The Specific Carb Diet was originally created by Dr. Sidney V. Haas more than 60 years ago to treat digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is now being used to treat autism spectrum disorders, celiac disease and cystic fibrosis. It is not a low-carb diet like Atkins. Many find it very restrictive; however, those who experience the health benefits are committed to strict adherence. It is more restrictive and specific than a gluten-free diet. Because it can be overwhelming, I think it is helpful to present the “allowed” foods first.
The Specific Carb Diet Allowed Foods
- Any unprocessed meats
- Most natural cheeses
- Most fruits
- Most vegetables
- Dried navy beans, lentils, peas, split peas, lima beans, and string beans
- All-natural peanut butter, shelled peanuts, un-roasted cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, filberts, and pecans.
- Olive oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, corn oil
- Tea, coffee, additive-free juices, unflavored gelatin
- Mustard, vinegar
- Honey is the only sweetener.
The Specific Carb Diet Restricted Foods
- No sugar, molasses, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, or sweeteners other than honey
- No canned vegetables
- No corn, wheat, wheat germ, barley, oats, rye, rice, buckwheat, soy, bread, pasta, or other grains
- No chick peas, bean sprouts, soybeans, mungbeans, faba beans, or garbanzo beans.
- No potatoes, yams, or parsnips, which are all starches
- No milk, heavy cream, buttermilk, or sour cream
- No ricotta, mozzarella, cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, processed cheese, cheese spreads, or commercial yogurt, which are high in lactose
- No seaweed, agar, carrageenan, or other seaweed byproducts
- No canola oil, commercial mayonnaise, ice cream, candy, cocoa, chocolate, carob, whey powder, margarine, commercial ketchup, baking powder, or FOS (fructooligosaccharides) products
- Most processed meats are not permitted.
Some of the restricted foods can be made acceptable if made from scratch. Nut flour is one common substitution. An in-depth list of “legal” and “illegal” foods in the Specific Carbohydrate Diet can be found here. The Specific Carb Diet is intended for health purposes and treating specific symptoms. It is not intended as a method to lose weight, although that may be a side effect. For more information, you may want to read Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall.