Before GAPS

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December 2009.

This blog will chronicle our experiences with following the GAPS diet. My name is Starlene, I'm the author of this blog. I refer to my husband as “dh” the Internet abbreviation for “dear husband”. I refer to my oldest son as “ES” which stands for Eldest Son. ES has Down Syndrome. I refer to my youngest son as “YS” which stands for Youngest Son.

I turned 46 in May 2009. I feel like I'm 60 years old, although amazingly my hair has not yet started to turn grey and in spite of my girth I look more like I'm in my early thirties. I hold my weight well, most people would not guess that I weigh over 225 pounds.

I have known about Weston A. Price Foundation and Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats for several years now, but have never been able to fully implement the diet. I first learned about NT a while after we got our first dairy goats. Now I'm sad to realize that my husband, who loves the milk the most, can't tolerate it. At least not that this point in time. His symptoms lessen when he stays off dairy products, even our delicious raw goat's milk.

My husband is the main reason I ordered the Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, SchizophreniaGAPS Guide by Baden Lashkov. My husband was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in January 2009 and his condition has not improved. When he started reading my Prescription for Nutritional Healing for ideas on how to cure his problems, I did not like the “diet” I was hearing prescribed, as it did not line up with Nourishing Traditions. That is when I decided to look into GAPS.

Having read through most of it, I'm finding hope for my own healing. I am mostly plagued with having almost no energy, and tired most of the time. I have just enough energy to sit at the computer, but I can't concentrate half of the time and end up wasting time just vegging out here.

I believe our whole family has “gut issues” that could be healed with the GAPS diet.

I am very freaked out at the idea of going on a “diet”. I had bad luck with the low fat one I adhered to years ago, and had repeatedly vowed over the past 16 years to NEVER restrict any foods or diet EVER again.

However, I am also worried about our son with Down Syndrome (Matthew), who is doing the same thing as me, gaining weight year by year. I want to help him gain health and lose weight.

I want to help my husband heal, I want to have more energy. I am sick and tired of being tired.

We have started to drink broth daily. We are preparing ourselves to embark on a 10 day trial of GAPS. I am still not quite sure what this means, but basically I plan on eliminating all dairy products, wheat, gluten, sugar. I really need to come up a plan quickly as we will be doing this during my vacation on the last week of this year.

Our Health Issues

My husband and I have agreed to try a ten day trial of the GAPS diet at the end of December when I'll have ten days off work. I started this blog on 12/4/09 (prior to the start of our trial) so that I will have a place to write my thoughts. I am about to burst with so many thoughts. I feel I could write a book in one sitting with all of them.

I guess the best place to start is to detail the issues we are experiencing.

Starlene

  • Low Thyroid – I have taken my temperature for fertility awareness and it is very low most of the month. Low waking temps are an almost certain indication of low thyroid. I have been tested, but my doctor said my tests came back “normal” and instead offered me anti-depressants. I refused them as I did not think I needed them.
  • Weight Gain – I was slender until my first child was born in 1987, I was 23 years old. I kept ten pounds of the weight. My second child was born in 1989. I gained another ten pounds. I dieted for the first time in my life starting in 1992. I lost back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 123 (and looked too thin). I tried to stay on the low fat diet for the next four years and failed miserably. I have gained roughly ten pounds every year. I do not know my current weight, but I was at 225 about one year ago. I am in size 20 jeans. The largest I have ever been. I hate it. I have tried to make peace with my body, but I just hate being this large.
  • Constant tiredness – I am always complaining of being tired, and yet I can't stay in bed for more than 7 hours at a time or my back stiffens up. I am currently working four days a week, sometimes my boss lets me stay home and work one day. I try to get caught up on my sleep on my days off.
  • No energy – I can't seem to get anything done on the days that I'm off. I have plenty of stamina to sit at the computer, although much of the time I can't focus well enough to stay on task. Possible symptoms of ADD. ?
  • I suspect my adrenals are fatigued. I have many of the symptoms. I am on a corticosteroid for my asthma. I understand that corticosteroids provide enough to stimulate the adrenals. I went off my medication for about four days, I was breathing well and no wheezing. But I became more exhausted as each day passed. So I suspect my body/adrenals are now relying on the once daily dose of corticosteroids.
  • I experience constipation at times, this is a fairly new problem. About two years old. Prior to then, I never had a problem with moving my bowels.
  • I have symptoms of yeast. This next section may be TMI, so feel free to skip down to the next symptom. [I have experienced vaginal yeast infections during the end of my cycle. Having practiced fertility awareness, coincidentally once the fertile mucous dried up, I would start getting a yeast infection. This occurred monthly. Also I am the age that my periods are beginning to be very hard to track. I stopped taking my temperature about a year ago, because why bother to find the “safe time” when the “safe time” was the time I'd have a yeast infection?]
  • Fuzzy thinking – this can be a symptom of thyroid, but also can be caused by gut issues.
  • Poor memory – I am pretty sure this also lines up with gut issues.
  • Allergy tests by allergy specialist reveal I am allergic to nearly everything I was tested for, something like 26 of 30 things – doctor is shocked that I'm not on Allegra every single day of my life┬ádiagnosed with asthma after bout with pneumonia in 2001 (suspect adrenal fatigue due to this illness precipitated the asthma)
  • I have always had low energy. I spent my life as a child reading books. My first optometrist blamed my poor eyesight on the amount of reading I did.
  • Cannot find the willpower to not eat pasta if it is cooked and ready to eat
  • Feelings of depression
  • Lack of enthusiasm for life

