GAPS Update

It is pretty amazing to realize that we have now been on the GAPS diet (grain free) for three months now! It has definitely gotten much easier over time and we are now in a good rhythm. We definitely do not follow the protocol perfectly (haven't done a whole lot with ferments yet other than yogurt/kefir), but we are doing our best and seeing improvements. In fact, I love this new way of eating so much that I am in no way ready to stop any time soon. Thanks to the internet and blogs, there are so many great recipes that we don't feel restricted at all in our eating choices. Add that with feeling wonderful, and it's no wonder we wouldn't want to go back to grains. I think eventually, after we have seen the amount of healing we want to see, we will settle somewhere between a Nourishing Traditions type diet (eating properly prepared grains through soaking/fermentation) and a Paleo/Primal diet (grain free). I can't imagine ever going back to eating the amount of grains we did in the past, although it would be fun to enjoy them sparingly.

Here are some of the improvements we have seen so far:

Me - 25 years old

  • Life long joint pain - GONE! It got worse at the beginning (detoxification) but since then, I haven't had any pain unless I eat too much sugar (honey) which I think causes my yeast issues to flare, increasing my joint pain. 
  • Energy - Totally increased. I feel better than I ever have and that is saying a lot considering I have three completely dependent little ones and my sleep is constantly interrupted at night. I definitely need to nap but I find that I have increased stamina and energy throughout the day and into the night. For me, this is the best change by far!
  • Digestion - Looking back, I have had digestive issues my entire life but they got worse after I caught a bug on my honeymoon in Mexico. Since that time, I have had flare ups here and there that would really set me back. Just before getting pregnant with #3, my digestion was really struggling. I was in the bathroom most mornings for hours and couldn't figure out what was causing it. Eventually, I figured out that I must be reacting to gluten and noticed a huge improvement when I cut out gluten grains. When I would cheat, it'd send me straight to the bathroom. Since being on GAPS, my digestion has been completely normal and I have not had any discomfort in my abdomen from eating.
  • Acne - Still waiting for improvement. I think mine is really due to hormones, since it came when I got pregnant with my first. It usually improves a few months postpartum. It isn't as bad as it has been in the past, so I guess I have seen some improvement, but I would like to see more.
Max - 3 1/2 years old

  • Digestion - SO GOOD! Max has always struggled with his digestion. When he was in diapers, he constantly had burning diaper rashes and sandy/grainy bowel movements. It would take 20 wipes to get his bum remotely clean, then I'd have to stick him in the bath too. He would have 5-6 bowel movements most days and they were always burning his poor bum. Once he was potty trained, his bowel movements were better (because he was following a gluten free diet - that helped tremendously) but they were still quite loose and he would sometimes have a few per day. Now, his stools are perfectly formed and he goes once or twice. I can't believe the improvement I've seen in his digestion. That alone makes this diet worth it to me!
  • Hives - GONE! Max has been covered in hives almost every day since about last April or May. I couldn't figure out what food was causing them (previously, corn caused him hives but once we removed corns, the hives disappeared, then came back). At the beginning of GAPS, the hives got worse (detoxification), then they got better. He has had very few hives in the past few months which is a complete improvement! I'll see one or two every once in awhile, but for the most part, they are completely gone.
  • Speech - His speech continues to improve. I believe GAPS is really helping with it, and so is attending preschool with group speech therapy once a week. We are working on getting him private speech therapy as well (it is taking soooo long!) and I know that will help him continue to improve.
  • Emotions - Max has never expressed emotions well. He doesn't tend to like affection. Since starting GAPS, he has become slightly more affectionate and seems to enjoy touch more. He even, in the last few weeks, has began to say "I love you" unprompted!! Just the other day, as I was putting him to bed, he said "I love you mom" completely out of the blue. Those little displays of emotion mean so much to me! I definitely think GAPS has helped with this.
  • Urination - Max has had quite a difficult time potty training. We have been at it for over a year. He'll do well and then he'll regress. He has many accidents per day and soaks a diaper over night, waking up wet most mornings. He doesn't want to use the potty unless it's his idea, so I try not to force it (it just causes a big tantrum if I do). I am recently thinking he may be struggling with oxalates and am considering doing a low-oxalate version of GAPS. A lot of his favorite GAPS foods are very high in oxalates and his urinary problems have definitely increased since starting this diet. I want to try removing those high oxalate foods and see if he makes any improvements. It would be a little tough to remove some of his favorite things (like carrots, almonds, and peanut butter) but I don't think it would be that bad because there is still such a big selection of things to eat. 
  • Behavior - His behavior is a lot better but we do still have the occasional temper tantrum. The tantrums got HORRIBLE at the beginning of GAPS. They were so bad. Now they are so much better and Max seems a lot more able to control himself. He can snap out of it whereas he couldn't before. 
  • Weight - Max has always been small for his age but since starting this diet, he has gained weight! I think when we started the diet, he was around 27 or 28 pounds. After barely three months, he is now 32-33 pounds!
  • Focusing - When Max started preschool, his teacher said that it didn't even seem like he was aware that anyone was around him. At his parent teacher conference in October, she said he was like a completely different child! Although he still doesn't interact spontaneously with other children, he is much more "there" and not zoned out anymore. He is able to focus better and seems to be more present. Last week his teacher said he was more zoned out than normal. I am not sure if that is because of the new baby's arrival or if it is something dietary. She said he is already doing much better again. I know Max is aware of his classmates because he is constantly talking or singing about them at he just needs to begin interacting! I think his interaction is held back by a lack of confidence because of his speech delay. It is probably hard to talk to other kids when you can't really communicate, so it is completely understandable.
  • Imagination - Max rarely played imaginatively before starting GAPS. Almost immediately, he began to play imaginatively. In fact, right now, he's playing "Army Guys" in the other room and I can hear him humming, making sounds, and then occasionally saying in a big deep voice - "ARMY GUY!" 
Maude - 23 months old

