The Atkins Diet for Autism? SCD And Me

If you’ve had any involvement with the DAN program, you’ve probably heard about this diet but if you haven’t, there’s a good chance that you have not. It’s not as widely known as the GF/CF diet and is not as widely tried.

The reason for that is that it’s a very difficult diet to stick to, especially for a growing child and it’s also a very expensive diet.  It’s basically like the GF/CF diet on steroids… only without the steroids.

The SCD diet (or Specific Carbohydrate Diet) basically means taking out all starches and complex sugars from your diet (on top of Gluten and Casein!!!). I’m not going to get into specifics, you can read about it here if you wish… but I will tell you this, my wife and I are really struggling with this.

We have several reasons for having issues with this diet and I thought I’d share some with you:

1. Financial: We simply can not afford to be getting goat’s milk and other stuff that this diet restricts you too. It’s not in huge demand, it is extra healthy for you, it’s processed differently… in the end, it costs more. A one litre (yes, I’m Canadian) of goat’s milk costs the same as a 2 litre of soy milk.

2. Nutrition: Yes these restrictive diets are better for you, but better for you does not always mean ‘healthier’ for you. When you are dealing with an Autistic child that already will not eat meat, only eats 2 kinds of vegetables, no fruits… well, you get the idea. How do you take him off the rice pasta, rice and potatoes that he will eat?? What’s left?? Yes, I know some of diet experts will have alternatives but I can tell you right now that those alternatives leave him lacking in some vitamins, minerals and proteins that he should be getting in his regular diet. He’s skinny enough already.

3. Routine: Because we didn’t know about this diet before hand, we went with what we did know which was moving him to Soy milk, rice pasta and some other foods and drinks that he’s come to not only love, but depend on as part of his regular routine. Oh, and what child doesn’t love candy?  So when you have a child that only eats starches and candy and Soy milk… to move him to the SCD diet means a complete and total change to his diet and his routine. If you’ve tried such a thing with a child that has Autism, I can feel you cringing as you read.

4. Initials: I refuse to eat from a diet that has the same initials as me. Yes, my middle name starts with a C.

So what is the final verdict? Well, we’d like to try it, for the sake of trying it.. but we simply can’t. Not right now. Maybe not ever.

However, if you have tried it and hated it, liked it, still do it or quit… I’d love to hear from you. And if you haven’t tried it, well, I’d love to hear from you too. What are your thoughts?

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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5 Responses to The Atkins Diet for Autism? SCD And Me

  1. Dianna Joseph August 30, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    Dear Stuart Duncan,
    You need to keep on reading the whole website at My sons like many many others have done fabulous on the SCD diet. Once you kill off a large amount of the pathogenic bacteria and yeast at the beginning of the diet they stop craving the foods (starches and sugars) that feed the bacteria and yeast and are much more willing to try any foods that they should be eating on the diet. You don’t need the goat milk until a few months into the diet. It is definitely not more expensive than the GFCF diet-about the same expense. As far as nutrients you also should be supplementing with the SCD vitamins through GI ProHealth.
    We have been doing the diet for 8 months now and both of my boys and myself are doing sooooooo much better.
    Stop being so pessimistic about the diet and go for it. If you think it is too hard, then think about how hard it would be to have a teenager or young adult with ASD behaviors. To do this for just a few years until the gut heals (something that doesn’t really happen on the GFCF diet because you are still feeding the bad bacteria and yeast what they want and they continue to eat away at the gut) is well worth it.
    Like Jenny McCarthy said if you had a child with cancer and you knew that there was even a small chance that a certain treatment would work then you would definitely try it. I think of autism as cancer because it literally is eating away at my sons guts and harming their brains. SCD is definitely their chemotherapy.
    There is also a support group on yahoo to help you at anytime of day with any question.
    Don’t knock the diet until you have tried it.

    • Jordan Reasoner August 31, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

      Stuart… Dianna nailed it here… check out more info on, as they are the number one source for starting kids on the SCD Diet. It saved my life, and my blog works to help others get started on the diet and I have personally seen it help 100’s of people in the last year.

