A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Diet Enters Medical Research


When I used to work as a physician, I wondered what it’d be like to stay home with the kids full-time. Some moms would say, “I HAVE to work. My kids drive me crazy.” I always thought to myself that I’d still like to try it and see. Maybe crazy is a state of bliss that I’d like quite a lot.

I did get to stay home, and to my chagrin, I did fall into crazy. Crazy nutrition. At first, I honestly did wonder if I had taken neurotic to its pinnacle, but I kept reading and reading. And over the short four years since I began having any interest in nutrition at all, other than having the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, there have been some major upheavals in medicine regarding nutrition, particularly regarding fat and cholesterol. But I know there will be more.

One upheaval that intrigues me, because I swear real food is pixie dust, is doctors using a real food diet to throw inflammatory bowel disease into remission without medicine. At Seattle Children’s Hospital, researchers are reversing serious cases of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease using the exact same voodoo, or pixie dust (if you prefer), diet that Elaine Gottschall, a stay-at-home mother of two, used in the 1950s to save her 8 year-old daughter’s life from near-terminal ulcerative colitis. The diet, called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), was the last hope that Elaine had for possibly saving her child’s colon, maybe even the child’s life itself. Permanent poop collection bag? Death? How about we try this weird diet.

Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas’s Stodgy, Misinformed Diet

The SCD is not a new diet. It has been around in some form since approximately the 1920s, when Sidney Valentine Haas, MD was using it on his celiac and severely afflicted gastrointestinal patients.  At this time, there was no known celiac disease and gluten connection. Dr. Haas, using close observation skills and taking good patient histories (all things falling into disfavor in today’s medical climate), felt that starchy carbohydrates and table sugar were bad for his patients. So he developed a diet which removed starchy foods and sugar, making it inherently gluten-free and grain free. He found that his patients did fine with fruit, and he strongly encouraged bananas, and he even thought there was something special about the banana.

His “banana” diet was pretty popular and was used to manage celiac disease until the gluten connection was verified. Then, Haas and banana diets fell into disfavor, ridicule even. However, Dr. Haas, a reportedly kindly man who lived into his 90s, never acquiesced that gluten elimination should be the sole treatment of celiac disease. He remained adamantly suspicious that most starchy carbohydrates were problematic and needed removed for a time (not a lifetime). He genuinely believed in his diet, and if you read closely, he is scorned for never succumbing completely to the hypotheses that gluten is the sole problem for celiac patients.

(Now, I don’t know whether he was right or wrong about gluten. I DO KNOW that there are celiacs who follow a STRICT gluten-free diet, never eating away from home, and I know they still have abdominal issues. So, perhaps his intuition is not as laughable as it seems. Perhaps, as time passes and we learn more, we will find facts that make him more right than wrong. I don’t know. History repeatedly shows genius in ridicule, and maybe there’s more to treating celiac than just taking away gluten.)

A Doctor -Shopping, Stay-at-Home Mom

This photo of Elaine Gottschall came from www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info , the official Breaking the Vicious Cycle and SCD website.

The SCD would  have probably stopped right there if it hadn’t been for Big Magic (you really should read the book by this title, very good). Elaine Gottschall (now deceased, 1921-2005) called herself an ordinary, happy, stay-at-home, 1950s’ mom. She had two young daughters. One of her daughters, Judy, began experiencing incapacitating gut issues and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the tender age of four years old. Little Judy was so sick and malnourished by the time she was 8, she had stunted growth and even her neurological system was shutting down. Elaine and Herb were told their daughter had two options: colon removal or death. Elaine wouldn’t hear it and refused to take death or colectomy (colon removal) as an answer for her daughter if she could do anything about it.

So she did what all desperate patients do (or parents of patients), she doctor shopped. After much doctor shopping and no hope in sight except surgery, an acquaintance of a friend pointed her to an outdated, nearly ancient physician. She finally landed in the arms (figuratively) of our now 92-year-old Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas. He started her daughter Judy on his version of what is now the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Her daughter improved dramatically within days and even more in the months that followed, living a full life, even being able to eat a very diverse diet eventually.

