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Healing with the GAPS Diet – INTRO (Day 15)

So, we’ve survived the first 15 days of the GAPS intro. Tristan is in stage 3. I am in stage 2 still. You can read more about why we’re trying the GAPS diet to attempt to heal my son’s body of allergies, asthma, and eczema here. And you can follow along with our GAPS Intro journey here.

While it hasn’t been horrible being so restricted in our diet, it’s not a walk in the park. I will be very happy when we are able to return to more normal eating or at least the full GAPS diet or perhaps Paleo down the road.

GAPS Intro Staple Foods

Some GAPS Intro staples in our house: squash, probiotics, sour cream, and sauerkraut.

We’re still using this meal plan, but very loosely. It’s nice because it helps you understand what’s best to introduce next and really holds your hand as you walk through the stages. But I’ve getting better at preparing really basic foods in a GAPS Intro kind of way, so I find myself just creating stuff. I mean, without herbs and spices, it’s kind of hard to screw up a soup containing three basic things – meat, broth, veggies.

Satisfying the Sweet Tooth

You’re probably curious how we’re faring – well, as you’d expect, it’s far from easy. My kids and I really love our sweet stuff (although for them that’s usually sulfur & sugar-free dried fruit) and for me – well, let’s just say I prefer things of the chocolate or baked good variety. So, removing sweets has been hard, but not impossible. I’ve tried to keep our carbohydrates up, as we’re not interested in a low-carb diet at this point, so we satisfy our carb and sweet cravings by having bowls of butternut squash soup or carrot and ginger soup in the mornings. We sometimes enjoy a dab of raw honey added in and when I need a sugar fix, I enjoy a cup of chamomile tea with 1/4 tsp raw honey or a few spoonfuls of non-homogenized sour cream (from pastured cows of course) with a drizzle of honey – which is divine.

New Food Finds

Two new foods that I’ve fallen in love with on this diet are the non-homogenized sour cream from pastured cows (mentioned above), which I find too difficult to make myself at this point, so I found a reliable farm that makes it. This type of sour cream is – wait for it – cream in color, yes, really cream-colored, not the processed, bleached white look of sour cream I grew up with. And the taste, it’s like cream that is slightly sour, as it should be. It’s amazing and rich and decadent. The other new discovery is ghee or clarified butter. Since it’s essentially butter with the casein and lactose removed, most people can tolerate it easily, even those with dairy allergies, like my son. He is anaphylactic to sheep’s dairy, but moderately allergic to cow’s dairy. I was nervous to let him try cow’s milk ghee, but it’s a superfood (like kale) and very important for healing, so we went for it. I would not have tried this at home, without a doctor’s supervision, if he had a history of anaphylaxis to cow’s dairy products, mind you. I very carefully made my ghee with cow’s butter, ensuring every trace of protein was removed (very important for those with any mild allergy or sensitivity or even intolerance to dairy), then we did a patch skin test overnight. I put a drop of ghee on his leg and covered it with a band-aid and he slept with it on. In the morning, no reaction at all. Yay! Next step was just a tiny drop outside his lip. Next day we moved to his actual lip. The day after we did a tiny speck inside his mouth. Each time no reaction, so we kept going. Each time we doubled the tiny amount he took orally and now he’s up to 1/2 tsp twice a day! And we’ll just keep going from there – the more fat from good, quality animals, the faster the healing is with the GAPS diet. So, bring on the fat!

Falling In Love With Fat

Speaking of fat, I grew up being repulsed by visual fat on meat and I would gag if there was a sliver of skin left on my meat. When I found out the actual fat and skin, and all gelatinous pieces of the animal are an important part of this diet, I cringed and didn’t really accept it at first. However I got more comfortable with the idea a little over a week into the diet. But I have to disguise the fat or I just can’t do it, so we add lard, ghee, and pureed animal skin, fat, etc. to our soups. And honestly, it tastes good. The soups are much richer and heartier. I’m all for anything that can speed up this diet and get us to where we need to be health wise, so bring on the fat! Wow, my mother and sister probably will never believe I just wrote that. Yup, it’s me :)

Physically, How Are We?

Tristan and I have quite a lot of red, bumpy eczema on our hands and wrists. Mine is very itchy and Tristan’s doesn’t seem to be so much. This is the worst eczema I’ve ever had in my life. Tristan’s was like this a while back, but its not as severe as his has been at it’s worst. He’s also flared up quite a lot on his legs. I was trying to let his skin go without creams to see how he did on the diet, but it was getting too bad, so I caved and both of us have been following our normal skin care routine again. I’m not discouraged as this is part of the healing process apparently and is a sign of detox. At least that’s what I’m hoping. Time will tell for sure. Other than that, Tristan is great! He really resisted the diet the first week, but he understands why we started the diet, so it wasn’t a big fight. But things are better now and he’s complaining about the food less. (May have had something to do with the fact that on one of his worst days I promised him he’d have a “normal” birthday cake for his birthday in May.) He’s been able to tolerate every thing introduced to him and he’s moved on to stage 3 already. He had one set back and that was just the other day, I made Swedish Gravlax which is essentially raw fish (sushi quality), but recommended in the diet. Tristan woke up the next morning with a terrible headache and bloating with stomach pain that lasted all day. He stayed home from school, that’s how bad it was. I ate only a tiny bite and was fine. My husband and daughter ate a lot and were fine. So, no “raw” fish for Tristan. Cooked fish he’s still fine with thankfully. He’s been fine with the other introductions we’ve made in stage 2 – egg yolk, egg white, and even the crispy cashews in stage 3 (soaked and then dehydrated) made into a nut butter and cooked with eggs and veggies.