  • Diaper Rash - Maude has also struggled with a lot of diaper rashes, though not as bad as Max's were. It really flared up when we started GAPS, but I believe that was her body detoxifying. It has finally cleared up with a lot of time and lots of ointment (essential oils)! 
  • Constipation - Maude has had trouble with constipation her entire life. When she was 2 months old, I began giving her probiotics and that helped tremendously. Since beginning GAPS, her constipation has gotten a little bit worse, but seems to be slowly improving. She still alternates between constipation and loose stools, so I am trying to figure that out. Overall, I think her digestion has improved since starting the diet but I am still looking for healing in that area.
  • Eczema - Maude began having a little bit of eczema underneath her nose when she was about 15 months old. I couldn't figure out what was causing it, but then I began feeding her gluten free food along with Max, and it cleared up. It would come back every now and then before GAPS. Now that we have been on GAPS, her skin is much better. At first, it got a lot worse and she was red and bumpy all over her torso for a bit. I think the flare ups are detoxification because it always clears up. Right now she has a small rash under her nose that I am hoping is detoxification and will clear up soon. If it doesn't, I will consider pulling dairy to see if that is causing any issues.
  • Speech - Maude's been a much better talker than Max and has astounded us time and again with how well she can communicate, but it seems like her language has absolutely exploded since beginning GAPS. Perhaps it is her age or perhaps it is the diet. I was never concerned about her speech, but it is definitely rewarding to see her communicating so well. It gives me one less thing to worry about!
  • Urination - She is such a heavy wetter all of the sudden! She wets through almost all of her diapers. I have to triple stuff her cloth diapers at night and in the morning, they are still almost completely soaked. I am thinking she is having oxalate issues as well.
  • Weight - Maude has also been on the small side, but suddenly she has really chunked up! Both kids have been in the 5-10th percentile for weight...I am curious where they would be now (if it'd be any different). When we started the diet, Maude was about 20 pounds and after just three months, she is now 24-25 pounds!
Overall, I am so happy with the improvements we have seen. We still have a lot of healing to do  but I am hopeful that it will come with time. There are things I need to improve as far as the diet goes - for example, getting broth into my kids every day. They still will not eat soup. Max will at least try it but I can't do anything to get Maude to eat it. I also need to add fermented veggies and a commercial probiotic powder. We were juicing each day, but since I had the baby, I haven't done any juicing. I am excited for the holidays...I have been finding a lot of great GAPS-legal recipes that I can't wait to try. I love the way it makes me think outside the box and I am most of all so grateful that I feel good enough to actually attempt making it all!