I’ve been chronicling our GAPS progress on Facebook, but want to do a little synopsis here on the blog. Before I detail my progress, it’s important to note that I gave up dairy (for a six week elimination) on the same day I started GAPS intro. I also was not taking probiotics regularly before intro, but have been very consistent since. Both these things are a part of the GAPS protocol, but I point them out because I think either of these things alone could make a difference in how I feel and how my body reacts. I also gave up chocolate one week before beginning GAPS intro.
In the Beginning
The first couple of stages include lots and lots of soup–every meal of the day. Lots of homemade stock, meat, vegetables, and egg. First day I felt amazing, but then the die-off/detox kicked in and I was tired and irritable. On the third day I actually came down with a mild cold–the first real cold I had all winter. It was a really bizarre cold that only affected my right side. I’m positive it was the result of detoxing.
Even though I liked all the soup just fine, and LOVED the constant calmness in my belly, adding the nut butter pancakes improved my mood and sense of wellbeing. It’s possible I wasn’t getting quite enough carbs with just the soup and tastes of honey from the first stages. Even with the nuts, I sometimes struggled to get enough carbs. Adding fruit later also helped. I started “cheating” and having fruit with breakfast sometimes (not supposed to combine fruit with other foods because they digest differently). Bending this last rule has made a big difference in how I feel throughout the day–I am better off getting the right amount of carbs in regular intervals.
Following My Body’s Cues
The pace for the GAPS intro is very individual. I was asked how I knew when to move forward. Basically, I would add something when it really appealed to me. If I had no bad reaction, then I kept it. I tried to go as slow as I could and not rush through it, but when my body called for something, I listened. After three weeks I was in the last stage, which is basically a transition to full GAPS. I added foods methodically and watched for reaction. Except for apples and oranges giving me mild gas, and onions and garlic giving me gas in the beginning (I think it was die-off related) I’ve had no bad reactions so far (except that time I made over-sweetened cookies and got a stomachache from the insulin response). I’m sort of “Full GAPS” now, except I haven’t actually tried everything yet, so I’m sort of still in transition, too, I guess. I’m just sticking with the more digestible foods on the Full GAPS spectrum of foods.
I experienced die off symptoms after first increasing my probiotics, and also after a subsequent increase, but otherwise have handled them just fine. I try to eat probiotic foods every day. I should be eating them every meal but I don’t. I have plans for trying to ferment a variety of veggies to make things more interesting, and will also try cultured dairy soon.
My body has felt less oily since starting the intro, and I think this may be due to the lack of dairy. I’ve finally been able to stretch out the days between showering, like I’ve been trying to do for two years, from two days to three. In other words, I stink less, and I feel cleaner longer. There are days I crave dairy, and these are the days when I haven’t had my broth or leafy greens, which is where I get my calcium. So then I eat those foods and I feel better. Part of the protocol is to be off dairy for six weeks, but I introduced sour cream just recently.
Sleep & Energy
I am definitely sleeping better. I have more energy during the day. I can partially attribute this to adding liver, though, which has lots of CoQ10. At first I had lots of ups and downs with energy, but I feel pretty constant now. I was very impressed at my stamina during my menstrual period this month. Even on my heavy day, I was able to attend 7 hours of classes at an expo, and I felt totally fine.
At first my old symptoms returned for a few days, and until I got my carb intake correct, I had some depressed feelings. Now, my mood is stable and I feel pretty happy most of the time.
As long as I keep having broth, I have no food cravings. In fact, during the all soup stages, I almost forgot about the existence of other foods. If I get lazy on the broth or don’t get enough carbs I will start to crave chocolate, dairy, or even pizza and popcorn. One of the coolest things about doing intro is that my taste buds have opened up to new challenges. I previously gagged on things like sauerkraut, coconut water and liver, now I can more than handle them. I feel this window of opportunity closing as I add more and more full GAPS items to my diet.
I started intro without any of my usual vitamin and mineral supplements because they can sometimes interfere with gut healing. I was tired for the first whole week of intro, even when I thought die-off symptoms had lifted. I tried taking my supplements and felt a lot better. For a couple of days. Then I tried liver and felt great, for a couple of days. I decided to eat liver twice a week and now I don’t need my vitamin and mineral supplements, as long as I also get enough broth and veggies. I started taking fermented cod liver oil which seems to have eliminated my need for a vitamin D supplement (since FCLO has more D than regular CLO). I also take a fish oil blend that is high in EPA and DHA, and of course a probiotic supplement. I’m so excited to be off the multivitamin, B complex, vitamin D, and magnesium supplements. I feel it’s easier to guide myself to the right foods now.
The Little Boy
Intro was super challenging with him. Once we got to the stages that allow nut butter pancakes and nut-based bread, he was a happy camper…until his omega 3 to 6 ratio and his zinc to copper ratio got out of balance from too many nuts. He’s become extremely sensitive, the very symptom that led us to this diet in the first place. For his benefit, I am adding dairy back early. It will help control his urge to eat nuts and bring some balance into his diet. At this point I can’t even tell if intro has helped him…although there was a stretch there after the detox and before the excess omega 6 and copper build up where he was perfectly angelic for about a week. So I think it was helping.
Overall, I would say that GAPS is working really well for me. I wish my little guy could understand the importance of this protocol and be disciplined like me, but hopefully his custom version is helping him heal, too.