I’ve had much more trouble than Tristan, which is why I’m still in stage 2 and stuck for now. I need to be able to tolerate raw egg yolk added to soups before I am comfortable moving forward. I’ve tried chicken eggs twice and had debilitating pain from bloating and gas both times, one time I tried just a drop. I just bought some duck eggs to try as I hear they are easier to tolerate, fingers are very crossed! I’m also having issue with beef (which I knew about before), cauliflower, and tomatoes. Just a little disclaimer as I’m going to get very personal here, read on at your own risk – hint, it’s bathroom related!!!  I can’t believe I’m about to share this. Gulp. Here goes.  I’m having issues with constipation, big time. After starting the diet I went five days without a movement before I VERY grudgingly decided to take a cue from the GAPS book and try an enema. While it was a very odd sensation, it wasn’t horrible and I should have done it sooner, but my squeamish self wasn’t ready before. I’ve had to do one every day since as I still cannot have a movement on my own, and I’m getting used to it. I did find that just boiled water wasn’t good for me and my body much prefers using a probiotic capsule added to the enema water or diluted chamomile tea. Sorry if this is TMI, but it’s part of the diet process. I’m adding more and more fats to my diet, which should help me eliminate on my own at some point. But for now, I’m coming to terms with my need for a daily enema.

Horror Story of the Week

We do a detox bath each night and alternate between Epson salt, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar – 1/2 – 1 cup in the bath. One night I decided to use up some extra, very pure dead sea salts I had on hand. I added a full cup like I’d been doing with the Epson salt. I put my foot in and thought it was strange that it was burning a little. But I jumped into the bath anyway and stayed there for 20 min despite the full body sting I had going on. Don’t ask me why I wasn’t alarmed by the burning sensation, I just thought it was a good detox and it would go away. WRONG! OMG! I literally gave my self an at home acid peel. My skin came shredding off under my nails and my skin just would not stop burning for hours afterwards. I had the full body chills that night in bed. My skin was completely red and painful, which lasted for several days. It was like a severe sunburn. Horrible. I was so angry at myself afterwards – why did I let this happen? Eventually my skin healed up, but it’s been so itchy since.

So, that’s the two-week update. No healing to report yet, but we’re moving along.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi! I thought I might just add a bit of my story here. I was diagnosed with skin allergies when I was a kid. It’s been a really long time since my last visit to the doctor. When I was a kid, I used to have severe skin allergies, I don’t know exactly if it’s eczema all I remember is that it’s a skin allergy. Anyways, my hands,arms and legs were the most affected areas, my mom made me follow a diet with absolutely no sugar, no chicken, no egg, no milk, no eating foods in the canteen, she closely monitored all my food intakes. She made me stick to the diet until my skin was all healed up. We just followed that routine along with the ointment prescribed by the doctor.I usually forget to apply the ointment so it didn’t make much of a difference but my mom’s diet plan actually helped a lot.

    Like

    March 21, 2014
    • Wow. Sound really similar to gaps. And how are you doing now? Can you eat all those foods again?

      Like

      March 21, 2014
  2. Wendy C #

    Hi Jennifer, I was just on your site shopping and wanted to head over here to see how you’re doing on GAPS. Seems like you’re adjusting well. If you’re constipated, try to increase your fat intake. My very regular son didn’t go for 3 days at the start of GAPS intro, and I had to add a dollop of fat to his soups 3x/day for him to go on the 5th day. Poop was very oily, but he pooped! After that he was pretty regular. We started GAPS last March, thinking we would just whiz right through the 30 day meal plan to full GAPS then off of GAPS. Well, we didn’t finish intro until July, and we’re still on full GAPS due to my younger son’s eczema. I’ve never had eczema before and I developed it while on GAPS intro. If you’re looking for a GAPS-legal birthday cake, try this one: http://www.cheeseslave.com/gaps-diet-birthday-cake/. There are a couple more listed at the Holistic Squid. While GAPS has made my son’s eczema a lot more tolerable (i.e. we no longer have to bind his hands to prevent him from scratching til he bleeds), he still has patches of dry skin. That’s where the calendulis cream came in. We just started using the new formula. Not my favorite, but I haven’t seen any replacement yet.

