Well, I quit GAPS intro….I listened to my body and my declining mental state and decided to chuck in the towel. This was a personal journey and a very personal decision but I think it is important to share.
I guess I should say that I actually quit the GAPS intro diet – not gaps in general but that doesn’t make nearly as good a title!
Here is the reason why….
Firstly let me say that doing the gaps intro has taught me a lot:
- It taught me that I can be strong and persevere for a lot longer than I thought I could.
- It taught (or reminded) me that planning is everything and relying on willpower doesn’t work.
- It taught me how important it is to understand what you are doing and believe in it 100%.
- It taught me that I can live without chocolate (not that I plan to do this permanently)!
- It taught me that people are very understanding and supportive when you explain things to them (like why you are eating soup for breakfast).
- It taught me that even if you can’t do something 100% perfectly, that is not a reason not to – I had no choice but to microwave my food at work as I wasn’t willing to eat/drink cold broth. I could have let this stop me from even bothering to try but I accepted this and got over it.
- It taught me that sometimes you need to look outside the square for your answers and can’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
- It taught me how important it is to listen to your body and be aware of your mental state and make changes accordingly rather than blindly following what someone else says.
So, why have I quit?
A few weeks into the gaps intro I was doing really well. The sickness had ended, I regained the weight I lost in the first 3 weeks and my gut was settling nicely. However, it soon became apparent that almost every time I added in a new food I would react badly to it. This would see me back to just broths, meat and cooked veggies. This cycle continued and then after a while nothing I did seemed to get my gut back on track. I persevered. It was like a continuous cycle of one step forward, ten steps back. It was getting out of hand and I was starting to struggle.
About 11 weeks in I met an amazing chiropractor and applied kinesiologist who assessed me and showed me how there were several different issues that were affecting my gut health. Diet alone was not going to fix this. I decided to continue on the intro diet and start working with her.
Then, 12 weeks in and still mostly living on broths with a bit of roast meat, goats kefir and some cooked apples with ghee, I broke. My family was eating my very delicious spaghetti bolognese for dinner and I was eating a serious slow cooker failure that I had chucked in the slow cooker that morning. The bolognese sauce is gaps legal (even for the intro) if you eat it with zucchini pasta but I was petrified of trying tomato as I didn’t know if I would react badly to it. I have previously (when on the full gaps diet) been able to eat this without any problems.
After dinner I was close to tears. My mood was low, I was scared to try any new foods and I knew that this was heading in a very bad direction – depression? eating disorder? Both were definite possibilities. I talked to my husband and we agreed that enough was enough. The risks were no longer worth it and I clearly needed to do more than this diet to get me well.
I decided to go back onto the full gaps diet which had worked so well for me for a long time. The full gaps is really quite easy and has much more variety. You can eat out and feel like a normal person! I am happy not to eat grains and starches and probably never will again. Same goes for processed foods and refined sugar. My way of eating is likely to remain gaps/paleo style unless my body and mind decide otherwise at some point.
As soon as I made that decision I felt the most overwhelming sense of relief. My mood lifted, my body relaxed. I made a raspberry mousse and enjoyed every bite. I decided to wait a while to reintroduce cacao and raw veggies but to go back to eating other things that are allowed on the full diet.
My take home message to you: Listen to your body and be aware of your mental state. Regardless of how great the success stories are and how much you believe that something is the right option for you, if it is not working for you and/or it is affecting you mentally then you need to heed that warning sign. Nothing is worth that risk. We are all individuals and there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to health. Keep seeking answers until you find what works for you.
Much love, health and happiness,
p.s. A little update since I originally wrote this post.
I have been working with my chiro/kinesiologist and using homeopathic drops for about 2 weeks now and my gut has improved enormously to the point where it is giving me no issues and I am comfortably eating a full gaps diet and am back on some chocolate and Crio Bru! I am still a firm believer in GAPS but clearly there were other issues that needed to be treated for me to heal.
My kids were thrilled that I had stopped the intro diet and that I was now able to eat the same meals as the rest of the family. I hadn’t realised how much my diet was affecting them too. A much happier household now.
Another update over 2 years later:
Apart from a flare that resulted from a pretty large lack of regard for what I ate during the first half of a 3 month caravan trip around Australia my gut has remained well. As soon as my gut health started to decline during our trip I pulled things right back, added in gelatin and broth several times a day and stuck with what I know works for me. It settled faster than any previous flares and I have been well ever since that time. I have been able to reintroduce a few starches like occasional sweet potato and tapioca and also some potato chips cooked in coconut or avocado oil every now and then. I am much less stressed about food and am coping with having added in a doctorate to my already busy life! I still see the chiro on a monthly basis as well as my naturopath who I have worked with for 15 years. I now stick to yoga as my exercise which seems to work better for my body and have added daily meditation to the mix. Food and lifestyle really are the most amazing medicine!