      I would say, see if you can’t do the intro diet, or some form of it, and try the diet for 30 days just like Elaine says in her book… just see what happens, I think you will be so surprised by it’s results that you might be willing to do whatever it takes to keep it going.

      I have a free guide on how to start the intro diet in 24 hours for anyone that needs more help on how to prepare all the foods properly… it’s available at

      In good health,


  2. JoyMama August 31, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    We tried an Atkins-like diet with our daughter (actually a low-glycemic-index diet) only it wasn’t for her autism, it was for her seizures. It wasn’t an easy diet to follow, though we all loved having an excuse to eat bacon! and it didn’t have any discernible effects on the seizures. This is the first I’ve heard of using Atkins for autism. I think you do well to be skeptical, especially in the face of recommendations that you really need to buy certain supplements from a certain source!

  3. Rebecca M. November 22, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    I looked SCD too for my son, but are forgoing it at this time because we haven’t gotten him to eat veggies yet.
    I am going to share w/ you a great technique that many of the SCD moms/parents use to successfully get their kids eating new/healthier foods, like veggies.
    My kiddo was just like yours when starting the GFCF diet (a carbo junkie in the worst way!)He is starting to accept, eat and even request new foods.
    Pick just one new food you want your child to learn to eat (preferrably one in his taste range, like asparagus if he likes bitter stuff.) and a food he loves to eat (this will be his reward.) Have both foods ready in front of him at the table, and preferrably do this at a meal time when all the family is also eating this new food. Start raving about how yummy the “new food” is and that you are going to have him just try it. For every bite he eats of the new food, he gets a piece of the favorite food (cookie, bacon, whatever.) As soon as that new food goes in the mouth, in goes the reward as well.Also, praise and praise him as much as you can. If you want to make it a game, you can have little bro participate, which we did. (older son has autism and younger does not) We got son to eat eggs w/ non dairy cheese in it, to try blueberries, tuna salad, breaded fish, which he would never dare to touch before.
    It will be hard work. It may take a couple tries or more. You might even have to get him to do baby steps, like just touching or licking the food the first few times to accept it. But keep with it, and it will work. make introducing new foods and your new food a part of the routine of daytime/mealtime. These kids are addicted to routines/rituals. So all you have to get is get them onto your new routine.
    Your kiddo may be stubborn, but he’s got your genes, and you can be more stubborn.
    Make it positive and keep trying.
    You can be the man and get him to eat new foods. If you are stressed think of it like a weird and fun wrestling match. No holds barred (in a nice way). you can make him submit to the new food and win. body slam that fruit or veggie/meat into his mouth!

    Also, I blend and hide veggies/fruits in foods he likes quite a bit, even in applesauce. That’s another way to get him to try something new, just getting used to the taste first. there are veggie fries out there too, you may want to tempt him with those.

    Wish me luck. We are starting on the veggies tonight.

  4. Tracee March 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    We tried the GFCF diet for our son’s autism and got zilcho response, nothing, not a hint of improvement. But he had gi issues since age 1 week. Three weeks into the SCD he got up one day and could say five new words, his motor skills were all there and he noticed other kids and had a huge case of perma-grin. A couple months later he got ahold of 2 animal crackers and had facial ticks for a 2 1/2 weeks. Then I was diagnosed with Celiacs and Crohn’s and feel much better on the SCD as well. His IgG food allergy panel revealed quite an allergy rapsheet. If certain carbs are not being digested anyeways, then they are not serving as nutrition for the child and may interfere with their ability to get nutrition from all foods in general. The SCD sounds restrictive but it’s really not, but it takes some getting used to. Anything you can get from a grain you can get from vegetables. I think it’s just a matter of what the best diet is for the individual. And that’s the tricky part…figuring out what diet works best (even for us neurotypical folks). I think that’s the hardest part. Have you ever read “Breaking the Viscious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall or “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell MCBride? They are fascinating regardless of what you eat. Best of luck with everything!

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