How it started…
It’s been about 1 year since I started the GAPS diet and I wanted to give you all an update. When I started GAPS, I was in dire straights with my health. I know I have a lot more healing to do, but I am overjoyed to be on the right path for my body!
As you probably know, I am following a healing diet to cure my ulcerative colitis (an autoimmune disease). I actually started with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), not the GAPS diet. I explain the differences between the two diets HERE. The only reason I did that was because I had not yet heard of the GAPS diet.
So I started with the SCD intro diet, did full SCD for a couple of weeks, found the GAPS Diet and jumped into the full GAPS diet. Why didn’t I do the GAPS intro diet? I’m not really sure… I think it was because I was already in the “swing of things” with SCD. And I think my body was subconsciously telling me that I needed lots of natural sugars which I wouldn’t get on the GAPS intro diet.
I’m not perfect. My GAPS journey is not–and will never be–perfect. I make mistakes. Speaking of mistakes, just last month I ate some of my mom’s mashed sweet potato because I confused it with my container of mashed butternut squash in the fridge! I ended up with a slight bellyache, but nothing serious. These things happen.
I am still learning. But I am enjoying the learning process and I enjoy sharing it with you!
What I’ve Learned (so far!)
These are the most significant things I’ve learned so far on GAPS:
GAPS can – and should – include some healthy carbs. I went too low carb when I first started GAPS, and felt much better when I incorporated some winter squashes and fruit.
It is only a piece in my healing journey. GAPS is only a part of my nutritional therapy. After many hours of research and self-experimentation, I have found that I need to incorporate metabolic principles and careful supplementation. Other significant steps in my healing journey include monthly acupuncture appointments and work with an Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner.
Health Perfectionism is the devil. Seriously, perfectionism will actually undermine the effectivity of GAPS. Sure, GAPS means requires a significant commitment of time, effort and money. And, in my case at least, there isn’t room for “cheating” with the food.
So what do I mean by perfectionism? Shortly after starting GAPS, I began researching fluoridated water. Horrified, I begged my parents to help me invest in a Berkey filter so our family could drink purified water. “It’s expensive, we’ll have to think about it,” they replied. I didn’t understand why this wasn’t a top priority for them. Freaked out by my research, I wanted safe drinking water NOW.
Anxiety prickled me every time I drank our fluoride-filled water. Sure, fluoride is a toxic additive. But my stress and anxiety over it was even more toxic than fluoride to my body. If a health resource isn’t an option for you, don’t stress over it. It is what it is.
My progress on the GAPS Diet:
I am empowered.
I began to feel empowered after starting GAPS/SCD. Hence the name of this blog. And hence this blog.
I had some pretty dark struggles during the first 4 years of my colitis diagnosis. It is really painful to even think about some of those periods. I was on handfuls of prescriptions, prescriptions that, as a side effect, altered my moods and my mind. I didn’t have full control over my body or my emotions, and my family and I just didn’t realize we had another option. I remember leaving the doctors office after a 4-day hospital stay. The doctor had told me I was most likely facing surgery to have my large intestine removed. Then he handed me a prescription for an additional medication which I knew would cause my already patchy hair to shed further.
I threw a full-blown temper tantrum in the car on the way home. I was 18. I remember thinking, “Is this me? Am I really screaming and crying like a baby?” Trapped in this black pit of hopelessness and on the emotional rollercoaster of steroid drugs, I felt an utterly powerless in my health (and in my emotional control, which I now understand is inextricably tied to our health).
As a control freak, that was honestly one of the hardest moments in my life. A month later, I discovered Breaking the Vicious Cycle, the book that outlines the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Within two weeks of starting the diet, my debilitating colitis symptoms were gone. Finally, I experienced a gratifying surge of empowerment over my health. I want EVERYONE to feel this, and that is why I am training to become a nutritional therapy practitioner.
I am singing again.
When I little, I would walk around the house singing. I remember my babysitters would be unendingly entertained by the fact that this bubbly girl was bouncing around the house singing Mary Poppins and Nat King Cole songs.
