GAPS Diet

I don’t talk about our food journey too often anymore because it is a long story, a very long story– a story starting when I met my husband (who was severely allergic to milk) 20 years ago and continuing through today, where our oldest has several severe food allergies but otherwise we get along pretty well with food enzymes and avoiding dyes and preservatives.

You can read a bit our food journey here on my post about Quick and Easy Meals for Toddlers with Food Allergies which is only slightly behind my Baking Soda Vinegar Shampoo posts (which get at the very least 30-50 hits daily) in the battle for post with most hits ever. Before Shamus and I married I was told I had severe candida overgrowth and to stop eating yeast (because back then that was all they knew.  I tried and just gained 25 lbs and felt awful, developing a reaction to all non organic meats and lived on sugar and dairy– which lead to me becoming allergic to dairy very quickly. Once I cut out the dairy and meat and quit living on all things sugar I lost the 25 lbs quickly and started eating a nice, simple healthy diet.  However, with each pregnancy both Shamus and I got sicker until finally we gave up and tried the rotation diet combined with the Maker’s diet.  It helped but was hard ot maintain, especially when I got pregnant again.  Gladly our journey did not stop with the rotation diet (which helped us pinpoint allergens and then keep more at bay), but instead moved through other ways of eating as God helped us change our habits and learn to eat the way our bodies needed.  After I had another huge flareup with the arthritis and Shamus noticed that I had serious issues when I ate a lot of sugar (and I LOVED sugar) we discovered the Candida diet (which helped with my RA as well as eliminated a lot of the food allergies).  After we finished that a friend told us about food enzymes (which I learned more about via Karen L. Felice’s book which she lent me).  This worked well until we went overboard reintroducing regular foods and oldest developed an extreme reaction to dyes, preservatives, and a few of her original allergy foods.

More recently we learned about Nourishing Traditions through another friend and added raw milk and soaked nuts and grains  and lots of lactofermented veggies to our diet (which we found we could eat without enzymes).   After years of messing around with raw and vegetarian diets we have been brought full circle to where, once again, we can eat dairy products (which 2 kids as well Shamus and I have been unable to eat since forever.)  As I said, it is a very long story– 20 years long, and God has brought us each new stage, which we found to help us one way or another.

Currently we are in maintenance mode.  I do a nearly sugar free (and low carb) diet with the kids tagging along as they feel like and all of us taking food enzymes for every meal.  This means I have had no trouble with the rheumatoid arthritis or sjogren’s syndrome this winter and the kids have remained fairly healthy (which is excellent since when Rach gets exposed to certain things she gets very, very sick, but keeping the carbs in check means her immune system is better able to cope.)  Shamus has had some health issues that we would like to deal with, especially as we no longer have health insurance.  However, all of this is exhausting when I have so much other work I would like to be doing and more often than not the kids have been making noodles or peanut butter saltines for snacks and meals (NOT healthy.)

So, enter the GAPS diet.  I have been reading about it an considering it for nearly half a year now– actually since we went back on the candida diet after a very bad winter and spring.  The GAPS diet is similar to the candida diet (no carbs from grains or refined sugar) and actually has more freedom as far as sugar goes (raw honey is good while we literally go through a lb of stevia every few months which is expensive.)  After some prayer and discussion the kids and hubby decided that I should try it alone first, since it is pretty intensive and starts with soups (which they all hate as a general rule.)

Today I began with the introduction as outlined here. I am lured by the idea of finally healing the gut completely instead of living in maintenance  mode.  I am tired of getting itchy when I get exposed to anything polyester, I am tired of being unable to eat poultry or eggs.  I am tired of having to be so very careful all the time for myself and for my children.  If it works, which I believe it will, then it should heal my gut and allow me to cure the allergies that make our particular diet so expensive.  If it works as I hope then the family will willingly go on it as well which will hopefully eliminate the big health issues that we deal with.

So I started today.  I didn’t fully intend to but that is what happened.  I have kind of vaguely been following the diet for a couple weeks now.  Not fully but leaning towards the gaps foods when I had a choice and I have noticed a difference but today I began in full about halfway through the day when I made some beef stock and decided to just stick with that and the fermented carrots in the fridge.

