Healing Crohn’s Disease Using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (Which Is Gluten Free and Much More)

gluten free, grain free, SCD, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, personal story, Gluten Free SCD and Veggie, Elaine Gottschall, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Vicky Rockcliffe of Gluten Free SCD and Veggie

Today I have the honor of sharing another personal story with you. This one comes from Vicky Rockcliffe, author of the terrific blog Gluten Free SCD and Veggie. I don’t remember how Vicky and I “met” originally. It was probably on a mutual friend’s blog, but it’s been almost 2 years since Vicky first left a comment here on gfe and we’ve followed each other’s blogs (and Facebook pages) and stayed in touch ever since. I have loved Vicky’s positive, supportive attitude and warm, friendly nature from Day One! And, of course, she creates some amazing gluten-free recipes that are Specific Carbohydrate Diet compliant, too.

That’s what Vicky is going to talk about today, how the gluten-free diet and Specific Carbohydrate Diet have helped heal her family, most notably healing her son of Crohn’s. She’ll also share how she approached the diet from a vegetarian standpoint.

I’m convinced that the sharing of others’ personal gluten-free stories changes lives. You can find even more personal stories via the gfe sidebar, under gfe’s essential posts, Personal Stories tab.

But let’s get back to Vicky’s family’s gluten-free story …

I asked Vicky to share her bio and I love this snapshot she gives of herself below. And now I’ll turn the floor over to Vicky (for a while) …

“I’ve been married since 1977, vegetarian since 1977 and gluten free for a couple of years. I’m lucky to have 3 wonderful children and a fantastic daughter in law and THE most adorable grandson.  I work full time in finance, I’m always thinking of new things to cook and I quite often fail at cooking!  I like to grow herbs and love watching films, especially rom-coms.  I like chocolate but only the plain organic type these days.  I look after a cat called Tilly who was abandoned by her mother and that’s about it really!!” 

Adopting a gluten free diet is hard enough but the immediate transition from a regular diet to a grain free diet (without chocolate, gasp!)  is an enormous challenge, especially when you are vegetarian!  My son was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2006.  I’m a heavy believer in trying to tackle the cause of an illness rather than the symptoms of it, so I was determined to try and find a cure or at least something that would put the disease into remission to prevent the doctors from prescribing the heavy medication usually recommended for this disease.  Trawling through the internet, I came across The Specific Carbohydrate Diet and the science behind this diet supported the research I’d discovered about Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), bacteria which is known to cause a similar disease in cows called Johne’s Disease.

“Our research has shown that these Mycobacteria release a complex molecule containing the sugar mannose. This molecule prevents a type of white blood cells called macrophages from killing internalised E coli.” Scientists have shown that people with CD have increased numbers of a ‘sticky’ type of E coli and weakened ability to fight off intestinal bacteria. The suppressive effect of the Mycobacterial molecule on this type of white blood cell suggests it is a likely mechanism for weakening the body’s defence against the bacteria.” (Read more here.)

IBD, Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseBasically the overgrowth of e-coli due to the presence of MAP causes damage to the gut wall and since my son had drunk water from a stream in an area known to be a hot spot for MAP, I believed this was a possible reason why he had been prone to contract the disease.  While the possibility that MAP causes Crohn’s Disease in some people is not fully supported by everyone studying the disease, I think it makes a lot of sense in my son’s case.

So how does the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) help to “cure” this crippling disease?  The science supports the research about MAP, to put it simply, the SCD eliminates all carbohydrates which cannot be easily absorbed by the gut and which leave a residue for the e-coli to feed on and multiply.  Over a long period of time the e-coli dies off.   Carbohydrates which are composed of monosaccharides are fully absorbed by the gut and are therefore OK – hence the term “Specific”.  Anyone who chooses to embark on the SCD must adhere to it in a very strict manner, there is no room for cheating or else the recovery can be delayed.

If you are following a gluten free diet you may be interested to know that this diet was originally developed by Dr. Sidney Haas for sufferers of celiac disease.  It has also been known to help conditions such as autism as well as Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are conditions with chronic or recurring immune response and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The two most common forms of IBD are Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, Elaine Gottschall, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Breaking The Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall

So, what can you eat when you are following The Specific Carbohydrate Diet?  It was certainly not designed with vegetarians in mind!  Elaine Gottschall wrote the book, Breaking the Vicious Circle, after her daughter made a remarkable recovery from Ulcerative Colitis.  It explains both the science and practice of the diet.  Elaine’s work and dedication has probably helped hundreds of people suffering from IBD.  In the book and on the website, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, is a list of legal and illegal foods and plenty of advice for the newcomer to the diet.

