When My Children were on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
How the Specific Carbohydrate Diet Saved My Children
My husband and I were thrilled to be parents. Our long -waited firstborn arrived after seven years of marriage. We were blessed with a second baby a short time later.
However, we soon realized our children weren't healthy. Developmentally, our oldest wasn't on track. Her speech was delayed and she had very poor social skills.
At one point, she was formally diagnosed with autism. Our youngest was an outgoing little guy. In the beginning, he was ahead of the curve. But, by the time he was 18 months old, he was losing weight and he had little energy. Big black circles had formed under his eyes, and his distended belly made him look pregnant. He also developed breathing problems.
My husband and I took him from doctor to doctor, but no one could tell us what was wrong.
In searching for a solution to my daughter's problems, I realized that the Standard American Diet was our enemy. Also, my children had been vaccinated and they'd both taken multiple courses of antibiotics to treat their chronic ear infections. All of the above had made them sickly.
The Internet was Our Lifeline
Fortunately, this all happened a couple years after it became easy to go online. I was able to tap into a lot of information about autism, and how it could be helped by a milk-free, gluten-free diet. With little to lose, I immediately stopped giving my daughter milk. Within about a week, she started talking in sentences.
However, she then hit a plateau. That's when gluten had to go too. We saw more rapid improvements, until she hit another plateau. That's when we realized corn was also fueling her autistic behavior. Taking that away helped immensely.
But we were very distressed that as our daughter improved, our son began to regress. His physical health also began to decline after he accidentally ate a wheat cracker at the playground. This, however, was a blessing in disguise.
Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet
Help Arrives in the Mail
After my son, who was doing fairly well on a strict gluten-free diet, ingested the cracker, his health slipped again. His breathing was labored and I was more worried than ever. Despite bringing him to his pediatrician, and the various specialists we were referred to, no one could find the cause of his problems. He was tested for cystic fibrosis, which, fortunately, he didn't have.
The doctor wanted me to feed him wheat again, to test him for celiac disease. But I refused, as he had such a bad reaction from eating just one cracker.
However, my mother ended up coming to the rescue. She happened to meet a woman who suffered from inflammatory bowel disease, which she kept under control by adhering to something called the SCD Diet. This is a grain-free diet that many people has found extremely helpful in controlling their symptoms of ulcerative colitis and celiac disease.
Amazingly, the woman who spoke to my mother took it upon herself to send us a book on the SCD diet calledBreaking the Vicious Cycle, written by Elaine Gottschall, whom, many years earlier, had cured her daughter's ulcerative colitis by putting her on this diet.
Tips and Tricks for Following the SCD Diet
Planning ahead is essential. Changing your diet can be daunting at first. But many people have done it. Here are some tips to get started.
- We found it easier to simply bring food from home for my children to eat whenever we were invited elsewhere. Restaurants were very accommodating.
- If you are going to a restaurant, simply order a big salad without dressing or croutons. Add chunks of chicken you bring from home for a more filling meal.
- Order a plain hamburger, with lettuce, tomato and onion, with no dressing. Ask the kitchen to prepare a baked potato.
I Knew it Was the Right Thing to Do
After reading the book, and learning that people was once used as a cure for celiac disease, I knew we needed to try it. Since I was now desperate, I was willing to try just about anything. It also seemed to make sense to put my daughter on this diet as well, even though there was practically no information about how eating SCD-legal foods would help a child with autism. But I made an educated guess based on new information about the potential role of a leaky gut in autism spectrum disorders.
Back then, there was also not a lot of recipes available on SCD meals and snacks, as there is today. The book Eat Well, Feel Well: More than 150 Delicious Specific Carbohydrate Meals and Snackswould have made life much easier.
At first, both children lost a little weight on the diet. This was frightening to watch, especially for my son.
But this was because many types of carbohydrates were not allowed, and their bodies were apparently adjusting. Sugar was a type of carbohydrate they couldn't eat.
The diet is called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet because only simply and easily digestible carbohydrates, such as those found in fruits, nuts and vegetables were allowed. All types of meat were legal as well. After six months on the diet, we could also incorporate legumes, provided they were well-soaked beforehand.
Even though a type of homemade yogurt is legal on this diet, we never made it. That's because certain proteins in milk are thought to be a cause of autism. So the way my children ate was closer to the now-popular paleo diet.
Foods Allowed on the SCD Diet
You can eat as much fresh fruit as you want. However, canned fruit may contain added sugar, which is not allowed on the diet.
You'll be eating a lot of vegetables on this diet. However, the late Elaine Gottschall, who promoted the SCD, warned against eating canned vegetables, which could contain added sugar, regardless of what the label said.
Meat and fish are allowed. However, sauces cannot contain grains, sugar or fresh milk.
Nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts are allowed. However, people with nut allergies, for obvious reasons, would have a difficult time adhering to this diet.
After six months on the diet, it was alright to eat legumes, provided they were very well soaked, according to Elaine Gottschall.
A special type of homemade yogurt is allowed. However, my children didn't eat it because of sensitively to dairy.
Video Testimony of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
Both Children Eventually Began to Thrive
My daughter, now four, initially regressed once she started the diet. I braced myself for this possible reaction, because I had now come to learn that nearly everything that eventually helped her resulted in a healing crisis. This was no different.
Within about a week, we could see her making great strides, in language and in other areas. After about two years on the diet, her autism diagnosis was lifted.
Good things happened with my son as well. After his initial weight loss, accompanied by a darkening of the black circles under his eyes, his skin color turned from deathly pale to a healthy olive tone. We noticed his energy rebounded. He began to run around again, just like any other little boy.
During this time, I also gave my children various vitamin supplements. In retrospect, though, I don't think these helped. We also did a lot of homeopathy, working with a very skilled practitioner familiar with Dr. Samuel Hahnemann's more advanced studies, published shortly before his death.
So, to be perfectly accurate, it was the combination of the SCD diet and homeopathy that saved my children. Today, my son is a normal teenager who likes to spend time with his friends. My daughter is still a bit socially awkward, but no longer autistic. She is in college and she also has a part-time job.
Sticking to the Diet
My children stayed on the diet for several years. We gradually introduced forbidden foods such as rice and potatoes. Both children were gluten-free for about seven more years.
Then, as teenagers, they began to cheat. Now they eat whatever they want.
I won't lie and say this was an easy lifestyle. We had very few restaurant meals during that time. Because we were worried about cross-contamination, we didn't take many vacations. The few times we did go away, we brought food from home to cook.
When my daughter was about five, I remember going away with one of her friends and the friend's mother. We rented condos in a resort area. Most of my "vacation" was spent cooking.
Yet I never viewed the SCD diet as a burden, because it was an answer to my prayers.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not meant to diagnose‚ treat or cure any disease or medical condition.
This article is not intended as medical advice or recommendation. It is simply a story of how my children regained their health. Anyone contemplating such a diet change should discuss it with a physician. People with health concerns should consult a licensed practitioner.
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