If you haven’t yet heard, Wednesdays are our Guest Blogger Series day! It’s a day where Matt and I get a bit of a mid-week break while getting to share with you some of our favorite online bloggers. And for their hard work, they get the benefit of your readership – we encourage you to please show all of them your support by visiting their blog and social media links at the end of this post!
Today we are very pleased to welcome Caroline Lunger, from the site MyGutsy.com. We know quite a few of our readers are aware of or interested in the GAPS diet, so we thought Caroline would be a great voice to discuss the topic. There’s a lot of similarities between the Autoimmune protocol of paleo and GAPS, the same way there is with the WAPF philosophies. We’re all interested in eating whole nutrient dense real foods to heal our bodies – which starts with digestion and the gut.
Hello Paleo Parents readers! My name is Caroline Lunger. I am an 18-year-old real food freak. I am the blogger at Gutsy. I focus on creating yummy GAPS friendly recipes that are appealing to all ages. Are you not familiar with the GAPS diet? That’s ok. Learning something new is exciting, especially if it is life-changing. GAPS is short for Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
Before I get started on the GAPS diet, I want to introduce myself. I have always loved nutrition ever since I knew what the word “food” meant. My mom was always drawn to the more natural way of things. I was born at home and breast-fed until I was 4 (my mom was considered the “odd” one in society). Despite my mom’s dedicated ways, my childhood was still rough. I suffered from ear infections, eczema, tantrums, anxiety, OCD, braces, allergies, and the list just keeps going. It didn’t help that I took medicine for these things, until I was old enough to understand side effects. Does any of this sound familiar?
But why am I still struggling today? Well, the story just got started! After taking my health into my own hands at age 13, surprisingly, my health really started to plummet. I was still going to doctors, but it was a battle between what my parents knew (western medicine) and what I had been learning in books (eastern medicine). I already knew at age 13 that I wanted to get into the holistic and natural healing. Not surprisingly, I would spend all my free time either playing outside, researching, or experimenting with weird foods! My “gutsyness” was born! During my early teen years, I suffered from weight loss due to food restrictions because of allergies. I had no energy, my thyroid was very slow, and my intestines were severely inflamed. I thought I was doing everything right, until I found GAPS.
If you want to see my full story, read about it here.
So what is this GAPS diet, and why is it so magical? I hope I don’t get too excited talking about it. Gut and Psychology Syndrome is written by Natasha Campbell McBride. The GAPS diet is a spin off the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD diet, written about in Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet by Elaine Gloria Goftschall), though the GAPS diet really relies on bone broth and fermented veggies to heal the body. It is very similar to paleo eating because the diet does not allow any grains. I would say it’s a step up from the paleo diet because it is designed to heal the body! [Although those following a paleo diet for a long time find the same methodologies and principals, especially in Practical Paleo - Stacy]
The thing that makes GAPS special is that there are steps designed to help you introduce foods according to the healing speed of your body. You first start with the Intro diet, which includes a lot of bone broth, boiled meat and veggies, and TONS of fat. The saturated fat is crucial to help detox and heal your body. [Here's guides from BalancedBites on why Paleo/GAPS believes Saturated fat is best - Stacy]
Slowly you add in one new food at a time, monitoring your body’s reaction and going from there. Make sure you eat enough carbs because GAPS is not suppose to be low carb! Over time you will transition your way up to full GAPS, which is very similar to a real food diet. Eventually when your body is ready, you can go back to traditional eating again, symptom-free!! [Obviously, we'd advocate you'd go back to a "normal Paleo diet" to avoid creating leaky gut again in the future - Stacy]
How does the body heal on the GAPS diet?
People who have gut problems can have digestive issues, autism, bipolar, ADD, OCD, anxiety attacks, inflammation, under- or over-weight, foggy brain, sleep problems, headaches, acne, eczema…etc. Having a leaky gut causes your blood and brain barrier to weaken as well. This is why most people with GAPS also have some symptoms associated with the brain.
Simply put, when you heal the gut, you heal the brain. Think about if you could sleep though the night, or if seasonal allergies were long gone, or that bloating just disappeared. Seems too good to be true, right? Even if you think you are “allergic” or “intolerant” to a certain food group, like dairy, that too can be reversed with the GAPS diet! It’s just so cool!
I did a podcast on the GAPS diet, and my personal journey. Listen to it here!
How have I improved?
I have been on GAPS for 1 year (and counting), and I can say it has been a long but worthwhile journey. Honestly 1 year ago, I did not see where my life was headed. I was miserable with constant stomach pains, fatigue beyond exhaustion, yellow skin, poor sleep, seasonal and food allergies, weight loss, multiple chemical sensitivities, and oh, the list just goes on and on. I was loosing hope, fast.
The first day on GAPS I knew that this could actually do something for my failing body. I was trilled! Within a week my dad commented on how I had my “glow” back! Each day brought something new. It was either a new food, a new symptom gone, or a new detox die-off reaction. I’m being honest here; it was not easy. You have to really want to heal your body to succeed on the GAPS diet and not back out. I can’t imagine the road my body would have taken if I had not given it the nourishment it needed!
What can I eat on the GAPS?
This is probably the most important question for all of you. If you are already accustomed to the paleo diet, then you are more then ½ way there! Like I said before, bone broth and fermented foods are a daily occurrence. If you want the full list of what to eat on the GAPS diet, click here! What can you eat on the GAPS intro? Take a look here! Does that chocolate chip cookie or banana cake seem yummy? Good, because they are GAPS friendly!
Detox is a necessity on the GAPS diet. The food is already detoxing, so you have got to be on top of the detoxing, or else there is no relief! Epson salt baths, clay baths, enemas, rest, and fresh air are all highly recommended if you want your body to heal. Therapeutic high strength probiotics and FCLO (fermented cod liver oil) are “musts” on the GAPS diet as well. Slow and steady is the pace for GAPS. Once you start seeing progress, you will be a believer of what GAPS can do.
Well that is up to you to determine! If the GAPS diet sparks an interest in your gut, here is a timeline for you to follow to get you started (this can take people from a few days, to a few years, so go at your own pace!)
- Do a little more research. Once you think this is the right thing to do, buy the GAPS book, and the guidebook. Start storing recipes form blogs (like mine!), or look for GAPS e-books. There is a GAPS cookbook, but the best recipes are online because the diet is still so new.
- Find support! Ask family members to be on-board (it helps cut down the cooking jobs and work). Tell friends what you are going to undertake. Join the GAPS yahoo groups (GAPS diet & GAPS help). There are even GAPS practitioners if you need some extra help!
- Contact your local farmers and find food. Eatwild.com is a great source to find grass fed organic meats, pastured animals, bones, and organs! (Did I mention that I LOVE organ meats?) LocalHarvest.org will help you find local farmers to provide you with produce, honey, and basically good fresh food! When you are able to drink raw dairy products, use realmilk.com to help you.
- Once you have all your food sources, its time to get cooking! Stock up on broths, puree and cube squash, buy that gallon of lard or coconut oil (if you have not already), fermented your veggies, and order your FCLO (fermented cod liver oil) and probiotic! Make sure you also have Epson salts, a chlorine filter, and enema bag (yes, don’t run away now!), and bentonite clay for detoxing!
- Start! Take your time; maybe your pace is one new food a week every time your “old” food runs out, or do what I did and go cold turkey! The best of luck to you! Trust me. Your health is important, and GAPS really can help!
Don’t forget to visit me and say hi at mygutsy.com!