The Diet That May Change Your Life

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Navigating the diet world can be quite daunting, especially when it seems like a new diet book or theory is entering the market every other week. Having studied over 100 diet theories at IIN, I definitely know how overwhelming (and contradictory) all that information can be!

And just when I didn’t think I ever wanted to touch another diet book again, a friend of mine recommended that I read about The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD, for short)–> a diet thought to heal the intestine through avoiding certain types of starches and sugars, while still embracing others.

breaking the vicious cycle book

What piqued my interest in this diet, is that it gives a great explanation of WHY some sugars are better than others for our bodies, and puts to rest the notion that “sugar is sugar”–> whether it comes from fruit, whole grains, or even a processed source. According to this book, our bodies do handle the sugar found in fruit differently than, say, the sugar found in chocolate.

That makes sense, doesn’t it?

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet breaks down sugar into two categories:

  • Monosaccharides (single sugars)
  • Disaccharides (double, or complex, sugars)

Monosaccaharides, including natural fruits and honey, require almost no digestion, meaning they are more likely to pass through the wall of the small intestine and should easily enter the bloodstream to nourish the body. Because these types of sugars are digested so easily, they are thought to cause no harm to the intestine, nor do they contribute to the feeding of microbial overgrowth in the intestine. (a controversial topic among Candida cleansing diets!)

Disaccharides, on the other hand, are complex sugars, including all grains, potatoes, lactose and more, requiring multiple digestive processes to be absorbed in the body. According to the SCD, “A poorly-functioning intestine can be easily overwhelmed by the ingestion of carbohydrates which require numerous digestive processes. The result is an environment (of fermentation) that supports overgrowth of intestinal yeast and bacteria.”

[source]

This theory around intestinal yeast and bacteria overgrowth is what really sparked my interest.

If you all remember, I tackled my own version of a Candida Cleanse last year, and I missed eating fruit dearly! While I do feel like the D4W approach to cleansing is effective, it’s certainly not the only approach to Candida Cleansing. Other cleanses, like The Body Ecology Diet, encourage the consumption of non-gluten grains daily, while others shun them completely. D4W allows for the consumption of goat cheese and dark chocolate, while many other programs say cheese and chocolate should be strictly avoided. There’s also controversy over the benefits of fermented foods while attempting to kill-off yeast. In other words, there’s a lot of contradicting information.

But up to this point, almost every Candida diet I’ve read agreed on one thing–> fruit should be avoided! Simply because fruit is “sugar,” and “sugar feeds yeast.”

Well, now that we know about the difference between monosaccharides and disaccharides, we have a new debate on our hands, don’t we?

I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but the main reason I stopped my Candida cleanse when I did, was because my skin had stopped healing well. I noticed that small scratches I had on my arms and hands (from picking up my wiggly dog!) were taking MONTHS to heal. Minor scratches, that shouldn’t have lasted for more than a few days!

You can see a few of my scratches in pictures from my best friend’s wedding last August:

megan putting a veil on her friend's headPretty bride… stupid scratches.

However, I noticed that as soon as I reintroduced fruit into my diet, my skin started healing much faster. Hello, antioxidants.

This made me think back to the days when I was eating “all raw.” My skin was naturally glowing, and healed quickly. I dropped a significant amount of weight, all while eating more calories and more natural fats than I ever had before. I always assumed the benefits were from all the raw plant enzymes I was consuming– which very well could have been the case– but it could also have been due to the fact that I was naturally adhering to the rules of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet–> without even knowing it! As a raw foodie, I was avoiding all potatoes (they don’t taste good raw), grains (again… I don’t think they taste good raw), and used raw honey as my sweetener of choice!

So, was it all the raw food making me glow, or was it the fact that I was avoiding disaccharides–> potentially healing my digestive system? Honestly, I don’t know. But, the idea that we potentially could heal microbial overgrowth, while still enjoying the natural sweetness of fruit and a variety of other delicious foods, excites me!

In fact, since Austin and I have already transitioned ourselves away from grains this year, I would probably have no problem cutting out the rest of the disaccharides in my diet for a period of time…

…except for the fact that I’m obsessed with this pudding.

pudding in a small bowl(Made with purple-skinned Korean yams last night, which have a white flesh. So good!!)

