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    Possibly Insane: New School Year, New Special Diet

    August 28, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    You probably noticed in my last post that I mentioned that horrid byword GAPS. Sigh. It’s been a few years since I first began reading GAPS anecdotes. I wondered if my children, who, as you know, have a long and horrible history with food allergies, would benefit from this sort of diet, but I pushed it to the back of my mind.

    No, no, NO!

    No more special diets! I am determined that we be as normal as possible {whatever that means}.

    But then problems began to pop up, and fixing them began to look expensive and my children, after all, do have a history of responding well to special diets.

    And then I had the most horrible summer. I felt terrible all the time and was having trouble putting one foot in front of the other when a blood test finally revealed a B-12 deficiency serious enough that I was headed toward pernicious anemia. {Yes, I’m supplementing now and beginning to feel better.}

    I’m not going to give the long list of health complaints for my children because they are things I’m sure they’d rather me not share publicly. But I can tell you that when I did a bunch of research on the most common causes of B-12 deficiency, they were both digestive in nature.

    Which brought me back to the GAPS diet. I began reading the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr.  Natasha Campbell-McBride, and I felt like I was encountering at least one person in our family on each page. I’ll share some quotes in the future, for sure.

    I talked with my husband and he thought we should do it. This time of year is our longest stretch without any holidays or birthdays; the goal is to try to be as “done” as possible by Thanksgiving.

    If you’re familiar with the diet, then you know that there are two phases: Introduction and Full. The Introduction Phase has six stages.

    What is the GAPS diet? It is a special diet based upon the Specific-Carbohydrate Diet, but emphasizing certain gut-healing foods and supplements {think bone broths, sauerkraut, and probiotics}. What I like about it, when compared with other special diets out there, is that it isn’t intended to be forever. The goal is healing and then slowly going back to eating normal, healthy foods. As long as you don’t have a severe problem or a true, anaphylactic-type food allergy, the goal is to live normally. I mean, yes, you might not ever be able to eat tons of sugar or even dine in restaurants, but normal, home cooked foods {including bread and dessert!} should eventually be fine.

    I also like that unlike other special diets I’ve encountered, there doesn’t seem to be the temptation to call what God said was good, bad. Everywhere you turn out there, someone is calling part of creation bad: wheat is bad, meat is bad, dairy products are bad, cooked vegetables are bad, “unclean” meat is bad. It’s like people don’t even read the book of Galatians anymore. Foodism is the new religion, you know? We love the Law or, at the very least, we love to make our own laws.

    None of that sort of attitude fits with my theology of food.

    But here we say the diet is therapeutic. The goal is healing. These foods only bother us because we are broken, not because certain foods are evil.

    Actually, specific foods don’t bother us at all. The concern is various signs of generalized poor digestion and yeast overgrowth, of a weak gut.

    In weeks to come, I’ll probably write a little about our GAPS journey, and share some resources {like the super-powered probiotic supplement we chose–it’s clinically proven, by the way}, which is why I’m writing about this today. Have any of you done GAPS or considered GAPS?

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    19 Comments

  • Reply Kelly August 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    We did GAPS earlier this year and I could tell that my son with disabilities benefited from it. We’re planning on going back on it, mainly because my daughter who has so many health problems (she has asthma, and she was the one who had appendicitis several years ago) was away from home at the time. We have to wait till the middle of January before we start though, because our birthday season is just about to begin.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts August 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      Kelly, did you do the intro diet part or just go straight to full GAPS?

      We do not have food sensitivities anymore, so I am making the assumption that we can speed through the intro diet at a pace of 2-3 days per stage.

    • Reply Kelly August 29, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      We did the intro thing, and I think we spent five days per stage. We don’t have allergies (except me, I need to limit wheat because it makes my arthritis flare up) but we do have people with intestinal problems, so I thought it best to move sorta slowly. The biggest problem with the early stages is that you’re just SO HUNGRY*. When we do it again, I don’t think we’ll take that much time per stage. And I’ll definitely need to make more sauerkraut. The recipe in Nourishing Traditions is so energizing and delicious (and I never like sauerkraut before!).

