I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be told I can’t do something or that certain things just aren’t possible.
I had heard this several times from various people on my healing journey and it actually motivated me even more to accomplish the things I wanted to (like overcome Celiac disease symptoms using diet and supplements).
Just like I was able to prove those doubters wrong and achieve vibrant health, so was our friend Shannon and courageous son, Charlie.
I’m humbled and grateful to share with you how Charlie and his mom used the SCD diet to put Crohn’s disease into remission – even after the doctor told him and his mother it would simply be too hard.
If you’ve found yourself in a place where you’re scared to make a change because someone told you it wouldn’t work out, this inspiring story is for you.
[Enter Shannon (Charlie’s Mom)]
It All Started With a Painful Stomach Ache Out of the Blue
In the summer of 2015, my son Charlie went on a mission trip to Guatemala. He came home with a terrible stomach ache and within six hours of deplaning we were in the emergency room.
He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis.
We went to a gastroenterologist and he was prescribed antibiotics. He was given the heavy-duty antibiotic Flagyl.
Just two weeks before this trip, he was prescribed antibiotics due to an ear infection, and the month before he had several vaccinations for international travel.
After Another Trip to the ER, We Finally Got a Diagnosis – Crohn’s Disease
Moving forward to Christmas time of 2015, Charlie began to complain about his stomach hurting, feeling like there was a rock in it every time he drank water. We sought out a gastrointestinal (GI) doctor, who again prescribed antibiotics.
He seemed to improve until the week before finals, in May 2016. I was beginning to think stress was playing a factor in his diagnosis. We again ended up in the ER and received an endoscopy and colonoscopy with biopsies and CT scans, which revealed several ulcers and eight inches of narrowed small intestine along with granulomas. Granulomas are the definitive diagnosis for Crohn’s.
We Left With a Prescription For Humira (and Many Unanswered Questions)
Without hesitation, the doctor suggested he start Humira… he would stay on it for the next seven years to get him through college without having to change his lifestyle drastically.
Eventually, we found a new doctor willing to consider letting us try, on a limited basis, some of the nutrition ideas I had heard of and found on research websites. The new doctor was willing to let us follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) but warned it would be very difficult to follow.
(This was going to be a unique approach to health that most don’t even see as an option.)
The doctor questioned whether we should even try the SCD diet at all.
With that understanding, we had to leave for an immediate trip out of town in two days. The new doctor asked us to start considering whether the diet was the right choice for our family. We all needed to agree that we would eat the same as much as possible and the siblings wouldn’t tempt Charlie with prohibited foods.
This would be a good test and start to the SCD.
We Used a Paleo Diet to Help Make the Transition to SCD Easier
On the trip, Charlie did fairly well. He tried to clean up his diet more toward a paleo style of eating (an unprocessed food diet similar to what hunter-gatherers ate). As we gathered all the information and prepared for the task of starting the SCD, we all benefited by realizing that success of any new health battle lies in your attitude.
At this point, Charlie was transitioning to gluten-free breads, almond milk, and Paleo treats that were pre-made so he would have some similar foods to look forward to and not taste like cardboard (as we had been led to believe). We didn’t have the SCD diet with full instructions and still had to rely on medications to get us through.
After Another Painful Episode, We Knew It Was Time to Begin the Journey
Before leaving for another trip, we went to our regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment to make sure we had considered everything needed for an upcoming overseas family cruise.
This same morning, Charlie started having stomach pain in the doctor’s office, and it worsened enough to have him admitted to the hospital for pain management. At this point, while he was still in the hospital, they ran tests and decided he should be on liquid nutrition and steroids to get through the crisis and for at least the first week of the trip.
Planning Ahead Was the Key to Traveling While on the SCD Diet
The doctors did allow Charlie to follow the very basic beginning of the SCD, consisting of limited poached meats and fruits and vegetables while on the ship. So, I started to plan ahead and here’s what I did to help make the trip go smoothly:
– I packed my suitcase with organic coconut oil, almond flour, and approved spices to give to the ship and request they be used for my son’s food.
-We sent ahead many recipes to the ship’s dietary department so there were no issues when we arrived.
