September 21, 2016 MariaCantillonMurphy 8Comment

As diets, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and the Paleo diet are closely related. When I originally began to look for ways to heal my Crohn’s naturally, I read a lot about both ways of eating. In this blog post I outline the main differences and similarities between SCD and Paleo which hopefully you will find useful.





Dairy is not allowed on the Paleo diet although even within the Paleo community people differ on this slightly. Some allow small amount of certain dairy products but generally speaking strict Paleo is a no-dairy zone. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) allows lactose-free dairy only so the following are allowable: homemade 24-hour SCD yoghurt, butter and certain cheeses.

Starchy vegetables

Parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes are allowed on the Paleo diet but not on SCD due to the high starch content.


Cocoa powder is frequently used in Paleo dessert recipes but all forms of chocolate and cocoa are illegal on SCD.


Arrowroot powder, tapioca starch and cassava flour are all Paleo-friendly but are not allowed on the SCD. The only flours allowed on the SCD are nut flours and coconut flour.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is allowable on the Paleo diet but not SCD. The only sweetener that can be used on the SCD is honey.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar with the “mother” in it is allowed on Paleo but not on SCD due to the yeast component.


No legumes are permitted when following the Paleo diet. Peas, beans (when correctly prepared) and peanuts are allowable on the SCD although they are considered advanced foods and should be limited.




  1. No Gluten or Grains
  2. No refined sugar
  3. No processed foods
  4. No soy
  5. Free-range poultry and grass-fed beef
  6. Organic when possible


The bottom line here is that the SCD and Paleo diets are both healthy ways of eating and switching to either one from the standard high-sugar diet is sure to bring numerous health benefits. While SCD is primarily used (but not only) for digestive diseases and conditions, many people with various autoimmune conditions use the Paleo diet to heal. Of course both diets are also adopted by some who have no medical complaints and just wish to eat a more healthy and nutritious diet. While there are many differences between both SCD and Paleo, their similarities: gluten-free, grain-free and refined sugar-free allow those who adhere to the diets to become a more healthy version of themselves.

8 thoughts on “SCD vs Paleo Diet

  1. Thanks so much for explaining. Sounds great and I have used the SCD before but wouldn’t it be great to interchange as needed. Have Cocoa, dairy, maple syrup and sweet potatoes but your still eating healthy no grains, flour, processed foods. Wondering if that could heal also

    1. Hi Marsha,

      You’re welcome! I have no direct experience with a Paleo diet as such so I can’t really help you there. I am following strict SCD for two years and find it extremely helpful. SCD is more specific for IBD sufferers whereas the Paleo diet is more broad. We are all so individual so I guess we need to find what works best for all of us. Happy healing!

  2. This was very helpful, thank you. I need a push to help with getting my family started. My 8 year old suffers from Crohn’s, we are trying to research scd to see if this is realistic.

    1. Hi Carrie,

      It is very difficult and overwhelming at the beginning but it is so worth it. I would never go back to eating the ‘old way’ now. My entire family is so healthy now compared to before. We love healthy food. We are passionate about vegetables. Just try to take one day at a time and it’ll be worth it. There are really so many foods that you CAN eat on SCD. Try to focus on them rather than the ones you can’t. Just look at it as eating real food rather than a diet. That is, essentially what it is.

      Best of luck with everything

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