      *When I get hungry my body goes immediately into starvation mode. I actually gained weight during the weeks when we were eating nothing but broth. *rolls eyes*

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts August 29, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Oh, goodness, Kelly that starvation thing would totally happen to me! Now you have me scared!

      I got a great deal on fermented veggies! I’m so excited because when I said I was going to make them my husband gave me The Look and pointed to my kombucha SCOBY that thankfully hasn’t died {yet} of neglect. I am a horrible fermenter except for sourdough. Anyhow, my friend traded me straight across, quart for quart, for goat’s milk. So far I only have beet kvass, but sauerkraut is coming. I’m pretty excited because it really is more convenient for me to keep doing what I already do, and then trade.

      I haven’t tried the NT recipe, but I *think* that’s what she’s using.

    • Reply Kelly August 30, 2012 at 12:57 am

      I quit gaining weight when I added more fat to my diet. πŸ˜€ I put coconut oil and butter in everything that seemed like it would work. Sour cream is another good thing to add. Also ate a lot of whole-fat Greek yogurt.

      But I have to correct myself. I think I lost weight on the stock-only phase — it was when we started adding meat and veggies that I started gaining, but it may be because that one week of losing is what kicked me into survival mode, and just happened to coincide with the next phase. When we do it again I’m going to have to cheat to keep that from happening again.

    • Reply Rahime August 30, 2012 at 4:43 am

      My last extreme diet caused me to gain a bunch of unloseable weight too. I think my body did the starvation-mode too. I was hoping this would be one of those.

      BTW, got the verification on the first try last time! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts August 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      What was your last extreme diet? Just curious. We haven’t really been extreme since we did the GFCF thing years ago, though of course I’ve always been careful while we were at home. But this idea of doing things day in and day out without exception for a time? I think it’ll take some getting used to!

    • Reply Rahime August 30, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      It’s been years also, it was one that my chiropractor (also a nutritionist) recommended. That was no dairy, meat, sugar (including natural sugars and “sweet” veggies…going for a low-glycemic kinda thing), wheat, nightshades, yeast, caffeine etc. I believe I was only on it for about 8 weeks. I was, of course, hungry all the time, and I think that one permanently changed my metabolism.

      I haven’t done anything that crazy since, though I have done diets here or there that have limited one thing or another, but nothing else so extreme.

  • Reply Amanda August 29, 2012 at 3:40 am

    I’m sorry you were feeling yucky this summer! πŸ™ I’ve been avoiding GAPS, too, but how timely your post is, as I was thinking of it today. Hubby has been feeling ill yet again, and I still feel like my insides are discombobulated after giving birth. He just brought home a recommended probiotic for him, and Floradix for me. I’ll be watching!

  • Reply Rahime August 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Mmmmm… as you can probably imagine, I’ve either tried or thought about trying almost every “therapeutic” diet under the sun (ok, yeah, that’s an exaggeration…just how I feel). I’m trying, for now, to ignore GAPS. πŸ˜‰ It definitely keeps creeping up and saying “hey, you should try me.”

    So, yeah. I’ve considered GAPS. Maybe I will try it eventually. I resist because I really don’t like all of the work involved with “special” diets and they always seem to call for me to give up the things I love (bread, cheese, whatever) for things I don’t (sauerkraut and other fermented “goodies”). Hmmm, can I come live with you for a spell? πŸ˜‰

    BTW, maybe it’s just that I need glasses, but your word verification thingy seems to be almost impossible lately.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts August 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Yes, *do* come live with us. Just come bearing soup marrow bones, that’s all I ask! πŸ˜€

      I really don’t know what to do about the word verification, by the way. If I turn it off, I get spam. If I turn it on, a certain percentage of people get really bad ones! Hmmmm…

    • Reply Rahime August 30, 2012 at 4:38 am

      Oh, I know. It’s ok. I always manage to figure one of them out…it usually is the 3rd. πŸ˜‰

      So, do you have a good source for marrow bones? Do you need beef, chicken, or what?

