Here are some ways to make your life a little easier.

If you are new to SCD and looking for suggestions, see this post.

Read food labels. All of them. Every time. Don’t assume you already know what’s in a food. I was eating chicken breasts for six months before I read the label and realized that they contained broth which is illegal. Just because a label says ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ does not make it legal.

Cook extra portions for freezing. There will be plenty of times when you’ll be glad to be able to just microwave something from the freezer rather than cook from scratch.

Always have legal food on hand. If you don’t you might feel compelled to cheat.

Educate yourself about making yoghurt. Be sure to read this post to avoid the mistakes I’ve made. This page on the BTVC website is also required reading.

Watch food TV. You can get new ideas and learn some cooking techniques.

Don’t watch food TV. If you are having problems with cravings, don’t watch TV at all or at least eat first.

Cook when you’re not hungry. When I get hungry,  I get cranky. Cooking when I’m not hungry is less stressful for me and those around me then when I’m starving.

Use your butcher. If you don’t know your cuts of meat ask your butcher. They can answer questions about which cut to use for your dish and how to cook it. They have a lot of knowledge in an often confusing arena and are most likely willing to share. They can even help you economize.

Try to think ahead in your cooking. My biggest difficulty is remembering to take meat out of the freezer two days before I want to cook it.

Keep eggs and cheese on hand. They both keep pretty well and you can always fall back to an omelette if necessary.

Dry your own fruit. It keeps a long time at room temperature and is highly portable. Bananas tend to go on sale at the grocery at just the right time to be legal for the diet and make a super delicious treat when dried. As sweet as candy. Note that dried fruit is considered advanced.

Learn to preserve foods by canning. I have been so happy to have canned tomatoes in January, not to mention peaches, pears and nectarines. I’ve done dill pickles and also preserved large batches of barbecue sauce and ketchup. An excellent book for canning is the Ball Blue Book of preserving.

If you don’t know how to cook, get some instruction. Check your family and friends for personal help or your larger community for cooking classes. Ask a lot of questions. Talk to the instructor about your restrictions. Don’t be shy.

When unsalted butter is on sale, buy lots. It freezes well.

Buy unsalted butter instead of salted butter. It makes it easier to season your food when cooking.

Visit your local restaurant supplier. You can often find good deals on things like paper baking cups or equipment you can’t find elsewhere. I love yonana muffins and would hate to think how much the cups would have cost me at the supermarket rate.

Treats are important. If you have a sweet tooth like me, having treats available is almost as important as a meal for keeping a good attitude.

If you don’t know your wines, go to a wine shop. Some wines are legal, some are not. The only guidance from the BTVC book is to only use very dry wine. Any decent wine seller will be able to help you get what you need.

When bananas go on sale, buy lots. They are great for making dried banana chips and they also peel and freeze well for yonana muffins.

Keep a journal. The first couple of years on the diet, I kept a detailed journal with what I ate, when I ate it, when I went to the bathroom and what it was like, how much pain I had, my mood and how much sleep I had the night before. It was helpful tool to see how the diet was helping and what legal foods I couldn’t tolerate.

Fix heartburn. If you have the occasional heartburn or sour stomach, you will have realized that remedies like Tums or Rolaids contain illegals. There is an alternative though. Baking soda can cool that heartburn just as well as those chewables. Carefully read the label on a box of Arm and Hammer and you’ll find directions. Keep in mind however, that baking soda contains a lot of sodium and you wouldn’t want to use this remedy frequently.

Vanilla extract. Maybe you can’t find any legal vanilla extract in your area and would like to make your own. You are in luck. Just Google vanilla extract and you’ll get a ton of help and it’s easy to make. Shop around for your vanilla beans though. I’ve found the ones in my local grocery store to be extra expensive and I’m guessing they are pretty old. I like Penzeys. They are reasonable, responsive and their product is good.

Peanut Butter. Natural peanut butter is legal, but not all that great if you ask me. My solution is to mix in some honey for something closer to that stuff we ate as kids. A spoonful of sweetened peanut butter can be a good stop-gap when you need a sweet, but have nothing made.

Medical History. Keep as complete a record as possible. See this post for more detail.

Smoking on a gas grill. Want to do some smoking on your gas grill? See this excellent video on Epicurious for instruction.

Want to peel garlic super fast? See this post.


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16 Responses to “Tips”


  1. 1 Kaitlin September 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Hi. I just stumbled across your blog and wanted to say a huge thank you! I’m new to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet… I really appreciate finding sites like yours with tips and recipes.. and hope!
    Best Wishes,
    Kaitlin

  2. 2 Paul Stocker September 19, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Kaitlin,

    I’m glad you found the SCD and my blog. I hope you find healing and a new hope with the diet.

