Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that back in March 2010, I went on the GAPS diet as described in Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MDs book Gut and Psychology Syndrome. My husband went on GAPS about 6 weeks earlier than I did.
I even posted my personal food log for 4 days back in April. I did not go on strict GAPS as the only issue I was attempting to resolve was some lower back pain that kept getting worse since having my third child. I do not have any autoimmune issues that I know of, but I figured that the lower back pain must be from localized inflammation – most probably originating in the gut.
Anything gut related or autoimmune in nature can be amazingly helped by GAPS, so I went on the more lenient version which allows butter and fermented dairy.
All foods containing disaccharides were out. This includes all grains and sugars except raw honey, ripe fruit and date sugar (which is made from dehydrated dates only).
All starches were out too, which eliminated white and sweet potatoes, most beans, arrowroot, tapioca, and anything else starchy in nature.
I’ve recently been asked by a few friends about how all this is going.
Well, let me tell you …
I am very happy to report that both my husband and I are back on starches with no problem! We are eating potatoes and starchy beans once again. Arrowroot is thickening our sauces and we are not feeling any ill effects from it.
In addition, I have been back on grains on a limited basis for just a few weeks. I started trying them in small amounts (properly prepared of course which is only sprouted, sour leavened or soaked) every 3 or 4 days and have not noticed any return of the back pain!
This turn of events is just in time for the end of summer as the only craving I had during my time on GAPS was for a bowl of soaked oatmeal! I NEVER missed bread except during the first few weeks. Thankfully, it looks like I will be able to enjoy soaked oatmeal once again when the cooler weather returns!
To tell you the truth, I don’t think I will go back to eating grains – even properly prepared – like I was before I went on GAPS. I definitely wasn’t eating them too much before, but I will eat them even less now. I was rather surprised at how much I didn’t miss carbs while on GAPS and felt great for doing so.
After a few months, though, I started to feel a bit tired. Perhaps it was from the 8 lbs I lost while on GAPS despite eating a lot of food and never depriving myself if I was hungry and the food was ok per GAPS.
Yes, your weight drops like a stone when you cut grains and starches out!
Dr. Cowan describes this phenomenon in folks who are off grains and other starches for an extended period of time in an article from Wise Traditions Journal a few issues back called Holistic Approach to Cancer. This article describes how some folks do better going back on grains and starches after a period of healing for the gut.
Realizing I must be one of those people, I reintroduced starches and grains a bit earlier than I had planned (I had originally planned to reintroduce these foods in the Fall 2010). I am so excited that I am eating these foods again and my regular energy level quickly returned. I’ve put 4 lbs back on and seem to have stabilized there for the time being.
My husband is also experiencing GAPS success. He has been back on starches for a few weeks now with no ill effects and last night ate chicken breaded in wheat flour with no problems whatsoever. He is also eating my soaked cold breakfast cereal and feeling fine with no severe bloating like before he went on GAPS.
He had been on GAPS almost exactly 6 months which is the minimum amount of time Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride suggests for healing the gut in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
I am very glad we have both been able to heal much more quickly than we had thought. I’m sure our many years of Traditional Diet helped tremendously in speeding up the process as our guts were probably in decent shape to begin with.
The biggest surprise I’ve had from this whole experience was the severe congestion and watery eyes I had for 3 weeks when I first went off all grains and starches. Then, all of a sudden, one morning it was gone!
Obviously, there was a little pocket of gut pathogens hanging on for dear life in my gut that needed to get weeded out and the only way this was ever going to happen was to eliminate grains/starches for a time.
I hope you find this blog encouraging in your own personal wellness adventure if you are currently on GAPS or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or considering doing so.
The effort is worth it, so soldier on my friends!
If you have a GAPS or SCD success story, please tell us about it in the comments section!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
This post is shared at Real Food Wednesday.
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.