This is my long overdue post on coming off the GAPS Diet. We haven’t actually been on the GAPS Diet for some months now. Unfortunately we had an onslaught of illness that took out 4 out of 5 members of my family, and it was an enormous burden to manage, let alone having to continue making stocks and doing all the various food prep. The illness lasted months, and the children’s bodies are still continuing to heal even now, 6 months later. Vitamin C was a life saver, quite literally. But we survived it, and one day they will be glad that their immune systems got such a working-out!
How we came off GAPS
The recommendation in Dr Natasha’s book is 1 ½ to 2 years on the Diet, and following it strictly without compromise. When coming off the Diet, she recommends introducing fermented millet, buckwheat and quinoa, and potatoes first. Because of our circumstances, we didn’t manage to do it this way.
The way we came off GAPS was to re-introduce fermented sour dough bread, sweet potatoes, and then white potatoes and other starches such as chick peas. The kids were started with having just one slice of bread per day.
I think perhaps because we weren’t on the GAPS Diet for more than 6 months, we didn’t notice any reaction to coming off the Diet, and in fact I found I had more energy with the introduction of extra carbs that I’d missed through not having grains.
What I Learned
I found that I’ve become much more sensitive to how my body responds to particular foods. I discovered that too much meat makes me feel sluggish and tired, and I craved raw food over all the stews and meat dishes.
I noticed that too many nuts, such as the large amounts of nut flours in many GAPS recipes, adversely affected my digestion, as does coconut flour (too fibrous). Small amounts of coconut flour fare better for me than gluten flour, but really I’m better off without too much of it. Unsoaked nuts I also found much better, so I suspect that it is the phytic acid that is the issue.
I also noticed that taking HCl was a beneficial supplement, and were it not for all the other supplements that leap ahead of the budgetary queue, it would be one I’d continue to take.
One observation I’ve made in myself, and also amongst the various food communities that I’ve engaged with online, is that many that are attempting changes in their diet are still holding onto their old habits as they go into a new way of eating. Changes in diet should not just be about re-arranging the furniture, as such. For instance, if you eat too many sweet things when you are eating the less-than-healthy varieties, coming onto GAPS or any other diet, and indulging in too many sweet things, is not going to improve your health overall to the extent it would if you just follow common sense and get the balance of those healthy foods right. Changes to our diet often involve a complete overhaul of the thinking behind our eating.
That said, I’ve discovered that my tendency was/is to grab whatever I can food-wise to supplement my low energy from lack of sleep and just plain ‘Mummy’ exhaustion. Unfortunately that has meant that although I’m eating healthy food, the balance hasn’t been quite right. Toast and butter is not the answer to my waning energy levels! I really do just need to eat more fresh and raw vegetables, and find creative ways to enjoy these more with the limited organic varieties that our local store has, and with managing my time on a daily basis much better. My children’s leftovers are not adequate to meet my nutritional needs, and I really do need to make the time to prepare fresh raw food for myself.
I felt I was never eating enough alkaline foods due to the increase in meat and dairy and cooked foods, and as a result the acidic load on my body increased. This has affected my teeth, where now I have another problem to sort out. The ‘Cure Tooth Decay’ protocol is currently something I’ve had to turn to. My dentist told me I have acidic saliva, and a ph test confirmed this. This has been a little frustrating to say the least, and although the problems with my teeth have occurred previously, too much acidic food appears to be part of the problem.
Would I do it again?
Admittedly, it wasn’t the cure-all I was hoping for. I was extremely optimistic that it would iron out the issues that GAPS Diet had been known to deal with. It didn’t for us. Perhaps this was largely due to the fact that we weren’t on it for long enough. It might also be that I didn’t have the balance of foods quite right. Some sort of results early on would have been motivating but I didn’t see any noticeable changes in any of us.
What it did show me is where I do have some dietary changes to make that I hadn’t noticed, in terms of ‘healthy’ foods I’d just downed with no thought that I could be one of those people who shouldn’t have it (eg. coconut flour). It also was a tremendous educational experience in terms of monitoring and managing mine and my children’s reactions to food. I learned that my eldest child is better off without gluten, my middle child is better off with limited starchy foods, and my youngest is better off with limited cheese. I should not eat gluten, but I more or less knew that already. Now I know for certain.
So we won’t be doing GAPS again, but there are many things about it that I feel drawn to. We continue to eat a traditional diet, along with fermented foods and homemade stocks, but for our particular family we have learned that we are much better off eating larger amounts of raw plant-based foods.
I found these two posts good to read about coming off the GAPS Diet:
This is also a helpful post on the GAPS Diet at Body Ecology Diet.
Here are my other posts on the GAPS Diet that you might be interested in.