What Is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Following the SCD Diet (specific carbohydrate diet) is a good way to treat a variety of gastrointestinal conditions and diseases.

What is the SCD Diet?

The specific carbohydrate diet is designed to help people suffering from a number of serious gastrointestinal conditions, including celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic diarrhea, and cystic fibrosis, among others. The dietary foods that are included have a certain chemistry that makes them better for people suffering from a bowel disease. [1]

As the diet’s name implies, the carbohydrates allowed in this diet are specific, namely monosaccharides, the easiest carbohydrates for your stomach to digest. More complex carbohydrates, such as disaccharides and polysaccharides aren’t allowed in this diet, as they can be more difficult to digest, and thus feed bacteria in the gut, which can result in a variety of negative gastrointestinal symptoms. This diet is believed to work because it eliminates many of the foods that we aren’t biologically predisposed to eat, including those with additives and other non-natural compounds. [2]

SCD Diet Food List

The foods that are allowed on the diet are quite limited, and the SCD diet eliminates many of the most common foods in a typical diet. For that reason, this diet is considered quite difficult, albeit essential, for some people.

Foods to Eat

  • Vegetables
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Homemade yogurt
  • Low-sugar fruits
  • Condiments
  • Unprocessed drinks
  • Healthy fats
  • Eggs
  • Simple sugars

Foods to Avoid

A signboard reading carbohydrates surrounded by food on all sides

The specific carbohydrate diet is designed to help people suffering from a number of serious stomach ailments. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

SCD Diet Menu Plan

If you are starting an SCD Diet, your typical week of food might look something like the following:

Day 1

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Apple pie pancakes (grain-free)
  • Lunch: Chicken breast and carrots
  • Dinner: Venison and butternut squash

Day 3

  • Breakfast: Cheesy frittata muffins (grain-free)
  • Lunch: Ground beef patty cooked in coconut oil
  • Dinner: Bison steak and zucchini

Day 4

  • Breakfast: Pumpkin spice muffins
  • Lunch: Boneless pork chop and broccoli
  • Dinner: Cod filet cooked in coconut oil

Day 5

Day 6

  • Breakfast: Grain-free cereal
  • Lunch: Turkey breast with carrots
  • Dinner: Homemade chicken soup

Day 7

Benefits of the SCD Diet

While this diet can be rigorous, there are many benefits, including relief from IBS, lactose intolerance, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.


If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, going on this diet will eliminate many of the trigger foods that can cause inflammation and upset stomach. [3]

Digestive Issues

If you have excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea or other common gastrointestinal problems, the lack of dairy products and grains can help relieve many of these issues. [4]

Celiac Disease

The majority of the dietary recommendations are already gluten-free, making this diet ideal for people suffering from celiac disease. [5]

Lactose Intolerance

One of the most difficult aspects of this diet is the lack of dairy, but for lactose intolerant individuals, this can help to relieve many of the irritating symptoms.

Ulcerative Colitis

Research has found that the foods removed from the diet with the SCD diet can help to reduce the frequency of flare-ups of ulcerative colitis. [6]

Nutrient Absorption

Your gut can absorb the vast majority of the foods on this diet, ensuring that you fully benefit from the nutrients you consume.


Research has linked the foods you eat to the severity of autism symptoms, so this diet is often a great choice for children and adults suffering from this condition. [7]


It also helps in treating the condition of diverticulitis and at the same time helps improve brain health.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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