Our First Two Weeks on the GAPS Diet

First off, I’d like to say thank you all so much for bearing with me while we got our feet under us with this new diet. I know I haven’t had a lot of meaty content the last few weeks, but now that I know what I’m doing with this grain-free diet, I’m jumping back in to regular blogging! :-)

This post is going to be huge, because I want all of our results in one post. Please forgive the length.

These last two weeks have shown us some very interesting results. If you haven’t read my posts on what the GAPS diet is and why and how we’re doing it, here are the links to take you to the posts that will fill you in:

As I said, the results have been surprising! Although we are doing GAPS for my husband’s health issues, I decided that the girls and I would jump on to full GAPS and do the diet along with him. Here’s what we’ve seen, so far.

Hubby’s Health

My husband has had what we call a sensitive stomach/digestive tract for a long time. These last several months it started getting quite a bit worse. In the weeks leading up to starting the GAPS diet, he had nausea, indigestion, heartburn and, sometimes, pain. We believe he developed ulcers, which we could sooth somewhat with natural ulcer remedies.

I’m going to interrupt myself here and tell you that the first time I read about the GAPS diet I thought that things would have to be pretty extreme for us to ever consider doing it! Well, seeing my hubby feeling so awful on a daily basis was extreme enough to spur me into taking the plunge. We have not been disappointed! Here’s a rundown of his first two weeks on GAPS.

  • Day 1: He was still feeling rotten from the grains he had eaten the day before, so it was hard to attribute anything to GAPS. Strongly craving grains.
  • Day 2: He felt absolutely horrible! He was very nauseated and had a hard time eating. Apparently, days two and three can be pretty rough due to die-off of the pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. Strongly craving grains.
  • Day 3: Still feeling very nauseated and miserable. I was beginning to wonder if this was a good idea. ;-) Strongly craving grains.
  • Day 4: No nausea, indigestion, pain, heartburn or anything else!!! This was the first day in many, many weeks that my husband went all day without feeling bad. Yay!
  • Day 5: Still doing great! He had progressed to stage 3 of intro and was feeling fine.
  • Day 6: Moving on to stage 4 of intro (freshly pressed carrot juice and nut flour “bread”) which went beautifully!
  • Day 7: All was well until he tried to move on to stage 5 too quickly (raw veggies). He ate quite a big chunk of a raw carrot in the late afternoon and felt nauseated and had indigestion for the evening.
  • Day 8: Woke up feeling fine, again, and went back to stage 4. No problems, at all!
  • Day 9: Continued on stage four feeling good.
  • Day 10: Tiny bit of raw carrot sat just fine! (I realized that I messed up and he needed to start with the soft parts of raw lettuce and cucumber, so we’ll work on that. Oops!). Applesauce and baked apples (even with the peel) are well-digested! Stage 5 is going well!
  • Day 12: Staying on stage 5 and doing great!
  • Day 13: Still on stage 5- no problems.
  • Day 14: Stage 5- getting ready to properly introduce raw veggies, then we’ll move on to stage 6, which is raw fruit. After he does well with all of that, he’ll be on full GAPS with me and the girls!! :-)

All in all, we’ve both been very surprised at how easy the transition to GAPS has gone! Apart from days 2 and 3, and the carrot incident, he’s felt better than he had felt in months!! By day 4, the cravings for grains let up a ton. Although he would enjoy a piece of bread, he’s not having those powerful bread cravings that he had been dealing with.

My Health

As you know, I didn’t have any huge health problems that I was hoping to fix with GAPS. Although I have had countless rounds of antibiotics and some chronic health issues, there really wasn’t a health crisis that I was dealing with. Imagine my surprise when I noticed results that I hadn’t even been looking for! :-)

I have always been extremely sensitive to airborne chemicals. The toxins in perfumes, scented skincare products, smoke, cleaners, air “fresheners” and even new carpet and furniture would give me instant headaches. I had to hold my breath and rush through the perfume departments at the department stores unless I wanted to spend my whole shopping day with a pounding headache.

About a week after starting full GAPS, we were out somewhere and I walked through a cloud of perfume that was hovering in the wake of one of those women who doesn’t realize that just because she can’t smell it anymore doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t. You know the ones. They spritz on more and more throughout the day because their noses get used to it and they think it has faded. For somebody who reacts horribly to the toxins in perfumes, this is not a happy encounter for me. That day, however, nothing happened! For the first time that I can remember, I didn’t get an instant splitting headache!

