do

Lori Jo Berg April 23, 2018 at 11:35 am

Hello- I apologize, but I’m not sure what your’ asking entirely. I gather your suffering from GERD and Anxiety? “Healthy” can meet a lot of different things to different people.. We’d suggest you start with the SCD diet here:

KD September 16, 2014 at 3:36 pm

I have finally realized that while I can micro-manage my diet, I can’t Nano-manage it!!! Like the kombucha I ordered at a restaurant the other day. But then I found out their kombucha was grown on yeast, not mushrooms. they had never heard of mushrooms… I have never had any trouble with kombucha, it always makes me feel better. Not that day though. I felt bad for a few days–so I’m pretty sure it was made with yeast grown on wheat at some point. but you just can’t know or control it all!!!
ANd I must say, I am laughing at the things you try to binge on! Like–stay on the diet, and still add to your pain. I get it!!!

Darcy March 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Hello, and THANK YOU for all that you have put out to every one ! I am 1 1/2 months on SCD and have been going slow with mostly all pureed foods. Im feeling quite weak and need to know if fresh green juice is ok at the beginning of this plan ? Also, when can one add cultured veg in ?
Have a blessed day and thank you

Susan January 14, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Hi – I’m very interested in nutrition since my sister has been diagnosed with MSA and referred me to your website.

Can you tell me if the many different forms of sweeteners are processed the same way by your body?….Assuming of course that there are no allergies present. for example, white sugar/brown sugar/molasses/honey maple syrup/corn syrup/glucose fructose/etc. Is any one better than the other or should all be avoided or?

Thank You

Sherry December 13, 2013 at 9:05 am

I just got this email in my inbox today and God knows I was in need of this pep talk this week. I have been on SCD for about 4 week and it has been amazing soo far, Got rid of my excessive gas pretty much instantly also transformed my Bowel Movement within days increased my energy etc…. but this week I seem back to my old self and even a bit worse and I do keep wondering what it is and it is making me feel down try to introduce small small amounts of yogurt, the almond butter I decided to try or my menstrual cycle I am sure if I think the list can go on and on. I am just going back to the soup and jello for a day or so and see what happens trying to stay positive!!

a mum June 7, 2013 at 6:02 am

My son has ME he is very debilitated. He has tried a number of exclusion diets and eats less and less (he is 17). Now he is trying this but only eats peas butternut squash a few fruit and one other veg. No meat no fish not supplements. I cant get him to expand on that. He feels ill always. Any ideas please?

Allison Birnkrant May 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Just stumbled upon your site today – finally someone who confirms everything I have been experiencing physically and mentally. I’ve been struggling with digestion issues my entire life (I am 24). After cutting out certain foods over the past 4 years (I swear, my stomach speaks to me “NO don’t give me that!”) , I discovered information on gluten. Gave it up for 2 months. Discovered Paleo, been doing that for 5 months now. Words cannot describe how my life has changed since following the Paleo way. Nothing has ever made more sense to me than the Paleo lifestyle, and my body and my brain are thanking me for it. I still have certain days, like the ones you are speaking about, and im taking your advice to just be positive and know it will pass. Bravo!

Gill H March 26, 2013 at 5:15 am

When in need of a boost I find this ” Pick Me Up” drink works for me.

1 teaspoon Vitamin C powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Add 4 ounces of water, stir and when fizzing ceases add a further 4 oz water

Notes from the internet: Linus Pauling said many years ago “Don’t let anyone make up your mind for you. Check and see for yourself.” “We need education, not medication.”

How do you know if you took too much C? You’ll have loose stools. You can handle ascorbic acid because ascorbic acid is a very weak acid. In fact, your normal natural stomach acid is over 50 times stronger than vitamin C.

Darla December 18, 2012 at 10:49 am

Definitely needed this today. Pretty discouraged and since I already felt bad wanting to make it worse was definitely in the plan.

