We started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) when our son was in elementary school and continued to practice the diet consistently all the way through high school. We mentored hundreds of SCD families and became actively involved in supporting diet therapies research. With all of this accumulated experience, I expected the shift to SCD during college to be easy and go smoothly.
It was not as easy as we had expected.
Maintaining SCD at college turned out to be a new and challenging learning curve. It required much more effort than we had anticipated, efforts on both the student’s part and on the parent’s part.
Thankfully, with fast adaptation and fast response to the unanticipated, the school year went by well, and our student retained all the benefits of his long term diet, maintaining med free wellness.
Here are the key lessons we learned this past year:
- Despite the best intentions and efforts of the college kitchen staff, it is not possible to count on college dining services to fulfil a 100% SCD lifestyle. Staff is busy serving hundreds of students, with many different kinds of special diets, and the attention to details in the college cafeteria will never match the attention to details at home in the family kitchen.
- Students have busy schedules, navigating class times, homework, part-time jobs, social life, and fitness routines. Heading to the cafeteria in time for staff prepared SCD meals is not always an option.
- Students must have their own ‘mini kitchen’ in their room, with a small refrigerator/freezer, a microwave, and a good stash of non-perishable, shelve stable snacks as back up.
- Given these challenges, parents must find ways to deliver SCD meals and baked goods on a regular basis to supplement the student’s needs.
- It is best to buy college kitchen supplies only after seeing the actual space in the student’s room. A minimalistic approach works best, clutter is the enemy of calm minds, and a calm mind is important in college.
- Disposable dishes are bad for the environment, but a necessity while in college. Find other ways to support environmental sustainability, and make sure your student has a good stock of disposable plates, bowls and cups. It is hard to wash dishes in the tiny size sink of some dorm rooms, and young students hate washing dishes anyways. We hate the combination of microwaving with disposable dishes, but it was a necessary compromise that enabled diet compliance.
- Maintaining periodic labs is important given the stress and tendency of college students to cut corners. Make sure your student has standing orders for labs and a local doctor that can monitor and ensure sustained wellness
First year college dorm room.
SCD food delivery to college
Setting up a temporary SCD kitchen in the summer dorm apartment. This kitchen is shared with non-SCD roommates.