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts August 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Actually, no! I am having trouble finding a decent source of beef or lamb bones for red meat soups. Typically, I’d order from Azure Standard, which I did this month, but I guess they were out of bones because I wasn’t the only person at the drop-off that didn’t get my order! I’ve been calling around, but no luck yet, at least not in a manageable size {do I want half a cow worth of bones? Um…not yet!}. I’m not usually strict about the quality of meat we eat simply because I cannot afford to be, but I’m concerned about consuming marrow from a conventional cow.

      This is actually my afternoon project today: try and find decent marrow bones, at the very least organic ones.

    • Reply Rahime August 30, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      We get our meat from a local coop (we go through a LOT with the dogs), and think there’s a similar so cal one called So Cal BARF. Our coop sources all organic, humanely raised/slaughtered, pastured, etc meat. “Organic” is their very lowest standard. I don’t know if SoCal BARF is the same or not, but it’d be worth checking. There’s also a guy, Simon, from Creston Valley Meats, who does meat deliveries all over CA (I think he goes once a month to Nor Cal and once to So Cal). His meat prices are so-so, but the bones are oftentimes basically free, and AFAIK the animals are all grass-fed. Not sure about organic or not. I’ve also had luck through asian markets, though I suspect that would be more conventional meat.

  • Reply Anonymous August 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Brandy,
    I’m the duck question-asker, and a fellow AOer. I’ve also done GAPS (in various forms, now transitioning off) for the past 3 years. Major improvement in my own and my son’s health. You’re welcome to contact me any time! I’m sure you’ve probably joined the Yahoo group; if not, I highly recommend it. They (at least, when I was on it the first two years) were awesome! Very inclusionary of all people, no matter what level they were at and whether they could even do the whole diet. The most wonderful, gracious group of people I’ve ever encountered, anywhere.
    Lori zekebully@sbcglobal.net

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts August 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Lori, I would love to get the Yahoo group link from you. Would you mind posting it here? I actually didn’t know there was a group! I would especially love getting menu/cooking ideas. We’ve done strict diets before, so this doesn’t feel overwhelming like it did years ago, but I know there are always efficiency tricks that I can pick up along the way that will help a bunch…

      How is your transition off going?

      I mentioned trying to be back at mostly “normal” by Thanksgiving, and I received one private response that that might not happen, which I totally understand. Obviously, if we can’t transition, then we won’t. Did it take you three full years to get through? Or was it more that you were afraid of transitioning? I’m just curious because I did that with GFCF, staying very strict long after I needed to because it was hard to believe that we were better…

  • Reply ...they call me mommy... August 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I’ve heard A LOT about this. An online friend of mine is doing this and has been for awhile! You ARE brave! πŸ™‚ I pray that it will really help your family!

  • Reply Mahers Hill Academy August 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I’ve heard of the GAPS diet, and noticed your recent posts on Pinterest, but I haven’t really looked into it. I am intrigued to know that it is a temporary thing. I started reading Why We Get Fat awhile ago and was bothered by the idea of cutting out whole food groups, so I didn’t finish it. I also just started Wheat Belly in which the author argues that wheat has been so genetically modified that humans can’t assimilate it properly, and it causes weight gain and many health problems. But again, I am bothered by the idea of permanently cutting something out of our diets.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts August 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      MHA I like your new photo! πŸ™‚

      Personally, I think very few people need to permanently cut out food groups. Exceptions would be extreme circumstances, such as celiacs, or someone with an anaphylactic allergy like peanuts. I’ve read that NAET sometimes works on the latter, but still–scary!

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