Update Dec 2015: I really am not a fan of this diet long term. It did wonders for my daughter and is necessary for some, but I had issues on it due to high sulfur levels and restriction of starch. It’s not for everyone, but I’m glad I learned about it and tried it. It gave me my daughter back. And I think there are other diets that could have done the same thing at this point.
GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet…Why are we doing this to ourselves???
I had to write a page that is specifically about the biggest undertaking I’ve had in awhile- the GAPS diet. It’s important to have a strong reason and conviction to spend so much time and energy on something that involves a form of self torture in some ways. I know that this new endeavor will require a commitment far beyond what I’ve done with my dairy and gluten free lifestyle I’ve led the past 10 years. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what the diet is I will write a brief interpretation of what I think this diet is about and then explain why I’m doing this to my family.
The GAPS diet is really a diet based on a previous, well-known diet for treating a variety of intestinal issues called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The diet’s purpose is to relieve the digestive tract from working hard by having to digest any grains, starches, and sugars. Instead, the foods eaten are mostly mono-saccharides, protein and fats. This helps the digestive tract to heal from any inflammation or damage, get’s rid of any “leaky gut”, ideally reverses food allergies that have resulted from an inflamed state, and further creates a “seal” in the gut lining to maintain a more optimal functioning digestive tract in the future. The idea is that this is a TEMPORARY diet, long enough to heal your system and then allow a normal, but healthy, diet thereafter. The other goal is that by having the digestive tract working smoothly, without irritation, proper nutrient absorption can take place allowing for any psychological or autism spectrum issues to also be reversed and possibly alleviated.
I know that when I’ve eaten an anti-inflammatory diet, even beyond my gluten and dairy free diet, my brain feels so clear, bloating is gone, and my energy increases. My hope is that by having my daughter Eliah on this diet, that some of her sensory spectrum issues can be helped, and maybe even her hair growth disorder as well. It’s been interesting to note that in the 4 months we’ve taken her off gluten completely, her hair has finally started to grow and thicken, which is a miracle in itself for having Loose Anagen Syndrome at age 2. We have also learned she has a significant ferritin deficiency, even though she eats a ton of greens and meat, and therefore further proves she’s got some digestive imbalances. I’m hoping that I, too, will not be sensitive to gluten and dairy after doing this diet for 6months-2 years and “healing and sealing” my gut lining. There are more issues that indicate this is a diet we, as a family, feel a conviction to try but my explanation above will suffice for now.
The key to this diet is to make sure one doesn’t make it a low carbohydrate diet, since there are no grains or starches allowed. It’s all about specific carbohydrates, not less carbohydrate, which means eating a lot of allowed fruits and veges with every meal. I’m not a huge fan of meat, but there’s really no way around eating meat on this diet. Also it requires much fat consumption, which seems a little scary at first. But when you read about why cholesterol actually increases and why healthy fats are very healing and immune boosting it dissipates those concerns.
The most difficult part of this diet is that amount of time prepping and cooking. It truly is like cooking like our great, great grandmothers. Everything is made from scratch. Making a menu plan is a daunting task on this diet as there are so many details to each day in order to get all the require nutrients advised. Also it has been intimidating to learn to cook things I’ve never had to do before- like making bone broth, home-made yogurt, sprouting nuts, making fermented veges, etc. And to think about what we will eat when we travel…well I can’t even think of it yet without panicking.
So there you have it, my reason for GAPS in a nutshell. I’ll be blogging on my experience with the intro diet and general recipes, and ideas I’ve found to make the whole diet simpler. Wish me luck! The whole thing is explained in a much more understandable manner at the following websites:
UPDATE 2014: We did the GAPS diet for almost a year. We now do mostly low FODMAP and Paleo due to some of the flaws with the GAPS diet and our specific genetic needs