    -Paul

  3. 3 Diane Newton February 14, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    My mom has irritated colon. I have read BVC three times and continue to study it carefully. I have my mom on the diet and want to talk to you to make sure I am starting her out correctly.

  4. 4 Paul Stocker February 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Diane,

    Some things that come to mind:

    1) Have you found the stages on http://www.Pecanbread.com ? Here’s the link: http://www.pecanbread.com/new/scdfoods1.html#beyond

    2) Read all of http://www.Pecanbread.com

    3) If you know she has trouble with dairy, make goat’s milk yoghurt instead of cow’s milk and introduce it slowly.
    See this page on Pecanbread for instructions: http://www.pecanbread.com/new/yogurt1.html

    4) If she cannot tolerate the goat yoghurt, use probiotics in pill form. See this page on Pecanbread: http://www.pecanbread.com/new/probiotics1.html

    5) Nut butters and nut flours can be difficult, especially if started too early.

    6) You absolutely must keep a detailed food diary that includes not only what she eats and drinks, but when she does. It should also include reports of pain, gas, trips to the bathroom, what those were like, general mood, absolutely anything that is noticed even if you don’t think it’s directly related. For instance, many people report “brain fog” from eating certain foods even if they are legal.

    7) Introduce new foods slowly. It can take many days to react to a food. This is why the diary is so important.

    -Paul

  5. 5 Fiona Grove January 20, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I have recently stumbled across your site and event though we haven’t officially started the SCD yet (waiting for the book to arrive via Amamzon.com) I have referred to it many times already. I just wanted to say that of all the sites I have found, this has been the most imformative to date.
    We live in New Zealand (pop. 4.2 million). My daughter was diagnosed with UC in December of 2008. She was 7 years old at the time. We have had a relatively good year but about 6 weeks ago she began a mild flare which we haven’t been able to control as yet despite trying to introduce a low res diet and 20 days if increased prednisone. I know her specialist is going to want to try cyclosporin again (as that was the only thing that saved her colon during the 7 weeks we spent in hospital last year). In desperation I went back to the internet and discovered the SCD. I haven’t been able to purchase the BTVC book ANYWHERE in NZ so am feeling a little frustrated as we want to start the diet but have very little information as yet. That’s why your site has been so helpful. At least I have been able to cook main meals for her that are legal, even thought we’re not doing too well with breakfast and lunch at the moment. My question is; do you know of anyone else in NZ that is following this diet, as it would be helpful if I had someone close to home to bounce ideas off. Many thanks, Fiona

  6. 7 Nancy March 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I just heard of a new sweetner. It’s called lucuma powder. It is a fruit.
    It is low glycemic.
    Have you heard of it? I would like to know if it is SCD legal and don’t know who to ask.
    If you have any suggestions let me know.
    Thank you for your blog. It saved me when I was really sick.
    Regards,
    Nancyh

  7. 9 Tracey Lang July 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 11 years ago when I was 13 years old. I was on prednisone for over a year before I could get off it. I’ve tried sulfasalizine, pentaza and finally immuran was the only thing that worked. I’ve been on it ever since at the highest dose allowed for my weight. I have currently been on remicade for the past 4 years. It is no longer working.Fortunately I have never had surgery. I tried the scd diet for four months a year ago. I never intentionally cheated, but did several things wrong along the way. I was on it for a month before I found the precan bread website. Throughout my entire experience, I saw no improvement at. I was under quite a bit of stress at the time. I had just graduated college, had a new job and was planning a wedding. I lost 20 pounds and finally quit because I had no more weight to lose. I went back to eating my high grains diet because I can’t digest even overripe bananas. I just had a colonoscopy and I have a narrowing in my descending colon as well as lots of inflammation and ulcers throughout my large intestine. There is a new drug coming out in 2014, but if we don’t do something now, I will need surgery by then. I am kind of at my wits end. I don’t know if I should try the diet again. I have heard so many good things and even my brother in law had unbelievable results from the diet when he was on it as a kid. If I saw no results, do you think it is worth trying again? I bought the book by Elaine and she said that it doesn’t work for everyone. I would have to quit my job or take an unpaid medical leave of absence because I know I can’t handle doing the diet as well as working. It’s a big decision and wouldn’t mind some advice from someone on the diet. Everything I’ve read, people had some good results fairly soon, but I didn’t. So I’m wondering if it just won’t work for me.

