If I could turn back time by 7 years and give myself a message it would go something like this: “Someday this will change and you’ll be in a better place that is almost unimaginable right now, but first there are some things hard and unconventional things to do.”
However, at the time I was sick and couldn’t see beyond my condition, as my kids grew up they started to show symptoms similar to mine. The doctors couldn’t find a reason for the migraines, the anxiety (social and otherwise), behavioural issues, mood swings, diarrhoea, learning difficulties and tics that were our collective list of symptoms.
“I was completely oblivious to the impact of food intolerances, and I had never even heard of gluten.”
On the recommendation of a friend and being out of all other options, I took home a food intolerance kit. The test results came in the mail on Sunday when I had been out for a big celebration for my husband’s birthday. The list of foods I was supposed to avoid was too long for me to process at the time but the two food items I was asked to run from were “Gluten” and “Dairy”, written in bold font up at the top.
“I discovered that the toast, butter, tea, eggs, bacon and cake I had just enjoyed were wreaking havoc with my whole system”
The second momentous tipping point hit one weekend after I had been doing a lot of reading and learning, researching, talking to people. A book arrived in the post that I had ordered – the GAPS diet book. My children woke up the next morning and I had made the decision for them, we were going to change the way we ate. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. The GAPS diet was developed by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride. It grew out of her work combined with her understanding of another diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).
The gut is now known to be of vital significance to our immunity and health. A compromised gut can be devastating to the health of the whole body, including the brain. The flip side of this is that healing the gut is potentially incredibly healing to the whole body. The following are the foundational ideas of the GAPS diet:
- Complex carbs are cut out, which naturally makes the diet gluten free
- Sugar-free & Lactose-free
- Bone broth is ingested regularly, several times a day ideally
- Healthy fats are added in
- Lactose-free dairy products like ghee are allowed
- Supplements are recommended
- No processed foods
We were converted from eating a standard western diet with fast foods, processed foods and carbs laden, to eating ‘real food’.
“We live in a culture that is saturated with foods that were bad for my younger son, it was hard for him not to cheat.”
My son would almost mindlessly cheat. He would instantly feel terrible because he knew what would happen within a few hours. It would be like walking on eggshells to be around him, his tummy would hurt, the tempers would return, along with the nightmares. But once we got through the initial months, we found the healing worth it all.
I hear many people who say that GAPS solved all of their gluten-related trouble and I am inclined to believe them. As my family healed, a lot of our illnesses never returned thanks to GAPS, but I will admit that some issues remained. Nonetheless, even the major difference GAPS made was worth it. GAPS educated me, trained me and disciplined me, healed our guts and I am forever thankful. When we gently transitioned off GAPS we moved onto the Paleo diet where we comfortably remain. We do have occasional potatoes and rice, that seems fine with our bodies so long as it is occasional. So the restrictions are off, we walk in freedom and choose to eat healthily and well.