When Jasmine was eight months old, she developed red blotches all over her face after eating scrambled eggs. We knew right away it was food allergies. Soon after that, she had a few other similar, smaller reactions to foods until she was fifteen months old, and I gave her apple slices with peanut butter.
She had peanut butter a couple times before with no response, so I didn't think much of it when I gave her her snack.
Five minutes later, her body was covered in hives from head to toe. She had only had ate a couple bites. What followed this experience was a long road of food allergies and severe eczema break outs. She eventually outgrew most of the food allergies except for gluten, and the eczema disappeared for several months but then returned. She has open, bleeding wounds almost daily.
A couple years later, she is now almost four years old and I came across the GAPS diet. I myself also struggled with anxiety and thought maybe the GAPS diet would be helpful for the issues we were having.
It took me two months to decide whether to take the plunge, but I ended up setting the start date for right after the fourth of July.
Some Helpful Tips
Before starting the diet, I made sure to prepare some of the fermented foods ahead of time. Sauerkraut takes a least two weeks to ferment. We did the dairy sensitivity test and none of us had a reaction, so I went ahead and made yogurt and sour cream two days before we were to start. I also highly recommend, on the intro diet, you make the meat stock ahead of time, especially if you are using the slow cooker. I would often set up my slow cooker before bed so I would have broth by the time I woke up. If you are making broth on the stove, it only takes a couple hours.
I did find that I had an easier time cooking because I didn't have to make many decisions about what to cook. I knew our next meal was going to be some kind of soup. What I did was prepare two different soups and reheat those soups (alternating every other meal) for about a day and a half. Making a big pot of soup that you can reheat makes the intro diet much easier.
Starting the GAPS Intro Diet
We started with the intro diet, stage one, and were on each stage for about five days. We honestly could not stay on each stage for longer than five days. It was really difficult to say the least. We already eat a Weston A Price "diet" or way of eating, but this was much more restrictive. It was honestly very extreme.
One of the first things I noticed was that I woke up with bad smelling breath on day 2. It was similar to what people call "keto breath". I assume this happened because of the lack of carbohydrates.
I was also dealing with a painful gum infection right before I started the GAPS diet. After a few days into the diet, my infection was completely healed with no medication. When the pathogenic bacteria have no carbohydrates or simple sugars to feed on, they die off.
We also all struggled with severe constipation during the first week of the diet. This was really weird and unexpected because we are all very regular and never have this problem. We found that doing a daily enema during the first week did the trick.
The one thing I really appreciated about being on the intro diet was that my kids slept a lot better. They typically don't like to take naps. However, on the intro diet they were out at nap time and bed time.
On the other hand, it was difficult to get them to drink the broth. They are almost 2 and 4, so they didn't quite understand the importance of drinking the broth. Jasmine, my almost 4 year old, did understand that it would help her eczema, but she wasn't very motivated to drink the broth. They just wanted the meat and vegetables.
We began feeling the die off symptoms later on day two, and by day four, I noticed a reduction in my anxiety. My daughter's eczema stayed the about the same while we were on the first few stages of the diet. Then it got progressively worse. I suspect that it is because she has food allergies to foods (that we haven't identified yet) that are allowed on the diet.
As we progressed through the intro diet, my anxiety got worse. I've been having a harder time with it recently. We decided to jump from stage four to full GAPS because the introduction diet was too intense (and that is coming from someone who is used to cooking everything from scratch).
I am finding that as I add foods back in, I am more sensitive to them than I was before. I have had stomach cramping when I try new foods. But I am hoping that will go away as well. I honestly found it exhausting to keep track of everyone's sensitives, and it was difficult to constantly be adding and subtracting foods. We all felt very hungry on the intro diet and stressed because of how restrictive the diet was.
So my gut was telling me we needed to transition off of this diet.
What I Recommend
I know many people have experienced healing while on the GAPS diet. I think it is also important to share the stories that were not successful, like ours, because every experience is valid.
I feel that for most people, following the principles of the Weston A Price "diet" (it is not really a diet but more of a set of guidelines on how to eat healthy) or maybe the full GAPS diet is sufficient to maintain good health. After our experience with the GAPS diet, I feel that it is better suited for people with more severe conditions.
We are almost back to the way we were eating before with the exception of sourdough. I am just about pull my starter out of hibernation and feed it again. Hopefully, I will be posting more sourdough recipes soon!
I always recommend doing your own research and making your own decisions from there. The GAPS diet, especially the intro diet, can be really intense. If you do want to the intro diet, I would recommend starting with full GAPS first. Then slowly move backwards through the introduction stages until you are at the beginning.
If you have any questions or comments about the GAPS diet or our experience, please leave me a comment below!