Why am I writing about it?

It occurred to me that the best thing to do was document it here.  I may not post daily but I want to keep track so my family can see whether it worked, how quickly I was able to add in new foods (especially since I am allergic to most of the beginning foods) and whether there were any results at all.  For now I am doing the full intro diet (though just from websites, I don’t own the book though I plan to get it when I can, especially if I see results.)  I am going to stick with the supplements that I know make a difference for my arthritis though I will eliminate them if I find I don’t need them down the road (I plan to drop them individually so I can see what I need and what I don’t).  So I will also document here what supplements I do take:

  • GNC brand Multi-enzymes  (which has acidopholous- 1 with every meal)
  • Now brand Super Enzymes (1 with every meal)
  • Super B complex
  • Vit D 5,000 (will lower this as get more sun–Western PA winter is depressing without large doses of Vit. D)
  • Cod liver oil
  • ginseng
  • ginkgo biloba
  • MSM
  • condroiton and glucosamine
  • Now Joint care
  • Magnesium powder in the morning and evening

I am hoping to drop both enzymes by the end of this as well as several of the other supplements.  We currently have a good source of grass fed beef (we don’t eat pork and up until this point  Shamus, I, and Rachel are all severely allergic to poultry though Rach can eat eggs an Shamus and I cannot.)

It will be interesting to see how my body reacts to this particular diet, as I have been through all those mentioned above and have learned to read it well.  So far I am fine– the headache and backache I woke with have diminished quite a bit–the headache is gone and the backache is nearly gone though the muscles are still tight I am able to be up and about (have been adding rosemary to my beef stock which I believe has been helping.)  I am glad I am doing this alone as my kids by nature are locusts and as has been suggested, on the intro diet I am very hungry and eating a lot.

Update: just as I was ready to head to bed and about to post this the kids came in the kitchen having smelled the beef stock.  All three  asked for some and quickly asked for more, and more.  We talked a bit about the diet, what the introduction looks like, what they will be able to eat, and all three quickly decided to start then and there.  So, I guess other than Shamus we are all starting the GAPS diet.  The kids are hopeful that it will cure their food allergies.  Rach wants to be able to eat normal foods without worrying about getting horribly sick because someone has ketchup where she can smell it.  Esther wants to be able to not get eczema when she forgets her enzymes, and Issac just wants to be able to eat without enzymes.  So…here we go, embarking on yet another journey, praying God will provide.  At worst it should be interesting (and our family is just going to love the added complicatedness of our diet–we drive them crazy). :)

For more information on the diet with a great run down of how and why check out Health, Home, & Happiness’s post on a GAPS intro.

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4 Comments

  1. Ashley
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I have RA as well and have so many different “issues” going on the go along with RA (Sjogren’s, Raynauds, etc.), inflammation like crazy!! I just did a “cleanse” and will be starting GAPS soon. Have been following it, just not to the tee yet! My husband and one year old should do it with me but my husband think that I am crazy. Supportive of it but crazy! Hope you are still doing well on it!
    Ash:)

  2. AnneB
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I am on the edge of starting GAPS Diet myself and I googled to see if there was someone else “out there” doing it because of food allergies (and especially someone who has tried “everything” before (like myself). I hope you all are doing well and I am curious to hear about your experiences so far. Mvh AnneB

  3. Simon Peacock
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I am on day 2 of GAPs as I have seronegative (rheumatoid) arthritis but am suffering from increased inflammation today. Previously I’ve had some ( but not enough) sucess with a raw paleo diet…
    I was wondering how Heather and Ashley are doing now, any chance of an update on how the diet is going for you both please?

    Simon

    • Heather
      Posted August 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      I had some flareups during intro as my body detoxed but those steadily decreased as the healing progressed. I haven’t had a full flareup since towards the beginning. Are you doing the intro or starting with full gaps? If you are starting with full gaps I heartily recommend backing off from all the high starch/sugar items until the flareups stop. Sugar seems to be a major trigger for me though I can have much more now than I could before the diet. In the past I had severa foods hat triggered major flareups (peppers and tomatoes among those that are allowed on GAPS) and have avoided those thus far though I have had some pepper with no trouble.

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