Husband

  • Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis
  • Craves chocolate and sweets
  • Ex-alcoholic (sober since 1998)
  • Feels like he is more tired than he should be
  • Wishes he had more energy

Ds1

  • Has Down Syndrome (which complicates everything)
  • overweight
  • hacks and coughs, has lots of phlegm
  • craves carbohydrates
  • huge poops
  • has hair loss
  • probable thyroid issues although he is needle phobic so difficult to get bloodwork done
  • diagnosed with asthma after bout with pneumonia in 2001; currently on Qvar (suspect adrenal fatigue due to this illness precipitated the asthma)
  • seems to be tired a lot
  • little energy

In looking at my family of origin, I believe my mother, father, and all my siblings, nieces and nephews have gut issues. All around me I see people who are most likely suffering from gut issues. I hope it works for me, so I can be a testimony to others who are willing to listen and do the hard work it will take to heal.

What We're Doing Right Already

Starting on GAPS is known to be daunting and overwhelming to most people who learn about it. I try to keep in mind that we're already doing or know how to do a lot of the things that we need to be doing, even if we haven't been doing them. Here's my list:

  • We know how to make good broth (although I'm concerned our use of regular store bought chicken isn't going to help enough)
  • We love the broth
    Me and ds1 love soup (dh not so big a fan)
  • Having been on a low fat diet years ago, I've already had experience with coming up with substitutions for unapproved foods
  • we can all tolerate fats
  • everyone likes coconut okay
  • we have been cooking from scratch for years
  • we don't cook with a microwave
    I use baking soda [affiliate link] and vinegar to clean/rinse my hair (avoiding chemicals)
  • I use a deodorant stick (avoiding chemicals)
  • we drink well water (no fluoride and we get “dirt” since the water isn't purified)
  • we love our water and mostly drink it (instead of soda, juice)
  • if it ends up we heal enough to tolerate raw milk, we have dairy goats (what to do with all the milk in the meantime)
  • I've known about WAPF principles for years so a move to GAPS isn't too wildly different (for example, we haven't been living off of convenience foods and fast food)
  • We like meat and vegetables and salad
  • I have been trying to limit my intake of pasta and carbs, recognizing how they make me feel after eating them
  • We don't end dinner with “dessert” so no one will miss that
  • We have been trying to avoid MSG for over a decade
  • We have been using butter for the last 8-9 years (instead of margarine)
  • We avoid all artificial sweeteners (nutrasweet, saccharin, etc.) I have in fact been against artificial sweeteners and have tried to avoid them all my life. Ds1 is allergic to sucrose and breaks out in a measles type looking rash if he ingests it
  • we have been avoiding soy for many years
  • My son with Down Syndrome tends to be a creature of habit (aren't we all?). He becomes dependent on a routine, and then expects it. If we'd been having dessert after dinner all along, he would be upset if we stopped abruptly.

That's all I can think of for now.

