Healing with the GAPS Diet – INTRO (Day 44)
I’m really not sure where to begin as it’s now been one month since my last update and a lot has happened. To follow along on our GAPS journey, visit this page. Updates: Tristan and I are both in stage 4.
This diet has become all-consuming – I literally eat, sleep, and breath this diet. Every spare thought is about this diet. Wondering if I wrote down how I felt after increasing my sauerkraut juice intake or if I have enough broth in the fridge to last through the day. While I have gotten a comfortable handle on menu planning and manhandling the internal organs of various animals, I cannot come to terms with how much of my life has gone GAPS. Thankfully, the end is in sight. I’m estimating we’ll only have about one more month on the Intro portion of the diet. And in all honesty, it really hasn’t been that hard. By now, I’m so used to eating this way and so has the rest of the family, that it doesn’t really bother us anymore. Well, except for my husband. He still frequently asks how much longer until we can eat “normally” again.
But, despite my husband’s readiness to move on to a GAPS-free life, he is willing to wait for it because we’re seeing positive changes. Some are small and some are quite momentous, but they are there and they give us hope.
Magic Happens at 3 Weeks
I have to say that Tristan (now 5 years old) really surprised me one morning at breakfast at the end of our third week on GAPS Intro. After two weeks or more of complaining about the food we’d been eating on the GAPS Intro diet, he turned to me and said “Mom, I really love the food we’re eating now. The orange soup (butternut squash soup for breakfast), the meatballs, and all this yummy stuff. I really love it.” I was speechless. This from a boy who used to beg me for pancakes, waffles, cereal for breakfast and sweets constantly – though they were homemade and healthier than the norm, and he didn’t have them very often. Seems he’s not craving the sugar anymore! He has had maybe 1 TBS of honey combined since starting this diet 4 weeks ago. I went off to share this happy story on my go-to resource and online support group for all things GAPS related, GAPS Kids, and what do you know – other parents came forward with similar stories – most around 3 weeks!
This was just the reassurance I needed to confirm I am indeed doing the right thing for my son and his health. As a parent, and I know you can all agree with this, it’s so hard to know if we’re doing the best for our children. We want to believe we are, but most the time we feel like nothing is good enough and always second guess our selves. Well, I can honestly say that I am 100% on board with GAPS at this point and so is my son, and that is saying a lot!
And the Healing Begins
Shortly after the little miracle above, I noticed that Tristan had become less aggressive and more affectionate. The last year he’d become more and more aggressive and less patient with his little sister and my husband and I. At school, no problems. I summed this up to his age and we did what we could to parent him in a fair, but firm way. We noticed when he was sick or coughed a lot at night (before we discovered nasal washes and homeopathy) he’d be more aggressive in general, but when feeling better (which wasn’t very often before the diet) he’d be just a much nicer guy to be around. So, it’s been several weeks now that we’ve noticed he’s been consistently nicer in general. And very affectionate. Lots of hugs, kisses, and oozing with love. I am NOT complaining. It’s been a really nice, and much-needed change. What’s interesting is that Tristan did get very mildly sick at one point and sure enough, his attitude took a turn for the worse. And after the delightful comments he made about our diet, as mentioned above, he really regressed and didn’t want to eat anything I cooked. It was really difficult and I worried that he’d stay disgusted by the food and we wouldn’t be able to proceed with the diet. There were a lot of tears shed and meal time arguing, but after a couple of days, he felt better and went right back to enjoying the food again. Thank goodness.
Read about this families healing journey with the #GAPS Intro diet. #eczema #GAPSdiet @eczemacompany
While he still has eczema flares, mostly due to yeast detox we believe, his skin is perfectly healthy and almost radiant. And while he used to be dry head to toe, especially rough and dry on the elbows and knees, he is smooth as a baby now and we are NOT moisturizing in those areas. In addition to the diet, we do detox baths (as recommended in the GAPS book) with apple cider vinegar, baking soda or Epson salt and that’s it. We do still cream up his eczema patches, but not the rest of his body. The change in his skin is really amazing.