Since, as I’ve said before, we believed that MAP was one of the primary causes of the disease in my son’s case), as well as following the SCD very strictly we adopted other precautions to help the body heal.  This included the elimination of tap water and uncooked dairy products.  For instance, because yogurt was an integral part of the diet I made sure that I boiled the milk for three minutes to ensure that any MAP that might be present was killed.  My son also started to exercise very regularly. Even though he was in sports teams at school; he also started to go to the gym three times a week.

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, Elaine Gottschall, Vicky Rockcliffe, Gluten Free SCD and Veggie, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Making Yogurt Every Other Day for SCD

How did we manage?  The book encourages everyone to begin with an intro diet mainly consisting of chicken broth, not something we could consider but an obvious choice for meat eaters.  I always remember my dear grandma, who lived to the grand old age of 92, turning to chicken broth whenever she was poorly.  We decided to progress by eliminating all illegal foods.  Surprisingly, this on its own did the trick!  When the yogurt maker arrived, I started to make a litre every other day to keep up with the demand!  We didn’t look back, my son’s blood tests returned to normal over the next three weeks and he continued to improve.  Now, seven years later, he hasn’t shown any symptoms of the disease and he’s determined to stay on the diet for life.  Thank goodness he didn’t have to take any of the medication the doctors wanted to prescribe since they would have brought on a whole host of other problems including arthritis and osteoporosis.

After a few weeks I decided to find some breads and cakes on the internet and came across a wonderful banana bread loaf and carrot cake recipe on SCDrecipe.com.  If you haven’t tried this carrot cake, I urge you to because it is  wonderful and something I made regularly for guests who honestly couldn’t tell it was made from nuts and carrots, so beautifully light textured and simple to make.   My son LOVED his baked beans before the diet and since navy beans were “legal” I made a simple alternative to the tinned variety.  He ate these most days in addition to his other foods and they really helped to cheer up him up in the first few months.

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, Elaine Gottschall, Vicky Rockcliffe, Gluten Free SCD and Veggie, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Baked Beans from Gluten Free SCD and Veggie

I think the key to success on this diet is ensuring that the food is kept very simple at the start, legal snacks are always on hand and plenty of yogurt is included.  For the first few months my son mainly ate the following foods:  SCD yogurt (fermented for 24 hours), the baked beans mentioned above, carrots (raw and cooked), broccoli, onions, cabbage, peas, courgettes, raisins, bananas, apples, grapes, oranges, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh herbs, garlic, mixed nuts, eggs, cooked cheese, banana bread, carrot cake, fresh fruit juice and lots and lots of mineral water.  I then bought every SCD recipe book I could find and he soon started to enjoy a huge variety of SCD legal foods.

He became very interested in food and developed his own recipes while he was at university, some of which appear on my blog.  We were so proud of his talents in the kitchen, one Christmas he even made a wonderful deconstructed nut roast for all of us!  My son encouraged me to start my own blog to share my recipes and since those early days, a whole host of blogs and websites have appeared to help followers of the diet and I regularly make food from these sites, even though my son has now left home.  We have all felt the benefits from following a mainly grain free diet.

Here are some links to sites you may find useful:

Mine is Gluten Free SCD and Veggie http://glutenfreescdandveggie.blogspot.co.uk/

Others include:

SCD recipes http://www.scdrecipe.com/home/

SCDiet.org http://www.scdiet.org/2recipes/indexa.html

No More Crohn’s for Me http://www.nomorecrohns.com/

Comfy Belly http://comfybelly.com/

Specific Carbohydrate Diet for Life http://www.scdforlife.com/p/beyond-scd-repcipes.html

Against All Grain http://www.againstallgrain.com/

The Tasty Alternative http://www.thetastyalternative.com/

My Big Fat Grain Free Life http://mybigfatgrainfreelife.com/

Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried http://milkforthemorningcake.blogspot.co.uk/ (the first site I found)

