How “Tough Cases” Recover Into Success Stories


There are 3 truths that most sick people just hate to admit… but they are typically the fastest way back to health.

Because acknowledging them means a lot.

It means that you’ll likely take responsibility for them…

Which means you’ll be changing big cornerstones of how you do life.

And that’s scary. Because this degree of change is scary — for all of us.

Not to mention, some people make admitting these truths mean they are “wrong” for what they’ve been doing…

Which doubles the pain and makes taking new actions even harder.

I’d like to give you a new perspective on that. You are always doing exactly what you think is best for you right now – meaning there is no wrong.

Is Leaky Gut Making You Sicker?


Your actions may seem “wrong” in light of new information I’m about to share with you, but you were just doing your best until now. And that’s not wrong. That’s EXACTLY RIGHT.

You are doing it right.

And with that said, here are 3 new truths and a couple case studies I hope will help you get even better results.

3 Hard Truths of Getting Healthy

Here’s the part that you probably either have heard before and don’t want to acknowledge or maybe you’ve never been exposed to:

  • Truth 1 – Most People Need the Tough Case Diet
  • Truth 2 – Small Tweaks Can Create Massive Wins
  • Truth 3 – Stress Is More Important Than We All Want it to Be

You’ll see these 3 truths play out in the 2 success stories below.

But if you don’t, it’s likely because you don’t want to admit them. Maybe you will in a few months. Maybe never… but if you do, things will likely get better.

The point is that, in the last 7 years, these truths have become increasingly clear to me.

Truth 1 – Most People Need the Tough Case Diet

As Jay’s story illustrates below, a regular SCD diet or Paleo diet is rarely enough to provide total symptom relief and quick healing.

Instead, there’s usually the need to remove the 4 horsemen foods, and sometimes even more, like nightshades.

And it’s not that Starch or Eggs are “bad” foods. But they might be unhealthy for you to be eating right now. Your digestive lining might need to heal and your immune system might need to rebalance, before you can eat them regularly.

The easiest way to test this is to use our Tough Case Meal Plans (found here).

The reality is that the standard diets just don’t work for most people. There’s a customization process that the Tough Case Diet helps you with. Give it a try, if you are still suffering.

Truth 2 – Small Tweaks Can Create Massive Wins

For many years, we’ve been trying to spread the message that you’re typically just a few tweaks away from feeling really good.

Think of it like the video games with the gold digger who’s digging a long tunnel… there’s no guarantee of anything at the end – it costs time and money – and so many people, just inches from a giant pay day, end up giving up and turning back.

The same is true in health. Sometimes, you are doing everything so well, yet not feeling well. And the only thing that is missing is a small tweak. For instance, trying 3 digestive enzymes per meal or adding Resistant Starch, like Nia did in her story below.

It’s sometimes as simple as stopping the SCD yogurt. Because, despite the fact that it can be very helpful, it can be very hurtful too. So, test everything – tweak your diet, supplements, and lifestyle.

Our SCD ebook is great for these ideas

Because a very small change can typically result in massive benefits.

Truth 3 – Stress Is More Important Than We All Want it to Be

I fought it for years, despite Chris Kresser telling me how important he thought it was. I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to acknowledge that stress was so important to health.

You can be doing everything “right” – the best diet, supplements and exercise programs you can think of – and still not recover.



Read the stories below and really work on feeling what it’s like to be Jay and Nia. You can see how, as their lives became more stressful, their health problems got worse.

And this is no coincidence – I’ve seen it over and over in my own life.

And I saw it in the 300 people I worked one-on-one with.

Stress can make you sick and it will keep you sick.

So, if you’ve been trying really hard on your diet and supplements and just not feeling like you are getting the results you want, spend the next 8 weeks on stress.

Focus on… lifestyle stress, environmental stress, emotional stress, intimate relationship stress, traumas, work stress and family stresses.

It will pay off.

As you read Jay and Nia’s stories, see what you have in common with them. See if you can identify the 3 truths I’m highlighting today. And I’d love to hear you in the comments below talk about the areas you’re like them.

