This is the beginning of my GAPS Diet Diary, chronicling how the GAPS Intro Diet goes in our household.
GAPS is an acronym with two meanings, both Gut & Psychology Syndrome, and Gut and Physiology Syndrome. Dr. Campbell-McBride initially created the GAPS Nutritional Program to treat children on the autism spectrum, but it’s been found to heal so many conditions that it’s greatly expanded over the past several years. The GAPS Nutritional Program includes: diet, supplementation, and detoxification and lifestyle changes.
At the end of September I attended a training class in Seattle, taught by Dr. Campbell-McBride herself, and became a Certified GAPS Practitioner. Prior to that I had read the book, gathered lots of information on the web, and made recipes from a GAPS cookbook called “Internal Bliss.” But of course, I know that I will be a better Practitioner if I actually go through the program myself! Since I’ve gotten so much motivation from others on the web, I thought I would share my experience with the world too.
I am one of the lucky Nutritional Therapists who has lots of support at home, and our entire household decided to do the GAPS Nutritional Program together. I don’t have severe symptoms, but I certainly battle some sugar-loving microbes in my gut and I’d really like to be free of them and their cravings. I think that will help me take off the couple of pounds I put on while going to school for nutrition (I know, it’s ironic). “The Man” would like to get relief from periodic intestinal aching, seasonal allergies, and to avoid winter depression. “The Housemate” would like relief from allergies, asthma, and seasonal depression.
The GAPS diet is based on foods that heal and seal the intestinal lining and are easy to digest. There are no raw foods at first because the fiber is too rough on the intestine. The focus is on nutrient density and removal of anything that may create a toxin in your body.
The Introduction Diet has 6 stages, starting off with a limited food selection, and adding new foods in with each progressive stage. Housemate and I made 25 quarts of broth in preparation. Our varieties are beef, lamb, and chicken. The freezer in the basement came in handy! My advice to those embarking on a GAPS diet is to make the things you’ll need in the beginning stages in advance. Everything has to be made from scratch – and it’s all simple stuff, but takes some time. We already cook every day and make most things from scratch, so that part wasn’t a big transition for us like it is for some.
For Stage 1 we ate bone/meat broths with lots of veggies cooked in it. We avoided the “tougher” varieties and used a combination of bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, yellow summer squash, carrots, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic. The veggies are cooked in the soup for 25-35 minutes so they are very soft.
Small amounts of probiotic foods are added to the warm soup – a teaspoon on day 1, two on day 2, etc. We are fortunate to live in an area where you can get real, naturally fermented, sauerkraut at the grocery store so we’ve used that. Homemade yogurt, cultured for at least 24 hours, is also allowed to be stirred in to the soup, but we haven’t made any yet so we’ll try that next week.
We take a probiotic first thing in the AM, and then cod liver oil with breakfast. I’ve also been taking fish oil since I was already doing that.
We drink filtered water, broth, or mint, ginger or chamomile teas – but only the true herbal varieties (no black/green/white teas). A little honey is allowed in the tea, but we’ve all chosen to leave that out for now since we feel it helps us have less sweet cravings overall.
That was ALL we ate for the first two days!
This is definitely one of those diets where you feel worse before you feel better. So far we’ve all been hungry and had low-energy. I realized that I need to eat a bowl of soup every 2-3 hours to keep going. Man has suffered from fuzzy thinking, headache, fatigue, and grumpiness. It’s been hard for him to focus at work. Housemate has described herself as fatigued and with a periodic headache at the front of her forehead. Her asthma was worse for the first two days, but today was a good day.
Last night I took a long, detoxifying, clay bath. When I got out of the bath I had a headache for about a half an hour. Then as I got ready for bed I started feeling like I was coming down with something. I laid in bed and sniffled. I finally got up and blew my nose and felt much better afterward. I guess I had stirred up some gunk that just needed to come out.
One interesting thing we’ve all experienced is a heightened sense of smell. We can smell coffee, chocolate, and breads from far away. Going to the grocery store every day has been necessary since we use so many veggies in our soup, but it’s difficult because of all the tempting odors. I will say that shopping is quick and easy with such a limited food choice. Just pop by the produce section and the meat counter and we’re done.
My biggest cravings have been for apples, butter, and fried eggs – all things I eat pretty much daily. Man’s early cravings were for cheesy curly fries and Mountain Dew – not things that he consumes with any sort of regularity! The peppermint tea we got from Traditional Medicinals is a great help. It tastes like an after dinner mint when it’s well-steeped, so it has been a satisfying “treat.”
Today is Day 3 for us and we moved to the 2nd stage. We added raw egg yolk from pastured-raised chickens to our morning soup. Then we added a teaspoon of ghee to our soups later in the day. Adding these extra fats has left us a lot more satiated!
Even with these new additions I was absolutely exhausted after I mowed the lawn today – which is generally an easy task that I enjoy. We didn’t have any evening plans this week, and that’s been a wise choice because we haven’t felt like doing much of anything.
Both Man & Housemate told me this evening that they are not having bowel movements every day so they are mixing up a gentle remedy of fresh pressed carrot juice and lemon-flavored cod liver oil to drink before bed tonight.
To be continued…Read on for Stage 2.