    Thanks,

    • 10 Paul Stocker July 25, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Hi Tracey,

      I’m sorry that you are in such a difficult situation.

      I think it certainly would be worth trying the SCD again, as your first attempt was in the midst of quite a bit of stress. My last flare was caused by stress and I could imagine that your stress could have been too much at the time for the SCD to overcome. When you start with a sick gut, add a bunch of stress and the normal screw-ups of a new way of eating you have a lot to deal with. If my next option was surgery I think I’d try it again.

      As far as meds go, have you investigated low dose naltrexone (LDN)? I confess to not using it myself, but it has the advantages of being on the market a long time, being used in low dose and having less serious risks than the biologics. I don’t know what the success rate is, but I do know that many have benefited from it. You can read Matt Robinson’s experiences with it on his blog. You could start with this link.

      Obviously, I don’t know the details of your life, but would you really have to quit working to do the SCD? Are there no family or friends who you could reach out to? Are all your nights and weekends already taken by activities more vital than your health? If you have more money than time you could at least purchase some SCD baked goods (see my Resource page). I know the diet takes a lot of time, but I for one would spend that time in the bathroom if I weren’t spending it in the kitchen.

      As far as results from the diet go, they can be slow. I know mine were. I saw some changes within a few weeks, but it took years for me to get better. You’ve had CD for a long time and I imagine your recovery will take a long time as well. Keep good records of everything and be as patient as you can.

      -Paul

      • 11 Tracey July 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        Hi Paul,

        I wouldn’t maybe have to quit my job, but I think it would be best to take a month or two off just to get started and de-stress. I am currently working full time and I have a 45min. drive to and from work everyday. By the time I get home, I am exhausted and don’t feel like cooking. When I was previously on the diet, I was even more tired. I would get home and be sleeping in bed by 7:00 or 8:00. I have family that would like to help, but at the beginning, I think it’s best if I did all my own cooking and take the time to strictly monitor how I’m feeling which I didn’t do last time (biggest mistake). I live in Saskatchewan, Canada so I doubt that the bakery you suggested would ship all the way to me and I haven’t found anything close here that would but I’ll keep looking.

        I am meeting with my doctor next week to discuss options. She suggested ECP (Extracorporeal photopheresis)? Have you heard of this before? It is a treatment that is done 2 days a week for a month and then less after that. It sounded ok, but another reason why I wouldn’t be able to work full time. It also has a very long waiting list.

        I had never heard of LDN but will definitely recommend it to her. I tried researching it a little bit, but am not sure if it is available in Canada or not.

        I saw a link that said something about the gaps diet. Do you know much about this? From what I read it is an extension of scd? Is it more for autism?

        I am strongly considering doing the scd diet again. I am trying to do a lot more research this time before I start. I was definitely making yogurt wrong with my yogourmet maker. Your website has a ton of information and it is a great resource that I wish I had the first time around.

        Thanks,

        Tracey

        • 12 Paul Stocker July 30, 2013 at 9:16 am

          Hi Tracey,

          You sure have a long day. It would be awesomely helpful if you could take a month or two off. I imagined a more dire situation I guess. If the choice between work or not working isn’t that big of a deal then of course it’s a no-brainer.

          I’m glad that you see the importance of keeping a very detailed journal. I know that without one, I would have been lost and may have given up. A journal allows you to see the big picture in a more objective light than your current emotions might allow.

          I understand your reluctance to use family for cooking help. I’ve noticed in myself that the SCD can breed a certain paranoia. For instance, I didn’t want my vegetables cut on a board that was just used for cutting bread. It had to be washed first. Now I just brush off the crumbs and laugh a little. On the other hand, if you could train someone to make only one or two things exactly as you need and impress upon them the importance of doing it your way it could go a long way for the amount of cooking stress you might feel. As a side benefit, your cooking team gets to contribute in a very real way to help you in a situation that makes them feel helpless.

          I’m not familiar with ECP.

          I know that the GAPS is self-described as an evolution of the SCD, but I have no experience with it.

          On the subject of exhaustion, have you had your vitamin D and B12 levels checked? They tend to be low in people with IBD. I take both as supplements and find them to be helpful. I wrote about B12 here and D here.

          I’ll be thinking about you and wishing you well. Don’t hesitate to ask more questions. There is a lot of help out there.

          Cheers,
          Paul

  8. 13 mistvall December 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Be forewared about unsalted butter, it often contains “natural flavoring” which you should try to avoid. The only butters I can find around here that don’t have “natural flavoring” are salted. Check the ingredient labels carefully.

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