(This post was first published August 30, 2010.)
The GAPS Diet- Our Story
We have been conducting a family experiment this month. It’s a dietary trial. The experiment involves a no grain/no fruit eating plan drawing on such diets as GAPS, SCD, BED, Paleo, Phase 1 Antifungal, and Bee’s, as well as other candida diets.
We’ve been following a diet free of sugars and processed foods for quite some time now. One of my daughters and I tried a hard-core version of GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) several months ago. Her digestive tract was severely hit by the mold, and GAPS offers a way to heal slowly and rebuild the gut flora and cellular structures surrounding the lining. The diet revolves around homemade bone broth, vegetables, and probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, and fermented vegetables.
I noticed an immediate improvement for myself. The increase in energy was followed by a severe period of die-off. This occurs when the fungi/viruses/bugs, etc. die and leave the body. It is common to feel much worse. (See this previous post.) My daughter noticed an improvement in her brain/gut connection, but also experienced intense die-off.
The diet felt too restrictive for the others in our family. Suggesting it to the remaining nine members seemed out of the question.
Until my friend’s 5-year-old son had open heart surgery. He came through the procedure well, and in the hours following the surgery he could not drink water. I watched as his mom painfully dabbed water onto his thirsty lips.
Then it happened. I had an awakening. Water is a good thing. For the sake of her child and his fresh incisions, however, she held back until he was healed enough to drink.
I thought of my 10-year-old son with type 1 diabetes. What if we removed sugar in the form of fruit and grains for a period of time? What if this gave his body the opportunity to heal and stabilize in a way mold avoidance and whole foods has not?
If a doctor told me to take sugar out of his diet, I would listen. I decided to listen to my instincts.
My husband, my 10-year-old, and the remaining members of the family agreed to a one-month trial. Some had already experienced the healing benefits of the bone broth and were eager to move forward. Removing the food source for our fungus-infested bodies made sense.
We began the experiment on Sunday, August 1. We fasted on chicken soup for 24 hours. Nothing but soup for 11 of us!
Several members of the family had severe die-off response immediately. One even vomited. Others felt intense sugar cravings. There were fits of rage. High levels of irritability. Rashes appeared in the days following the fast.
I kept picturing our little friend in the hospital. “Do the hard thing,” I told myself. My husband and older kids agreed.
Then something amazing happened. For the first time in the three years since Colin was diagnosed, he went an entire day without his fast acting insulin. His blood sugar stayed in range all day.
We’ve added more foods since that day. Some of our family members are sensing the need to remain with the limited bone broth/probiotic foods, adding avocado, different vegetables, specific oils, and wild-caught salmon. Others have graduated to seeds and salads. All of us are refraining from fruit and grains.
This week our acupuncturist commented on the improvement he has seen in us. Specifically he noted the change in me. “I can see evidence that the lining of your digestive tract is indeed healing,” he said.
I cannot believe the change in my energy level. My skin is much softer.
I’m grateful for the extra energy because the demands of this diet are enormous and the expected time frame for healing the gut flora is two years or more. For some of my kids, I can see that it will take at least this long.
I have been in tears numerous times in the kitchen this month just trying to keep up. I’ve questioned and doubted. Wondered what mistakes I’m making. I cut my finger severely two weeks into the diet and felt defeated.
Somehow we’ve made it through. Everyone has become an expert on cutting vegetables and creatively using them in recipes. The behavior of our two youngest has improved dramatically. (Though I’m not suggesting they’re angels.)
Colin’s insulin use has decreased by 70% since the fall of 2008 when we left the home. His blood sugars are the most stable we’ve seen. He still experiences sugar cravings but loves to make his vegetable stir-fry snack.
We’ve decided to continue with the no grain/no fruit for two more months. A three-month period makes sense because of the nature of healing and regeneration in the body.
Three months puts us at Halloween. A perfect time for a treat. Like a strawberry fruit smoothie.
*Note – we continued GAPS for two more years. We remain grain-free, now enjoying sourdough bread made with quinoa, flax and almond meal!