‘Twas the Day Before the GAPS Diet…

And the silly junk-addicted people decided to have one last “hurrah” before beginning a restricted diet tomorrow morning.

Only it wasn’t such a “hurrah”…

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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.ย 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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857 Days

The cutest little fake smile you’ve ever seen, complete with messy hair and crumbs on his face ๐Ÿ™‚

My dear Isaac Aidan,

It’s been 857 days since we met. 20,568 hours. 1,234,080 minutes (plus a few by the time I’m finished writing this… especially if you keep interrupting to get me to read you more stories).

You are a precocious and exuberant two-year-old. Coming up on 2 and a half, actually. I kept meaning to write you a letter on or around your second birthday, like I did for your first. Somehow time kept slipping by, though, and here we are 4-ish months later. Perhaps it was due to little sister joining our family 6 months ago. Being a mama to two of you little monkeys is, um, busy. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine doing anything else with my days. Changing poopy diapers, making meals, playing, reading stories, kissing owies. Ah, such a glamorous life ๐Ÿ™‚

I love listening to you talk. Looking into your big chocolate brown eyes which reflect such depth of understanding. You say such funny and sweet things – you speak in full sentences, and are very verbal for your age. You love your sister, but have a habit of sitting on her sometimes. For whatever reason though, she’s completely enthralled by you. You come into the room, flash that grin of yours her way, and she’s on top of the world. I love it.

Your most favourite things these days are trains (especially at your train table that Daddy made you for Christmas, from which you can watch the real train go by our house from the bay window in the living room!), Psalty, VeggieTales, balls, airplanes and helicopters, and wrestling with Daddy on the floor. You also love to watch us do things in the kitchen. We pull up a chair for you to stand on, and you lend your stirring skills freely. Oh, and your dancing! I *love* your dancing. Let’s just say I’m glad we’ll likely live in Africa at some point, and I hope it won’t be too late for you to get a little rhythm ๐Ÿ™‚ Haha! (Like parents, like child!).

You still suck your thumb, and soon we’ll have to help you learn to end that little habit. Right now it’s still kind of cute, though the dentist doesn’t think so ๐Ÿ™‚ You had your first dentist appointment recently when you accidentally knocked out your front tooth by running into your bed (you’ll be toothless for 4 or 5 years until the adult tooth comes in), and you were a total superstar – they did a cleaning, and you just sat there good as gold!

Just before Christmas we got you a big boy haircut. It suits you, and makes you look so grown-up. I love it, though it makes me just a little nostalgic for your disappearing babyhood. I love how you still want to cuddle every night as you fall asleep in your bed, but I know this will end one day (hopefully not any time soon).

There is so much more I could say. I’m your biggest fan (and Daddy too!), and I love you so much. I just wanted record of few of these thoughts before I blink and you’re a big grown-up kid. I’m proud of you, little man. Thankful to be your mama…

Love,

Mommy

Posted in Emotional Jabbering, One Heck of a Proud Mama, The Baby and Toddler Years | Leave a comment

Steadfast: A Word for 2011

So many hopes, goals, and expectations.

A fresh new year.

One word to (hopefully) be a common thread throughout the days, weeks, months.

Stead-fast (adjective): 1. fixed in direction; steadily directed; a steadfast gaze. 2. firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend. 3. unwavering, as faith, resolution, adherence, etc. 4. firmly established, as as an institution or state of affairs. 5. firmly fixed in place or position.

When I first began to ponder what word I would choose to bear, for better or worse, throughout this next year of my life, my mind was all a muddle. So many innocent not-yet-broken hopeful resolutions of sorts.

I’ll be kinder, I said. A better person. More creative. Selfless. Happier. More spiritual. Gentler. A better pray-er…

Several words came to mind. Good words. Words I need to infuse into my life. None stood out though, like this one.

This one, is just right.

The Father whispered it into my soul, reminding me that nothing is done my own strength. Nothing grand is accomplished with my feeble attempts at bettering myself. It is only He that can mold me into what I was created to be – a Christ-worshipper, a dwelling for the Holy Spirit, a display of His glory and goodness. And in order to let Him do this I must be steadfast in Him.

And so I will seek after steadfastness, and trust the other things will come to fruition through His strength and by His grace. This is my resolution for this year. This is my word for 2011.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,ย and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 :: Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Psalm 119:5 :: Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:26 :: You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

Inspiration for this post came from one of my most favourite bloggers, SortaCrunchy, in this post of hers. Also, readย this from A Holy Experience for an inspiring and most eloquent post onย How to Set Out into the New Year.

Posted in Changing Seasons, God Stuff, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Resolved.

1. To procrastinate less (like I did by posting this 4 days late).

2. To memorize the book of Philippians by Easter, using this as a guide.

3. To make more time for crafty things (knitting, crocheting, sewing, felting, etc… and I’d love to learn to quilt one day!).

4. To do the GAPS diet. Chris, myself, and Isaac will all be doing it (plus Aliza, by default). This is one example of many of a someone who is doing the diet and blogging about it.

5. To have every room in my house organized. A disorganized house causes my mind to be disorganized, which feels chaotic and out of control, which leads to frustration and guilt.

6. To really learn well and put into practice Natural Family Planning.

7. To extend more grace to others and myself, when it is good to do so…

8. And at all other times, to put into practice spiritual disciplines such as fasting, prayer, scripture memorization, and reading my bible.