Thanks for the encouragement

deb October 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Perfect timing for you to send the link to this article; I was soooo discouraged today. I’ve been fighting for 1.5+ yrs to get out of trouble including 6 mos ago when I was in a serious “death spiral”, afraid I would never recover. But slowly & surely by God’s help & diet & LDN I have been recovering & was almost ready to say I was actually in remission. But two days ago I went into the worst flare I’ve had in several months. And I reacted just as you verbalized. Thank you for giving me perspective & tools to ride it out.

Susan Bess October 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thanks for this post. Today is one of those days!!!!I’ve been on SCD two months and feel the difference. In the past month I’ve been diagnosed with h-pylori (treating it naturally) breast cancee and just had angioplasty (day before yesterday)o correct a kinked heart artery. My breast cancer surgery is next Friday Needles to say my stomach and bowes are not real happy. Do you have any ideas to help with next surgery recovery. Even my safe foods go right through me. Thank you

Steven Wright October 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm

@Susan – Wow! You are so strong! Hang in there. If I was in your shoes, I’d focus on 3 things everyday. 1. Using digestive enzymes every meal. 2. probiotics everyday either from foods or supplements 3. Stress reduction exercises, probably walking, yoga and 15 min of sitting meditation.

Suse September 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

Thank you thank you thank you Jordan and Steve! This website is awesome and this post was just what I needed to read right now. I feel so much better just knowing I am not the only one who overreacts, runs to google, thinks I should just fast when I am so bloated it’s not funny and tries desperately not to run to food for comfort! Your strategies for coping are really helpful and a great blessing. Thank you!

Rebecca April 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Hi Steve
Thanks for your support again. I think I could be eating too much gelatin and like you said when I get down a jar of honey disappears which doesnt help. I also read something on pecan bread that said you shouldnt have three large meals and eat your carbohydrates before your meat if your having problems with digestion. I have being trying not to eat as much meat because when I make a lot I just keep eating.

Thanks again

Rebecca April 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

Hi Jordan

I am only on this diet three weeks and I am never off google because I am still having D three or four times a day. After my first two weeks I started again and eliminated eggs. I have so far introduced apples,carrots and bananas but still have D. I know it will take a while to heal anyway but I am just finding it impossible to work out what I am intolerant to. Its exactly like you said though because I started taking BCL supplements thinking I had low stomach acid after seeing you had issues with it. I stopped taking them because they had small amounts of spirulina and heard they can be harmful if you have an inflamed bowel. I have not been taking any medication as I done six weeks on eo28 and absorb plus so I was expecting to start this diet with great success. I have also been taking oregano oil,glutamine and Natren probiotics. When I used to eat wheat I could tell straight away as I would swell out as if I was pregnant and I would have stricture pain. If you have any advice on how I could diagnose a food intolerance I would really appreciate it.
Thanks for all your help so far

Steven Wright April 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm

@ Rebecca – Your an amazing fighter, I’m glad you left us a comment. I think the first test for you to do is to get rid of the four horseman that usually cause most people who struggle problems, read this:

Here is a post about how to create your food safe zone. Once your in your safe zone it is really easy to tell which foods you react too.

Linda January 20, 2015 at 7:37 am

have you tried the fodmap friendly diet? No apples,peaches,pears etc. There is information on the Monash University(Australia) fodmap app or website. It stopped my D.

Lori Jo Berg January 21, 2015 at 9:40 am

Hi Linda, thanks for reaching out! The FODMAP diet is very effective for some and we are glad you found something that works for you.

Gustoso September 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I like to watch a foodie or natural healing dvd. My favourites are “Food matters” and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride presenting on Gut and Psychology Syndrome at the 2008
(GAPS is based on SCD)

Paula Knighton September 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Thanks for the above. Googling and ordering that strange herb from China are exactly what I do as I stuff myself with “oh what the heck” food on my bad days. Any suggestions on what I should do with that giant box of supplements I have stored in my closet? It seems crazy to keep all the ones that didn’t work, but it also seems crazy to throw all that expensive stuff away.

Jordan Reasoner September 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm

@ Paula – maybe you could use them to fertilize an awesome garden?



