The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet


She Linked Health With Diet

October 31st, 2005

An Obituary from the Toronto Star Oct, 31, 2005
by Catherine Dunphy

Book eased suffering for thousands
Gottschall began by helping her daughter

She became a hero to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, a best-selling author of Breaking The Vicious Cycle, a book that first connected intestinal health with diet, because she was first and always a mom who couldn't and wouldn't allow her youngest child to suffer any more.

Elaine Gottschall always said her defining moment was when a doctor pointed a finger at her — when she was then a New Jersey housewife — and said: "What are you crying about? You have done this to her!".

For three years she had taken her daughter to every specialist, allergist, psychiatrist in New York City, none of whom could help the 7-year-old whose intestinal pain was so severe she was bleeding all day and suffering from delirium at night.

Gottschall had given up and was about to authorize the colostomy that would mean the child would live with a bag for her fluids for the rest of her life, when a chance encounter with an acquaintance in a grocery store led her to the New York City office of 92-year-old Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas.

"She was a mom. She had to cure me," said daughter Judy Herod.

And she did, using a diet devised by Dr. Haas. Within 10 days, the girl's neurological symptoms were gone and after two years, her intestinal problems healed. Gottschall had found her calling: There were many other people out there suffering from Crohn's disease, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease who needed to know about SCD, the specific carbohydrate diet.

But first she needed to understand how it worked. At 47, Gottschall went back to school, earning a bachelor's degree and eventually a master's degree in biology, nutritional biochemistry and cellular biology. She continued her research up until her death at 84 of cancer in Cobourg on Sept. 5.

"She wanted the science," said Herod, now 53 and symptom-free for more than four decades. "And she kept figuring it out because she was fascinated by the gut and brain connection.

"She also wanted the acceptance from — if not approval of — the medical mainstream, which she never got. She was told stories by mothers who said their doctors would refuse to treat their children if they followed her diet, which eschews flour and sugars, complex carbohydrates, additives and sweeteners, and recommends almond paste flour and home-made yogurt.

"The medical community continues not to embrace it," said Herod. "There are no double-blind studies. It would be wonderful if there could be. She didn't achieve that acceptance and that is a defeat. Not that she needed to be glorified, but you just have to have a sick kid to know how important this information is.

"If the medical community didn't embrace her, everybody else did. Or so it seems.

Since the book was published in 1987 (under the name Food and the Gut Reaction), it has sold more than a million copies, run in 10 editions, and been translated into seven languages. Thousands have contacted Gottschall to tell her she saved their — or their children's — lives, including parents of autistic children.

"She did save my life. It is not an overstatement," said Jodi Bager, who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after the birth of her second son in 2000. The Toronto mother said the SCD was "the magic bullet" that turned around her life a year later. In 2002, she met Gottschall when she went to a Mother's Day lunch hosted by Gottschall at her Grafton, Ont., hom

"There was no generation gap with Elaine," she said. "She was exciting and daring, and so much fun, a woman who flew by her pants.

" Bager, a co-author of The Grain-Free Gourmet cookbook, now runs J. Gourmet, a company that ships SCD baked goods throughout Canada and the U.S. "Because of Elaine, I have my health, my business and a wonderful friendship for 12 years," said Lucy Rossett of Bellingham, Wa., who runs Lucy's Kitchen, which sells Rossett's SCD-based cookbook, almond flour and yogurt makers.

Rossett had been suffering from ulcerative colitis for 13 years when she saw Gottschall being interviewed on a Vancouver television show.

"I tried the diet and, bang, it turned my life around and suddenly everything worked the way it was supposed to do," she said.

She and Gottschall became close friends, holidaying together and travelling in both Canada and the U.S. where Gottschall would just as happily talk to a group of five as 500.

"I've seen people coming up to Elaine, crying, to thank her," said Rossett.

That happened at the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) conference in Washington, D.C., in May 2004, where Gottschall was introduced to about 2,000 parents and professionals as a saviour.

"Elaine was like an icon to us, a rock star," said Laurie Mawlam, a Chatham, Ont., mother of an autistic son who "lost his autistic diagnosis" after being on the diet. "She stole the show."

Gottschall, born Elaine Reichbaum, grew up in a poor family that moved from Pittsburgh to Brooklyn to Baltimore and back in an unsuccessful attempt to survive the depression. Any dream of going to university ended when her invalid mother, Jenny, died and she had to move in with Brooklyn relatives and go out to work as a secretary.

She met her husband, Herb Gottschall, when both were working on the Manhattan Project, the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

A chemical engineer, his work later took the family to Canada where they settled on a farm near Exeter. It was Herb who encouraged his wife to go back to school for a post-graduate degree at the University of Western Ontario and who started Kirkton Press to publish her book.

"He understood there was an urgency to get the message out," said their daughter, whose husband, Stew, now runs the operation in Roseneath, Ont.

But the book hadn't sold even 1,000 copies when Gottschall was invited onto the Dini Petty television show to talk about it.

Petty said her producer read the book, phoned Gottschall and "fell in love with her." She made three appearances on the show.

"Her daughter always said I was the light her mother couldn't find," said Petty, who spoke at Gottschall's funeral. "I take full credit for the fact the Dini Petty show opened the door for Elaine, but she strode through it and onto the international stage and never stopped."
Catherine Dunphy can be reached at

left quote
It sounds crazy but if you are a chronic sufferer of colitis, you will understand why I was so thrilled. I continued to follow the specific carbohydrate diet that Elaine has described in "Breaking the vicious cycle." Gradually all of my symptoms resolved over one year. For the last two years, I am completely symptom-free, back to my normal weight and pursue all of my activities including a busy medical practice.
right quote
- Dr. Sarfraz Zaidi M.D.
Amazon customer

Mission Statement