Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Avoiding GAPS Intro Pitfalls

So I admit my introduction to the GAPS diet didn't go as smoothly as I would like.  Rather than wallow in self pity, I thought I would pick up the pieces and try to figure out where I failed and maybe by sharing a few tid-bits with you, I could save you from the same demise.

The GAPS introduction involves six stages and ends with the person being on full GAPS for at least one to two years.  Myself and my family have been doing the FULL GAPS program for about ten months.  I wrongly assumed that the introduction diet would be no big deal since I've been eating so healthy all these months.  My youngest son went through the introduction back in November and has had amazing improvement in his GI symptoms as well as improvement in his growth and weight.  I was wanting to start the intro because in spite of eating FULL GAPS for the past few months, I have developed a new stomach pain and GI upset and reflux and I'm not sure if the cause is dairy related or from years of chronically abusing myself with coffee and Ibuprofen.  Probably both.

With no further adieu, here's what you can do to succeed on the intro:

1.  Plan ahead. 
       - Make your bone broths ahead of time and plenty of it, have the next batch going in the crock pot each day.  Here's a link on making broth
       - Have plenty of fresh veggies on hand that are intro worthy, that you can boil into your broth or soup.  The first few days, you might not have a lot of energy to go shopping or cook so make it easy on yourself

2.  DON'T GO TO ANY SOCIAL FUNCTIONS.  Okay, so I am sort of joking, but if you do go to a Birthday party, again plan ahead and bring your broth and more broth and more meat and veggies.  You will be smelling all those processed foods and getting hungry, you need to have your broth to sip on.  This is where I failed, I decided I would just "FAST" during the event, a cousins birthday, which went all day and then into the evening.  I started feeling really sick so I had some salad and meat, but on the intro you aren't supposed to eat RAW veggie yet.  Oops.  Not the worst of sins but just wasn't what I had planned to do.

4.   Eat and drink broth often.   This is also were I messed up.  I think that some people really do require more veggies/carbs to feel okay.  I could only stand feeling horrible for so long while trying to take care of and feed five other people in my family as well as work in the evenings.  Eating more frequently keeps your blood sugar from crashing.  Also, adding in the allowed veggies will also help prevent this, along with sipping on plenty of broth.  Obviously if you have persistent diarrhea then you need to back off on vegetables as Dr. Natasha suggests in her book.
5.  You are going to experience some die off.   Yep, even if you think you are a supper start healthy eater,  be prepared to feel more tired, sleepy, achey than normal.   I'm sure the more sugar and processed foods in your diet prior to the intro the worse you will feel.   If you are able,  I would suggest prior to the intro, that you limit your intake of even GAPS treats, honey and fruit so your body has time to get used to the lower sugar levels.  The biggest issue that I struggled with was headaches, I think that eating frequently helps this as well as drinking plenty of liquids.  If you normally drink coffee, cut it out several weeks before starting the intro or you will suffer.
6.  Your fluid needs will go up.  This is some what related to eating more protein, but you really need to drink plenty of water, as much as your body is telling you that you need.
7.  Make your family do the intro with you.   At first I thought it would be more difficult to have the entire family doing the intro but here is my new take on this.  If you are only eating broth and soups, and are feeling tired and want to rest while your body detox's, do you REALLY want to be cooking all day for everyone else?  Keep it simple, if you can't put everyone on the full intro diet, then just tell them you are making mostly soups for the next few days, it will be so much easier then having to stand up all day and cook for everyone when you feel like sleeping.
8.  Start on a weekend   So you have someone at home to help you, I guess if all your kids are in school maybe during the week would be better for you so you can nap while they are gone!
9.  Get a massage or take a bath with epsome salts.  I did a foot soak which really helped my headaches.  I think you really need to pamper yourself if you can, take naps and go to bed early if you are able.
10.  Join a support group or enlist your friends or extended family to do this with you, the more the merrier!
11.  If you make a mistake, as I did, just try it again and this time be prepared!   If your life is hectic with work and family, then just try a slower approach.  Start by eliminating the processed foods in your home.  Vow to not eat anything out of a box or package.  Give up coffee, give up sugar.  Then start making and drinking broth and probiotics (see my post on the four things to try now).  I think even though I messed up on the intro it helped me to  realized the things that have benefited me and that help my digestion.  If you can add any one thing to your diet now, start with a good probiotic.

Are you doing the intro?  Let me know your thoughts on what worked for you and helped you to succeed. 

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