Specific Carbohydrate Diet

What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?

The specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) is free of complex carbohydrates, like grains and starches, that are more difficult to digest and absorb. It was originally developed as a treatment for celiac disease, but research shows it also reduces the symptoms of other digestive conditions including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Ulcerative colitis 

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Diverticulitis

  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

How Does The Diet Work?

The SCD allows only simple carbohydrates (carbs) - Simple carbs provide quick energy. Unlike complex carbs, simple carbs do not need to be broken down in order to be absorbed. Limiting the diet to selected simple carbs improves digestion, decreases inflammation, and balances gastrointestinal bacteria.

Note: Many simple carbohydrates are not part of the SCD. For example, cakes and candy with refined sugar or corn syrup.

What Foods Are Allowed?

Simple carbs do not require enzymes for digestion. The foods in the SCD are also unprocessed and free of added sugar, as well as grains and starches.

Specific Carbohydrate Diet: Permitted Foods

  • Vegetables: Fresh, frozen, fermented, non-starchy

    • Examples = all vegetables except those listed below

  • Fruits: Fresh, frozen, dried, without added sugar

    • Examples = all fruits except those listed below.

      • Note: Canned fruit in its own juice is allowed

  • Legumes

    • Examples = Dried beans (white, navy, lima, kidney, black) - soaked and drained; Lentils; Split peas

  • Protein: Only fresh and frozen with clean (few and simple) ingredients and without additives

    • Examples = Meats (smoked meats [e.g. bacon, etc.] without added sugar); Chicken and turkey; Fish (canned with minimal ingredients); Eggs

  • Nuts, seeds, and nut butters: Unsweetened, without preservatives

    • Examples = Almonds, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, peanuts, etc.; Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.

  • Dairy products: Low lactose and not processed

    • Examples = Naturally aged cheeses (Asiago, blue, brick, brie, Colby, dry curd cottage cheese, gorgonzola, gouda, Havarti, Monterey Jack, muenster, parmesan, provolone, Swiss)

  • Fats

    • Examples = Butter, ghee, oils (coconut, olive, avocado oil, etc.)

  • Condiments/Other

    • Examples = Mustard, vinegar, honey, spices

What Foods Aren’t Allowed?

Specific Carbohydrate Diet: Foods to Avoid

  • Grains

    • Amaranth flour, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, durum flour, millet, oats, pasta, pea flour, quinoa, rice, spelt, sprouted grain bread, wheat, wheat germ

  • Vegetables and Fruits

    • Canned vegetables, cassava (tapioca), parsnips, plantains, potatoes, tamarind, turnips, seaweed, sweet potatoes, yams

  • Legumes

    • Bean sprouts, fava beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), mung beans, pinto beans

  • Protein

    • Processed meats (deli meats, ham, hot dogs, sausage) and soy products (soy milk, soybean oil, miso, tofu, etc.)

  • Seeds

    • Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds

  • Dairy products/dairy substitutes

    • Milk (buttermilk, dried milk solids, Lactaid milk, soy milk)

    • Cheese (cottage cheese, cream cheese, Goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese)

    • Cream

    • Kefir

    • Margarine

  • Sweets/sweetened drinks/sweeteners

    • Agave, maple syrup, molasses, date sugar

    • Artificial sweeteners/sugar alcohols (e.g. sucralose, xylitol, etc.)

    • Candy, chocolate, marshmallow

    • Cane sugar, coconut sugar

    • Corn starch, corn syrup

    • Beverages with added sugar (soft drinks/soda, beer)

  • Preservatives/Other

    • Baker's yeast, baking powder, gum (chewing gum, guar gum, mastic gum, xanthan gum), ketchup, maltodextrin, MSG, natural flavors, pectin, soy sauce, spirulina, stevia, tapioca

Contact your coach if you have any questions or need more support.