– I made copies of approved and unapproved food lists and packed our meals in an RTIC cooler, which keeps food cold for 5 days.
– We asked a concierge to help pick Paleo and farm-to-table restaurants, which proved to be quite helpful.
Charlie’s trip was a success – not one painful episode!
By mid-July, we had returned safely without any issue whatsoever. It was an incredible realization to come home and know that Charlie had not suffered one episode. He made lifetime memories with his family by his side.
So many things went into sticking to this diet. It required discipline, tenacity, and community. Luckily, we had each other as mother and son and my parents supported our choice of diet for their grandson.
Community Support Played a Huge Role in Charlie’s SCD Diet Success
It was a huge blessing to have friends in the community who were undergoing similar health complications and were willing to share what they had learned. It made the trip a lot easier..
Plus, my son and I eat the same diet. This is extremely helpful because when either one of us gets bored or frustrated with the diet, we can be one another’s advocate. Our entire family and friends all support our journey. I have gone to great lengths to educate them, write a book, and make a video.
All in all, as a community, we’re in it to help each other out and grow to solve these autoimmune problems for good and all.
Knowledge Is Power… If We Allow It to Be
It can be hard to be an advocate and stand strong in unfamiliar situations. For this reason, I highly suggest learning as much as possible from those further along in their journey. We were advised to order Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall, and we’re beyond grateful for the access to the amount of knowledge and research we have today.
I am especially thankful for the SCD Lifestyle resources and youtube videos that allow us to learn from those who have walked this path before us.
We will continue to stay on top of emerging research/knowledge in the holistic community.
Our life is very different today than it was a few years ago.
Charlie is currently active in school and sports and rarely suffers any unknown pains or reactions. He is actually showing fewer signs of ADD and is flourishing in school this year. He has followed the diet rigidly and gives great thought to his overall health today.
We get to live life with another new purpose and being good stewards of our bodies to create the best temple for our journey.
What Do We Do When the Going Gets Tough?
A significant resource we use is the online forum — SCD Lifestyle and Breaking the Vicious Cycle Facebook pages. These pages are avenues to openly discuss the latest and greatest news surrounding autoimmune diseases. People also share the benefits of SCD in alleviating life-disrupting symptoms.
When the going gets tough and we need a boost, we will watch Jordan and Steve’s videos from SCD Lifestyle on youtube. They are entertaining and relatable for my son and give this lifestyle levity.
The SCD diet is our health insurance plan.
We realized that we will either spend our money on insurance co-pays or the extra cost for organic and whole foods. SCD is our “Self-Insurance Plan.” This is by no means everyone’s path, It’s just a path we took that works for us.
Nothing is certain in this world, so we’re just grateful for the time we have and that availability of resources and research.
And From This Journey, a Few of Our Own Resources Were Born
As I watched my fifteen-year-old son, Charlie, suffer the wracking agony of Crohn’s disease, I just wanted to make the pain go away. Having experienced a serious gastrointestinal disorder myself, I hoped to spare Charlie a lifetime of medication and possibly surgery.
My family had a choice to make and we chose the SCD diet.
Along the way, I collected healthful recipes and food lists, learned which oils and herbs quieted inflammation, and compiled useful resources.
I’ve been able to gather all the hard-earned knowledge into an important pocket guide to holistic treatment of bowel diseases and ailments: Gut Feeling : Gut Healing, which recently received an endorsement from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and has had great reviews.
Please also check out our homemade inspiring song for kids and their families who are going through the same thing.
It is so inspiring to see a mother and son tackle this journey together and is truly amazing what a great amount of determination, love and perseverance can achieve.
We’re honored to support such amazing people and are grateful to have them as a part of this community.
Not only did they take a leap of faith by starting SCD, but now they’re stepping out and sharing their story to show others what is possible when you believe.
Maybe you’ve been told changing your diet won’t help or maybe you’ve just lost all hope when it comes to getting healthy.
If this story speaks to you, please know we’re here to support YOU as well.
The easiest way to get started is with our ebook – a step-by-step guide to successfully completing the SCD diet.
In good health,