Empowered Sustenance http://empoweredsustenance.com/

Roost http://www.roostblog.com/

Mrs Ed’s Research and Recipes http://mrsedsresearchandrecipes.blogspot.co.uk/

Digestive Wellness http://digestivewellness.blogspot.co.uk/

Gluten Free Happy Tummy http://glutenfreehappytummy.blogspot.co.uk/

SCD Lifestyle http://scdlifestyle.com/

Real Food Forager http://realfoodforager.com/

Shirley here again … I’d asked Vicky earlier about her own gluten-free status. She shared: “I’m gluten free because it makes me feel so much better.  The link between auto immune thyroid disease and gluten sensitivity is recognised and I don’t suffer from bloating any more.  My thyroid medication has been reduced also.  My daughter, however, is dairy free and gluten free not because she has been diagnosed as celiac but because of other health issues which have almost cleared up – it’s taken over 2 years.  She was born with a dairy allergy which seems to have come back and hit her once she reached her late teens (I don’t actually think it ever went away given the amount of ear infections she had).” You can read more about Vicky here.

Last, here are five of Vicky’s recipes that are on my “to make list.” All are gluten-free, grain-free, and SCD compliant.

Grain-Free Raspberry Ripple Cake

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, Elaine Gottschall, Vicky Rockcliffe, Gluten Free SCD and Veggie, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Raspberry Ripple Cake from Gluten Free SCD and Veggie

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, Elaine Gottschall, Vicky Rockcliffe, Gluten Free SCD and Veggie, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies from Gluten Free SCD and Veggie

Gingerbread Men (featured on All Gluten-Free Desserts)

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, Elaine Gottschall, Vicky Rockcliffe, Gluten Free SCD and Veggie, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Gingerbread Men from Gluten Free SCD and Veggie

Ginger and Lemon Tart in a Glass (featured on All Gluten-Free Desserts)

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, Elaine Gottschall, Vicky Rockcliffe, Gluten Free SCD and Veggie, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Ginger and Lemon Tart in a Glass from Gluten Free SCD and Veggie

Rosemary and Garlic Bread Rolls

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, SCD, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, Elaine Gottschall, Vicky Rockcliffe, Gluten Free SCD and Veggie, IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Rosemary Garlic Bread Rolls from Gluten Free SCD and Veggie

Many thanks to Vicky for sharing her family’s personal story! Are you familiar with SCD? I was and had read Elaine Gottschall’s book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, which Vicky cited (and I actually ate somewhat closely to the SCD after I first went gluten free), but I learned much more from Vicky’s post. I hope you all did as well.

Full disclosure:  This post contains one or more affiliate links and I will receive a small “finder’s fee” if you purchase via the link. (Note that the finder’s fee is paid by the seller.) It helps support this blog when you purchase via affiliate links—thank you!

This post is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesday and Gluten-Free Wednesday.

Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


28 Responses to “Healing Crohn’s Disease Using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (Which Is Gluten Free and Much More)”

  1. Megan @ Allergy Free Alaska on May 15th, 2013 7:45 pm

    You are such an amazing mom! Your children are blessed to have you. :) Thank you for sharing your story with us, and all of your information and recipes. You are an inspiration to many!
    Big hugs to you!
    PS – I love that picture of you! You are absolutely beautiful!

    • Vicky on May 15th, 2013 8:13 pm


      You are such a sweetheart, thank you so much! I’m so grateful to have found this wonderful network of so many friendly, talented Mums without whom so much information about the way they’re successfully tackling and overcoming illnesses and allergies would never be discovered.

      Vicky xo

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2013 11:38 pm

      Hi Megan–Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I agree that Vicky is amazing and beautiful, and I’m so grateful to her for sharing her story. I hope that her story and discovering her blog will help many! :-)


  2. Vicky on May 15th, 2013 8:15 pm


    Thank you for sharing my story and for everything you do to make life easier and a lot more cheerful for everyone. I hope my story will help someone else suffering from this terrible disease.

    Your blog is such an amazing resource, I am so very grateful to have found it!

    Vicky xo

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2013 12:00 am

      Hey Vicky–I am so grateful to YOU! Many, many thanks for the kind words, dear! :-) I am certain that your family’s healing story and excellent blog will help so many.

      Thank you again for sharing! xo,

  3. Susan Welker, AIA on May 15th, 2013 8:46 pm

    Thank you Shirley for sharing Vicky’s story. We have been following Vicky’s blog for over a year and have even reposted some of her recipes. My husband has been on SCD for two years and what a remarkable change to his life. Now he is starting a SCD Bakery here in Austin from his love of baking and items we have adapted to the SCD. BTW, Vicky’s Gingerbread Recipe and Garlic rolls are both wonderful!

