The Four Dark Horsemen of SCD (What to Do When the Diet Isn’t Working)

What are we supposed to do if one-size-fits-all doesn’t work?

Like last week, I was out shopping for a new hat, which I hated for 2 simple reason:

  1. I have a HUGE noggin
  2. I only wear fitted hats without the plastic adjustment in the back

Every hat I tried on was so tight I thought my eyes were going to explode out of my head. And each time I pulled them off in disappointment the tag read, “One-size-fits-all.”

So what did I do when “one-size-fits-all” didn’t work for me?

I saw two options… either get a smaller head or find a bigger hat. I figured finding a bigger hat was my best choice.

The next morning I found a place that makes custom fitted hats for people with huge noggins like me and a few days later I was comfortably wearing a brand new hat perfect for my big head.

Sometimes, we just need to tweak things to fit us just right. And sometimes SCD doesn’t work unless you tweak it to fit YOUR body just right.

Is Leaky Gut Making You Sicker?


Tweaking SCD

We’re confident that SCD works for most people. In fact, we’re convinced that if diet modification isn’t working for you, you’re probably only one or two tweaks away from becoming another SCD success story.

To make it easier for you, we’ve identified four common SCD tweaks that allow the diet to work for 95% of us.

Introducing: The Four Dark Horsemen of SCD

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the Bible as four beasts that ride on horses symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine and Death while bringing about the end of the world.

The bleak imagery aligns well with the four common foods that stop the diet from working for some people. The “Four Dark Horsemen of SCD” are dairy, egg, nuts, and excessive fruit/honey.

Why do these four foods stop the diet from working for some people?

Because so many of us come to SCD unknowingly suffering from increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Leaky gut allows HUGE proteins into the blood stream that aren’t normally supposed to be there, signaling your immune defenses to ATTACK like an angry hornets nest. An inflamed immune system makes healing on SCD an uphill battle even though you’re eating “SCD legal” foods.

Here’s the breakdown of each of the four horsemen listed in order of most problematic:

  • Dairy: The protein Casein (Don’t worry – replace yogurt with dairy free probiotics like these)
  • Egg: The protein Albumin (Egg and dairy free SCD is possible – even for breakfast, find out how here)
  • Nuts: Nut and nut flour proteins (Find other recipes here)
  • Excessive fruit/honey: Way too much sugar feeds bacteria (Read about fructose malabsorption here)

Reactions to look for: stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, sinus drainage, horrible smelling gas, headache, and brain fog.

Armed with the tools of our “Four Dark Horsemen Strategy,” we’re confident most people can customize SCD to work for them.

What to Do if SCD Isn’t Working for You

Here’s how to tweak SCD using the “Four Dark Horsemen Strategy” and quickly get the diet working for you.

1) Start by eliminating one of the four horsemen for four days. Here’s the key: don’t change anything else in your diet so any changes you notice are only from the food you eliminated. Four days gives you enough time to tell if it’s the only tweak you needed.

2) If the first attempt fails, keep eliminating the remaining three horsemen until you find the culprit.  For many of us, eliminating all four together finally does the trick.

Remember, most of the time you’re just one tweak away from SCD success… remove that one trigger and you’re well on your way to perfect health.

For even more help troubleshooting SCD with specific step-by-step strategies, check out our book “SCD Lifestyle—Surviving to Thriving,”  which includes a bonus 32-page FAQ troubleshooting guide to help you tweak SCD to fit your body.

Here’s the link:

In good health,

Jordan Reasoner

About Jordan Reasoner

Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet 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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130 thoughts on “The Four Dark Horsemen of SCD (What to Do When the Diet Isn’t Working)

  1. Avatar

    how much honey is “too much”… i usually take 2 tblsp in my cystus tea. seems to be working! By the way i found nothing about cystus tea being legal or illegal… do you know more?

    • Avatar

      Hi Jann – Each person will have to figure out how much is too much! It is a sweetener – so even if you can tolerate a large amount, we wouldn’t suggest it. For foods that aren’t strictly legal or illegal – test them out first.

  2. Avatar

    Hello, I was just reading your free intro guide and it says to eat eggs for breakfast every morning. I am allergic to eggs…what can I substitute for them? Also I saw similar anti-yeast diets said to eat salad and/or steamed veggies the first few days–why are those not ok? Thanks!

    • Avatar

      HI Emily – there isn’t exactly a direct replacement for eggs – you can just eat more of the other protein for those 3-5 days. The SCD diet is based on what foods are easiest to digest. So even though raw veggies and salad greens contain nutrients, they are hard to bread down (then we can’t actually absorb the nutrients they provide).

  3. Avatar

    My setback on the scd diet was histamines. For about a year my symptoms were getting worse the stricter I became with the diet. But after finding out and researching histamines, I’ve been having more success finding a ‘safe zone’. Still extremely sensitive to a lot of foods, but if the body has a chance to heal it can only get stronger.
    Thank you for all your hard work on still important subject – health.

  4. Avatar

    Most stories I hear on the SCD Diet complain of diarrhea symptoms. That is not the case for me. I tried the diet and became even more constipated which caused toxic build up. Would you recommend this diet for someone who doesn’t deal with diarrhea?