Well, that and dark chocolate. 😀

So, I’m mostly sharing ideas behind The Specific Carbohydrate Diet with you today, not because I’m planning to jump into a new diet, but to shed some light on a concept that may be new to some of you reading. It was certainly new to me, and I love having a new perspective on intestinal health.

After all, our gut houses our “second brain,” so it needs to be healthy!

If you’d like to learn more about the SCD, I highly recommend reading Breaking The Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall. Not only does it include more in-depth information about how various carbohydrates are digested, it also has bunches of delicious recipes to enjoy!

Reader Feedback: I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts–> have you ever tried a diet like this? Would you be willing to try it?  It’s somewhat Paleo-esque, so I wonder if that explains why the Paleo diet works so well for many people, too? Food for thought!

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Comments

Amber Shea @Almost Vegan

This explains a lot about why both Paleo AND raw diet approaches work for so many people! I’m actually planning a post soon about the similarities – because there are many, even though people don’t seem to want to see/admit it! – between raw veganism and Paleo/primal diets…and it sounds like I could throw the SCD in there too! Thanks for the summary; makes a lot of sense.

    Megan

    I definitely noticed the similarities between the two diets, too! Despite the fact that one is rather heavy on the animal products… ha ha. 😉

      Amber Shea @Almost Vegan

      Well, of course, haha. But – fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, no grains or legumes, nothing processed, attention to ingredient quality and preparation…you get the picture 🙂

Kilee

I hadn’t heard of this specific type of diet, but it sounds intriguing. I try to limit my grains, but feel like I go crazy when I don’t have any. (could this be a sign on addiction/allergy?) I find that the less I stress about avoiding certain foods, the better my stress and digestion. I believe that our stress levels can affect our digestion more than particular food groups. On the contrary, I think that food intolerances should always be avoided.
Ahhh, I feel like I could learn about nutrition all day long and still be somewhat unsure and confused about it all!

    Megan

    I totally agree with you, Kilee– stress can be just as damaging as poor food choices in some cases! And I think there will ALWAYS be new and contradicting things popping up in the nutrition field. A colorful diet, including plenty of fruits and veggies, seems to be a safe bet! 😉

      Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

      I totally agree about the whole stress thing too. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been really paying attention to how my stress levels affect my digestion and I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before. Stress seems to make me bloat up a ton, just like foods that I know don’t sit so well in my stomach. Thanks for sharing the main messages of this book, Megan. I think I have fewer grains in my diet now than the average person, so if I were to try this it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to make the switch. Now you’ve got me even more curious about the book!

Aubrey

This is so interesting!!!!

Anjali

LOVE this post. It really is a reflection of my DAILY inner dialogue! I feel shy admitting it, but fruits seem to make my physiology smile…it’s been such a struggle telling myself “No” when I reach for an apple, berries, or God forbid a banana 😉 Very interesting, and of course, incredibly confusing. Thanks for bringing the discussion to the table!

    Megan

    Glad it resonated with you, Anjali! I can tell you that my body is much happier with fruit back in my life, so I just wanted to share another perspective on cleansing. 😀

    Hope you figure out what works best for you!

Red Deception

I don’t really find the research behind this specific diet substantial enough to make recommendations as a health care professional, then again, I really don’t like to recommend many diet books. I do, however, agree that plant-based foods with or without sugar are immensely health. Sure, raspberries have sugar – but the antioxidants! The fiber! The vitamins! The deliciousness!
I try to base my recommendations on reasonable scientific research that has been peer-reviewed. I also have to base it one each person in my care – for example – diabetics won’t be able to consume as many sugars (natural or not). My main recommendations are to eat more plant-based foods, drink lots of water, eat little to no animal products, eat fruits and veggies of many colours, and eat high fiber foods more often.

    Megan

    Your recommendations are very sound, indeed! 🙂

    I would never generally recommend any one “diet” to anyone, either– but I do happen to know many women who fear eating fruit because of yeast issues, and wanted to share a new perspective on things and open up a discussion on the subject. Here’s to eating a colorful diet, full of plant-based foods!

    Dorothy

    It’s possible that since you read this post new research has come out; there is a decent amount of research supporting the diet as a way to treat (not cure) IBD. Many doctors do suggest it.