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2013 12:05 am

      Hi Susan–Welcome to gfe! :-) I’m so happy that you are already familiar with Vicky and her terrific recipes. And many congrats to your husband and you on his new health! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an SCD Bakery. That is very, very cool! Glad you like my recipe picks, too. ;-)


  4. Ricki on May 15th, 2013 11:23 pm

    What a great story–and so nice to see Vicky in a photo! I’m so impressed by the determination and success of her approach. So glad it worked! :)

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2013 12:07 am

      Hey Ricki–Yes, I thought so, too, on both. Vicky has set such a fine example for everyone! :-) I hope many find healing through SCD thanks to her!


  5. amber on May 16th, 2013 3:25 pm

    Well I am a BIG fan of Vicky’s blog. I feel like she is a kind, loving friend and I’m so glad to have her in my life. Thank you for highlighting her, Shirley.

    Our connection goes a bit deeper than food. Like her son, I also have CD, so we have a connection in this way.

    I’ve made many of her recipes. And they have all been fabulous. Vicky highlights herbs too on her blog which I am very interested in and always enjoy.

    Great recipe picks there Shirley!

    Thank you for including me in that great list of blogs.


    • Shirley on May 19th, 2013 12:14 am

      Hi Amber!–You have described Vicky so perfectly. :-) I know that all of us who know her feel that same gratitude for her and her site. Thanks, too, for sharing your personal connection and reviews of her recipes! Vicky was the one who included your blog, but I agree with her. ;-)


  6. Susan on May 16th, 2013 7:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing Vicky’s story with us Shirley. It is amazing what a mom will do to make sure her child is well. Thanks for sharing the recipes too!

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2013 12:16 am

      Susan–”It is amazing what a mom will do to make sure her child is well. Thanks for sharing the recipes too!” Indeed. :-)

      You are welcome on all, of course!


  7. Maggie on May 16th, 2013 9:31 pm

    I loved reading this, Shirley! Thanks for sharing Vicky with us. I can’t wait to check out her recipes.
    Vicky, I think you’re amazing! What a dedicated Mom – and I am so impressed/relieved to hear you were able to stay vegetarian on the SCD. Yay! I’d love to try making my own yogurt, one day!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Vicky on May 18th, 2013 5:05 pm

      You make me blush Maggie! I think we all pull out the stops where our children and family are concerned. It was a very rough time since I felt responsible and blamed myself for his illness.

      My daughter and I were discussing this the other day and while he did prefer to eat baked beans and prepared frozen veggie burgers, they were of a good quality and I did make our pizzas and other foods from scratch. He just wasn’t fond of many vegetables just peas, carrots and broccoli – which he did have every day!

      I should have noticed the signs much earlier but I hadn’t come across the disease before. However, he is very happy and I realise that perhaps I wasn’t entirely to blame.

      We’ve all learned so much from this illness and I am forever grateful to Elaine for her work and dedication.

      Thank you for reading this.


    • Shirley on May 19th, 2013 12:19 am

      Hey Maggie–Vicky is a true delight! So happy to share her with you all. :-) Every time I read her family’s personal story, I am amazed once again.


  8. Linda W on May 16th, 2013 10:23 pm

    Just found your site! I read Breaking the Vicious Cycle a couple of years ago but the diet is just too hard for me because I have multiple food allergies and some of her core foods don’t work for me.

    I’ve been off wheat and cow-dairy foods for 15 or 20 years. If that were all I had to avoid, life would be much easier.

    • Vicky on May 18th, 2013 5:09 pm

      Linda, I’m so sorry you were unable to follow the diet. Multiple allergies and following a vegan lifestyle make this diet almost impossible to follow.

      I hope you are able to find something to help you.

      Thank you for commenting and reading my story.


    • Shirley on May 19th, 2013 12:22 am

      Hi Linda W–Welcome! :-) It’s true that SCD can’t be followed by all, but I love seeing the results when it is followed. Congrats on being wheat free and dairy free for so long! You’re a pioneer!


  9. Linda on May 20th, 2013 7:46 pm

    Vicky, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I know other people with Crohn’s who are managing successfully on the SCD. It’s great to hear that your son is too, and I found the part about MAP particularly interesting.