  5. Avatar

    Hi Everyone!
    Thanks for all giving me such inspiration!
    I’ve been on the diet for over 3 weeks and i am in crazy pain.
    Thank God I do not have cravings so I don’t think it’s the carb issue. However it is lasting way too long to be “die off” issue.
    I am so scared to eliminate the “horsemen”. I barely eat. Already lost 10 lbs starting it and am hungry. I eat an egg for breakfast, a little salmon and a little chicken/meat. I take an almond cookie to keep me going during the day with a fruit shake. Can’t imagine what I will eat! I’m not worried about the weight loss per se. I’m happy to lose and have another 30 lbs I’d like to lose but I fear the way i’m doing it is not real weight loss and will come back because I don’t think I’m eating normally.
    I guess my real question is if I really have to eliminate it all!
    Dairy I haven’t touched. Ground nuts maybe every other day….and eggs almost every day.
    I basically am dizzy (my iron low, going tomorrow for injection) and my stomach hurts. It feels like gas pains kind of.
    Any tips advice?! Thanks. I’m feeling really depressed about it 🙁
    (PS I’ve done this diet 17 years ago for 3 months out of a hospital stay and ate e/t legal and it worked.)
    Thanks to y’all!

  6. Avatar

    I know this is an old article, but it still pops up on Google when I search SCD, which is great!

    I just wanted to say that I think peanuts should be added to this list. They are not technically nuts, but perhaps should be added under that category. Peanuts are a major allergy for a lot of people. Most people think if you’re allergic or sensitive to peanuts, you’ll get a major reaction, such anaphylactic shock. However, this often isn’t the case. I did SCD a few years ago, and kept having peanuts (especially all natural peanut butter because I love it) and I had no idea I had a problem with them. But I continued to have bloating, gas, diarrhea, pain, etc. I cut them out later, and it made a HUGE difference.

    I’m currently doing SCD without all four “dark horsemen”, and without peanuts, as well as without garlic, citrus fruits, bananas, pears, broccoli, and cauliflower. It can be done!

  7. Avatar

    Hey guys,
    Thanks for all the work you put in on the website, its been a huge help. I have been on the diet for 5 weeks now with some constipation at first and now back to loose stool. I still have been taking Colazol but not sure whether its scd legal or not. Is this enough to throw off my stomach and if I find meds that are scd legal would I need to start over with the intro diet?


  8. Avatar

    great list thank you! should the list say egg whites (the part of the egg that includes albumen) instead of egg? ive found that taking out egg whites has completely taken care of the really intense constipation i was having.

    i just think this list might scare people away from egg and its great nutrition by seeing it on the list, when actually it seems the egg whites are the troubling part? keep up the great work!

    • Avatar

      Hey there Eric 🙂

      Many people do have issues with egg white specifically over egg yolks – but many people also have issues with both. To be certain which one is causing the issue, it is best to remove both, and then reintroduce them separately (yolk first, then white)

  9. Avatar

    Thank you for your prompt answer Mariel. The HCL actually seems to work for a time after I have eaten, but the reflux is back about 4 hours later. My stomach should be empty by now. I only had a beef patty and some carrots. I am not a big eater and never have been, so the diet as such doesn’t bother me. Since I have no problems with fats either I added a tbsp of coconut oil to the soup at lunch. That turned the taste from alright to yummm. No reflux after that!
    I seem to be the only one who has the opposite reactions to food from every one else with acid reflux. It is a matter of trial and error.
    If the HCL quits working this winter I will definitely try the colostrum. Right now I am back to yoghurt for relief.

  10. Avatar

    Hi, I have acid reflux usually only in the winter months. I cannot figure out why. I eat pretty much the same foods year round. In the winter I cannot eat my home baked sourdough bread at all. Yesterday I started the introductory diet with the chicken soup and got really bad acid reflux. Contrary to all the advice I ate some “Seven Stars” yoghurt. (The only yoghurt from raw milk on the market) This stopped the acid reflux in it’s tracks. I have also found that I do better with raw vegetables, either in a salad or pureed in my VitaMix. Ditto for fruit. Spicy foods don’t cause me any problems at all.
    Why is my system so contrarian? BTW I am in my 70s and am otherwise very healthy and am on no drugs. I refuse to go to a doctor because I know that all I will get is a prescription for some chemicals that my body doesn’t care to deal with.

    I will have the soup again today with some HCL with pepsin. I hope…………………

    • Avatar

      Hi Doris – sorry to hear you’re struggling with reflux.

      Not everyone does well with bone broth. Our friend, Dr. Alison Siebecker says those with SIBO may react to the GAGs in bone broth.

      If you’re struggling with bone broth, you might consider trying a colostrum supplement instead.

      Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  11. Avatar

    Hi Mariel

    Thanks very much for your quick reply. This is what I suspected too and your confirmation gives me more confidence to try and take care of this. I really appreciate it!!

  12. Avatar

    Hello – I’ve been on the SCD diet for about 6 months, and had good progress through the first 4.5 months. BMs were consistently Type 4-5 on the BSC and developed a food safe zone. I also did this without supplements, as I’m pretty sensitive and try to limit them. However I had to travel for work in August and although I stayed on the diet I haven’t been the same since. For the past 1.5 months I can’t seem to get rid of my Type 6 BMs. During the trip I broke out with a full body rash after eating 2 dates; rashes are rare for me. Thinking this was due to bad bacteria I proceeded to up my SCD yogurt intake, with no improvements. I started betaine HCL and digestive enzymes with no improvements. I spent weeks at a time not consuming yogurt, eggs and fruit and I don’t even bother with nuts now – no improvements. I’m now losing weight again. I’ve gone back to the intro diet and within my food safe zone and even then I still can’t get consistent BMs and frequently having Type 6 and 5.5s. I almost feel constipated but yet have Type 6s. Please help, I’m totally confused. Thanks alot.

