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I recently wrote 7 Things I’ve Learned from 4 Years on the GAPS Diet for the GAPS-focussed blog, The Wellfed Homestead. I found while writing that article that I really had 14 pointers total that I wanted to share. :). Thus this article shares seven more things I learned.
Here are #s 8 to 14 of what I hope will help you succeed and heal using the GAPS Diet, if it’s something you’re already doing or considering.
#8 — Don’t over-juice! Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends juicing to help the body detoxify. We bought a juicer and loved the morning ritual. However, my gut was still quite leaky and what do you think happened? Yes, I made myself allergic to ALL raw vegetables!!! This is no small sadness. I am still recovering now and can only eat about 4 raw vegetables that I never juiced. So if you juice, especially if you suspect you are bad off health-wise, as I was, rotate your veggies and don’t feel like you need to do it everyday. Carrots and cukes today, lettuce and apples tomorrow, ginger, lemon and fennel the third day etc. Take it easy.
#9 — Cultivate a wonderful home life. This one is vitally important for every family, but especially poignant for kids who can’t have as many of the world’s sweets. Our kids had a hard time adjusting to social situations where they couldn’t eat any of the food available: potlucks, birthday parties and holidays. We had to bring along snacks of our own that looked somewhat “normal” or the kids would get comments that made them feel “weird” to their friends. Sigh. This is one of the hardest parts of doing GAPS with contentment. Our solution? Spend days and years making our home life the best home life our kids could want.
Play board games, work outside together, laugh around the table, take interest in whatever your kids are interested in, control your anger and apologize when you don’t, occasionally share your own weaknesses with them so they see you struggling too, let them in the kitchen, have occasional movie nights, get a pet, surprise them! All of these things will make home the most important place, helping them know who they are and what they value. If they spend more time with friends and then come home to tired, grumpy parents they will not be on board with the GAPS Diet. They will cheat if they can and resent it all the way. Our kids would not ever cheat; but they used to be way more tempted than they are now. They are truly content now, only occasionally wishing for baked goods more often; but they understand the big picture and comply willingly.
They will not long for what the rest of the world relishes if they already love where they’re at.
#10 — Create advocates of your kids. As we walk by the way we talk to our kids about things that matter. We talk about why we make the decisions we make for our family. We don’t get angry when they disagree (usually). We listen and respond with logic and love. Eventually, if we are truly right and they are people who want to understand what is really true, we will all agree. If we were trying to trick them into believing in a diet that tastes bad and isn’t going to improve their symptoms there would be no reason for them to be on board, once they’d weighed the facts. But the truth, like cream, rises to the top and they will see the point of your healing diet if it is shared with love, facts and personal experience.
My daughter finally became a whole-hearted believer in the GAPS Diet when she started her own blog. She was twelve and it helped her to be the teacher, to make the information her own and to reach out to help other kids make the same dietary adjustments that she had had to make. Now when she’s at parties she can’t believe other kids eat conventional cookies and candies and soda. She doesn’t feel judgmental. She’s just in a different paradigm and truly sees the ingredients behind the façade of fast food.
#11 — Kill the sweet tooth by starvation. This is basically another way of saying, “Don’t cheat, ever.” It took me three years, but I finally have no sweet tooth. What you are starving is often times not only your own sugar habits and cravings, but the cravings of pathogens. It took me those years to kill off my pathogen overgrowth, using herbs and other supplements. It sounds creepy but you really are feeding the buggers’ sugar lust. Remind yourself of that and starve them, for your own freedom from their nasty, invasive usurpation of your body.
#12 — Go back and do the Introduction Diet a second and even a third time. The first time we did the Introduction Diet my pathogen overgrowth was so bad that it knocked me flat in bed, on and off for two weeks. My sister came over to help take care of the kids. That whole stage is remembered in a dark fog. Depriving our bodies of sugar, bread, fruit and dairy was extremely jolting emotionally and physically. After we’d been doing the diet for 3 years we’d seen measurable improvements but we also began to feel like our healing was stagnating. I decided we’d do the Introduction Diet again, and WOW, what a difference! The second time was SO much easier than the first and perhaps more importantly we saw some dramatic healing happen.
#13 — Start the Full GAPS Diet with more baked goods and pull back once you’re settled in. I am an advocate for compromise when it is still within the confines of the diet itself and when the compromise is within the broader big-picture-understanding of a progression. Meaning- the diet is very hard in the beginning. Eating a grain-free baked good with 1-2 of your meals each day (during the Full GAPS Diet stage) will help give you perseverance and cheer.
Not all personalities need this. I have known GAPS folks who just go cold turkey and process most of life in black and white terms. But most of us need more encouragement than that when giving up every comfort food we’ve ever known.
W also learned, over time, to make treats that weren’t flour-based. Gelatin-based treats, dairy and non-dairy yogurts, homemade applesauce etc.
We now eat a baked good or grain-free grain substitute 2-3 times a week. After doing the Intro. Diet the second time we saw how the healing happened more effectively and rapidly when our bodies weren’t bogged down with (sprouted) nuts or coconut flour items. And yet these foods do yield valuable energy. So we found a happy middle ground. But again, when you’re starting out, let yourself have a bit more if it keeps you on the diet.
#14 — Realize that different healing diets work better for different people. GAPS isn’t for everyone. There is a Paleo diet, the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), for healing autoimmune diseases that is more effective for certain people. Figure out which kind of person you are. Do you do well with sweet potatoes and gelatin but not with nightshades, eggs, dairy or nuts? Then AIP might be right for you. Our family does not do well with sweet potatoes, too starchy and apt to feed candida overgrowth, but we do fine with most sprouted nuts and seeds, nightshades and eggs. I meet with clients regularly for recipe counseling and find that most people usually are better suited to one or the other diet. Find what’s right for you and then stick with it. If you can’t quite figure it out, feel free to email me; that’s one of my specialties, helping you flourish with your diet, even figuring out the little details. Everyone has quirks and limitations; however, they don’t have to feel limiting.
In conclusion, focus on the most beautiful versions of what you can have. If you buy quality ingredients, use fresh and dried herbs and try to be creative you can have lasting fun with this food. The GAPS Diet is really a diet of sustainably cooked meat (who says you can’t cook gourmet meat recipes?), aptly handled vegetables (think bisques, roasted veggies and fun salads), homemade fermented goodies (these are the Mardi Gras of your table!) and delicious bone broth (use lots of bones per batch with good sea salt for a rich, buttery flavor). Once cravings are kicked to the curb you’ll find that GAPS foods satisfy.