That's just a little about me and mine. Thanks for stopping by and reading. If you like what you've read so far, please consider subscribing to my feed so you can get regular updates.

Things We Need to Change/Learn to Do

Here are the things I'm worried about, things I know need to be changed.

  • We have to stop eating pasta, bread, rice and potatoes
  • For about ten years we didn't have any sugar or white flour in the house, but then we backslid. We need to get it out of the house again.
  • We have to stop eating dairy products (dairy is allowed on GAPS but I chose to remove it altogether when I started since I had been diagnosed with asthma and was on prescription medication). This is going to be hard. I depend on a hunk of cheese to ease my hunger at times.
  • Fast food breaches. Ds1 has his own phone and will call his brother to request that he stop on the way home and bring him Taco Bell or Jack in the Box. But usually only once a week.
  • Ds2 is a cook at his job and often brings home leftovers or extras.
  • Husband likes to have biscuits, rolls or bread with each meal. Also takes sandwiches for lunch. He has agreed to bring a can of tuna or two for lunch.
  • I need to learn how to make “breads” from almond flour [affiliate link] or nut butters.

WOW, You're Still Reading?

So this is the section where I decided to chronicle all the potty stuff that happened initially.

I decided to move the TMI information to one page and therefore spare my readers unless they really, truly want to know what's going on in the loo.

Day 103. March 18th. I haven't updated this section in a long time. Unfortunately I have not been tracking my cycle anywhere else either. It's just that I didn't have a period for about six weeks, and I didn't track that to know for sure if it was six weeks (no danger of pregnancy whatsoever). Then my period started about three weeks ago, and I just stopped bleeding from another period. So a big gap, then a short gap. I've been on Intro since the 4th and have been experiencing some constipation. I have to be so careful about going the instant I feel even the slightest urge, or the urge subsides, not to appear again until the next day, by then which it has been 36 hours. As I mentioned earlier, my period often causes me to feel constipated. I don't know why.

Day 63

Moving this information out of the daily report meant I had to go someplace else to report, so I guess I just started forgetting. It occurred to me yesterday that my stools have normalized – I am no longer having the mushy, squishy, liquidy stools. They have now settled into a four. I met a new friend yesterday. It was awesome! It was also hilarious, because we were talking about pooping and wanting to ask people how long had it been since they pooped, or “How are you pooping?” Because it is such a telltale sign of how your digestive system is working.

My period started on January 6th last month, so that makes today Day 32 of my menstrual cycle. And today I had a large glob of clear fertile mucous. So I am having a longer cycle this time, as I won't expect my period to start now for 10 days or longer.

Day 39 and Day 40

I am having a morning and evening BM! This is new for me. Not a lot, not like the 4 I am used to, I guess they would be 5. I guess this is a good thing. (This only last a couple of days, then I went back to having one bm daily).

Day 34 through Day 36 1/8/10 to 1/10/10

I'm still feeling sludgy/constipated. Actually contemplated an enema yesterday. Last signs of period today.

Day 33 1/7/10

Still kind of sludgy morning bm. Then had another more normal bm at the end of the day. I've been eating about 1/2 cup sauerkraut a day.

Day 32 – 1/6/10

My period started. It is fairly common for me to be constipated when my period is starting. Hence yesterday's constipation, I would say. Today's bm was kind of sludgy.

Day 31 – 1/5/10

Constipated. Why? No sauerkraut yesterday? I had about 1/3 cup tonight, see if that helps.

Day 30 – 1/4/10

What happened to Day 30's report? I know I mentioned it, and now it is gone from my brain. I think it was a normal incident.

Day 29 – 1/3/10
Solid bm. Looked like a 4. Went right to the bottom of the toilet. Mine have been floating lately. What does it all mean?

Day 28 – 1/2/10
Diarrhea? Not sure why. I had homegrown beets and beet greens and a few other assorted greens. All steamed. Purple diarrhea. I did have quite a bit of fermented veggies yesterday.

Day 27 – 1/1/10
Haven't updated this area in a few days. I started eating my own homemade sauerkraut yesterday, and today my bm was much more formed than it has been. I had almost gotten to the point where I was thinking a “5” was going to be my normal stool. Today's were more like “4”.