  13. Avatar

    Thank you, Mariel – the podcast was great (my kids listened, too, and found it helpful) and the food allergy vs food intolerance was also helpful. You guys are such a wonderful resource, and I’m really grateful for all that you do! 🙂

  14. Avatar

    Mariel, thank you so much for replying, and SO quickly 🙂 That’s really hopeful to hear that Jordan was able to eventually reintroduce them. Thank you for the podcast link – I’ll check that out now. Cheers! 🙂

  15. Avatar

    So I did 2 days of the intro diet. Day 1: felt awful, and day 2: felt pretty good and had a couple of symptom improvements already! YAY! Day 3: Introduced stewed pear this morning and felt great. Felt really good all day and made more chicken/carrot soup in time for dinner (3 in our family are on SCD so we went through the first batch pretty quickly). I have had terrible stomach pains for about 3 1/2 hours now (it started about 20 minutes after dinner). The only difference to the chicken/carrot soup I had on day 1-2 and this evening was… ONION! High fructan onion! I left onion and garlic out of the first batch of soup that I made (since I didn’t have any), so could onion (or simply high fructan) possibly be another “Dark Horseman” along with high fructose?

  16. Avatar

    I have been eating SCD for a few years and was doing great, yet tried some bread in May and it gave me a flare. I started over with the intro for the first month and about 4 weeks ago I removed eggs, all dairy (wasn’t eating nuts) and cut way back on fruits and honey, yet still the blood and the mucus.

    Taking the same supplements, all SCD legal (fish oil, l-gludamine, etc). Eating every veggie cooked. Taking digestive enzymes. Even eating lofodmaps SCD veggies.

    Loose stools have almost a chemical smell. Passing a lot of mucus, several times a day.

    I am avoiding going back to the GI, as their drugs will only suppress my immune system and will never heal me anyway, plus they always want to do another scope and I am not interested in that, at this point. I only walk away with less money in my pocket and drugs that will never heal my gut.

    Any suggestions?

    • Avatar

      Hey Tammy, I’m so sorry you’re struggling with a flare right now. Based on what you’ve written, I think you would really benefit from a consult with one of our recommended practitioners. They take a functional medicine approach that is very different from a traditional GI. you can learn more here:

      In the meantime, it sounds like you’re doing the right things. Healing is a long road and we have to be kind and patient with ourselves. Jordan recommends a day in bed and funny movies when you’re having a flare, and I agree. I hope you’re feeling much better really soon, Tammy.

  17. Avatar

    Hi All – Lori Jo thanks for your advice back in April. I was able to get away with enzyme rich foods and everything fell into place after that. I’m currently in stage 3 and digesting cooked foods nicely but noticed when I include almond or pecan flour I get brain fog and my brain is slow days after. I know phytates in nuts can be an issue but understand that most of the phytates in almonds are in the skin, and the almond flour I use is blanched with no skins. I’ve even soaked and roasted them and it’s still an issue. Do you have any idea why I’m able to process stage 3 foods but can’t get past nuts? Honey is an issue too – if I have a teaspoon I’m a zombie for 2 days. I know I have leaky gut issues and honey may make my blood sugar spike. Is this potentially bad gut bacteria feeding on nuts and sugar? What is the typical healing time for leaky gut? I’ve been on SCD since mid-March. Thanks very much.

  18. Avatar

    I have GERD, ileitis, and gastritis. I am already dairy, egg, grain free. I occasionally do seeds ground-few times a month. My issue is that I cannot LOSE weight!! My food sits in my stomach for over 6 hours even though I tested negative for gastroparesis. I am fine only eating meat and fat and veggies but why can’t I lose a pound. I went from 108 to 130 within 2 years and I am getting so depressed esp with such a limited diet. My GI Dr. gave me VSL#3 with has done nothing but bloat me for weeks. I am not trying to sound negative but I am too cute for this!! My saliva testing showed low estrogen, DHEA and low normal progesterone and cortisol. I am taking Armour thyroid as well but not sure it is doing anything. I am open to suggestions please….

  19. Avatar

    If the diet isn’t getting you into remission, try adding Essiac tea to your regimen. Get it bulk at a good health food store or purchase Flor-Essence from Amazon. Follow brewing and storing instructions carefully. This plus the SCD diet did the trick for us. Good Luck!

  20. Avatar

    I have been doing scd diet for 7 days, intro, then phase one. I have always been, and am still constipated. Most of the advice is for diarrhea and I am getting worried…And really bored with what I am eating…help.

  21. Avatar

    Hi every one, for those people who dont like to ingest sugar, or in others words, for those who do not want feed candida.” Birch tree”….better known as Xylitol is the best option,a little bit expensive but is worth every penny. you health is priceless everything aux come’s and go. you goint i love it, gogle it for benefits.

  22. Avatar

    Hi Guys – I discovered SCD recently and went on the intro diet three weeks ago. Had 2 good BMs from days 3-5, then jumped the gun and added pears, apples and squash all a the same time. It was chaos for the next two weeks of course. I realized my mistakes and went back on the intro diet to start fresh – however now I’ve been on it 4 days and no good BMs (I’ve event left fruit juices out, and obviously no dairy, eggs or nuts). I’m basically just consuming animal products at this point (meat, soup, unsweetened gelatin). I’m at a loss. Should I just continue with Phase 1 and try to develop a food safe zone? Do you have any suggestions? I’ve yet to add in supplements. You guys are awesome – thanks for your site and info.

  23. Avatar

    For one, only certain comments seem to get published, I have yet to have a comment show up. Starches are a major problem if your run over by candida. I can’t have carrots, and if I even touch a banana I’m itching until I bleed. Don’t have diarrhea. It’s not a one size fits all, I had to go to the yeast syndrome diet stage 1, and pretty much stay on it. I cheat a little with honey (just want to live a little), but once you’ve got SIBO, and your older it can be very difficult to get rid of, easier to get rid of when your younger. I attended the healthy gut summit so their may be another trick or two up someone’s sleeve I may be able to try yet. My Genova CDSA checked out good, my Genova intestinal permeability checked out good, my latest CT gut scan checked out good, when you eat for gut health you get great health, but why my liver lights up like it’s on fire when I eat is beyond me. Got talked out of my healthy GB, they were positive that was it!, well, that wasn’t it, losing that organ turned my life from not so good to welcome to hell. Then .. lol, the medical industry alienated me and I’ve been on my own for over a year now. Somehow, the last few months, I’ve seen some improvement, albeit slow!, no sugar, no dairy, no grains, no starchy vegetables. Lately, my arthritis is a little better, was a long road back. Main thing, no cheating, I could go out and have a couple of beers tomorrow, and be set back weeks, really, not only that I would be crying in pain like clockwork, yes crying fits, pain is my life now but the crying fits I can do without.

