I feel like I have spent most of the new year in the kitchen, but the day has finally arrived. I’ve spent 2 weeks preparing. I’ve peeled, sliced, and diced over 10lbs of carrots, several pounds of onions, and a myriad of other veggies. I’ve chopped and kneaded 4 heads of cabbage, and they are bubbling away in my cooler as they turn into sauerkraut. My slow cooker has been working overtime breaking down several chicken carcasses yielding me a stockpile of beautiful bone broth. 2016 is upon us. Like most Americans, I’m starting the new year on a diet. Today is the day, I start the GAPS diet.
Over the years, I’ve tried many diets from Atkins, to weight watchers, to the Abs diet, to my own self imposed no ketchup diet. Sure, I got results, but nothing stuck until I finally made a complete lifestyle change. It wasn’t until I saw the light of paleo where my life truly changed. The reason it worked and continues to work is because I never considered this style of eating a diet. It is a lifestyle choice. Similarly, I don’t consider the GAPS diet to be a diet either. It’s more of a healing protocol. I’ve lost nearly a hundred pounds after switching to paleo, so I’m not looking for a diet to help me lose weight. I’m looking for something to make me healthy.
Despite my weight loss and current healthy eating, I still struggle with constant GI problems, mainly the balloon that is constantly in my belly. Some days, I can’t even drink a glass of water without my stomach blowing up. I’ve tried a variety of diets like the low FODMAP, nightshades free diet, and I’ve tried the Wahls Protocol (briefly) as well. Still, the symptoms remain. My doctors are more lost than I(surprise). I’m quite certain that my problem is gut dysbiosis and perhaps leaky gut brought on by numerous stints of antibiotics and decades of terrible eating habits. The GAPS diet addresses both of these.
[adinserter block=”3″] The GAPS diet was created by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride. In her book, Dr Campbell-McBride describes a condition she refers to as Gut and Psychology Syndrome (hence GAPS diet). She connects the digestive system to the brain and suggests that many conditions like autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, and others, once considered neurological disorders, are tied to the health of the gut. The book stresses the importance of a balanced microbiome (good bacteria and yeasts vs pathogenic microbes). There is an explosion of research being conducting that is confirming Dr McBride’s theories. Just look to Dr. David Perlmutter’s book, Brain Maker which describes how bacteria in our guts can interfere and influence everyday interactions and processes of the body. Additionally, more and more doctors are now believing that leaky gut is the root cause of all autoimmunity.
The GAPS diet is a gut healing diet. The idea: heal your gut, and your mind and body will follow. The basic premise of the diet is to remove foods that may irritate the gut and reinoculate the microbiome. The diet is low-carb, grain-free and focuses on bringing in healing nutrients like amino acids and healthy fatty acids. The allowable foods are easily absorbed and super easy on the digestive system. The cavalry rides in on fermented veggies, kefir, homemade yogurt, and other ferments as well as a quality probiotic supplement. The good guys (beneficial microbes) help eliminate, or at least control, the bad guys who are causing a raucous in the body.
The good doc lays out the foundation of the protocol in 6 stages. Currently, I am almost through week 1. I am still in the GAPS Diet Intro stage or stage 1. The foods allowed on the intro stage are quite limited and are meant to heal leaky gut. The gut lining is one of the fastest growing cells in the body, so one could heal leaky gut within a week or so with the proper diet. Dr McBride recommends soups with well-cooked, low fiber vegetable and boiled meats. That’s it during the intro stage. All soup; All the time. It’s not so bad. It’s cold outside right now, so the warm soup is actually comforting. I’m only in week 1, but I’m enjoying the simplicity of my meals so far. They are quite tasty too. In between meals, I am drinking lots of bone broth. Bone broth is one of the most nutritious foods to consume for you gut health. It contains amino acids like arginine, proline, glutamine, and glycine. Additionally the broth is full of collagen, gelatin, and various minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These nutrients help heal gut tissue and support detoxification. My treat during this stage is a mint tea. I make the tea using 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil and raw honey. It’s a nice drink right before bedtime.
I have very high hopes with this diet. In fact, they are not hopes at all. More like, expectations. I expect this diet will help me feel better. I’ve been living in gut distress for so long I can’t remember what it’s like to truly feel good. I look forward to this time next year, where I will feel happier, healthier, and have more sustained energy. For now, I plan on staying in the GAPS intro stage for at least another week. Then, I’ll add in some egg yolks and possibly fermented dairy when I go to stage 2. I plan on posting about my experience through every stage the good, bad, and ugly, so stay tuned.
More on the GAPS diet head to http://www.gapsdiet.com
Have you tried the GAPS diet? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.