Day 20 – 12/25/09
Just to update for this area. On Day 18 I had a strong urge to go. I've been having to pay really close attention to the “urge” or it passes quickly, so it is somewhat of a comfort to feel a strong urge. I guess that would be par for the course when missing a day (Day 17). Days 19, and 20, rather uneventful. Although I am still not happy with not having a “normal” stool. It is still rather soft and smooshy. Day 21, I'm assuming from the different foods (although still full GAPS), softer, and not formed at all. I wonder if that is from die off due to the Bubbies sauerkraut. I am beginning to drink Bubbies sauerkraut juice, and eat a mouthful or two each day of sauerkraut.

Day 17 – 12/22/09
No bm today. ? Constipated?

Day 16 – 12/21/09
I had a bm today. I would like to see it be more formed and less “sticky”. I also have fertile mucous so some hormonal swings are in play.

Day 13 – 12/18/09
On Day 11, I didn't have a morning bm. I had a small one in the evening but I was kind of constipated. Days 12 and 13, don't remember any details, but did have one. Day 14, was kind of runny, I think due to all the salad I gorged myself on, on the evening of Day 13. Today's bm was dark, floated and in pieces. Actually I don't think my bm has been formed like a number 4 since the one day it was. But on that day that it looked like a number 4, it seemed sticky and kind of like I was constipated.

Day 11 – 12/16/09
No bm today. I went last night, and felt constipated. Not thrilled that I didn't go this morning, but maybe will later tonight. Actually, it's already time for me to go to bed. I noticed something interesting today. Every time I go to the postage room at my job, 95 times out of 100 I have to go urinate. Today, I felt the urge to go, but it wasn't as desperate as usual. I do not have UTIs, so it's not that I have that problem. But what I noticed was when I did go to the restroom, it seemed like my urine came out, well, this is hard to describe. It just seemed calmer? I mean, not calmer as in less forceful, but I wonder if it's a ph thing? I know nothing about ph. Okay, like I don't have pain when I urinate, but that is the only thing I can liken it to. It was as if there was no sensation of pain. Oh, I don't know how to describe it. Because I don't generally have pain. Okay, here's another analogy. It's like doing the neti pot. If the saline solution is too weak, I can feel the water in my sinuses, but if it's the right saline solution, I almost cannot feel that there is water in my sinuses. This is just something I noticed. My urine looks to be more brown colored than normal. Not brown, but just not as yellow. You know, like if you took a glass of water that was light yellow, then dropped in a drop of brown, it would look slightly brown. This is hard to describe.

Day 10 – 12/15 /09
Finally today my stool was formed. Still very soft, but I would say Type 4. After days of it being Types 5 and 6, and one day Type 7. I guess in the past couple of years I have had more Type 3 with some constipation and occasional bouts with straining. Previous to the last couple years, I would say Type 4 was the norm for me.

Day 9 – 12/14/09
The odd thing about all this is my stool feels like it is firming up while evacuating, but when I look, it's not. Well, it's better today than the diarrhea from a few days ago.

Day 8 – 12/13/09
This morning my stool seems a bit more formed. Maybe the die off is slowing down.

Day 7 – 12/12/09
This morning my bm is more formed than yesterday (which was runny and explosive). But still not solid as is typically normal for me (well, normal prior to starting this experiment).

Day 6 – 12/11/09
Runny diarrhea. I had no idea. I thought prior to visiting the bathroom, might I have a normal bm today? This was around 7:20am. Earlier I had the loose stools. Is this really die-off? Or maybe my body cleaning itself out? Or maybe just too many cashews? Okay, this is really TMI, but in the past year or so I have not really been constipated, but in the evening always felt like there was a bm waiting, but not having an urge to go. I've tried to go, but that really doesn't help, just makes for a halfway kind of feeling, with straining and not a good thing at all. So I just wait until morning. I guess that is one nice thing about having diarrhea, there's not that feeling. My period is easing up today.

Day 4 – 12/9/09
My period is going full blast; uncomfortable, heavy with cramping, and I had loose bowels with undigested food in them. This is rather uncommon for me. Could this be “die off” I'm experiencing?

Day 3 – 12/8/09
My period is trying to start. So maybe the hormones are playing a roll in my feeling more awake today. Light spotting. I also have loose bowels with undigested food, which is not a common occurrence for me.