It is not unusual for new Crohn’s patients to appear in our office feeling hopeless – the pain and weight loss, despite multiple medications, can be terrifying. It’s also not unusual for patients to be told that what they eat will not impact the severity or progression of the disease. Fortunately, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) can provide fresh hope for relief and healing for many people.
The premise of SCD is that a damaged intestinal mucosa leads to malabsorption of complex carbohydrates. To make matters worse, while the individual may not be absorbing these nutrients, undigested carbohydrates provide a feast for intestinal bacteria. Overgrowth of bacteria can lead to a vicious cycle of inflammation, increased mucus production, and more damage.
We have had wonderful success implementing SCD, beginning with a limited diet of protein, some fat, and only specific carbohydrates (primarily monosaccharides – simple sugars) and slowly expanding the diet as the intestinal mucosa heals. Working with a registered dietitian who is well versed in SCD and inflammatory bowel disease is crucial to ensure the diet and supplement protocol is nutritionally adequate.
A common challenge faced by those undertaking SCD is the amount of cooking required – so having quick, easy, nutritionally dense recipes will increase SCD success. With grains off the table, almond flour is an excellent substitute for baking. This banana nut muffin recipe fits the bill and provides a delicious snack or addition to breakfast.
Banana Nut Muffins (adapted from Elana’s Pantry Paleo Banana Bread)
3 ripe bananas
3 large eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract*
1 tbsp honey (optional – may leave out if bananas are extra ripe)
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
2 cups blanched almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine salt
Combine bananas, eggs, vanilla, honey, and oil in a food processor and pulse until bananas are fully pureed. Add almond flour, baking soda, and salt, and pulse until combined. Pour batter into muffin tin lined with 12 paper liners and bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
*Check vanilla extract to make sure it does not contain any added sugars, colors, or artificial flavors.
Burgis JC, Nguyen K, Park KT, et al. Response to strict and liberalized specific carbohydrate diet in pediatric Crohn’s disease. World J Gastroenterol. Feb 2016;22(6):2111-7.
Kakodkar S, Farooqui AJ, Mikolaitis SL, et al. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Case Series. J Acad Nutr Diet. Aug 2015;115(8):1226-32.
Obih C, Wahbeh G, Lee D, et al. Specific carbohydrate diet for pediatric inflammatory bowel disease in clinical practice within an academic IBD center. Nutrition. Apr 2016;32(4):418-25.