  24. Avatar

    I can’t believe nobody has mentioned this, but winter squash is starchy. If you have bacteria or other pathogens that feed on it (very likely), avoid acorn, butternut, etc. My daughter tried SCD with no luck. Then she tried others. Finally in desperation she was on only carrots and sweet potatoes. That’s when she realized starches were a big problem. After not being able to eat at all one day because she was so sick,I convinced her to try SCD again with a longer stint on the intro diet. After 4 days of this she was much improved UNTIL she added a single serving of acorn squash. Aches and swelling returned, stopped squash and 2 days later she was improving again. Added green beans instead and so far so good….

  25. Avatar

    Hi, I am hoping people are still posting to this as I do not see anything recent. Worth a shot. I have been on the diet for 2.5 weeks not and have seen some improvement. However, I am wondering what BMs should be like now. Should they be completely normal or do they continue to be abnormal for a while until the gut heals more? Mine are formed but soft and “jagged” or “fuzzy” edges. No pain, no blood, no mucous. I am wondering if I should use this information and try to cut back on the horsemen or is this a good sign to continue what I am doing?

  26. Avatar

    Hey guys. I need to know if coconut butter is a nut? I m finding mixed reaction. I too have crazy brain fog bordering histeria (I know its leaky gut), and am in the process of eliminating a few of the dark horsemen. I’m trying to see if coconut oil is something my body might be reacting to. Also, I’m on home hemodialysis, and can feel the effects of high potassium from all the squash I’ve been eating. I have my own machine at home so I can dialyze whenever I want for up to 9 hours at a time, and it seems no matter how much dialysis I do, I can feel that dreadfull high potassium feeling in my body. SO, I know that rice is not legal on scd or pale, but can I include rice a a safer mode of carbs in my case? very little potassium there. Seems like I do well on 100-140g of carbs a day. Thank You in advance for an answer. Other then adding some new foods (scd legal) here and there, I am very serious and devoted, measure everything to the t. Thank you in advance. Martin

  27. Avatar

    Hi guys,

    I started SCD a year ago and felt 80% better. For the last few months though I have been so tired/brain foggy. I have celiac and have never had bowel problems, just a never ending fatigue problem. I havent added any new food, help!

  28. Avatar

    I started diet SCD two month’s ago.From the start i left all my medication;octasa800,salofalk and prednisolon.I felt great;clear mind,no swollen and heavy belly.I had only one problem with constipation.I just was on etap2 when started mucus and blood in my stool,later diarrhea.
    I thought that it was a natural reaction of healing,but bleeding and mucus in time was increase then i was back to stage intro and nothing changed.My diarrhea increased from day to day,more blood and more mucus.Yesterday i visited toilet 11times.From the moment when I started these symptoms i have pain in the bottom.I have visited the doctor yesterday and i am back on octasa 800+ prednisolon,but octasa contain lactose then i take salofalk instead octasa.My menu now is;broth,chicken +carrots,grapes gelatin,apple juice,sometimes eggs,green,black and mint tea.My questions is what is going wrong with me?I felt very well at beginning and now all of this.

  29. Avatar

    Steve and Jordan…. i think you guys should talk about and explore lectins…. and their probable involvement with crohns and gastrointestinal problems. I have tried many diets for four years without improvement. For the last month i have tried the chicken/meat broth soup with pureed carrots and winter squash. That is it-morning, lunch, and dinner! After about 3 weeks of this diet my CRP inflammation levels went from 25-30 for over 4 years to 11. When i add green beans and peas to the “chicken/meat/ squash diet” inflammation returns with a vengence. Eliminate these two foods and my inflammation goes down.

    I agree with you that food “sensitivities” might play a role in crohns intestinal problems…… and i bet lectins in certain foods are the trigger for inflammation.

    For me, I think foods high in certain types of lectins (peas, tomatoes, nightshades, grains) are/were responsible for my inflammation and leaky gut. It doesn’t appear to be a bacterial problem as I have taken probiotics with no apparent effect. Breathe tests indicate no SIBO. Healing started by eliminating beans and peas from the diet.
    After doing this, inflammation (CRP) is down and leaky gut test showed decreased permeability. Hopefully i’m on the right track.

  30. Avatar

    What are some options if we are avoiding nuts and nut flours? Coconut flour?
    As for coconut milk and hemp seed milks, are these allowable?
    Thanks in advance.

  31. Avatar

    I’m very new to SCD, and am running into a lot of problems. I started the intro diet very conservatively–I only ate chicken with broth, eggs, beef, and fish for three days. My stomach felt better than it has ever been. On the fourth day, feeling very fatigued and underfed (not surprisingly), I decided I wanted to add in pureed carrots and grape juice. The grape juice didn’t sit well, so I stopped that right away. The carrots seemed ok initially, but I’m now experiencing significant gas and bloating. I feel confused as to why something so strict and seemingly benign as the intro diet is a problem for me. I read in the ebook that you should not stay in intro past 5 days even if you’re still having symptoms. So I tried pureed butternut squash, and that caused negative symptoms. Back to just meat and pureed carrots, and I’m still having problems. I can’t subsist purely on meat and broth, but I don’t know what to do.

