Specialists team up with a proactive patient to offer cooking classes for children following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center were the first to demonstrate that the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) could induce remission in children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Now, a team of physicians and nutrition specialists, along with patient Avi Shapiro, is taking dietary therapy a step further by launching cooking classes for parents and patients to boost adherence and improve success rates for children who might benefit.

A Supportive Approach

Shapiro, a teenager with Crohn’s disease, helped launch the classes after the SCD helped him transition off of exclusive enteral nutrition therapy without medication. He approached his physician, Dr. David Suskind, pediatric gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s and professor of pediatrics at UW Medicine, about doing something to help other children achieve the same success.

“It’s hard for children to have IBD, but when you add a lifestyle change with dietary restriction, it becomes 100-times more difficult,” Suskind says. “Avi and I came up with the idea of a cooking class so kids and their parents can learn to make SCD foods, which makes following the diet much easier.”

The classes, which serve children ages 8 to 18, also provide valuable support.
“We encourage Avi and the other kids to lead the class and work with each other. These classes are about the kids supporting each other,” Suskind says. “While the children are cooking, the parents have their own support group. They talk about the diet and how it’s integrated into their lives, as well as IBD and issues that surround their children’s conditions.”

‘Pushing the Envelope’

Seattle Children’s is one of the only IBD centers in the U.S. to offer SCD as a primary therapy for patients who want to avoid medication. Currently, as many as 10% of our patients use SCD as a primary or adjunctive therapy.

“Research into dietary and nutritional therapy has been neglected in the world of medicine, with many patients having heard that diet has nothing to do with IBD,” Suskind says. “But we are finding that diet has a tremendous impact on IBD, not only changing the fecal microbiome and the intestinal immune system, but also getting patients into remission.”

In addition to leading research into SCD and other dietary therapies for IBD, Seattle Children’s providers are researching how this type of dietary therapy may be incorporated more frequently into IBD care. Investigational approaches include using digital tools that may help patients track important details about their diet and disease state.

“In many IBD centers, there is an understanding that nutrition can impact inflammation in IBD, but there is not rigorous study of it,” says Dr. Dale Lee, IBD researcher and director of the Celiac Disease Program at Seattle Children’s. “We want to push the envelope – just like medical therapies are vigorously evaluated for efficacy and mechanism of action, we want to do the same thing with diet.”

Call 206-987-7777 for provider-to-provider patient consults, and visit the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center page to learn more.