Humiliating Success

Dr. Haas died within two years of meeting the Gottschall family. Would his diet die with him? No. Elaine Gottschall made it her mission to understand that man’s diet, even going back to school and earning degrees in biology, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular biology. If this diet helped Judy live and get her life back, she wanted to know why and share it with the others who were sick. Many times she wanted to give up, but her husband was convicted that the world needed this information that would be lost without Dr. Haas, and he knew Elaine was just the woman to do it.

Herb encouraged Elaine to write a book eventually called Breaking the Vicious Cycle, do health consults, and speak. She functioned at a grassroots level, and she touched thousands of lives, helping people turn their health around with the SCD. But, sadly, she could never break through to medical circles. Her daughter said: “She also wanted the acceptance from–if not approval of–the medical mainstream, which she never got. She was told stories by mothers who said their doctors would refuse to treat their children if they followed her diet…”

Doctors refusing to treat patients if they tried this diet? A diet that has now entered the halls of medical research with initial success? Elaine’s diet brought success to many suffering patients, but the patients’ doctors wouldn’t have it. How could a simple diet help? How could a stay-at-home mom know what she’s talking about? Who was she to challenge medical management?

Because of Elaine’s tenacity and courage (and ability to persist despite medical contempt), people today may have an opportunity to try diet over drugs. Some doctors are listening to patients and trying the SCD in clinical research. (See my last post.)

Elaine, Herb, and Judy (their daughter), thank you.


The SCD studies are small and sparse, but they’re pretty remarkable, especially in kids, whose healing capacities are always amazing. IF diet makes a difference, then I think Elaine Gottschall is right, the only way it’s going to get to medical doctors is if patients keep showing them. Dr. Suskind’s studies from Seattle are shedding some light, but they’re so small. With just a snap or a new successful medical discovery, his work will be trampled over forever, as Dr. Haas’s almost was.

Did Dr. Haas have it ALL right? No. Did Elaine Gottschall? No. Does the doctor named Natasha Campbell-McBride (who has taken Elaine Gottschall’s work further in her clinical practice, renaming her diet GAPS)? No. Does Dr. Suskind, a researcher using SCD in his studies? No. But continuing to cut out colons and continuing to prescribe immunosuppressants without ever trying significant dietary modification such as the SCD is irresponsible and, to me, unethical. Medical doctors maliciously, scornfully, and condescendingly name-call and ridicule diet theories they don’t agree with like pompous elitists. And guess what! When we do that, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and the public follow along. Then, we end up in a big mess. Like Days of Our Lives. Please stop the division.

You are never too small. You are never too insignificant. You are always enough. Your experience is for you. Your experience is for others. Live boldly with love and compassion.

Even your cooking can change someone’s life.



Sites and links I followed for information, which should always be verified before you even think about trusting anything…

Frontiers in Celiac Disease, pages 5-7: https://books.google.com/books?id=gqaDD3jkcfYC&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=haas%27s+banana+diet+celiac+disease&source=bl&ots=pPA2rdAt9_&sig=tgEgHivZWbdeSKX5j1Dajx243Iw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi1xNTukc_RAhVG4IMKHdtmBKo4ChDoAQglMAI#v=onepage&q=haas’s%20banana%20diet%20celiac%20disease&f=false


Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Raman Prasad

16 thoughts on “A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Diet Enters Medical Research

  1. Debbie

    The million dollar question is: do you think this diet could work for constipation? And what about my beloved potatoes and orange squash?

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Well, my own personal answer to that question is no, it did not completely cure my extremely slow gut, although it made my gut amenable to functioning with some magnesium, which wheretofore it was not. I did see in my readings that Haas and Gottsschall speculated about significant constipation. I can’t remember which, contrary to what many alternative health advocates encourage, but one felt like high fat was perhaps detrimental rather than beneficial. I don’t know. I’m stuck at a better, much more low grade place. But if I ever get it all figured out and spontaneity of my autonomic function is the rule, I’ll definitely try to communicate it. I’ve tried high fat and low fat. No difference either way for me.