  32. Avatar

    I’ve been extremely strict about SCD and, while it certainly keeps my UC tamer than it otherwise would be, I’m not achieving remission. So I’m going to give these suggestions a shot.

    I do have one question. It is my understanding that peanuts actually aren’t nuts at all, but legumes. So are peanuts including in the “nut” dark horseman?

  33. Avatar

    Do many people have trouble when introducing butternut squash? I am on day 3 of the intro diet and have had no negative side effects and thought I was ready to move on to butternut squash. I had a bit tonight and had sinus drainage that I haven’t had with carrots – is the squash typically an issue for people? I thought I was being safe but am afraid to implement more foods or try it again. I can’t eat raw yellow squash but thought surely cooked butternut would be safe. Are there other foods I should avoid for a bit that could be similar?

  34. Avatar

    Hello fellow gastro-intestinal sufferers. I am 27 and was diagnosed with UC in Nov 2009 and have since been through all kinds of meds and treatments since. I am going through my second awful flare up and I’m desperate to avoid steroids. I started the SCD 8 days ago and my diarrhea and pain has almost gone, but now I am only passing mucus and blood. It may seem like a silly question, but does this mean thins are getting better or worse? I feel better, but I’m worried I’m losing more blood. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Many thanks.

  35. Avatar

    I have a question about the intro diet. It contains protein from cottage cheese or eggs at every meal. If you are allergic to the four horsemen (as I am) what do you eat instead?

  36. Avatar

    I have a question that you may be able to help me with. My son has been on the SCD diet for 2 months now. When we started it he was 10 days into using 20mg of prednisone a day (no help from it), and starting 6MP as well. About 3 weeks ago we weaned him off the steroids, so now he is 63 days on SCD, and for the first time following SCD with no steroid help.

    He had been having 1 normal formed (no blood or mucus)BM every other day for the past month. But, now that he is off the steroids for the past week his symptoms have increased to 2 BM’s a day and a little blood and little mucus. I feel like since he was on steroids at the beginning SCD, he was getting an added boost from them. My question: What SHOULD his BM’s look like 2 months into the diet without the help of steroids? I have a feeling that 2 formed BM’s with a little blood and little mucus might be on track for healing within 2 months of diet. But I am of course worried that this is the beginning of a trend of increased symptoms.

    Any insight?

    • Avatar

      Hello Emily,
      If he is seeing blood and mucus again, try eliminating one of the four horseman for four days to see if symptoms improve. Eliminating one of them just may do the trick. And after some continued healing he may be able to introduce them again one day.

  37. Avatar

    Agree with david here. I already lost 10 kg and I weigh 60 kg, when I should normally weigh 85. After starting this diet, I kept losing weight. So far no major improvements, and I think I might have to eliminate the 4 horsemen. Can’t even imagine how much weight I will lose then.

    I am starting to think I should go back to eating bread and pasta, so I can get back some of the lost kgs.

    • Steven Wright

      @Dave – It’s very common for people to under eat when they switch to SCD or any other real food diet. This is the #1 source of not wanted weight loss we see.

      MOST people need to track their calories for a 7-14days, to re-learn how much food to eat. Males should shoot for 2500 calories a day and then adjust from there, Females start at 2000 calories.

      For many people losing weight this amount of calories will be more than they are used to eating and you will have to get creative as to how to fit more food in.

    • Avatar

      Hey Dave, I’m having a similar problem. I’m starting to add 30g of coconut butter to my carbs (squash, carrots). sometimes 60g. That will add 260 or 520cal. (I don’t care about calories that much, just keeping track so I don’t loose anymore weight). Also, I believe one needs to not come down to less then 120g of carbs (for dudes) a day. I feel best at 120g. – 150g. of carbs a day. Hopefully this helps

  38. Avatar

    I can`t eat nuts, wheat, eggs, dairy (not even dairy free cheese), peas, shell fish, sweet potatoes also didn`t go down welll and probably a few other things. How on earth can I try this diet without losing even more weight than I already did

  39. Avatar

    Hi there!
    Diagnosed with UC September 2011. Last flare was March 2012.
    I want to find a diet that makes sense to my lifestyle, but to have no grain or starch makes it seem not filling or realistic at all. If I added potato or rice into the SCD diet would that make it pointless to follow?
    I feel like I’m healing slowly but need a change to put me in remission (if it’s even possible)

  40. Avatar

    Hey Guys…

    I personally seem to tolerate egg yolks fine my symptoms dont really go either way better or worse with or without them…and notice on many paleo sites…egg yolks are fine for autoimmunity…however it seems that the egg white is the consistent problem child. What is your experience like with this issue?


  41. Avatar

    Time to post some great news, along with a thank you (it’s a little long, but needs context):

    My daughter (15) had been a great athlete. During an 18 month period things first went slowly downhill and then very quickly downhill. She developed extremely bad headaches every day, couldn’t sleep longer than 2 hours at a time and couldn’t fall asleep for hours. She was tired walking to school and she even developed a serious stutter. Her iron dropped through the floor and her B12 and D was looking dropping. She became irritable and both her school work and sports suffered immensely.

    We got her on a course of iron injections, which took care of the immediate symptoms. (even the stuttering!) We saw 7 doctors and they all scoffed at the Celiac suggestion, but finally one said sure, she’d order the test, but there was no way she was Celiac. Of course she was, and the endoscopy later confirmed it.

    July 12, 2012 she started her gluten free diet. We took base line results. Zinc was now also low, well out of the reference range at 7.7 (minimum reference = 11.5) We were told recovery might be 3 months. My daughter was phenomenally diligent at her diet. She did the basic gluten free diet where you substitute other “gluten free” alternatives, etc. After 3 months we got further blood tests but the results were shocking. Zinc had fallen to 1.7 and iron (ferritin) was dropping 1 unit per week. She was developing sores around her mouth and getting everyone’s cold.

