Why I might not be on GAPS anymore

I officially started the gut-healing protocol called GAPS in February 2012, first going through the strict intro phase and then gradually adding in more foods until I was on the least strict version of the diet. I put my 3 year old (at the time) boy on the diet as well since he seemed to have some gut dysbiosis and food sensitivities.

The diet has been healing for us both, though I don’t think either of us have perfectly functioning guts now (I know I don’t). But we are better.

So why quit the diet?

The answer to this is multifaceted. For my son, it mostly had to do with carbohydrates, because I think he needs more than I do. I started allowing some starches/grains back into his diet months ago. He was clearly hungry for them, and I was worried about his large consumption of nut-based foods because nuts just aren’t supposed to be eaten in such great amounts. His diet seemed unbalanced, and adding some starches back in has helped.

For me it’s partly been about carbs. I knew I needed to get enough. I know it’s possible to get enough on GAPS, but I never really got into the swing of preparing enough carbohydrate foods for my meals. I think I did okay for most of my time on GAPS, but by mid-winter I was bored of cooking. I was bored of food.

Yes, I could have tried new recipes. In fact, I recently bought a new cookbook just on soups. But still, I’m just not in full swing of getting enough carbs right now. Or enough food in general. I’m not getting enough calories. I would guess I’m getting under 2000 a day right now (that’s enough if I want to just sit around all day, but not if I want to have energy and be active) just because I am bored with food. Bored with cooking. Well, maybe I’m just feeling lazy and don’t want to prepare food three times a day, every day, plus snack. Regardless of the reason for my eating less, the point is that I am. People need plenty of calories and carbohydrates to support the thyroid and metabolism. If these two things are not functioning well, it is hard for the body to heal. Which would make doing GAPS kind of pointless.

Specifically, I want to add grains back to my diet. The reason might surprise some people–I want them for their nutrients. I had heard so many times from the Paleo community that grains are not a nutrient-dense food, so why bother eating them? But they are actually quite rich in nutrients and many grains are great sources for magnesium and folate–two nutrients I have a hard time getting enough of. They are good sources for many vitamins, especially B vitamins, and many minerals. They are considered to be less nutrient dense only because they have more calories per serving…but if you need more calories like I do, this is a good thing!

photo credit: adamr on freedigitalphotos.net
photo credit: adamr on freedigitalphotos.net

With so many of my needs pointing to grains, it seems silly not to try to add them back into my diet. After 13 months on GAPS, I am trying to do just this. I did not get off to a very smart start, though. I recently decided to do a special diet challenge to get my body ready for pregnancy. After almost seven weeks of zero GAPS cheats whatsoever, I got so “hungry” that one day I told my husband to bring home a take and bake pizza from Papa Murphy’s. That pizza tasted so good, and I devoured three slices. Not too long afterwards, I felt horrible. Worse than I ever did with any cheats I have had while on GAPS. The problem wasn’t that I had eaten a non-GAPS food. The problem was that I had eaten a non-real food! I looked up the pizza ingredients online and was utterly horrified what was in it: GMO soy oil, preservatives and artificial ingredients! In restaurant pizza!! Well, I should have known better than to eat inexpensive chain pizza.

I’ve been trying other starches rather unmethodically. I seem to be fine with rice, potatoes and quinoa. Popcorn seems okay, fried taco shells do not. I might be a tiny bit bloated, but it doesn’t give me any discomfort. It’s a trade off for now. I need what grains provide. I will keep my consumption of them on the low side for now, and try to go for the more easily digested types. I’ll have days that I still only eat GAPS foods, not only to give my gut a rest, but because I’ve become so accustomed to this way of eating that it’s actually easier in a way. I’ll still eat a lot of nourishing soups (I have a whole cookbook of them to explore!) and grains will be traditionally prepared as much as possible.

Maybe going on with GAPS would be okay, if I could be more disciplined. I would have to eat lots of greens and organ meats and seafood to replace the nutrients I am missing in grains. I could eat a ton more vegetables for extra carbs. I’m sure that would be very healthy for me. But I just haven’t been managing it. I will continue trying to get more veggies and organ meats into my diet, but in the meantime, I am not going to deprive myself of the nutrition I need–especially when I am hoping to get pregnant soon.

I don’t know if this is truly the end of my GAPS journey. We’ll see what happens. All I know is that right now food suddenly seems more interesting, and I’m not hungry anymore.

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Lori says:

    It sounds like you are doing the right thing for your body. I did a low carb diet for a while, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. The problem with such a restrictive diet, I think, is that then some people end up binging because their body really wants those foods and maybe the minerals, etc you are getting from them.

    Trust your instincts! Don’t feel guilty either. I see some of that in there when you are talking about being disciplined. I don’t think it has to do with disciplined. Good luck and be kind to yourself.