9. To find a healthy balance between massive mommy guilt, and appropriate conviction from the Holy Spirit.

10. To get dressed every day – no staying in my PJ’s (not that this ever happens… *ahem*).

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Reflections for the Season :: Vol.2

{16 days to go}

...our charlie brown christmas tree - it looks like someone took a large bite out of the entire left side, and the branches are so sparse you can actually see *through* it during the day. i much prefer the glowy magical nighttime look. it's downright pretty! oh, and the curtain isn't on fire - the tree lights are actually icicle lights we got at the tilly, and they're strung along the floor to the outlet on the wall... (ps. isn't our tree skirt fabulous? i love it so much. also a tilly special... we're so classy ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh my. 16? Seriously? And 10 days until we fly back to ON for Christmas. Oh my. Well so much for blogging regularly during these days leading up to Christmas. Oh well. I’ve been sorta busy. Doing what, you ask? Well, uh, preparing for Christmas, ironically enough. I just haven’t had a spare moment to blog about it! Plus, some of the stuff that’s occupying my time is top-secret… so I can’t blog about it right now.

Advent started on November 28. I’ve never really done much for advent, other than watch people light candles and do readings in church while growing up. The Christian calendar is not really a big deal in most Protestant traditions, which is rather unfortunate. As our pastor said in church a few weeks ago – we do Christmas, Easter, and uh, what else is there? Oh yeah… Thanksgiving?

So, Advent. A time of preparation for the coming of Christ. This year we decided to do a few ‘adventy’ things to help us focus on the right things during this season. I’ll blog about them a little later when I can add some photos. For now… my brain is feeling full and my blog is looking sparse, so I give you: some random bullet points…

1. My darling honey is making beef stroganoff for supper and it smells divine (using grass-fed organic meat!).

2. I am seriously considering giving up gluten (because of suspected sensitivities) , but am seriously doubting I have the necessary will-power.

3. 125.2lbs. Feeling great (except for the belly flab that kind of has a mind of it’s own).

4. Our tree is up (real, of course). Got it at Racetrack Gas – they had gorgeous ones for $60, and misshapen, see-through ones for $25… guess which one we got? It’s a Charlie Brown tree, and we love it – it’s… special ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Isaac has been watching too much TV (as in, Veggie Tales) lately. I put it on when I go upstairs to put Ally down for a nap… which sometimes takes a bit of time to make sure she’s settled. Sometimes I stay in her room for 15-20 minutes in case she stirs so I can just pat her back and get her back to sleep. We’re working on making sure naps are at least one hour each, otherwise she gets fussy and overtired by the end of the day. So… I put on a Veggie Tales to keep Isaac occupied while I’m upstairs… which I feel guilty about, because ideally TV would be a never/rare occurrence in our house, but on the other hand, I like having him alive and the house not burned down (he’s um, an active/curious child…). Any ideas?

6. I’ve decided on a New Year’s Resolution. Actually I’m deciding between two (I’m only doing one…). I want to learn to either knit or sew really well. I know the smallest bit of basics for each, but I want to actually be really good at one of them (ie. be able to knit a sweater, or sew clothes for the kiddos).

7. I have a goal that is a little scary, but I think writing it here will help keep me accountable. For Christmas 2011, I want all of our gifts to be handmade. (If you normally get a gift from me, don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you will be getting a friendship bracelet and a badly knitted potholder… I hope). I’ve been stumbling across lots of awesome little ideas lately!

8. I’m feeling very torn on the whole Santa thing (do we… hype it up/tell the kids he’s real/tell the kids he’s not real but it’s fun to pretend/ignore him/banish him as ‘he-who-must-not-be-named’…) OK, the last one I was kidding about. But seriously… the whole thing is somewhat confusing. I’m leaning towards not really saying anything about him and letting them come to their own conclusions, and telling them he’s not real if they ask me straight out (which won’t happen this year). Hmm… this could be a whole post in and of itself…

9. No cute/inspiring/neat ending. Incidentally, that’s often what keeps me from blogging more often- feeling like I always have to have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. (That’s what I get for going to university? Sheesh!).

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Our ‘Dativersary’

us as a dating couple in high school (in the music room, hence the rainbow with music notes)

Today marks one whole decade since I had my first date. (Yikes!).

It was with the hot (older than me) boy in the photo above. I was a giggly love-struck girl, he was a sweet and quiet computer geek. We went to a fancy-schmancy restaurant, and pretended to be grown-ups. We ordered appetizers before our meal, ate the pate and olives, giggled about not being sure which fork to use, and at the end he paid with his own credit card. I figured I was a grown-up for sure. The night absolutely flew by, amidst sparks of love and feelings I’d yet to experience until then. It was like having a conversation with your best friend of many years, except that it was our first date.

A few short weeks later I knew for sure that I wanted to marry him. He felt the same way. We were 17 and 18 years old. Being so young, everyone else figured we’d break up and go our own ways eventually. We did have a break-up that lasted a month or so, but it wasn’t long before we realized that we didn’t want to be apart… ever again.

We waited an agonizingly long time (because we were so young)… and were finally married, with our family and friends’ love and blessings, when we were 19 and 20. What a wild ride this thing called marriage has been! Ample amounts of grace and forgiveness have peppered our relationship, as we’ve grown and learned together how to be the spouse that God designed us to be. And oh, what fun it has been! (My favorite thing about my hubby is how we can laugh together. Laughing until our sides hurt and tears are streaming. He brings me such joy!)

Tonight we sit in our living room together, relaxing for a few moments before we flop exhausted into bed. The kiddos (rambunctious-but-adorable Isaac, and precious-steal-your-heart Ally) are sleeping (though they will inevitably wake tonight for nursing/water), and life is sweet. Many hours of ‘playing house’ as a kid have turned into a reality as I watch myself living my dreams in reality. What blessings I have been gifted with! That God has seen fit to give me this man, and these children, and the necessary grace to be an adequate wife and mama to them is a wonder to me.

I pray that we will have many more decades of love and life.

There’s no one I’d rather have than you, honey. I love you!

Posted in Changing Seasons, Emotional Jabbering, Good Times With the Honey | 4 Comments