    I read your site (and I had earlier read Mark Sisson’s site) and decided on some drastic changes to her diet: We banished all grains and reduced legumes. We allowed her to eat sprouted brown rice, sprouted lentils and sprouted pre-washed Quinoa. She ate calf’s liver twice a week with tons of onions. She ate meats, fruits, veggies and used a lot of rutabaga/potato/sweet potato mash as filler. We cut out all soy and industrial seeds. We eliminated most sugar. We added human strain probiotics and matching pre-biotics. She ate a lot of onions and added garlic tablets. She ate a lot of yoghurt (without sweeteners). She changed her zinc supplements to Zinc Picolinate. She added a lactoferrin supplement (did I get that idea here? possibly, can’t remember) We also added half a gram daily of Arginine and half a gram of Glutamine (may have gotten that idea here, also can’t remember)

    We also have a program that monitors her HRV (heart rate variability). It is a good indicator of overall well being and her readings had been consistent with inflammation. Once she started the new diet we were encouraged. Her HRV improved immediately and for the past 6 weeks it has been consistently higher than ever and NOT consistent with inflammation (after about a week of being on diet).

    More importantly, a few days ago, 6 weeks into the new diet we got new blood work. The results were beyond our wildest expectations. Her zinc had gone from 1.7 to 14 in 6 weeks. Her iron jumped over 15 units. Even her B12 improved significantly. More importantly, no colds in that time. Her skin has cleared up and she feels great.

    So, thank you! I could not have dreamed of such a fast turnaround and I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out without you guys! Now I have to convince her to try and stay on this diet, as her first reaction of course was: ok, now can I go back to GF pasta?… lol. Anyway, she has agreed to stay on it for the race season (cross-country skiing) to see the effects. I’m hoping we can persuade her to make it a longer commitment than that!

    Thanks, good luck.

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    Is it possible for fat and fiber to be, if not Horsemen, then at least Ponies?

    I’ve been faithful SCD for two months now, and have been trying to advance my diet. However, it seems I can’t get beyond Phase 1/ early Phase 2.

    I work out most every day, Before SCD I’d eat a lot of carbs, plus big salads and lots of fruit to fill me up. Now that I’m SCD I’ve had to change my nutrition strategy, and it seems I’m hungry all the time.

    I cook the heck out of everything – asparagus looks so depressingly grey – and puree. Yet time I try to introduce more fiber into my diet, such as spinach or green beens, I revert back to my IBS-D ways. Forget it if I also have much fat.

    I’ve been nut-free, dairy free, and eggs rarely. I still eat fruit (only apple sauce) but I don’t go overboard.

    I’m really getting sick of meat, meat, chicken soup, and more meat. There are days I just feel so greasy.

    I am beginning to wonder if I’ll every be able to enjoy a simple salad without consequences. So frustrated….

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    I had to read this post again….because I have cut out grains/polysaccharides (for about 6 months), but I am still very very constipated and in pain most of the time. I am tired of looking for bathrooms wherever I go…Since I can’t afford good quality meat, I have been eating locally farmed eggs, but then now thay I have read this post, I realise that I have been having the 4 horsemen (including almond homemade cakes) plus dark chocoloate on a daily basis. This could explain why SCD has not been successful. I find it incredibly hard to cut out these as well, because I am always on the go, and I already carry my lunch + dinner with me (deseeded/mashed/cooked SCD legal veggies with good fats). What do you suggest? Do the intro diet again? 🙁

    • Avatar

      Hi, Samay,

      It is almost a month since your post– So I hope that you will read this. Good news/bad news: chocolate–yes, even wonderful dark chclte– is not ok on SCD. So that might explain your ongoing discomfort. Cocoa butter is ok.

      If you are not on the BTVC elist–at Yahoo– you might want to join and look around the archives for suggestions of portable food.
      best wishes,

    • Steven Wright

      @Blackbass – Hmm good question, there is the potential for harm, but because of the added bonus of all the probiotics it might end up being neutral affect. I would say, if you have signs of leaky gut and try almond milk yogurt and don’t really see great results, a safer and more proven route is to supplement with Lactobacillus Acidophilus probiotics.

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    I’ve been following a mostly raw, vegan diet and recently learned about fructose malabsorption. This could explain the chronic digestive issues, feeling toxic, low energy. Have cut back on the sweeter fruits and eliminated apples, dried fruit, etc.

    Bananas seem to digest okay. What else can I eat that’s calorie dense and filling? I really miss dates and mangoes, but definitely feel better without them. Cooked yams or squash leave me feeling very heavy.

    Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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    When I first started having gut problems, I couldn’t even eat good, sour yogurt or kefir without having cramps in my colon and other typical lactose intolerant symptoms. So I cut out all the dairy whatsoever. Even butter I couldn’t tolerate. The only thing I could have was high quality ghee from Pure foods. Then one day I tried raw milk. I avoided trying it for a long time as I knew too well my previous symptoms when drinking milk (gas cramps bloating etc!!) Surprisingly, nothing happened. It digested great!!! So I started drinking raw milk almost every day. It made me feel happy because I felt like I was actually absorbing the nutrients in it. I want to say that RAW , grass fed milk (from brown cows) healed my gut GREATLY, and I felt that I was getting nowhere without it. After drinking it for a few months, I could tolerate yogurt, kefir, butter and cheese again. It seems to be the only that that really jump started my healing. This is just my personal experience. I will absolutely never go back to pasteurized milk from holstein cows again, in my opinion it is poison.

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    thanks Steven…do you have an enzyme i might try if the oil doesnt stop…also what is your experience with the blood? what might be continuing to exacerbate the ulcerations? sugars from fruits/honey?