    The SCD used to seem very overwhelming to me, and I didn’t know how people did it. Now that I’ve been grain free for a number of months I realize that it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be. We do what we have to when it makes a difference to our health, and with a right attitude (like you and your son have), it becomes a rewarding adventure.

    • Vicky on May 21st, 2013 5:40 pm

      Hi Linda

      It’s so lovely to hear of others who are healing with the SCD, how wonderful! We found out the information about MAP before the SCD and discovered some people who had successfully cured their Crohn’s Disease using anti-biotics to kill the MAP. But this wasn’t an ideal way of tackling the disease so when we came across the SCD we were so relieved!

      The SCD was VERY overwhelming to me too. But as you know it IS very possible and the benefits of living grain free (or as I do 80% grain free) are obvious to many who have used this path to heal themselves. Yes, it is rewarding!

      Thank you for reading my story, I really appreciate your comment.

  10. Terry-Lynn on September 30th, 2013 9:44 pm

    I think I may have found a little hope. I have been crying for two months after being diagnosed with Crohn’s. I really dislike taking the strong medications as I was not ever one to even take an aspirin. I still feel I have a death sentence but with a fourteen yr old daughter I want to get it together and be happy for her something I am having a really hard time doing. Thanks for the ray of hope.

    • Vicky on October 1st, 2013 11:53 am

      Oh Terry-Lynn, I completely understand and I’m so pleased you have found a little hope and so saddened to hear how upset you’ve been these last few months.

      I found the diet, I suppose, by chance and I remember today how I felt – such a hige relief that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Please understand that you’re not alone since there is a whole network of people who will be able to help you through this very difficult period.

      I hope you will try the diet and let us know how you go on. Last week, I found out that a new work colleague’s wife has Crohn’s Disease, I told him about the diet, they bought the book, it arrived on Friday and already the rash on her legs caused by a flare has gone.

      Please email me (contact details on my blog) or message me on FB if you need ANY help at all. There is also a wonderful Facebook group which you can join where you will find lots of support from some very, very lovely people. The link is here


      Our children can really help us to get it together – I know from experience! I wish you lots of luck and fast healing and please don’t forget you can contact me whenever, I don’t consider anything to be trivial.

      Take care & best wishes


  11. Sue on April 25th, 2014 12:37 am

    My 23 yr old son was just diagnosed with Crohns. He’s currently on prednisone (decreasing) and the docs say he must go on Remicaid. We don’t want to subject him to such a heavy drug. I came upon the SCD diet over the internet in my search on Crohns and bought both of Elaine’s books and we’ve been on the diet for a little more than one week. Our plates are filled with colorful fruits and vegetables and some type of meat or seafood. I just made peanut butter cookies tonight derived from a recipe from Breaking the Vicious Cycle. It’s just the start of our commitment to heal our son without drugs like Remicaid. Your blog is so encouraging. We’ve been afraid the SCD may not be true (our docs say diet won’t do anything). Thank you both…we’ll be making your recipes soon!

    • Vicky on April 25th, 2014 4:26 am

      Hi Sue

      I’m so pleased you’ve found the SCD and now have the opportunity to heal your son’s terrible disease and push it into remission. Have you found the support groups on Facebook and Yahoo? These people are all on the SCD and offer wonderful support and advice which you and your son may find very comforting and useful especially at the start of the healing journey.

      If you have any questions, please contact me, my contact details can be found here via my “contact” tab, which is at the top of my blog.

      Best wishes


    • Shirley on April 28th, 2014 9:37 am

      Hi Sue–I’m so glad that you found SCD and are going down this path to heal your son. There’s so much support available online for those on SCD. Vicky and her blog are such invaluable resources and as you see, she’s given you even more sites that offer SCD recipes and support. :-) It’s an even bigger shift than going gluten free (understatement, of course), but like all lifestyle changes, once you make the shift your mind and table are filled with all the wonderful possibilities. It sounds like you are doing great with your meals, and in such a short time!

      I know a good number of individuals personally who have seen success with SCD. I lead a gluten-free support group and one member of our group has Crohn’s and has healed herself with SCD. She completely surprised her doctor and he has asked her to teach the diet to other patients. Not all my recipes here on gfe are SCD compliant, but I hope you’ll enjoy some of the ones that are. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and all the best to your family in its healing journey!


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