Sunday, 28 June 2015

The SCD for Autism and ADHD

In the last 9 years since we started the miraculous Specific Carbohydrate Diet which, I can honestly say, has healed my son's Crohn's Disease, I've noticed that awareness of this diet for treating IBD has grown quite significantly. However, the fact that a completely dairy free version of this diet has been hugely successful in treating children (and adults) who suffer from autism and ADHD is less well known.
"In 2001-2002, a handful of moms started using the SCD for their children who suffered from autism. As the children experienced positive results, news of the SCD began spreading within the autism community.
Soon, several moms began contacting Elaine Gottschall directly. The benefits of the diet became apparent to both parents as well as several health care practitioners who integrated the SCD into their autism practices. As a result, in 2004, they invited Elaine to speak at the Defeat Autism Now conference. The impact of her presentation led to appearances at 3 more large conferences as well as many consultations with doctors and nurses treating autism.
Since that time, the SCD has been used by hundreds of people in the autism community with dramatic results." Breaking The Vicious
I was extremely honoured and excited to have been given the opportunity to review the recently published book, The SCD for Autism and ADHD. This is a remarkable, easy to read and comprehensive resource for parents and families of children suffering from autism and ADHD. It guides the reader gently through the sound science behind the diet with easy to understand narrative and diagrams whilst drawing on and referring to the emotional, psychological and physical healing of some of the children following the diet. The book also contains meal plans and about 150 beautifully illustrated, appetizing and (most of all) easy to cook recipes which will help to eliminate any fear and trepidation often associated with starting this diet which is so very alien to what many believe to be a "normal" diet.

Pam Ferro was introduced to the diet in 2003 and you may be interested to read her son's success on the diet which is outlined on the BTVC website. Pam, a registered nurse, is the co-founder of Hopewell Associates, a nurse-owned practice for those seeking treatment for neuro-developmental and biomedical behavioural disorders. She introduced the SCD-DF curriculum to the practice in 2004 and now directs and manages the Hopewell's Autism Program for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Raman Prasad began the SCD in 1996 having tried many remedies to heal his Ulcerative Colitis and within a few months he realised the outstanding benefits of following this healthy, nutritious grain and sugar free diet. Raman met Pam at the 2004 Defeat Autism Now Conference mentioned above. Regular contact and the realisation that there was a lack of practical information for treating autism with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, they decided to combine their expertise and write a book to share the knowledge gained from Pam's experience in dealing with the hundreds of children for more than 10 years and Raman's own observations as a sufferer of Ulcerative Colitis and successful SCD author.

Nilou Moochhala is married to Raman.  She designed this wonderfully laid out book and is the main recipe developer for its Cookbook section. Co-author with Raman of the excellent book Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (I bought a copy of this book when we first began the SCD) and recipe contributor and tester of Raman's book, Adventures in the Family Kitchen: Original Recipes Based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Nilou also helped to design and market Raman's incredibly moving book, Colitis & Me: A Story of Recovery and his awesome SCD website, This website is jam packed full of mouthwatering SCD recipes. In fact, we must have made the banana bread recipe from this site every week for a couple of years and I still recommend it to people starting out on the diet.

The book is divided into 5 Sections :

Part 1 examines how environmental factors, in particular food, contribute to the symptoms of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and how the diet helps to reduce behavioural problems as a result of improving gut function. This section is extremely interesting to read and is easy to understand. It explains how and why a change in diet can help to improve autism without being overly complicated.

Clearly, before embarking on such a radical dietary change, parents are going to have compiled a long list of questions. Part 2 answers most of the frequently asked questions about the diet such as: "My child is a picky eater. How can you expect me to serve vegetables and fruit?" and "What about the GFCF diet (gluten-free casein-free diet)? What are the differences between this and the SCD-DF?"  It also examines the connection between gut function and other health issues, including eczema, OCD and Pica, "in these cases, dietary change serves as a cornerstone for healing". The final section in this part of the book explains how vitamin and mineral supplements can help especially when starting out on the diet when levels of certain vitamins (especially B vitamins and Vitamin D) and minerals are often inadequate.

Part 3 is such a helpful, meaningful and comprehensive section containing information which I can fully identify with. Embarking on the diet can be extremely exhausting when juggling the cooking of absolutely everything from scratch with caring for and supporting a sick child. This section explains the importance of building a valuable support network and includes useful notes for relatives and even a sample letter to give to teachers. It also talks about the effects of stress on the family and explains methods by which this can be significantly reduced. This section also offers some excellent and valuable notes for starting the diet.

So, what can you eat on this diet? Part 4 of the book lists all the "legal and illegal" foods and explains in greater detail which foods to purchase and which foods to limit and why. This part of the book explains how to be organised and basically how to transition from a standard diet to the SCD-DF. It lists the essential kitchen tools required and even outlines a 14 day meal plan. The section titled "How One Family Cooks" includes a preparation plan, a food shopping list and a timetable of how to prepare 2 to 3 weeks worth of food in one day! Common setbacks are explained and it offers advice and tips to prevent a child from feeling isolated and "different" at social gatherings and at school which I know from experience is one huge barrier to overcome. Finally, the authors examine what the future holds by looking at the more recent findings and research into how intestinal bacteria can be altered in a positive way.

The second half of the book is dedicated entirely to recipes and divided into the following sections :

  • Bakery
  • Breakfast
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Chicken & Other Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Meats
  • Vegetarian Mains
  • Sides
  • Snacks
  • Condiments,Dips, Dressings & Sauces
  • Drinks
  • Desserts

I made quite a few of the recipes and they turned out beautifully, including ...

Portobello Pizzas

Tangy Celeriac Cubes

I was particularly impressed by the variety and simplicity of the recipes as well as by the stunning photography. The innovative recipes are easy to make, affordable and suitable for the whole family with plenty of choices for everyday meals, snacks and food for special occasions.

When we started cooking for the SCD, our extremely well-thumbed book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, was basically our bible. In fact we own two copies! I honestly believe that "The SCD for Autism and ADHD" is an equally vital aid for those families desperately searching for help with autism and ADHD. People following the SCD to help treat IBD will also benefit enormously from reading this book, especially parents of children on the diet and not just for the amazing recipes it contains but also for the compelling advice and the practical support it offers.

If you would like further information about the book, please visit the website.