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    i am going to try eliminating the 4 horsemen…i love honey and juice..and lots and lots of eggs…but the diet has stalled and the bleeding and oily stools wont stop…i am doing the diet 100%…so it has to be the yoguart, cheese, sugars and eggs…i just hate losing muscle mass that comes along with practically no carbs

    any advice?

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    SCD without the four horsemen sounds an awful lot like GAPS intro. if SCD works better when following GAPS, why are there two different diets? i’m new to this and preparing to start GAPS intro. i’m just glad that i didn’t start out with SCD if i’d eventually have to do GAPS anyway. so, what is the difference and isn’t this a disservice to people who are suffering?

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    I am thinking about trying the SCD diet – but not sure if now is the right time. I was diagnosed earlier this year with UC soon after having my second child (possibly hormones brought on my first ever flare?)
    Currently I am taking Salofalk, and it had worked for about 2 months, but I now have a mild (?) flare and not sure if that is because the meds failed or because of a compromised immune system ( I have been sick with colds and flu for the last 6 weeks). While I really like the idea of not having to take meds for the rest of my life, from what I have read I’m not sure how my body would do on this diet – veggies seem to irritate my guts the most! While grains like white bread and pasta and rice seem to be okay.
    And I am still breast-feeding my baby, so perhaps now is not the time to be cutting out major food groups??? I’m also wondering about the practicality of SCD – I also have a 3 year old to feed and a husband that works long hours. Cooking double for each meal seems like a lot of work. And stress. And stress seems to bring on my flares… Any advice would be welcome.

    • Jordan Reasoner

      Hi Jenn, I’m sorry I just came across this comment.

      You’re amazing and i know how much this is probably impacting your life. I believe a diet like SCD or paleo would really help you reclaim your health, but there are some things to consider while breastfeeding.

      Our friend Chris Kresser has a wonderful course that might help you where he gives specific recommendations for Paleo eating while breastfeeding:

      I look forward to hearing from you,


    • Avatar

      Hi, I am in a very similar position, it really is easier than it seems at first glance. The first week was pure hell… 3 year old kept crying for food, I felt TERRIBLE, I am also a nurse so do shift work… Not a pretty picture all round. BUT one week later I had so much more energy, it was worth it. First time in a year I don’t have a cold. (and dramatic reduction in symptoms) Wow. Now it really is not hard at all. Just have to be more organised. I only cook one meal, and my husband loves the food. My only wish is that I had started years ago. Re breastfeeding it really is possible, and not that hard (except for first week) Good Luck, bless you and give it a go.

      • Avatar

        Hi Alison

        I’m new to the SCD as well. Have just finished day 3 of the Intro diet. I’m really pleased you gave it a go because as I was reading your first entry about breastfeeding, your husband working long hours and the 3 year old, I thought “but what about you”? We can all find excuses for not doing it because the concept if foreign to us, “what? No flour of any kind?” But it’s amazing how quickly you adjust and I think the key is that we as sufferers of Crohns and UC are only pleased that what we are eating on the SCD is good tasting food. We are not in hospital or having to resort to lots of drugs that ultimately don’t work and do lots of damage in the meantime. I don’t miss the ‘bad’ foods at all and I think I am starting to view them in perspective. They are against me therefore I don’t want them. They prevent me from being happy and healthy and I happily breeze past them at the supermarket. Amazing eh, and I used to be a big bread eater.

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    I just discovered your blog so don’t mind me commenting on older entries!! But anyway, this information is so crucial!! I wish I had read it years ago when I was first on the SCD, it would have saved me a lot of time and pain. As it happens I figured these things out the trial-and-error way over the last half-year or so, but I am SO GLAD I did. For me, the biggest problems were dairy and nuts; I went without fruit for 5-6 weeks and have since added it back and things seem ok. I’ve never avoided eggs and still had improvements just avoiding dairy/nuts. Yes sometimes I feel limited but I also feel liberated, because nuts were also one of those foods I could never just have “a little bit” of, so having none (and none in the house) makes it easy to avoid.

    Great post!

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    So Jordan and Steve, I was wondering…why four days of eliminating the four horseman. Does that have anything to do with bowel transit time and the time it takes to get all of the substances out of your system? The reason I ask is that if it does, four days probably not enough for a person like me who has severe chronic constipation. I’m planning on cutting out all four then adding them back one by one. But I want to be prepared food wise if it turns out I should try for more than 4 days.

    • Jordan Reasoner
      Jordan Reasoner says:

      @ Sandy,

      Four days usually allows enough time for certain things like the casein protein and peptides to get out of your blood stream. Also, 4-days usually covers most people’s gut motility time.

      So for example if you “tweaked” something in your diet to help with the constipation, like doubling your fat content, you would definitely see a change in that four day timeframe.

      Keep working at it,


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    Anne Marie says:

    Just wanted to comment on the four horsemen……I wish I had listened to Jordan and Steve sooner about eliminating them. I found SCD Lifestyle after a month on the diet, at which time I did what a lot of people probably did – did the intro diet, which went great, then ate whatever SCD foods I wanted, and found I had symptoms again immediately. Once I found the different stages, I followed that but couldn’t get any further than Stage 1. My symptoms never fully cleared up, so every time I tried to add a new veggie, I would blame the symptoms on the new food and regress back to my “safe” zone of only a handful of foods, the only veggies being carrots and squash. After three more months, I was pretty tired of eating Stage 1 foods, and did not see any progress. I had tried a few times to add almond milk or pecan milk with bad results, so I already knew I could not have nut products. So I finally decided to eliminate the other three horsemen. I cut out fructose, and things got better. Then I cut out eggs and dairy at the same time, and for the first time since starting the diet, I had solid stools for over two weeks!!!!! I could kick myself for not cutting them out sooner, because they had given me that advice earlier on, but I loved my homemade yogurt and hard cheeses so much that I couldn’t bear to think about it. However, now that I am off the horsemen, I can add all of these cool veggies and am loving having them! So if you haven’t tried cutting out the horsemen, it might be the only tweak you need, and you may be able to introduce one or two of them back in time. I plan to try yogurt somewhere down the line again, and probably nuts later, but I have decided I can live without eggs and other dairy. Right now I am just enjoying my veggies so much! I am at 5 months now and finally looking forward to Stage 3. Just my two cents.