A few days later, I was forced to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke. No headache! Normally, this is the worst offender and will leave me with a throbbing pain behind my eyes for hours.

Since then, I have encountered cleaners, scented hand soap, air fresheners and more perfume and smoke. The only time I got a headache was after using a scented hand soap while I was out. Rather than an instant reaction, though, it took over twenty minutes for the headache to start and instead of lingering for hours, it went away shortly after I was able to wash my hands with unscented soap!

Today was the ultimate test. It’s fall time in the craft stores, which means bins and bins of those cinnamon scented pine-cones all over the stores! I have always dreaded shopping in the same building as those things! Let me just clarify that high-quality, pure cinnamon essential oil does NOT cause headaches for me. That’s not what they use on those pine-cones. They use cheapo toxic junk that has always caused instant headaches for me. Today I spent quite awhile at the craft store, surrounded by bins of scented pine-cones that seemed to be strategically placed to torment those of us with chemical sensitivity no matter where we try to hide! NO HEADACHE!!! That doesn’t mean that I will buy a bag of them (I think I’ll make my own, in fact!), but it was so wonderful to be able to enjoy shopping without my head throbbing!

I know that some of you are curious about doing GAPS while breastfeeding. Here’s what I have found. My milk supply really does seem to dip more on GAPS in the afternoon (a little afternoon dip is normal for most women), then go back up in the evening. My baby is 11 months and is eating quite a few solids. She also sleeps through the night (8PM to 8AM). If I just nurse her during her waking hours, she doesn’t get quite enough milk and is cranky and restless. Instead of waking her for late-night feedings, like I used to, I’ve started pumping just before bed and then bottle-feeding her the milk the next evening. That way, she’s not having her sleep interrupted, but she is getting the extra milk to fill her tummy for the night. :-)

Also, I am working hard to get plenty of good fat, protein and carbs throughout the day. I’ve noticed that on days I have a smoothie (milk/yogurt, banana, peanut butter, honey and coconut flakes) my milk supply doesn’t dip as much in the afternoon. I’m also working hard to stay hydrated, which is always important while nursing.

Pumpkin’s Health

Our four-year-old, Pumpkin (blogging name), is also doing full GAPS. I’ve noticed the past several months that she seems to crave bread more than anything else, so I though this might be good for her. She seemed to have the cravings and she asked for bread a few times those first several days, but since then she’s not been very concerned about it. Pumpkin really doesn’t like the texture of soup, so I’ll be working around that. She will drink broth, but not pureed soup or any soups/stews/chowders. The one thing she did love from that category was the chili with beef liver! ;-) Who knew??

During the first five days, she had two bad nightmares, which I believe was from detox/die-off. I can’t remember the last time she had a nightmare, then she suddenly had two within a couple of days of starting GAPS. Since then, she’s been sleeping fine, although I’ve noticed she’s having a growing spurt.

Babykins’ Health

Our eleven-month-old is loving GAPS! She can eat a lot of what we eat (meat, egg yolk, veggies, yogurt, fruit) and is very vocal about getting a taste. :-) Nothing else to report in baby-land!

 

So, there you have it! Our first two weeks of GAPS is over and we hope that my hubby will soon be on full GAPS. To be honest, we’re actually surprised by how much we like GAPS! I realize that many people have to stay on intro for a lot longer than my hubby and that would make it more challenging, but we’re pretty content. Going from real food to GAPS wasn’t all that big of a leap once we got past the bread cravings. We’ve tried out the squash/nut butter pancakes (love!) and some coconut flour “cornbread” (double love!) and we really aren’t feeling deprived. Although we have every hope and intention of getting my hubby back to eating properly prepared grains and starches, if this diet was the only way to keep him from feeling miserable, we’d stay on it! As it is, he seems to be making excellent progress and I’m thinking that sour dough bread will be in our future. ;-)

Do you have a GAPS experience to share? Any questions for me about GAPS?

