The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a very popular diet developed many years ago by Elaine Gottschall to help people suffering from a variety of GI complaints manage their illnesses by controlling the types of carbohydrates in their diet. Sound familiar?
I will not attempt to explain the SCD; the rest of this post assumes that you are familiar with the basics of the SCD. For more SCD information, click here. I'd like to highlight just a few similarities and differences between the SCD and the FODMAPS elimination diet.
The main similarity is the underlying principle that malabsorbed carbohydrates are fermented by colonic microbes, and that symptoms result.
The differences, I believe, are due to changes in our understanding of sugar absorption and malabsorption, and to advances in food technology that had not taken place at the time Ms. Gotschall wrote her book.
One significant difference between the two diets regards the now better understood role of fructose intolerance as a cause of GI symptoms. The SCD relies heavily on honey as a sweetener. Honey has a lot of excess fructose, and is not allowed on the FODMAPS elimination diet. Apples, which also contain a lot of fructose, are allowed on the SCD but not on the FODMAPS elimination diet. On the other hand, granulated sugar is allowed on the FODMAPS diet but not on the SCD.
On the SCD, well fermented yogurt and certain cheeses were the only milk products allowed. With the availability of lactose-free milk on the market, the FODMAPS elimination diet does allow consumption of fluid milk, and products made with lactose-free fluid milk.
An important philosophical difference I will point out regards adherence to the diet. Dr. Gottschall was convinced that only absolute adherence to the diet over an extended period of time could restore the individual to health. She did not encourage experimentation or variation from the SCD dietary principles. With the FODMAPS elimination protocol, on the other hand, experimentation and food challenges are encouraged after the initial elimination phase; "problem foods" can be consumed in moderation. The the aim of the FODMAPS elimination diet is limiting IBS symptoms to a tolerable level, selected by the client. Perhaps this is not as ambitious as the cures to which Dr. Gottschall aspired. It seems there is a place for both of these approaches, depending on the needs and medical condition of the individual.