Now, the best for last. Food allergies. I told you last time that we’ve been successfully adding ghee into his diet, despite his dairy allergy. Well, he’s up to probably 1/4cup of ghee each day. But even more interesting, we just went to the allergist for Tristan’s yearly follow-up. His allergies have improved significantly. The doctor was thrilled, as were we! He scored a 10 on his last cow’s milk skin test, this time it was a 3. He didn’t react to pecans or hazelnuts at all. And walnuts had fallen down to a 2. We didn’t even bother with testing sheep’s milk, which is what triggered his only anaphylactic reaction, as it was so high last time that a change wasn’t expected any time soon and maybe not in his life time, and they don’t keep sheep’s dairy in the office to test. I honestly hadn’t expected to see this much of a change in is allergies. The problem is, if you can call it a problem at all, is how do we know what triggered the improvement in allergies? Is he just growing out of them? Is it the diet? Is it the homeopathy? Or is it a magical combination of all three? Honestly, WHO CARES??!! Progress is progress. I was over the moon and so was Tristan when the doctor recommended a cow’s milk oral challenge in a baked good. We’re going to wait until we’re through with GAPS Intro before trying dairy, but man, our whole family is looking forward to that day. I can’t see us adding dairy back in large quantities, but a yogurt here and there and a little bit of cheese from time to time, that would be cool. And not having to worry, priceless. As for the tree nuts, the doctor recommended we wait until a blood test to confirm the numbers are low enough for an oral challenge. But we remain very hopeful. I told the doctor that we’d been eating other tree nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, and brazil nuts) for some time and that we’d introduced ghee. He said it is very possible that keeping those foods in his diet provided minimal amounts of allergic proteins from cross contamination and that could be why we’re already seeing Tristan “growing out” of his allergies. I didn’t go into details about our diet. I’m going to wait until we finish and see if we have more exciting changes to share with the doctor – like curing his rhinitis and eczema – then I’ll share our story.
And Then There’s Me
Things are not going as well for me. When I was doing really poorly on the diet initially, I found I was a bit jealous of Tristan being able to move on so quickly while I was stuck in stage two, not being able to pass the very first food introduction, eggs. But now, I’ve come to terms with it, made some adjustments to the diet and moved ahead and have almost caught up to Tristan. What I’ve found is that I have a histamine intolerance, which was causing my horrible bloating for the past two years. It may be partially to blame for my heartburn too, but for now I only know it’s related to the bloating. When I stopped eating left overs more than one day old (a common trigger for histamine intolerance), my beloved non-homogenized sour cream, and chicken egg yolk, I was fine. The bloating completely went away. Yay! I had a few days of feeling really, really good, and then the heartburn hit. And it was bad. I would get horrible episodes a few times a month before the diet. One time it was so bad I was convinced I was having a heart attack and it lasted several days. I even went to the ER! I get severe pain in my heart, it can be a struggle to get a deep, satisfying breath, my upper back/shoulders feel tight and achy, and I get the famous burning in the center of the chest. I started feeling like this every single day, all day long. It was dreadful. I say “was” because it’s starting to get better, but just barely. I thought at first it may be that my stomach acid is low, so I started taking the HCL with pepsin supplement recommended in the GAPS book. And I drank a lot of lemon water. It seemed to make it worse, so I stopped. Then I realized that not only was I getting extremely fatigued when eating pieces of meat, but my heartburn seemed to get worse as well, so I started questioning my digestion of meat. Maybe I was intolerant to all meat/poultry now? No, couldn’t be. One day I ate only pureed soups containing veggies and meat/skin/gelatinous parts and I felt great! Next time I ate pieces of meat, the heartburn came back. I’ve still been eating the pieces of meat, but I find that if I chew them until they cannot possibly be chewed anymore, the heartburn seems better. I try to also chew the meat and drink some broth at the same time – this also helps. Avocados seem to also give me some trouble with heartburn, so I’m going to cut those out. They are high in histamine, so maybe my histamine intolerance can manifest itself as bloating or heartburn. Who knows. This is all such a guessing game. Still having major issues with constipation, but I have found some herbal supplements to help me get through the hard times. The enemas were fine, but I wasn’t happy with how frequently I needed to do them, so I’ve given that up. Thankfully we’re adding roughage this week. Lettuce! And cucumbers! I am so ready for a nice salad – man, that’s going to be awesome!
All in all I’m a little discouraged with my GAPS journey. I still have almost all my symptoms from before I started the diet. At least the bloating is gone. But I’m thrilled with how it’s going for Tristan. I just hope he continues to heal and maybe I’ll be able to say the same for myself at some point.