LizAshlee

I would definitely try this diet!! Right now I am trying to put into practice what we recently learned via Dr. Douillard’s Ayurvedic principles, eating 3 meals a day with lunch being the largest. At first I was liking this way of eating but now my schedule has changed and I work long days so I really need a light snack (I’ve been eating an apple or grapefruit) to get me through to the next meal. I will say that my body works best with a lighter dinner!!

How often do you eat? Do you feel you have to eat more throughout the day when you eat raw?

p.s. Any chance you’re going to the IIN Mega Conference? I booked my flight this evening! 🙂

    Megan

    I loved learning about the Ayurvedic principles! I tried eating a heavier lunch briefly, but since my days are so busy, it really works best for me to have a larger dinner– when I have time to actually sit down and enjoy it! I’m definitely a 3-meal-a-day type girl, usually with fresh veggie juice as my breakfast and maybe a piece of fruit. Even when I was eating raw, I ate nice, satisfying meals, so I wasn’t hungry throughout the day.

    I don’t think I’ll make it to the IIN Mega Conference, but I hope you have a blast!!

sam

Hi Megan

You have to read it perfect helath diet.According to that book, Fruit from sugar is very hard for body and intestines cause fructose has to go to live our body recognize it as toxin that why it has to go to liver. You will learn a lot about sugar and carbohydrate that book change my life so much energy happy no combining rules( cause it is better to have half of sweet potato with protein in lunch and the other in dinner than in one meal) I feel so much better no insulin spike nothing no craving at all.

sam

Also sacharide from sweet potato is much more easily digested cause they have glucose. It is totally different from that book you have read.

    Megan

    I look forward to reading that book, too! I love seeing the different perspectives on health, and hearing what works best for different people.

      sam

      You know but it is so confused then when one book says this and another something totally different. I know the best way is to listen to our body, but when some people need help to find the best way for them. Thank you for sharing this information.

Nadya @ Spinach and Yoga

Megan, this book looks very interesting! I think there is no definite answer about fruit and carbs that will work for everyone. Sugar absorption/metabolism depend a lot on the physical activity level, age, and the combinations that it comes into the body. Carbs combined with fat are a lot harder to digest. Someone who exercises vigorously will feel fatigued quickly of there are not enough carbs.
As a Vata type with a very high level of vigorous physical activity, I feel best when I have at least 2 pieces of fruit a day and a little bit of grains in the am. I use Kamut and amaranth now and they seem to work great. They ground me and make my body feel very nourished they way that fruit or nuts don’t.
You are right that it is great to learn about different approaches but at the end listening to the feedback from our body and being honest when interpreting it, in my opinion, is the safest way to go. And the happiest:)

Vanessa

I think that this diet sounds rather interesting and something I am def. going to check out! I can certainly attest to how certain foods affect my digestion, and since I transitioned to eating a vegan diet (I no longer am vegan–I consume eggs daily), I would have alot of bloating etc. I used to take digestive enzymes prior to eating, but I hated the fact that I had to take pills when I was eating so healthy! That was not the point! Anyway, I still feel as though my digestion is ALL OVER THE PLACE, and yet I eat a clean diet, with the occasional treat now and then, but I do love dark chocolate daily, which is the one drawback for me when looking at this diet…Would following the rules to this diet for the most part be effective if you still consumed dark chocolate?
Thanks!

Vanessa 🙂

Jeanne

Great theory and for me the take home message is balance. When I eat grains and beans I find I eat HUGE quantities in order to be satisfied and end up feeling bloaty. When I ventured into all raw, I ate mostly fruit and nuts I felt ungrounded and binged. Now that I’m aging and finally getting to know what foods I LIKE and not what someone else tells me I should eat, I’m more open to having a yam, a bran muffin, or some rice from time to time without worry…and there is just something so sexy about goat cheese and dark chocolate…now that I’ve brought them into my life I don’t want to give them up!