      And orange squash is allowed, the stately potato is not. 🙂 If I remember right, you’ve experimented quite a bit nutritionally, and so SCD may not be what you need. No expert here, though! Just a self-experimenter and observer.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      No. The diet itself doesn’t have any recommendations for it. And depending on the kid, man, or woman doing the diet, I can see that there would be huge extremes. I just bought the SCD book that Suskind uses/wrote: NIMBAL. I’m going to read through it and see if he made any additions to the diet.

  2. Wilbur

    I’ve never really looked too hard at the diet until your post. I did look at the webmd review


    What nonsense!

    I visited a more reputable site and realized something. I cured myself of IBS-D, as I’ve mentioned. I did it by going super high fiber. After a while, I developed strong food cravings and aversions. Intense ones. It appears that my diet at that time was, as far as I can tell, identical to SCD.

    Whole grains smelled rancid to me. I could eat and liked occasional white rice and regular pasta. But anything whole grain couldn’t get past my nose. I could smell processed sugar with an unbelievable intensity, and it turned my stomach. Commercial yogurts did not appeal (and still don’t); I think they are essentially processed food. I didn’t eat many potatoes and still don’t really, but I’ve ingested a lot of raw potato starch. My fats are only butter, ghee, lard, tallow, duck fat, and occasional EVOO.

    The temporary aspect of the diet seems natural as well. Maybe 3 months super strict? (But remember, for me it was automatic, not willpower). Then things started loosening. I started eating barley and other grains. Whole wheat was one of the last, and that might have been a year or more. I seem to be able to eat anything now, except I’d never dream of eating commercial yogurt, processed oils (except in restaurants, but even there I go quality), and preservatives. Zero processed food. Over 3 years, ZERO.

    Contrary to the webmd review, I didn’t find the diet hard to follow. In fact, I’d say I still follow it at least 85% of the time right now because it’s hard to get lots of local farm vegetables. When the growing season stars, it will be closer to 95%. I’ll cheat with things like chickpeas and baked potatoes!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Did I link to that WebMD link? I looked at it and thought about using it, but I didn’t think I did because in the first sentence it described the diet as restrictive, which I don’t think is a good adjective for the diet. Did I forget and link to the WebMD site somewhere I’m missing or did you find it when you did a quick Google search?

      I’m glad to hear that your experience was consistent with what is on SCD. That’s great! People transitioning need a diet plan they can feel confident in until they get their own legs under them. So you’d say this (SCD) is similar food to yours when you started, only would you say you added in prebiotic fibers too? Just curious.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t like commercial yogurts either.

      Hope you have a good weekend.

      1. Wilbur

        I found the webmd link on my own. You might have linked it, but that’s not how I found it. BTW, I’m purposely not capitalizing it correctly because it is obviously a propoganda site!

        No, it’s quite the reverse. I was just high fiber, no other agenda or diet type. But you know the gut bacteria can influence cravings, and my cravings (and aversions) led me to follow what was, I believe, the SCD. It was unconscious, not conscious, because I knew nothing about SCD. I think the high fiber diet led me to folks what was a temporary SCD. Really cool, IMO.

        You have a good weekend too!

  3. EmilyMaine

    I love that you share all your research with us. This is so fascinating and made me think of my cousin who is having terrible gut issues. I might send this to his sister. Thank you as always for sharing the good stuff.