      • Avatar

        Hello, I’ve been on SCD since last June. I’ve significantly decreased my meds and have been feeling relatively well, besides moments of pain/diarrhea here and there. I’ve been in a flare this week with what seems like new symptoms outside of the GI – joint pain (legs/hands) & today have had really bad stomach pain. I am assuming it is because I have decreased my meds so much and now probably have inflammation. You mention to remove the four “dark horseman” but really- what is left to eat on this diet without all of that??? All I eat anyway is eggs, protein (chicken/meat), fruit, & nuts, yogurt, larabars and rx bars (which is eggs and dried fruit). So yes I am probably having way too much fruit and nuts but what else am I supposed to eat— meat 10 times a day?! Sorry, so very frustrated at this point. Thank you for any help.

        • Avatar

          Hi Lara – I’m sorry you’re frustrated. The great news is that 1) at first you’re only testing the 4 horseman to see if they are causing you issues. 2) it isn’t forever! I know that is hard to realize sometimes, but the sooner you eliminate all potential inflammatory foods, the sooner your body will heal and you’ll then be able to expand your customized diet.

    • Avatar

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I learned the hard way that dairy, nuts and large amounts of honey or fruit don’t work for me. After reading this post, I am going to stop the eggs.

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    Great post and great site. Thanks for posting this fantastic insight. I have a question for you or any readers… have you found that, after getting past the intro stages and a spending a good amount of time in full symptomatic remission that you’ve been able to increase the amount of honey you consume without going into a flair?
    I’ve been on a restricted version of SCD for 2.5 years and have been fully symptom free for 1.5 years. Things are great but I’m finding that during high intensity exercise my muscles really don’t have a ton of strength. From the research I’ve done it looks like muscles switch from fat to carb consumption as one moves from moderate to high intensity exercise which does a good job of explaining my experiences. For this reason I’m really trying to find a source of carbs that I can rely on during exercise – honey seems like the best option on SCD. I just don’t want to send myself into a flare on it. Any experiences people can share would be appreciated – are there people out there who can consume a fair bit of honey after having a lengthy stretch of success on SCD?


    • Steven Wright
      Steven Wright says:

      Hi Ryan – Great question! I think my tolerance for honey has gone up over time, however it is still dose dependent. Just like any other food if I gorge on it I will pay the price (the only difference is the sum is lower now). Honey contains quite a bit of fructose so I would caution against high usage. I would look to other sources like squash and carrots. Also If you’ve been symptom free for 1.5yrs and are really interested in getting some more carbs, I would rather see you try introducing sweet potato then eat gobs of honey.

      Another important point is rest. You may not need more carbs but better/more sleep, less training etc. Try taking a week off and then starting again.

      For more reading on high-fat diets check out this series

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    “I’ve been on the diet for ten years”

    Darnabit, then it is true what the doctors said, there is no cure known yet. 10 years is plenty beyond enough time to proove if scd works or not.

    • Steven Wright
      Steven Wright says:

      Hi Zeke, Thanks for the comment. Cure is a very relative word, if I can change my behavior and eliminate all the sources of my pain, why would I wait for a standardized test to tell me if I passed? In my mind that is cured, but each person is different.

      Jordan and I stress that it is very important for everyone to define exactly what they want from the diet and what the word cure means to them.

      Define what your definition of health is…or someone else will.

    • Avatar
      Nancy Heitschmidt says:

      My husband was sick with gas, bloating & other side effects on & off for over 10 yrs. It got 2 the pt it was constant. I started him on SCD 2 months ago. Ea h week was better. He used to cheat a lot, but has gotten sick so he’s pretty good & is feeling much better. His Drs smirk & go on talkng more tests. I know it’s working & am cooking like crazy trying to keep up since he’s eating more now. Thank you 2 all who write in Asiatic gives me more ideas 2 try. Thank you Jordan & Steve for sharing your wealth of experience with us

  55. Avatar

    Great post! You are right on in saying SCD is not one size fits all. I can eat all those things, but there are other things that are supposed to be allowed that I can’t eat. My stomach does not tolerate raw onions, peppers, or garlic. I can have those things well cooked (not crunchy at all), but not raw. I’ve been on the diet for ten years so I don’t think that will ever change for me.

    Conversely there are probably foods that are not allowed that would be ok for some people, but that’s tricky. Plantains is one that comes to mind because of the recent study saying they have a benefit to people with IBD. I have introduced several foods but have scaled back to plantains, chocolate (unsweetened baking chocolate powder – once in a great while), sweet potatoes, kefir, wheat free tamari, millet, and quinoa. Of course I waited about seven years before introducing new foods.

    • Avatar

      Yes everyone is different. I can eat all four, but have to make sure my cheese & kefir is from raw milk or fermented or aged so much that it is lactose free. Re the peppers, I used to not be able to eat them & now have found that as long as I let them mature like they are supposed to be to a beautiful color, then I can eat them just fine. Just not green peppers, which was big food’s way more than half a century ago to push a product on the public that has not matured yet in order to be able to ship it farther without spoiling (they were never meant to be green & are supposed to stay on the plant until they turn color). Good luck & I’m glad you’re like me now & finding new ways to enjoy food & feel better at the same time – DJ Katie 🙂

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