Tamara Lukie

ahhh, so many different ways to do one thing!!! how frustrating!!! Glad there are blogs & people like us out here to help eachother out!!
T

Gabriela

This is a great post! I went through a year long struggle of avoiding most fruits with the exception of berries and green apples. The deprivation I felt was unexplainable. Almost like I was violating my body of some serious goodness. Until finally I woke up one day with the tremendous urge to have a banana and some fresh figs from the farmers market. So I did! but i ate three bananas and like 8 figs, my body felt so nourished and fulfilled that I decided to never again deprive myself of fruit. Then I also did some serious research, because I began questioning how the principles in the diets I was currently following (DFW and the Bodyecology) and some of the information seemed very contradicting. A big one for me is that DFW allowed dark chocolate wich contains sugar(most likely highly processed)but not fruit! I learned that fruit is the only food in the planet which is actually predigested and it leaves not toxic waste in the system. There are five essential nutrients that must come from foods we eat which are glucose, amino acids, minerals, fatty acids and vitamins in order for our bodies to function. Well fruit contains all of them in almost the perfect percentages as needed by our bodies. I have now been eating lots of delicious fruits the benefits have been tremendous but the most important part is that I feel GREAT!!! and i’ve lost about 15 lbs since consuming fruits again since it curves my craving for so many other sugars and carbs. I think following how your body reacts to certain fruits and to be mindful that unfortunately there has not been enough research on any diet out there to follow that particular path. So I agree with you, colorful, high water content, enzyme full, and whole a food diet is your best bet. And there is also the possibility that even a whole food your body might disagree with. For example, I can drink nut milks by the gallon, but if i have a handful of nuts my stomach bubbles up and well… you can image what happens next:)!!!! Same with cauliflower:(:( I made this video on fruit because I feel so strongly that it the most perfect food for our beautiful human bodies:)
http://youtu.be/Sbjdbq3IeCM

Pure2raw twins

thank you for this! i will have to show this to Lori. great stuff. funny how everything about “diet” and food is starting to make sense. it is the simple things. keep diet simple and find what works for you 😉

Rande McDaniel @ The Vegetable Centric Kitchen

I think for me, regardless of whether or not they feed yeast, I avoid too much fruit or honey because it’s seems too clean to have all that often right now. Like, I will have a seriously kick-ass colonic the day after eating fruit or a significant amount of raw honey and start to feel rather weighted down and foggy if I do those things without the colon cleansing. I guess that’s just where my body’s at right now, I’d imagine at some point fruit will be a non-issue. I did find this very interesting though and I definitely don’t think that “sugar is sugar” all across the board.

Erin

After reading this post, I ran out and bought a big bag of apples lol. After biting into the crisp sweetness, I realized that my poor soul has been craving fruit for so long. It suddenly dawned on me that many of my cravings and feelings of deprivation stem from a desire for something so simple. I’m starting to see that I have to be more flexible and not see one nutritionists perspective as gospel. Just ordered this book, so thank you:).

    Megan

    I’m so glad you enjoyed some apples!!

    I think having a flexible approach to nutrition is so much more sustainable in the long-run– and ultimately makes for a happier life! Hope you enjoy reading the book, too. 🙂

Mindy

I know what you mean about all the contradicting/confusing info out there. I just read an article that has me totally sweating about chocolate. I was wondering what your thoughts are on it:

http://www.holistichelp.net/blog/is-raw-cacao-really-healthy/

If you could check it out and respond, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

    Megan

    Thanks for sharing the article, Mindy! I like to think of chocolate (raw or dark chocolate bars) as a “safe poison” that can be consumed in moderate proportions when following a detox-friendly lifestyle. In a detoxing context, chocolate is still less harmful than say, regularly consuming soda or fast food. So, if you’re transitioning away from highly toxic substances, and having a chocolate indulgence keeps you moving in the right direction, then I think it’s still a good thing.

    Do I think we should be supplementing with chocolate for health benefits? No. I’ve definitely experienced some of those heart-racing symptoms, as well as anxiety, and I think it may be attributed to over-doing it on the chocolate! I also think chocolate should be removed from the diet if you seriously need to heal your digestion. Obviously, it depends on one’s specific situation.