  4. PCOSLady

    I do medical research intensely and have found you need to take care of the root causes first! .. In my world ALL SYMPTOMS COUNT!
    The Gut Issues: 80% of your immune system is in your gut .. 1st thing breaking it down is an iodine deficiency ..
    1) Iodine .. Health food store buy natural iodine for $8 .. 2 drops on back of hand, time how long for it to soak in.. 3+ hours = severely deficient! .. Do 3 drops daily for 30 days and retest…
    ~ Iodine controls your thyroid .. The thyroid controls your whole body!
    2) Yeast Overgrowth .. Health food store buy natural candida cleanse for $40 .. Go to symptoms, print out, check off yours .. Do cleanse recheck off symptoms still showing, repeat cleanse a month after .. Then do cleanse every 3 years!
    ~ http://candidamd.com/candida/symptoms.html
    ~ FACT: Any type belly or “love” handles means you have a yeast overgrowth!
    3) Parasites .. Health food store buy natural parasite cleanse for $40 .. Go to the Extensive Parasite symptoms list, print out, check off yours .. Do the cleanse recheck off symptoms still showing repeat cleanse a month after .. Then do cleanse every 3 years! Life spans vary from a day to years!
    ~ http://www.ParasiteTesting.com .. Test all bad parasites known in the world!
    ~ https://pcoslady.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/parasite-symptoms-extensive/
    ~ http://www.EverestMedicalLabs.com/locations/ .. Test bacteria and fungi
    4) Mercury Poisoning .. Health food store buy natural heavy metals cleanse for $40.. Go to the Mercury Poisoning symptoms list, print out, check off yours .. Do the cleanse recheck off symptoms still showing repeat cleanse a month after .. Then do cleanse every 3 years!
    ~ https://pcoslady.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/mercury-poisoning-symptoms-lists/
    ~ https://pcoslady.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/maries-story-mercury-poisoning/
    * Best to have your silver fillings and dental work removed!
    Next would be to google & test for what the root causes deplete in the body…
    1) Mineral Deficiency
    2) Vitamin Deficiency
    ~ http://www.drlwilson.com/do%20hair%20analysis.htm
    ~ Hair Analysis through this site will be 80% accurate and you get 3 CDs and a list of foods to ear to get levels up ..
    Once these are taken care of the body will start to heal…
    ~ IBS issues and gut issues (8 of 10 cases) are mainly caused by the H Pylori parasite…
    Hope all this helps…

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear PCOS Lady, Good morning. Welcome to my site. I appreciate your enthusiasm and passion as it seems parallel to mine, but I disagree with your measures as presented. Nutrition needs addressed first and foremost. A switch to real, whole foods; real, whole/minimally processed fats; taking out foods that are problematic for either so many people (as in gluten and dairy); taking out foods that are problematic on an individual basis. Keeping a food diary. Keeping a symptom diary. Sleep needs addressed. And getting outside. Improving relationships. Moving/exercising. Consideration of basic tests/supplementation via healthcare.

      Many of the things you suggest have side effects and organ effects in the body that people NEED to be aware of. Despite what the hard-core iodine advocates say, there are risks form iodine supplementation that people need to be aware of. Heavy metal elimination needs to be undertaken with a great awareness of mobilizing the metals and eliminating them. How to go about doing that is even inflammatory among alternative health providers! Candida may be a FODMAP disorder and may not need a “rid Candida treatment.” H. pylori cohabited with us throughout our existence; it is not always a bad parasite.

      And so on with the other things you suggest. But, I do encourage people to read about the disorders you discuss. However, I DO NOT want anyone to become OBSESSIVE about these things. Get checked out medically. Make sure you’re “okay” medically. Then, read lots. And when you read, believe not a thing. Read it. Think about it. Read some more. Read. Read. Read. Read COMPLETELY opposing ideas so you can see any danger of what one person says over the other. If one person says something is black and someone else says it’s white, read both sides—-and all the stuff in the middle too!

      Be grounded. Be sensible.

  5. Sarah

    Just a quick FYI- the link under the photo of Elaine should end in .info, not .com. The .com webpage does not exist (I know from experience).

    For the record, my daughter (diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s) is currently on SCD and it has helped so much. I am so thankful I found out about this early! A true answer to prayer.


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