    Love that you have a reliable source of sour cream. And loving to eat fat. When we went on full GAPS, we started using coconut products. Love coconut butter! When you’re ready for it try some GAPS-legal chocolate! (http://wellnessmama.com/6764/chocolate-recipe/)

    Also, we skipped the food items that we could not tolerate. My son still cannot eat egg yolk or white, nightshades, and nuts. But he can eat coconut products fine. But I know that he’s getting better. He couldn’t eat fruit at the beginning, and now he can. He immediately got itchy when I had a little egg yolk and he had breastmilk. Now his egg allergy comes after 10 days of eating eggs. Try to eat as many ferments as possible. My little one did not like sauerkraut at the beginning. I had to feed him sauerkraut juice morning and evening. Now he’s a little older, and he sits down and eats his sauerkraut and kimchee and fermented carrot sticks.

    This is definitely a huge lifestyle change, but you can do this!! Good luck.

    Like

    February 7, 2014
    • Hi Wendy –

      Thanks so much for all the encouraging words and suggestions! I am trying to increase my fats on a daily basis, so far, it’s not helping :( I know I’ll get to a healthy place regarding my bowels, but it’s not happening yet. I’m so happy to hear how well your family is doing on GAPS! Curious though, you said you developed eczema on Intro – did it go away? After how long? Jennifer

      Like

      February 14, 2014
  3. It is a greatly help since I have found your blog, all the articles and stories! I am a new mother with a 6-month old boy who has been fighting with eczema since his birth. It is controllable currently but seems that we have to live on cortisone forever, which is a big pain for me. He now knows how to scratch and I am just afraid that it would become worse day by day. As a Chinese (and with a father who is a traditional Chinese doctor), I believe this theory that these allergies and rashes are just on the surface and the true problem is lying inside his body. So I definitely want to try this GAPS diet! The problem is, he is just too young, not even starting solids yet, so how can I try all those soups and meat on him?

    Like

    February 6, 2014
    • HI Ariel – Is your son still nursing? If so, then you would need to change your diet to follow the GAPS protocol. I recommend getting a copy of the book and reading what they recommend for nursing mothers and infants. Jennifer

      Like

      February 7, 2014
  4. Dan #

    I just wanted to relate an experience I had that you reminded me of when you said “I will be very happy when we are able to return to more normal eating”. A few years ago I had a health problem and put myself on a strict diet of no sugar, fruit, oatmeal, chicken and fish instead of beef and pork and basically very little dairy. A drastic change from my “normal” diet. I went to a follow up visit with my GP and told him how well I had felt from my new diet and asked him when he thought I could get back to eating a “normal” diet. He looked at me with a very quizzical look on his face and sternly said “you are eating a normal diet”! After leaving his office and thinking about it, I never felt so stupid in my life lol.

    Like

    February 5, 2014
    • Ha! I can definitely relate. Normal is relative and unique to everyone I suppose. Thanks for that!

      Like

      February 7, 2014
  5. What is Tristan allergic to? Two of the many things my son is allergic to are dairy and eggs, so could someone with those allergies even do GAPS? Congrats on surviving 2 weeks of the diet!

    Like

    February 4, 2014
    • Hi Rachel – Tristan is allergic to dairy and some tree nuts. Yes, with those two allergies, you could definitely do GAPS. I’m not doing eggs because I cannot tolerate them yet. It’s totally possible. I recommend joining the GAPS Kids Facebook group and get a copy of the GAPS book and start reading it and getting comfortable with the ideas. And then check out the resources in my two posts – they’ve helped me a lot! Jennifer

      Like

      February 7, 2014
      • Jennifer,
        Thanks! I’ll have to look into it further. I’m enjoying following your journey with GAPS. Keep up the hard work!
        -Rachel

        Like

        March 17, 2014
  6. Jenny #

    I am so excited to read your posts as you go on the GAPS journey. I am just starting to read more about the GAPS diet trying to figure out different ways to help my young children who suffer from multiple food allergies and eczema. I hope it helps you and your children. Right now I’m trying the NAET with my daughter so I’m really hoping to see good results. Thank you for your blog and all you do for those suffering with allergies and eczema.

    Like

    February 4, 2014
    • Hi Jenny – We tried NAET and didn’t have any luck, but I hear it has helped quite a few. I hope you see results! Stay tuned for more GAPS updates! Jennifer

      Like

      February 7, 2014
  7. Archana Tomar #

    I am learning so much about GAPS diet now and love reading your experiences.
    The other day I started testing ghee on my son and so far so good. He is allergic to cow’s milk. He can tolerate it so we are slowly adding ghee to his diet.
    We are also doing homeopathy for his food allergies. I hope homeopathy for his food allergies would work as good as it worked on his eczema.

    Like

    February 4, 2014
    • That’s great about the ghee Archana! Good luck with the homeopathy. We’re still working that avenue too and need to write an update on our progress. Stay tuned. Jennifer

      Like

      February 7, 2014

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