I only recently realized that I have started singing and dancing around the house again after years of quiet. I believe this is a sign that my mental, emotional and spiritual health is improving on the GAPS diet. There are a couple reasons for this: first, gut flora dysbiosis plays a huge role in mental health. That’s why it’s called the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet. Second, I’m am simply filled with joy about my healing progress.
I was born with a spirit that was meant to express joy with song. And it is so refreshing to feel that cheerful energy pulsing through my body once again! On the downside, I do not (!!!) have a lovely voice. It doesn’t bother me, but I think my family *might* be getting slightly annoyed.
I’m sleeping better.
I’ve always struggled with insomnia, laying awake for at least an hour before falling asleep. Interestingly, I’ve noticed my sleep patterns are regulating with the help of GAPS and a few other sleepy-time resources which I will share with you in a future post!
My skin is less bluish toned.
Looking in the mirror the other day, I realized that my skin looked, well… yellower. That sounds weird, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I used to have a slight bluish pallor–a bit sickly and translucent. Now, my skin is more vibrant and opaque.
I have a higher tolerance for sunburn.
Speaking of skin, this is the most amazing thing! My resistance to sunburn has significantly increased. I thought I was supposed to be extremely susceptible to burning because I’m an ultra-fair Scandinavian. Now, I only need to use sunscreen when I’m in direct sun for a couple of hours (in contrast to getting burned in only 15 minutes).
What I’m still trying to heal:
I’m searching for an alternative practitioner to help me with my hypothyroid symptoms. I’ve been researching desiccated thyroid pills and thyroid-supporting herbs as I think they will be my next step. If you have any suggestions with natural thyroid support, pretty please share with me in the comments!
Stomach acid production
Low stomach acid plays such a huge role in digestive dysfunction (my post here discusses the subject). For a long time, I was unable to take any kind of hydrochloric acid supplement, however, because my stomach lining was chronically sensitive and inflamed due to severely low stomach acid for years and years. I am repairing my stomach lining and acid production with Gastrazyme, zinc and raw liver (I plan to write a post on this soon). I am now able to tolerate increasing amounts of HCL supplements. This is just going to take time, but I am grateful to be on the right path.
I can’t eat raw vegetables
My digestive tract has a lot of healing to do and I plan to stay on the GAPS diet for at least 3 more years. Currently, I am unable to digest any raw vegetables or any form of nuts and seeds. I know this will get better with time and as I correct my stomach acid levels.
In the meantime, I eat my raw goat milk yogurt. It is important to consume a raw food with each meal due to the digestion enzymes in raw foods.
I’m a 20-year-old female and my hairline has receded more than a quarter inch… that’s not supposed to happen. I always wear my hair in a bun to hide the patchy balding spots. I know this is first-world-suffering. I know that I should focus on the great progress of my health. But if your health has taken a significant toll on your appearance, I know you can commiserate with me.
Fortunately, I have faith that my hair will re-grow once I correct my thyroid issues and stomach acid!
Adding in more foods
Besides skipping the raw veggies, I also avoid nightshades and citrus fruits because I have been sensitive to these foods in the past. And currently I’m unable to eat the GAPS cheeses and I’m also not able to digest any form of nuts or seeds (except coconut flour and coconut oil). I know it will just take some time to heal these digestive issues and food sensitivities, and I know that GAPS is the right way for me to do it. I wanted to mention this to tell you that it is absolutely possible to do GAPS without cheese, nightshades, and nuts/seeds.
It’s a journey!
Wow… this post has been all over the place and I don’t really know how to end it. Thanks for sticking with me to the end! I truly believe the GAPS diet is a valuable tool for healing, and that it is useful for many people. As for me, I’m going to stick with GAPS for the next few years. I don’t know what the future holds for my health, so I’m just trying to live in the moment.
Are you on the GAPS diet? Are you going to start it? Why? Are there other resources you have utilized on your healing journey?