stef. oh my word. the hiking pic – classic. love that s had to carry you because you are just a little weakling. and your classroom? can we say LOVE? and… your bathroom? jealous! i really should post a pic of mine. which has been out of commission for – literally – months. been so busy with k i haven’t even had the chance to clean it, much less sand, texture, and repaint it. sigh. learning to be content! putting scripture everywhere i can so i won’t forget that God is with me through these times of trouble… He is my joy and my help!
ok, so i promised i’d tell you what this diet is all about.
so, GAPS. what is it? i will shamelessly promote this diet as long as i live! for a few reasons:
1) it’s a temporary diet. not one of these for- life things that is impossible to stick to. warning though. you might feel so good and be so healthy that you don’t want to stop. haha. but it’s true.
2) it’s hard and a huge learning experience (anything worth doing is always a challenge, right?)
3) most importantly…. it is truly a healing diet.
GAPS stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome.” Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride suggests the connection between your intestinal flora and the overall health of your entire body, including your brain. think of a tree. you can’t see the roots. but if the roots are not healthy, the tree ain’t gonna be pretty. that’s our intestines. the root of all health. and also, if damaged, the root of ALL disease. i am a firm believer, that, as they say – “death begins in the colon.” and i only believe it because i suffered so many years from all sorts of ailments that have mysteriously vanished with this protocol.
so k was going along just fine on his rice milk. but then we started to realize the scary fact that this change, the gluten-free, casein-free diet… it wasn’t enough. he stopped progressing again. slipped backward. limited himself to rice milk and watermelon… refused all else. and, the diarrhea never went away. so i frantically and prayerfully searched for another step to take. hence, GAPS.
gluten-free is great. casein free.. those are all great steps. but they just aren’t enough because they don’t address the problem. the problem is a gut without the proper balance of microorganisms. so GAPS is a protocol to heal the gut and hence fix a myriad of problems related to poor gut function. such as:
• Dyspraxia (extreme clumsiness)
• ADD, ADHD
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Crohn’s and Colitis
whaaat? hard to believe all these conditions could be related and that they could be caused, essentially by one thing…a damaged gut. damaged by any number of things – chemicals in our food, antibiotics, NSAIDs, environmental toxins… and of course, SUGAR. sugar is up there on the list of the top 10 things most damaging to our immunity (a large percent of our immunity resides in our gut, thanks to the friendly bacteria that works to keep us healthy by fighting off pathogens). see, i am learning that our health problems aren’t such a mystery after all. take my health problems – emotional, arthritis, aches and pains, constant sicknesses and infections, headaches, swelling, constant sore throat and many more… all vanishing on this diet. i was a big skeptic at first. i am a reluctant hippie. however, you can’t argue with the proof when you watch it happen to your family.
really, you ask, how could our food really affect our brain, causing autism, developmental delays, even bipolar disorder? well, put it this way. when you swallow a pill to combat that bipolar disorder, or depression, or schizophrenia… doesn’t it have to be digested in your gut to make its way to your brain to take effect? and your skin… if you don’t believe it soaks up toxins like a sponge, then how come they make birth control patches, or nicotine ones, which absorb through your skin and do their thang in your body? seems like common sense. i just never thought about it until lately.
so yes, it’s a hippie kind of house now. nothing not organic for k. only grass-feed meats and no sugar around here. let me explain the steps of GAPS real quick.
the first step is an “introduction diet” in which you remove the offending foods and “heal and seal” the gut. this is done through large amounts of broths, boiled meats, stews, and ginger tea. animal fats (don’t freak out) provide amino acids and tons of nutrition to heal a damaged gut. ever heard the old wives tale about chicken soup for a cold? it’s true. our society is so bent on low-fat diets that we are doing harm to our bodies. we need fat! but we don’t need it from fast food, processed food, fake butters and margarines, and heated, chemically damaged oils. grass-fed chicken, beef, lamb, fresh eggs… that’s the good stuff. very interesting article about cholesterol myths here. dr. natasha also wrote a book about the importance of good fats called Put Your Heart in Your Mouth. it’s on my list of books to read next.
basically the intro diet provides the body with foods that are easiest to digest. then you move on from there, introducing a new food as suggested in the GAPS book every 1 to 3 days. if you see problems arise or returning of original symptoms, you just slow down. the gut will heal, it just needs time! we ran into some problems when we tried to move to stage 2, which includes egg yolk and avocado. but we will get there.
after the intro diet, you work into the full GAPS diet, which is basically all foods that are easy to digest. no long chains of proteins. no grains. no sugar. even potatoes aren’t allowed because they can be damaging to an already damaged gut. but the good news is, a few years on the diet (which is actually pretty delicious) and you can come off of it! however, dr. natasha warns that you will just re-damage your body if you begin eating processed carbs, sugar, meats, oils, etc. the goal is health for life, so those things should be consumed in moderation if at all. for me, those days are over. they did too much damage to our little family. and feeling good just…feels so good!
at first, things were not pretty around here. like, almost wanted to give up, ugly. but i had read other moms’ journeys and they said it gets worse before better, always. well that is what happened. the body’s healing process is painful! detox signs ranged anywhere from diarrhea to vomiting to lethargy and crankiness. it was rough! but…progress we have seen on GAPS: k will eat. no more fussiness. no more picky, only watermelon days. he eats meat, veggies, drinks broth in a bottle, sauerkraut, fish oil… all of it. he doesn’t complain. his doctor is amazed by his progress. he will walk with us holding one finger! he is conversational. he looks at us, responds to us, plays with us! we truly have our son back. still, every day is challenging because he has a lot more healing to do. dr. natasha claims it takes up to 2 years to truly heal a damaged gut. but every improvement reminds us to stay the course on this diet. we are praying and believing God will heal little k.
so that’s it. the GAPS diet. a life-changer. it’s amazing the things we believe about our health just because that’s what we’ve always been told. dig a little deeper and read something “controversial” and you might be surprised. we sure are. we would not be doing this all-consuming, hours in the kitchen, dirty-dishes-coming-out-my-ears diet if it wasn’t revolutionizing little k’s health. praise jesus! praise him for how he created the human body to heal if we just give it the right conditions.
a few more things i believe have been essential in k’s healing:
– cod liver oil. best of the best.
– biokult. a strong probiotic.
– prescript assist. another probiotic – my favorite. has worked wonders for me.
here is more info on GAPS and dr. natasha. here is a link to a great blog with fantastic recipes that will make you a believer that eating on GAPS can actually taste darn good. peanut butter brownies, baked apples, and tons of savory dishes. i used to be a low-fat kind of girl, and the hubs is loving all this meaty goodness around here. oh sis, it’s been too long. k misses you so much. he wants to watch an auburn game with uncle s because he knows how to throw his hands up in touch-down fashion now. too bad his daddy’s vols didn’t do so good this weekend. ooh, check out my fall kitchen! k usually has to hold that pumpkin balloon while he eats. also, what do you think of my new curtains? gotta love target.
t-minus 19 days until we get to see you! that’s only 456 hours! we miss you too much. bye sis.
disclaimer: the information in this post is all my opinion based on my reading of dr. natasha’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome. i am not a doctor, just a momma who’s loving the results she’s getting 🙂 there are GAPS practitioners in the U.S. who have been trained by dr. natasha. here is a link to find one!