Jay’s Success Story – Finally Making the Choice


Hello everyone, my name is Jay and I am pleased to have the opportunity to share my (ongoing) story of recovery with the help of SCD Lifestyle! I have been using a customized version of the SCD for about 3 years now. Through perseverance and the support of my parents, I have experienced substantial recovery in my digestive health and overall well-being.

I grew up in an active family and had a normal healthy childhood. Playing sports, camping and other adventures up north in the summertime were big parts of my life. Funny enough, I do remember having stomach upsets and pains as a child, but life was just full of so much activity, I just carried on and rarely thought about or mentioned digestive issues to anyone.

My Mom Offered to Put Me on SCD But…

Fast forward several years to my second year of high school, and I really did begin to have worsening digestive issues on a regular basis. When I mentioned to my parents that my meals didn’t seem to be digesting well, my mom immediately offered to put me on a special diet she had been following. I’d been aware that she ate a bit differently from the rest of our family and that she followed something called the SCD diet (that she claimed had miraculously healed her lifelong digestive problems)…

But to be perfectly honest, I really didn’t want to change my way of eating. I was a teenager for heaven’s sake and I loved eating junk food (to the chagrin of my parents)! Staples of my diet consisted of bread and butter, chips and loads of sweets! My sister was fine, and she certainly didn’t worry about what she was eating. I’m basically a pretty optimistic guy, but I started to become increasingly concerned and recognized that I would have to start changing some parts of my diet to control my issues.

Soon, I was at university, and renting a house in the big city with my sister and friends. I was working on a business degree, and, like most university students, I attended classes and worked on assignments pretty much from dawn till dark. I drank lots of coffee in the morning, ate on the run around the campus during the day, and then tried to pull something together to eat in the evenings. In the midst of my busy life, I had become acutely aware that I was experiencing diarrhea several times a day.

And… I was concerned that I was starting to lose weight. I’d always been slim; the tall lanky guy in my group of friends….. but now, when I looked in the mirror, I was starting to look skinny.

I Became Aware of the Diarrhea and How Skinny I Was

Fortunately, the university I was attending was only about 30 minutes away from our family home. I told my mom that I thought I should give the SCD diet a serious try. And she started making tons of SCD compliant food, and every weekend my folks would send me away with box fulls.

My mom baked lots of treats using almond flour (SCD breads and muffins), made me pots of beef stew and soups with a tomato sauce base, gave me cartons of eggs, and cooked me a lot of meat. Honestly, I was so blessed with all this food…… but not really getting any better.

My workload at school was huge, I lacked energy, and still continued to lose weight. By the beginning of my 4th year of university, I was 6’ 2” and my weight had dropped to 142 lbs.

Despite Eating SCD, I Lacked Energy and Still Continued to Lose Weight

My mom had been scouring the internet for quite some time, trying to figure out an alternative diet for me. I had expressed to her that I was positive that the almond bread, eggs and possibly her tomato-based sauces were giving me stomach pains and diarrhea. She told me how she had found an SCD website – that these 2 guys named Jordan and Steve had developed an SCD diet plan product called “Tough Case” that addressed problems some people were having eating nuts, eggs, and dairy.

We purchased and started using the principles of the Tough Case meal plan. We began with just a few safe foods, and then week by week gradually expanded my safe zone. We also cut out all nightshade vegetables, as it was clear that I could not eat tomatoes or peppers.

Also, using the SCD Surviving to Thriving materials, we found great tips on batch cooking and storing SCD legal vegetables. We also followed directions on the SCD Lifestyle website for making nourishing beef bone broth in a slow cooker (with step-by-step photos). Soon, we had a freezer filled with mason jars full of bone broth, which I drank every morning for breakfast.

Meat Seemed to Continually Give Me Digestive Problems

I also noticed that meat had seemed to continually give me digestive problems. This was so confusing to me as meat had become such a staple of my diet. I asked our naturopath to do a Heidelberg test to check for stomach acid production. As expected, I was severely deficient in stomach acid, and the addition of Betaine HCL plus Pepsin from Thorne has been a huge improvement.