Cara Franks September 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Great advice! It really does help to look back and see how far I’ve come. The bad days are still very frustrating, but they are so much less common now. For that I am very thankful!!! Any advice from anyone on how to handle the flareup that seems to come with my monthly cycle?

Jordan Reasoner September 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm

@ Cara – that’s a great question… one that I’m not completely sure on.

My best guess right now is keep working to reduce inflammation to restore balance to hormone/adrenals and it shouldn’t have such a dramatic impact…

Easier said than done, but keep doing what you’re doing on SCD 🙂


Kate May 10, 2013 at 9:43 am

Cara – I would love to know this too! After a week of persistent cramps and diarrhoea, I have now entered “that time of the month” and I now have the opposite problem! Plus extra fatigue and cravings which aren’t helping me get back on track with my SCD! It is bloody frustrating being a woman!

TJ May 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Cara, I know you commented years ago, but this has been happening to me for the last year and a half. Terrible stomach pain only during my cycle. Doctors can’t figure it out. I’m going to try the SCD diet to see if it helps.

Do you have any updates?

Roger Elliott September 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Excellent advice – especially the ‘accept it’ bit. I read a good article by Chris Kresser a while back which helped in a similar way:

Great stuff guys – the SIBO podcast was outstanding too.



Jordan Reasoner September 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for the link Roger – Kresser’s post is excellent…

Dr. Seibecker is awesome, we’re lucky to have had her on for an interview. Kresser is next, ha-ha.


Samara September 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Thanks for sending the link to this post. Just what i needed to hear right now, after just coming through one of those big waves, that’s crashed on the shore and left me feeling revived 🙂 I am going to print out your 4 steps there and put them in my precious diary/log book.
Always nice to hear and get the feeling of “it’s not just me, i’m not alone”
Thanks again, Big ups!!

Jordan Reasoner September 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Thanks Samara – keep rockin it!


Melanie November 15, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Excellent, excellent post. Really needed it today. Thanks!!!

Jordan Reasoner November 13, 2010 at 8:24 pm

@ Tiffany – Thanks for commenting! Great attitude! Stick with it this diet does wonders. I too will never be going back to that SAD diet (pun intended).

Tiffany November 13, 2010 at 8:17 am

When I have had setbacks, I remember the same.. It took a long time of me eating crap and my body is going to need time to heal all the damage through SCD. One day I may feel bad and run down and then the next day, I wake up refreshed and re-energized! I’ll never go back to SAD. 😉

Heather November 10, 2010 at 10:47 am

Hope you feel better soon 🙂

Jordan Reasoner November 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thanks Heather – I feel great today! Just like I figured, ha-ha.

Setback are short and sweet now-a-days. The hardest part is recognizing it in the moment. The post was more therapeutic than anything!

~ Jordan

mary July 24, 2015 at 9:02 am

yes…thats it exactly….!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xx

Ryan Apple November 10, 2010 at 9:35 am

Great post! This and your last podcast were very helpful for me. I’ve been on the SCD diet for about 5 weeks, and have been in a setback state for about 5 days. The “googling” thing is something I am definitely prone to do. Your post and podcast help me keep everything in perspective!

Jordan Reasoner November 10, 2010 at 10:32 am

Thanks Ryan – I really appreciate that! Googling always get me in a bad downward spiral loop, ha-ha.

Hang in there man. Setbacks happened, but don’t give up. 5 days is getting up there – that’s when I might start to look at some of the usual trigger foods like dairy/egg/tomato/too much fruit/too much almond flour.

Email me if you need some help “troubleshooting”.


Ann Gearty October 30, 2017 at 8:28 am

Good to be reading this about setbacks, I have been on the SCD diet just over 4 weeks and utterly amazed at the change in my bathroom habits, grrr. not rushing to get there on time. Thought I was doing so well, I stupidly ate a small roast potato, OMG, that was me down for the next few days, horrendous, so now I am being very very cautious in trying new foods. luckily I love cottage cheese so when I get desperate I turn to that.

Lori Jo Berg October 30, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for sharing, Ann! Setback are definitely a part of the healing process:)