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26 comments to Our First Two Weeks on the GAPS Diet

  • Tracey

    Glad to hear it is going well for your family. My husband also has instint headaches from scents.
    After reading about GAPS I was interested in having my family on it but I was told I can’t do a detox diet while breast feeding. They say the detox goes into the milk. Have you heard anything about that? Also wandering if we can do the GAPS diet without access to raw milk. I haven’t been feeling the greatest and am concerned about detox.

    • Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride does not recommend the intro diet for pregnant or breastfeeding women, but she says that we can go right on to full GAPS and introduce fermented foods gradually to prevent rapid detox. She also says that if your digestion is normal, you can have moderate amounts of potatoes, sourdough and whole grains. This will help to increase nutrition, which is always good, without causing severe detox. Honestly, I haven’t felt the need to add the potatoes, sourdough or whole grains. I think that because we had been eating probiotic-rich foods before, I didn’t have a problem at all! What I was very careful about was not letting my carb intake dip too low. :-)

      Here’s a great post about doing GAPS while breastfeeding!
      Also, here’s a post about doing GAPS while pregnant, for anybody interested. :-)
      Great question, Tracey! Thanks so much!!

  • Heather

    I would LOVE to do the GAPS diet. I have Celiac disease and a lot of other allergies. However, I am breastfeeding a 3 month old. :( I would get pretty scared if my milk dipped. I think I will wait. He is allergic to dairy, though. Can you do the GAPS diet without the dairy? I haven’t looked into it since he was diagnosed! I look forward to hearing more about your journey, though! Hopefully, it will inspire me to do this when he is older!

    • Absolutely! Many people cut dairy out of GAPS until they have healed. You would just use fermented/cultured veggies for your probiotic food, rather than cultured dairy. You could use homemade coconut and/or almond milk in place of milk. I would for sure cut dairy out of your diet or try switching to raw goat’s milk which is much easier to digest. If you have celiac disease and can’t have dairy because he’s allergic, you’re practically on GAPS, already! ;-) What you would be doing, mostly, would be increasing your nutrition, which would be great for both of you and might even help your milk supply. I think I’ll do a post about boosting milk supply, whether on GAPS or not.

      Thanks so much for the comment, Heather! You’re welcome to e-mail me anytime if you’d like help getting started on GAPS. I’d be more than happy to help whenever you’re ready! :-)

  • Nicole

    We started GAPS about the same time as you guys – I eased into it the week before. I’m almost exclusively nursing a chunky six month old (he’s eating bites of food here and there) and haven’t had ANY dip in supply. The only thing I’ve done off GAPS is drink some orange juice. I didn’t want the die to be too sudden (I have yeast issues) so I’ve had that every morning. Just wanted to throw that out for other nursing moms. :)
    I’m actually loving it right now and feel so great!

  • Christin

    Glad it’s going so well for you guys!!! That’s fantastic that your hubby is feeling better!!!

  • This is a great article! Thanks for sharing your experiences going grain-free. I’d love for you to share your post on my new blog hop, {Wheat-Free Wednesday}! I know my readers would benefit from your experiences. Hope to see you there! :)

    http://www.annemariecain.com/wheat-free-wednesday-blog-hop-party/

  • I’m glad the GAPS diet is going so well for your family! I’ve often wondered about how my kids would do on the GAPS diet for the same reason as your 4 yr old – my 3 yr old doesn’t usually care for soup (eats mainly the solids from the soup)… Anyway, I’m really enjoying your updates!

  • Glad it seems to be working for you! Thanks for linking up. :)

  • Hi Justyn! Thanks for sharing at {Wheat-Free Wednesday} last week. Your post has been pinned to my Pinterest board and shared on my FB page. I hope you’ll share again this week. The list goes live tonight:

    http://www.annemariecain.com/wheat-free-wednesday-11-07-12/

  • [...] Sadly, I hadn’t begun my new maintenance before my hubby’s vacation, the beginning of our GAPS diet and our four-year-old’s nasty case of food poisoning (were you wondering where I disappeared [...]

  • This sounds REALLY weird… really really weird… but as a way to get more stock (we did it in summer) I have seasoned it well with garlic and salt and turned it into a savory gelatin. The kids thought it was the best thing ever.

  • Cassandra

    Great post, thank you for sharing. Are you still doing GAPS? How’s it going?

