I started the Simple Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) this week and WOWZERS!, I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be. If you want to heal your digestive track, cure chronic heartburn, or even see if your child with autism or behavioral issues is reacting to foods, this is the end-all-diet. It is the most intense elimination diet I’ve ever seen. And I’m thankful my husband is doing it with me, because I will need the support.
On the menu for the first 2-5 days:
- bone broth (fodmap friendly)
- low fat meat: shredded chicken, pork meatballs, turkey legs, pork chops, turkey burgers
- dry-scrambled or hard-boiled eggs
- boiled carrots
- grape and apple juice jello
The goal with the intro diet is to detoxify your system and give your digestion a break. The reality is that by day 4 I felt so weak I almost couldn’t walk to my dentist appointment downtown. My husband and I have affectionately called it a starvation diet because everything is so bland you don’t want to eat it even though you are hungry. For a foodie, I’ve found this to be the most difficult undertaking yet.
After your digestion has stabilized and you aren’t reacting to any of the foods in the intro diet, you progress to Phase 1 where you 1 new food every 4 days. Yep. I just keep telling myself that this is going to work. And it will be worth it. But you feel like crap the first few days, so clear your calendar. Digestive upset, headaches, fatigue, and feeling weak and hungry are just a few of the symptoms we are dealing with right now (today is Day 5 for me).
For anyone thinking about undertaking the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, here are the recipes I used to prepare food this week. This was enough food for my husband and I to munch on for this phase of the diet.
Chicken Thighs and Bone Broth
In a big slow-cooker, I put 6 pounds of bone-in chicken thighs (I removed the skin to help keep the fat content down). I added a handful of celery, 2 bay leaves, and a few carrots to help flavor the chicken. I also added some sea salt at this point, but usually add more after it finishes cooking. Cook chicken on high for 4 hours or low for 8-10 hours, until the chicken falls off the bones. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Put in fridge to enjoy all week.
Boiled Carrots in Bone Broth
After I made the chicken, I threw the chicken bones back in the broth and added 5 pounds of peeled carrots. I also swapped out the celery for a fresh handful and put in half a bunch of fresh parsley. If I had green onion tops, I would include them, but I generally try not to use garlic or onions because I know my husband will react to fodmap foods. I let these cook overnight for ~12 hours. You can puree the carrots in a food processor, though I like to leave some ‘whole’ for a little different texture throughout the week. I eat the pureed carrots as a soup with some meat and broth, or pour them over meat as a sauce.
BBQ Turkey Legs
I put a little olive oil on my grill and heat it to medium high on 2 burners, and leave the third burner off. Put salt and pepper on turkey legs (I added some dried sage too, for some thanksgiving flavor). Place on indirect heat for 40 minutes, turning.
These were so yummy. I ate the crispy skin (don’t think I’m supposed to) and was thankful for a little crunch in my diet! This is what was left of the turkey legs before I got a picture. Let’s just say we were REALLY hungry this evening!
Simple Pork Meatballs
Mix 4 pounds of ground pork with lots of salt and pepper (about 2 tsp each). I added about 1 tablespoon of Dean & Deluca’s Fines Herbs, which contain chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon. I needed some new flavors when I made these and they turned out delicious. Roll into walnut sized meatballs. I put mine on cooling racks on a sheet pan to keep the fat away from the meatballs and baked at 375 for 30 minutes. I will definitely make these again, they were great.
Mustard Grilled Pork Chops
I’m not sure this is legal, but I was tired of eating chewy meat with no flavor that I bought some thin cut pork chops, seasoned with salt and pepper, and spread some grainy sugar-free mustard on the top. Grill over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes a side, until done. Enjoy.
Grilled Turkey Burgers
Mix ~4 pounds of ground turkey with 2 eggs and lots of salt and pepper. I made these plain, but would add some dried herbs next time or some pureed carrots because they were a bit dry. Grill over high heat for 5 minutes a side, depending on how thick they are. You could also bake like meatballs (see recipe above).
Easy Hard Boiled Eggs
I put all the eggs in a pan and cover them with water. I can fit almost 2 dozen in my big pan. Bring to a boil and then take off the heat. Wait for 20 minutes. (I’ve let these sit for a lot longer, with no real difference except for that dark ring around the yolks.) Drain hot water and rinse with cold water. Put in fridge to cool off. Serve anytime with salt and pepper.
This is the only portable food on the diet for me. I can throw a couple of eggs in my purse if I know I won’t be home for a meal. I am choosing to be grateful for the opportunity not to starve if I need to go somewhere during the day.
Savory Carrot Pancakes
By day 4, we were looking for a little creativity to our diet and found this recipe for pancakes. We were in. We put a bunch of boiled carrots in the food processor with 2 eggs and salt and pepper. We put a little bit in a dry pan and spread them out, cooking over medium-high heat for a few minutes each side. Because there is no fat they won’t get crispy, but we used these as a bun for our turkey burgers and again with scrambled eggs in the morning.
SCD Grape & Apple Jello
Making jello from scratch is very easy, and the end result is surprisingly satisfying. This is the only sweet thing allowed on the diet, but I actually think it is causing trouble for my husband and I. I plan to eliminate it in Phase 1 and re-introduce later. I think the juice is problematic for us, but lots of people swear by this recipe as a crucial part of the diet. My kids love this jello and I plan to keep making it for their school lunches to get some extra protein in a sweet treat.
Take 1 cup of grape or apple juice and put it in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of grass-fed beef gelatin and let it sit. In another microwave proof bowl, place 4 cups of juice and heat for 6 minutes, or until REALLY hot (boiling is good). Pour hot juice over gelatin and mix for a couple of minutes, until it is fully dissolved. Add 3 cups cold water and mix. Pour into jello mold, containers, or jelly jars and put in the fridge for a few hours. Enjoy as a cold treat.
Note: you really should make your first batch with either grape OR apple to make sure you aren’t reacting to a specific fruit.
As of day 5, we are moving on to the next phase of the diet. I know my writing doesn’t make the introductory SCD diet sound very sexy. But the reality is – it isn’t sexy. And you aren’t doing it because it is the latest food trend. You do it because you are desperate to take control of your health and you persevere because it is worth it!
For more information about the diet, see SCD Lifestyle or read Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet by Elaine Gloria Gottschall.