It has been 3 years, and I now weigh 180 lbs. (a gain of 38 lbs!) I truly believe that cutting out gluten and following the SCD diet had saved my life, but that was only the first step. The “Tough Case” approach was the tweak to the SCD diet that I truly needed to kick-start my healing! We still make the bone broth recipe as well, and I continue to take a stomach acid supplement.

This is a journey, and I continue to experiment with foods (within the SCD, Paleo & AIP templates) and tweak my supplements to fine-tune my health. Such a big thanks to my mom for all her support, research and finding Jordan and Steve’s SCD Lifestyle website. The website and all of their products have been a very important part of my recovery.

And to anyone who is still struggling with your healing, I highly recommend you take a serious look at the “Tough Case” plan.


Nia’s Success Story – Small Tweaks Are All the Difference


I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and IBS 5 years ago and the doctor wanted to put me on meds. I refused and thankfully found the SCD Lifestyle blog and Steve and Jordan coached me into wellness!

And I am forever grateful.

I had eaten mostly SCD legal from that point (with an occasional bite of illegals now and then).

Then, this past April, I was traveling a lot, had a ridiculous amount of stress, wasn’t getting enough sleep, and, yes, eating illegal foods again more and more frequently… like pasta, bread, pizza, and tortilla chips. One or two of those might’ve been fine, but combining illegal foods with no sleep and stress – well, my body just couldn’t take it.

I Couldn’t Fix My Health on My Own

I found myself having to contact Steve and Jordan, because this time going back to the intro diet and stage 1 foods just wasn’t helping. They suggested a coach – who I began working with while also listening to their podcasts.

The coach/doctor they recommended ordered all the right tests (found out I was in stage 3 adrenal fatigue and that I still had H. pylori), got me on the right supplements and helped me phase in foods again.

Slowly, over the course of 2.5 months, I found myself stronger and my symptoms were disappearing one by one – which seemed like an eternity! Even though I could see I was getting better, something was missing that would bring me back to full health as I had once known it.

Then, I Participated in an SCD Lifestyle Live Chat

I sent my most stubborn symptom to Steve and Jordan and they recommended “Resistant starch/RS” and discussed the new research on the connection between it and digestive health.

That was a game changer!

It’s exactly what my body needed – the final piece of the “good-health” puzzle and I haven’t looked back! Now, I include RS as a part of my diet – alternating between white rice (rinsed and then soaked before cooking) and white potatoes (cooked, then cooled).

I hope I never find myself in that desperate of a situation again. I keep reminding myself that this diet is actually a better way of life all around and not just for people with digestive issues.

Steve and Jordan surround themselves with experts and I keep learning new ways to even better health.

Addressing the Lifestyle Factors Have Been Key to My Turnaround

Now, I meditate, practice Yoga and Qigong, take supplements, and eat SCD legal (customized to my symptoms).

Once again, thank you Jordan and Steve.

And, don’t take this the wrong way you guys, but I hope I never have to contact you again!

All the best and Happy New Year!


So Grateful for the Brave People Who Share


It takes massive courage and a lot of compassion and love to share your story publicly, like Jay and Nia have done…

And like the growing list of other success stories on our website.

(Trust me, it isn’t easy – Jordan and I have been doing it now for more than 6 years but it’s still scary to open up like this.)

These people are raising their torches of light in a sea of darkness and letting others around them (and around the world) know that healing is possible and that it’s worth it.

Yes, it’s scary but you too can do it.

Those of us who are sharing our stories are becoming the fuel for more torches to burn bright…

To light up the darkness that is the current medical paradigm. And soon that darkness will fade to a sea of light.

What did you learn from Nia and Jay’s stories? Tell me (and them) in the comments below.


Note: We earn a small commission, if you use the product links on this page to purchase the products we mention. We only recommend products we would use or have used in the past. Your purchase helps support our site and ongoing research.