    • Thanks, Cassandra! We were only able to stay on GAPS for just over 6 weeks, since my hubby got a new job in another state and we had to move. Those six weeks made a huge difference, though, and my hubby was able to eat “normal” food without any problems!! We do hope to go back on GAPS for several months at some point, since not everything is healed, but I don’t know when that will happen. :-)

  • Bethany G

    This sounds really great. I definately think I have some things that need to be healed and am very interested in this. However, I am super overwhelmed! There are SO many things to make yourself that I don’t already make myself. We have a pretty SAD, but try to eat more and more naturally. Although we don’t eat many organic foods due to price! How do I begin this without bankrupting my family and completely stressing myself out? hahaha! Not to mention, I am a working mom, working 50-60 hours a week. My hubby stays home, but is just learning to cook (and definitely doesn’t love it).

    I guess what I want to know is….what is your suggestion on how to start? Is there a small way to begin? I was thinking that maybe I should start by making my own probiotics and then maybe move on from there if that is something I can handle within my daily life…

    Thoughts?

    Also, I am new to your whole blog and you seem super cool and wise. I am looking forward to reading more!

    • Thanks for the great questions, Bethany! Honestly, I think that baby-steps would be best, in your situation. Here’s the order I would go in:

      1. Reduce the intake of bad things. Buy eggs, real oatmeal and ingredients for healthy smoothies for breakfast, instead of processed cereals and flavored oatmeal. Get natural lunch meat, cheeses, fresh fruit and veggies for lunch, instead of lunchables and hot pockets. Make simple meals like my roasted chicken with potatoes or shepherd’s pie for dinner, instead of frozen pizzas and frozen dinners. Buy organic when you can afford it and just wash the produce well when you can’t.
      2. Increase good things, like probiotics and homemade bone broth. Find simple and delicious ways to increase veggies and fruit, like my steamed broccoli and my fruit salad dressing.
      3. After that, try to reduce grains and replace them with nutrient-dense foods.
      4. Once you’ve been doing all that for a couple of months and have weeded out the junkfood, start trying to add in really yummy “GAPS-friendly” recipes. Get your family used to them for a month or two.
      5. When you have the hang of all those things and have eased into it, cut out grains and start on GAPS.

      It won’t seem so overwhelming if you do everything slowly, step-by-step. If I’d been working and have to take it slowly, that’s what I would have done. I really hope it helps! :-)

  • Bethany G

    Those sound like small, doable tips! I have been working on some of that already. I have been wondering about some convience foods though. There are obviously some things labeled “all natural” that are still not great, but there are some that seem pretty great like Larabars. The ingredient list is pretty simple, nuts and dried fruits. What about things like that? Should I still avoid them or is it okay to make them a regular part of my family’s diet?

    • There are certainly a lot of “all-natural” convenience foods that aren’t all that healthy, but Larabars seem like a really good choice. They are minimally processed and I love that they don’t have any grains, since most off-the-shelf grain products are very highly processed. They would be a really good choice for snacks, especially when you’re out for the day. It’s best to avoid even organic and natural grain products from the store, like crackers and cookies. They’re okay for an occasional treat, but they are still pretty processed.

      All that being said, I always make sure to allow for some grace, when we need it. I’ll buy organic, all-natural ravioli from the deli section when I know I won’t be able to cook from scratch. It’s not the best thing out there, but I know that at least we are avoiding artificial preservatives, colors and flavors. ;-)

      What we aim for is about 80-90% “healthy” foods and the rest is either “treats” or just sanity-savers. There are a few things we simply avoid all the time, like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. For our “healthy” food, we try for nutrient-dense foods. Avocado, nuts, fresh fruits, the best meat we can afford, raw milk, coconut products, free-range eggs… when we meet our nutritional needs with those kinds of food, we are much less likely to eat junk because we don’t really crave it.

      I also worked really hard to find healthy substitutes for our favorite junk foods. If your family drinks soda, look into water kefir. If the kids just have to have “pop tarts” in the morning, make a healthier homemade version with them on the weekends. Make a family event out of trying homemade (healthy) versions of things and take advantage of the opportunity to teach them how to cook. :-)

  • [...] foods (though we allow for some “grace”) and we’ve done the GAPS diet with great results. Really, this will be like a GAPS refresh. We won’t be going through the stages of GAPS, just [...]

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