    1. Lisa C says:

      Thanks Lori. I actually don’t feel guilty at all. I stopped the association of negative feelings with eating a long time ago. I just said those things to clarify that I know that a person can get what I need on GAPS, but it just ain’t happening for me right now, and I’m okay with that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve known someone to go off a diet because it wasn’t working for them anymore, only to have people tell them they didn’t do it right. I don’t believe eating should be a stressful part of life, and I believe we should be flexible in how we get what we need. If a diet stops working for you–for whatever reason–then it’s time to move on.

      1. Lori says:

        I’m glad you aren’t feeling quilt! I totally understand with being told I wasn’t doing a diet correctly. I am working with a nutritionist right now, and she told me I wasn’t doing my Candida diet correctly. I just ignored her. I’m committed to working with her for another two months, but then I’m gong to reconsider. She thinks I’m gluten intolerant, so I’m doing a wheat free diet. I do actually feel better, but I don’t like some of the statements she makes like, “everyone should be gluten free.” I don’t think that’s true. I think that a lot of people are buying into a “diet.” She t also keeps talking about autoimmune problems, implying that I have them, but I don’t think I do! I don’t know why I continue to work with her except that I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt for a few more months while I think about things.

        I’ve just been thinking about these issues based on my personal experiences for a while, and seem to be rambling about them here!

        The one thing that I have been doing while I’m wheat free is allowing myself things like chocolate (good chocolate without tons of ingredients) every once in a while or cocoroons. These have sugar in them. Doing so keeps me from wanting to binge actually. I even make homemade ice cream, which would kill the woman I’m working with because she thinks I need to be dairy free, but I get raw milk/cream, and I like having it either in ice cream form or as milk! My body craves it sometimes. I think I’m just moving towards a nourishing traditions diet with limited wheat in the future.

        Sorry for rambling….

      2. Lisa C says:

        Oh, no worries about rambling! I like to hear other people’s stories.

        I think when it comes to healthcare providers/nutritionists/coaches/etc, it’s kind of the same as with diet. When they no longer work for you, time to move on. It doesn’t mean they don’t have something worthwhile to offer, but that you may need to be doing something different for the time being. It sounds like you know that, though.

        I keep having raw milk, too, even though I don’t think I digest it perfectly. There are too many benefits for me in having it. When I started GAPS I stayed off dairy for 5.5 weeks and I started having bad symptoms because of not having it, and had to take some supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps from not having it. I’m better off having the milk.

      3. Lori says:

        When I told the nutritionist that I was craving milk and so started to drink it, she sort of glossed over that and thought I was crazy. Then it turns out my calcium levels were low, but I don’t think she would ever admit that maybe my body was on the right track.

        I guess I am staying right now because I do think I”m getting something from her, but on the same hand, I’m also getting more clear on what my body needs.

      4. Lisa C says:

        It sounds like you are in tune with what you need! It’s too bad your nutritionist isn’t more open-minded, but at least she is still offering something helpful to you. I am sure you’ll know when/if it’s time to move on.

    2. Lisa C says:

      By the way, I think you are right about the binging thing. That’s why that pizza tasted so dang good to me.

  2. Carrie W says:

    I think it is easy to not get enough calories on a restrictive diet mostly because it does get so stressful. I have had a lot of luck with grains. I use sprouted Spelt often in my baking and I love it. I think we underestimate the power of calories. I still cant do dairy and certain types of legumes but otherwise I am quite satisfied.

    1. Lisa C says:

      I feel like I keep following behind you, Carrie. Thanks for blazing the path for me! lol Maybe I should try some sprouted flour… And speaking of stress, that is another thing we shouldn’t underestimate. Stress can kill your digestion.

  3. Five Seed says:

    I’m struggling with the grain issue a lot, too. I keep trying to decrease them in my diet and eat more veggies, but I’m always starving and it doesn’t do well with my stomach, for some reason. I think I need to be more modest in my grain goals and just focus on cutting out my obsessive need for pasta! LOL. Maybe focus more on whole-grain breads and the like….if I can stay away from my beloved pasta! 😉

    1. Lisa C says:

      It’s been so long since I’ve had pasta….

      Do you soak/ferment your grains? I don’t think there is anything wrong with eating them so long as you can actually get the nutrients from them. If you want to cut back, you definitely need to replace them with something with similar caloric value and probably protein, too. Like eat more nuts or meat and drizzle fat all over your vegetables. This is what I did, and I was able to eventually cut grains out completely without having any cravings. I think I am only getting hungry now because I haven’t been able to keep up with zero grains for so long.

      As for the pasta…I think there is a sprouted pasta you can buy? That should be more nutritious for you. Seriously, if you love pasta that much, don’t give it up unless you have to! 😀

    2. Lisa C says:

      I’m curious…did you say that eating more veggies bothers your stomach? Or were you saying that grains bother? If it’s veggies, I would wonder what kind of veggies and if you were eating them raw or cooked.

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