Steven Wright

About Steven Wright

Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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10 thoughts on “How “Tough Cases” Recover Into Success Stories

  1. Avatar

    Re: Mariel’s question: As usual, we are all different, but here is something that may help certain people:
    About 10 years ago, I suddenly had a persistent and very painful acid reflux problem. I tried proton pump inhibitor drugs, but they made me feel worse! Hunger did not feel “the same” any more. It did not matter if my stomach was full or empty: I was miserable! It felt like there was a balloon under my diaphragm, and I was unable to burp at all.
    X-rays showed that I had a very small hiatal hernia. (I understand this is very common.)
    I tried going to an acupuncturist. After lying on my stomach for about 10 minutes, with quite a few needles in my back, I suddenly started to burp & burp!! I had great relief! After a week or so, the sore spot in my esophagus healed up, and I had no further problems of this sort – until about a month ago. I wasted no time in visiting my acupuncturist, this time! Same story for me: instant relief. (I gave her a hard time about curing me for “only” ten years at a time! 😉 )

    Subsequent to the first episode, I read an article in an issue of “The Townsend Letter” that referred to problems in which hiatal hernias can sometimes disrupt the vagus nerve causing a wide array of symptoms.

    So, although diet surely plays a central role, don’t overlook the possibility of this sort of contributing problem!

  2. Avatar
    Adrienne Creath says:

    I’ve read the success stories and they give me hope. I have had terrible reflux for 2 months plus lots of indigestion, belching and gas. I am taking prescription Prilosec which I do not want to take. I’ve had an endoscopy and barium swallow test but the doctor can’t tell me why I’m having reflux. I would love to be one of your success stories! Can you help? Thanks, Adrienne Creath

  3. Avatar

    UC sufferer here.

    Ive been in a lot of pain recently, after refusing Aziothiaprine and deciding to try to fix my situation with diet. Going on the SCD helped a little a first, but has now lead to my worst symptoms yet. I’m a junior in college, and a student athlete. I don’t have the time, money, or honestly the patience at this point to try the “tough case” diet.

    I’ve decided to bite the bullet and take the meds.

    I guess my question is: is it possible that SCD might not work for some people? Am I making a mistake by using the meds? Does SCD work for everyone?

    I can’t live this way any more, so I’m moving on to meds.


    • Avatar

      Hi EBA – wow this a really hard question and we’re sorry you are having to go through this tough time and really difficult decision.

      In our experience, SCD works for just about everyone, but that doesn’t mean it cures everyone overnight or makes them feel awesome if they follow it exactly as written in our eBook – what we mean when we say SCD works for everyone is that SCD is a healing framework that can be applied to help anyone heal. It takes patience, customization, and hard work. Nia is a great example – she struggled for a long time before she found success customizing SCD to work for her.

      If you go back and read our success stories, you’ll see no one followed our eBook or BTVC exactly 100% – everyone tweaked the diet to work for them.

      We can’t tell you if you’re making a mistake – that is a decision only you and your doctor know the true answer to! We think even with medications, you should continue to focus on your diet as way of healing.

      I also encourage you to read this article:

      And this one too!

      I sincerely hope this info helps you on your journey – remember it is a journey! – to better health.

    • Avatar
      Nicole Gwaltney says:

      Dear EBA,

      I would recommend getting a hold of your stress before embarking on this diet and give yourself a break for taking the meds. You most likely won’t have to take the meds for the rest of your life if you take care of yourself holistically, but maybe for now the stress is too much for you. I think the stress of it would undo all that the diet was trying to heal, just like one of the authors said above.

      Personally, when I’m studying to try something new, I have to work up to it because cutting out everything I love and replacing it with all these expensive foods and supplements causes me emotional, mental and financial stress. But if I do my research, and make a slow plan, I’m not as overwhelmed and it’s easier to stick to.

      For example, this week I’m giving up sugar. I haven’t eaten any in 3 days! Next week, I’m giving up dairy. You could even set one small goal per month, like spending 20 minutes doing research on your diet or making a realistic meal plan. And I’m rewarding myself. I’m giving myself $10 “fun money” per successful week of completing a goal.

      So think of something that motivates you and work toward it setting small, realistic goals with deadlines.

      I hope you feel better. I totally understand your hopelessness and desperation. The Power of Positive Thinking changed my life so I highly recommend that as well. It took me over a year to read it sometimes only having time to read one paragraph. Good luck!

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