Our GAPS Journey, Vol.1: What and Why

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was for us to do the GAPS Diet as a family. I have been reading about this diet for over a year now, and have grown more and more convinced of our need for it. It’s a huge undertaking and a serious commitment, so needless to say, it’s a little scary. OK, a lot scary. But I digress…

During our time on GAPS, I will be blogging along the way. For this inaugural GAPS post, I wanted to attempt to explain a little more about what GAPS is and why we’re doing it. To do so, I’m going to use the ever-so-helpful “5 W’s” (Who, What, When, Where, and Why).

***

“All diseases begin in the gut” (Hippocrates, 460-370 BC)

WHO: Our entire family is on board. Chris, myself, and our two kidlets (The two kidlets are only 2.5 and 6mos, so they are kinda in it by default). I’m the one who has done the research and really made a case for it, however Chris is fully supportive and plans to give it 100% for himself as well. He sees and agrees with my opinion that it will benefit all four of us.

WHAT: OK, this one will take a little longer to answer. GAPS is an acronym for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”. It is essentially natural treatment (through diet… plus detox and supplements) for a multitude of health concerns, such as:

Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, Diverticulitis, Celiac Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, chronic diarrhea, Autism, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, Rheumatoid Arthritis, night-wakings, Eczema, non-anaphylactic allergies, food sensitivities, asthma, behavioural problems, learning disabilities, gas, bloating, Psoriasis, constipation, feeding difficulties (including “picky eating”), Colic, Reflux, Heartburn, Vomiting, Dyspraxia, Urinary and Fecal Incontinence, chronic ‘colds’, Malnutrition, stomach aches, stool abnormalities, and more.

In the GAPS Guide, the diet is described as follows: “GAPS is based on the premise that a healthy balance of gut bacteria serves to protect and nourish the body. When the bacterial field becomes imbalanced, one of our first lines of defence becomes ineffective. Without protection, the gut wall is open to anything that comes along: fungi, viruses, environmental toxins, parasites, etc. Also, because food depends on bacteria for its processing, when the balance is off nutrients cannot effectively be accessed, never mind distributed throughout the body”. Another very helpful description is found in this online article.

This is explained in depth in the GAPS book, and though it’s tempting to summarize the entire book for you, I’ll have to leave it there for now. If you think it all sounds like total hogwash, I challenge you to ask questions, and to follow our family as we blog about the journey. We may not have some of the more serious manifestations of GAPS, but it is my belief that we will see great improvement in our health, in multiple areas (I’ll post later more details on why I finally became convinced that this is what we had to do).

WHEN: I’ve been “planning to start soon” for the last couple of weeks. I was sort of dragging my feet a little bit, with it being such new (scary) territory for me, and having all sorts of preparations to be done. Now I’ve successfully fermented my own sauerkraut, made a big batch of chicken bone broth, and cleared out much of the GAPS-illegal foods from our fridge and cupboards. Our official target start is… this coming Monday, January 24, 2011. We will begin with the Intro Diet. Dr. NCM (Natasha Campbell-Mcbride, the author) says that most people will need to be on the diet for up to two years (the Intro lasts anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks or so).

WHERE: Everywhere. This is not a regular “diet” as most people think of the word. I’m hoping we don’t succumb to cravings and cheat… but if we do it will likely cause us to get sick, thus removing the temptation for next time! We will be on this diet for as long as it takes. We are planning to travel to Edmonton for four days for MissonFest at the end of next month, and will have to take all of our own food (no different than camping, really). We’ll be bringing a cooler and we’ll have to get creative! We’ll be staying in a hotel, but I don’t think we’ll have a fridge or anything like that.

WHY: I can’t even figure out how to start my answer to this question. It’s so complex, and I want to express everything in a way that makes sense. I think I will do a post later with more detail, but let me just outline the main things that really convinced me of our need for GAPS.

  • Isaac and Aliza have both have colds basically since September. I’ve tried absolutely every natural remedy out there to get rid of them – nothing has worked.
  • Isaac often wakes up from a nap or in the morning all sweaty, and crying/whining. He often seems to be waking in discomfort.
  • Since he began solid food at around 6 months, Isaac has gone back and forth between constipation and diarrhea, sometimes even having diarrhea 3-4x/day.
  • Isaac does not seem to respond properly to correction/discipline. I don’t think he’s delayed intellectually (not at all!), or anything along those lines. I do think he has extreme mood swings and trouble controlling his actions, in a most basic way. He often seems confused at why he has done something. I KNOW this is highly subjective, and that, obviously, he’s TWO, and all that goes along with that… but all I can say is that sometimes I get a gut feeling/mama’s intuition that something is not quite right. Behavioural issues are common among GAPS children.
  • I was diagnosed by a naturopath with a plethora of food sensitivities a couple months after Ally was born. Because she was/is nursing, she is affected by those as well, which has caused her to throw up on a regular basis since she was a few weeks old. She also has not slept well other than the first few months. Until we switched her to sleeping on her tummy she would make “reflux” sounds after sleeping for a few hours. Now I believe she suffers from tummy aches and gas very often, which wakes her up many times a night.
  • Ally has had a red and puffy rash around her left eye (underneath, as well as on the eyelid) for about 3 months now. When we saw our doctor last week for a check-up, she had no idea what it was, and no suggestions for treatment. I believe it will disappear after we start GAPS.
  • I was diagnosed in university with mild Fibromylagia. I have many of the symptoms that go along with that – such as hyper-sensitivity to hot and cold, and to bright lights, aches/pains in the muscles, fatigue, tendencies to “the blues”, stiffness, and a general “blah” feeling.
  • I’ve always tended to be constipated, especially since giving birth twice, sometimes to the point where it’s very painful to have a bowel movement.
  • Chris has suffered from poor sleep for as long as I’ve known him, and longer. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea, then has since recovered from it by having his jaw moved slightly forward with a dental device and losing a bit of weight. He still does not sleep well, however, usually tending towards insomnia or sleeping but rarely feeling truly rested.
  • Chris battles digestive issues as well – swinging between diarrhea and constipation, like Isaac.
  • At his own admittance, Chris suffers from frequent mood swings, which he believes are also connected to an addiction to sugar and processed carbs. I would say I also experience mood swings, as does Isaac.

There are probably more that I don’t even yet realize. I do hope/expect that all or almost all of these things will go away on GAPS. I also expect to find health in new ways that we’ve not yet experienced.

Well, now that I’ve shared the 5 W’s, I can move on to blogging about our actual journey. I’ve got a couple of posts in my head already… we just received our first order of meat, I’ve ventured into sauerkraut-maker status, and I’ve made a trial-run of an (almost) GAPS-legal meal.

Onward and upward!!

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About redandhoney

I blog at www.redandhoney.com!
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