Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
Introduction by Raman Prasad (Excerpt)
This book came into being because of a toothbrush innocently swished
in the Rio Grande River during a high school canoe trip, and a
resulting case of Montezuma's revenge. This incident led to months
of antibiotics and antiparasitic medication, bloody diarrhea,
cramping, and a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis at age seventeen.
During a five-minute, post-sigmoidoscopy meeting, a gastroenterologist
quickly told me: "Do not eat raw vegetables, fruit, popcorn, or nuts
ever again." I was given a prescription for prednisone, and life veered
off for a while. Years eighteen through twenty-three passed by in a
surreal blur. I could never count on feeling well the next day.
At age twenty-four, after a hospital stay, with drugs having little
effect on the disease, the doctor described my intestines as
resembling "bloody hamburger." Surgery was the next option, and hope waned.
However, in 1996, I was lucky enough to find Elaine Gottschall's
book Breaking the Vicious Cycle through the soon-to-be-popular
Internet. This book proposed treating inflammatory bowel disease
(IBD), diverticulitis, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and chronic
diarrhea through a "specific carbohydrate diet (SCD)." After reading
it twice, the premise behind the diet made sense.
The author describes a "vicious cycle" in which injury to the
surface of the small intestine leads to the inability to properly
digest the carbohydrates in many foods, including bread, pasta,
rice, and milk. When the body cannot digest these foods, the
undigested carbohydrates become energy that fuels bacterial
overgrowth in the intestinal tract. The small intestine becomes
injured further and responds to the increase of bacterial by-products
by creating more mucus. In turn, the mucus leads to impaired digestion
and the cycle escalates, resulting in symptoms such as diarrhea and
The diet attempts to break this cycle by avoiding carbohydrates
that cannot be properly digested, thereby depriving harmful bacteria
of energy. In addition, it includes acidophilus, through homemade
yogurt, which restores the intestine's bacterial balance.
However, the diet seemed tough: no rice, no bread, no potatoes,
no to many things. But as IBD symptoms (diarrhea, blood, and
cramping) subside, the diet included fruits and vegetables—foods
I rarely ate with ulcerative colitis. Many years had passed since
I had dared to eat a salad. I decided to give the diet a try. I
emptied out my apartment of "illegal" foods and stocked up on SCD
"legal" ones at the grocery store. (See the chart below for examples
of "legal" and "illegal" foods.)
At first it was difficult to tell whether the diet was working.
I was on the steroid prednisone, which hid any pain and stopped
diarrhea, but I also felt numb and confused on the drug. After six
weeks, a notable change came in that an abnormally high blood test
for the liver returned to normal—and a liver biopsy was cancelled.
Weaning off the steroids took nearly six months, but my bowel
movements had become normal, and the pain in my abdomen was gone.
As the months passed and my energy returned, I felt strong again,
and best of all, I dared to look ahead and make future plans.
These plans included going back to school for graduate studies and
then finding a job in New York City. During this time I continued
to read postings on an online SCD mailing list. I was able to use
a lull at work to organize recipes from the SCD mailings and post
them at www.scdrecipe.com.
Meeting Elaine Gottschall
In the fall of 2001, Elaine Gottschall visited the New York area to
make presentations in Brooklyn and on Long Island. Eager to meet the
woman responsible for giving me my life back, I took the Long Island
Railroad out to a restaurant in Port Jefferson, New York, to attend
a twenty-person brunch in Elaine's honor.
From the picture in Breaking the Vicious Cycle, I imagined Elaine,
then eighty years old, as warm and soft-spoken. At 5-foot 8-inches,
she was warm and kind, but she exuded the energy of someone half her
age. (For the record, she wasn't soft-spoken, but had a strong,
clear voice.) Her knowledge, as well as her humor, impressed us all
Over the years, I saw Elaine a number of times, helping at her SCD
table during several conferences. The last time I saw Elaine was a
few weeks before she passed away in September 2005. She was struck
by serious cancer. (Mere months earlier, at age eighty-four, she
had accompanied her young granddaughter on a transatlantic flight
to Paris.) I visited her near her home in Canada, a short trip
outside of Toronto.
Indeed, she had helped so many people with the SCD along the way,
that now there were people looking out for her. During my visit,
people I had never met, but whose lives had been changed by the
diet, warmly took me into their homes and fed me SCD meals. One
woman prepared a vegetable-laden chicken soup to nourish Elaine
in the small, comfortable Canadian hospital where she was staying.
Walking toward her hospital room, we were all filled with great
sadness. Even in pain, she was in good humor; however, on the
subject of the diet, she became grave and concerned. She did not
want her work to fall into disuse—she knew that for each person she
had helped, there were hundreds more suffering. She simply asked us
to keep the SCD alive.
All of us who have been helped by her work and who met her in person
have done what we can—from opening clinics and consulting on the
diet to simply passing along the name of her book. For me, what
stands out the most is her selflessness, commitment, and perseverance.
Even while she was in the hospital, I remember her taking a phone call
so that she could help someone else who was ill.
This book is a small contribution to keep her work going. Realizing
all that has been cooked for me over the past years, I feel increasingly
appreciative of all the people around me—family, friends, and other fellow
SCDers. I hope that in sharing these recipes, these feelings and good
health are passed on to others.
© Fair Winds Press and Author