Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sarting the GAPS Diet--In Which I Still Try to Fix Everything With Food

Scatter-brained post ahead!

Ever heard of GAPS? The acronym stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Basically it's the understanding that gut health can affect the rest of your body, including stuff that's "just in your head." ADD? Probably gut related. Autism? Probably gut related. Depression? Gut.

The GAPS Diet is a program you can follow to heal your gut, thereby healing food sensitivities, allergies, mental, and behavioral problems. Many things can damage your digestive tract. The most common are antibiotics, hormonal birth control, chlorinated water, artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, lack of probiotic foods, not being breastfed, and eating improperly prepared foods that contain phytic acid and other anti-nutrients. Whew!

How does this apply to our family? I can't speak for The Hubby because I'm not him and therefore I don't want to air everything of his on the internet, but he's had several courses of antibiotics as a child, ate tons of processed foods and artificial sweeteners, and is diabetic. He's also working nights, which takes such a huge toll on his body and health.

For myself I've also have taken many courses of antibiotics. Looking at the list above I've done everything on it except two things: I was breastfed for a year and I've never taken The Pill.

My kidlets have had it better. They're still both breastfed, BuggaBoo had only one dose of antibiotics in his life (his fever broke right after the dose so we knew it wasn't due to the antibiotics and stopped administering them), they're not vaccinated (thereby decreasing the toxic load on their bodies) and we eat some probiotic containing foods. But I haven't been sprouting and soaking my grains, they eat too much sugar and such, and they are both exhibiting symptoms of food sensitivities.

What are our symptoms? Read on, they're in handy list form!

BuggaBoo's Symptoms

-Major reflux as a baby, will still sometimes spit up food or breast milk at 3.5 years old

All this in 5 minutes, plus more

-Ongoing cradle cap
-Lives for sugars, which negatively impact his behavior and cause extreme mood swings
-Has started to hit himself on the head when frustrated (not sure if this is normal toddler behavior or what)
-"Allergy shiners", dark or red circles around the eyes
-Starting to show sensitivity to noise
-Ongoing vomiting issues with no concrete reason (He started throwing up again Sunday morning, while nursing all over me. Delightful.)
-Often complains of "feeling sick" (our code for nauseous)
-Suspected thrush, but no classical symptoms
-Rotting teeth and malformed jaw

Doozer's Symptoms

-Until recently she wheezed
-Eczema behind and in her ears
-Suspected thrush, but, once again, no classical symptoms
-Yeast diaper rashes when younger

My Symptoms

-Ongoing yeast issues, including skin rashes, slow-to-heal lip splits (taking about 6 weeks), coated tongue, and, erm, the usual for the last 4+ years.
-Intense cravings for sugar and other refined carbohydrates
-Bloating and stomach pain
-Incomplete bowel movements
-Acid reflux
-Extreme fatigue
-99.9999% sure I have hypothyroidism
-Weak teeth despite fluoride treatments
-Sinus issues for, oh, I dunno, since I was about 12. So 15 years. Going dairy free didn't help.
-Brain fog. It cleared up for a bit after I first added fish back into our diet, but now it's back.
-Cradle cap, for as long as I can remember. I've even tried medicated shampoos. Nada.

Due to all of this I decided to try the GAPS Diet. On the 16th of this month I started Phase 1 of the Introduction Diet. It is extremely restrictive. At this stage I am eating:

-Meat and bone broths
-Boiled meat
-The "ooky" stuff left over from making broth, like marrow, chicken skins, cartilage, connective tissue, etc. Eating this stuff is a very important part of the diet.
-Well boiled onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
-Winter and summer squash
-Ginger, chamomile, or mint tea with a small amount of honey
-Sea salt
-Sauerkraut juice (to repopulate my intestinal flora)

The children are eating a less restrictive diet because, well, they're a bit picky. In addition to what they'll eat from the above they're also having:

-Eggs, mostly just the raw yolks
-"Ice cream" from frozen bananas, raw egg yolks, and a bit of honey. Sometimes I add frozen cherries or blackberries.
-Whole milk plain yogurt
-Coconut flour pancakes

The first few days were no fun. I think BuggaBoo was vomiting from a die-off reaction. He also took two long naps on Sunday and was very irritable. I was not a happy camper and felt exhausted. I also had pretty bad headaches, lots of sweating, back and face acne, and a nasty mouth. Doozer was sleepy and cranky. On day three we all seemed to be doing a lot better and I had more energy. Today, Day 5, I'm sleepy again and feel the starts of another headache. My face and back are still breaking out badly.

But I see progress. And that's encouraging. I'm excited to see where this goes and such. I have found for me to feel satisfied on this food I have to eat a lot of fat. My most favorite thing to eat is the "ooky" stuff, but I've been that way since I was a kid. And since all my meat is grassfed the fat tastes so good. Yum! The meat itself is not settling too well for me, but that's okay. I'm perfectly happy to drink broth, snack on veggies, and chow down on "ooky" stuff all day long.

And I've noticed I don't have too many cravings for breads and sweets unless I"m looking at them. This does mean that I have to lay off looking at food blogs (boo!), and it's hard because my dear friend just dropped off some sourdough bread for my family (double boo!). And the kiddos don't quite understand why we're not eating that stuff.

Okay, that about does it for today. Hopefully I'll be a bit more coherent about this later. For now please read these thoughtful posts by Cara at Home, Health, and Happiness, and Jenny at The Nourishing Kitchen. These wonderful ladies wrote about GAPS much better than I did. May I blame it on the detoxing?


  1. Food can be a big issue. Sometimes the biggest. Hope you get good results from this. ... and the yucky phase at the beginning doesn't last too long.

  2. Ever since you told me about this i have been thinking about it. I think once we are settled in our new place (about 2-3 months) i want to try. I would like DH to try too....but we'll see. But i can see a LOT of my issues being related to food!

  3. oooh, thanks for the hair tute! It's fun trying new stuff ... How's the food thing going?