    I hope that helps, and I hope you don’t “sweat” too much about eating chocolate– stress can be just as damaging as toxic substances! I plan to keep high-quality chocolate in my diet for the time being, if it makes you feel any better. 😉

Michaela

Hi megan
I have read both book scd and I quit sugar now I am confused cause I quit sugar is about avoiding fructose since leaving some sweet potato and grains and even dextroze!!! I have read also GASP diet it is very similar to scd but Natasha explain more about cleansing and feeding body, that we can not obtain nutritions from plants(that I agree)She explain that you can hurt your body with vercleansing that after you cleanse your body you need to feed it… Have you read that book? I am trying to feed my girl more nutritious raw sheep and goat dairy raw butter bone broth more like weston price recomendation plus we both take fermented cod liver oil butter oil blend for dha epa vitamin AD AND K2. She is 3 years old and have never been sick

bonnie

Hi! I am on day 3 of the initial phase of this diet to, hopefully, help my IBS-D. As far as the raw and not animal based ideas, the start of this diet is all animal based. Broiled beef, chicken soup and homemade yogurt. Only after symptoms improve do you add cooked fruits and veggies SLOWLY to see what you can tolerate. The raw fruits and veggies are a long ways down the road. However, that is for someone that is sick (like me) I would imagine following SCD ideas after these phases would be very healthy for anyone. BTW, love this blog and the yummy recipes, can’t wait to get healthy so I can tolerate them again!

Holly

I tried a candida cleanse earlier in the summer when I started having some major digestive issues while on my current vegan diet that I have mostly thrived on for the past 3 years. Although I gladly reintroduced fruit after the cleanse I realized how much better I felt after dropping the grains and have yet to add them back to my regular diet. I also upped the amounts of raw vegetable fat in the form of coconut oil and milk, avocados, nuts and seeds and yet these so called “fats” seem to make me more lean than I ever was on a fat restricted diet.
My diet overhaul also forced me to become more aware of the effects of different foods on my body and while I still find legumes, grains and dairy to be indigestible, eggs, fish and a little bit of lean, grass-fed white meat seems to satisfy me well. I have certainly readjusted the way I look at “fats” and “sugars” since noticing the amazing results on my skin, weight and overall well-being.

Janet

Hi,

Good article.

I use the SCD for my son. It is wonderful, provides amazing results, and really makes you think about the food you fuel your body with.

Once you get past the beginning, it is easy!

Have a happy day…

Annie

On my second week of D4W and loving it:). I have been taking Candex off and on for a year to try to “fix” the issue, but my cycle and hormones are all over the place, so I decided to get the upper hand on Candida by doing D4W and using Candi-gone. I’m all gently trying to cleanse liver & kidney with tea. I was wondering if you took the full dose of Candi-gone or half strength and if so for how long? It recommends half dose for under 150lbs, but I’d like to get the full benefit:)
Also, as far as fruit goes, I remember reading Natalia Rose in D4W saying that fruit IS the best food for the body, but only for a CLEAN body (not over run by yeast). I did her Raw food detox diet several years ago and I felt wonderful, BUT after a few months, ended up with a terrible yeast infection. What I learned was that I felt wonderful because I was eating raw, but also because I was feeding yeast very well with all of the natural sugars. My body wasn’t clean enough to handle it. I definitely plan to go back to fruit slowly in a few months and keep incorporating the best grains. On top of that I’ll prob be taking 1 Candex at night and Ohhira’s probiotics forever:).

A’iSha gohil

Hi
I’m currently undergoing a Candida diet plan.
I’m a little in starting up to be honest.
Like is very busy bro a mum of 6 and home educating them along with home life is rather hectic.
I have visited a private nutritionist who has picked up I have Candida, the local go has only put my kin condition down to dermatitis and are happy to prescribe steroid creams. This is not what I intend to use for so long.
It’s coming to almost 2 years and I see no difference in my skin unless I use the steroid crea, I have cut down using it as my skin has almost completely cleared up.
By doing the candid diet I’m hoping to clear my skin and dealing with the issue and fixing it rather than temporarily using the creams clearing it up on the surface and then going back to square one.
I’m addicted to dark chocolate.
I have currently been doing a water diet but I can not continue this long term. My plan is to commence a water diet for a few days and then to start on the Candida diet.

If you are able to offer any advice or tips I would be so greatful.

Many thanks
A’isha

Cait

Is there a way to find SCD recipes??

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