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. 

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a delicious grain free chocolate cake that is super moist and sure to wow even your NON-GAPS friends.  Enjoy.

3 cups almond flour
1 can pumpkin (or equivalent of fresh pumpkin)
6 Eggs
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter softened
1 cup raw honey (optional)
2 T almond butter

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix all ingredients and pour into two WELL greased 9 inch round cake pans 
3. Bake for 25-30 minutes,  when tooth pick comes out clean it's done
4.  Let cool for 20 minutes before taking out of cake pans or they will not stack well.

Cream Cheese frosting (optional)
One 8oz package of cultured cream cheese or you could use homemade soured cream
1 stick of butter, softened
6 Tbs honey

Mix on low with mixer until smooth.  After cake cools apply frosting between cake layers and on outside of cake. 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Four things you should add to your diet now

Maybe you are a little overwhelmed at the idea of drastically altering your diet right now.  I understand, it's was a HUGE life change when we decided to take gluten out of our diets.  I was overwhelmed at first, but with in a month or so we had adjusted and found a slew of alternatives to incorporate.  Later we stopped eating all grains and all processed foods, when we started the GAPS diet last fall.  I didn't throw away ALL the food in my pantry.   Some things I gave away.  I started by not repurchasing ANYTHING that came in a box.  When the kids finished off the last few boxes of gluten free cereal we didn't purchase anymore from then on out. 

Sometimes you have the ability to start slow.  Other times, when given the diagnosis of pre-diabetes or Myasthenia Gravis, you are told by the doctor you MUST change your diet now, or else!   Here are the four things that have impacted my health the most in the past eleven months and they are things you can start doing right now.

First, begin by taking a good probiotic.  A good probiotic supplement will contain many different species of bacteria not just lactobacilli.  After taking antibiotics your doctor might tell you to eat more yogurt.  This is not enough, you need a mixture of strains and at least 8 billion bacterial cells per gram (Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Campbell-McBride,p.  251)  Probiotics can also be taken in the form of probiotic foods such as sauerkraut and other fermented foods, kefir, yogurt and kombucha.   You can start first by taking the liquid or juice from the fermented foods and then work your way up to having more probiotic foods in your diet daily.  Probiotics are particularly helpful if you are suffering from either diarrhea or constipation.  Both conditions indicate that there is an imbalance within your gut. 

Secondly, make and drink bone broth.  Try to make broth from organic grass fed animals or fish broth from freshly caught fish, red snapper makes the best broth, while fatty fish like salmon is more difficult to perfect.   I make my broth first by roasting chicken in the oven with carrots, onion and garlic.  The family eats it as a meal and then afterwards I leave the meat on the bones and add water to cover the chicken and add a Tbs of salt and let it cook for another 12-24 hours.   If the broth has a layer of fat at the top and is gelatinous when cooled, you know that you've done it right.  Some people also add a Tbs of vinegar when cooking the broth to draw out more nutrients from the bones.  Try to take broth before every meal.    If you are not used to eating fatty foods, you may be nauseated when you first drink the broth.  Broth made from lamb and beef is particularly fatty and gelatinous and is more difficult to digest at first.  Add some of the probiotic juice to every cup of broth after it has cooled a little, so to aid digestion.  Sipping it rather than drinking it fast also helps it to be easier to tolerate.  If you always have bone broth handy you will be ready at the first sneeze to start giving more of it to your family to help boost immunity or sooth a sick tummy.  

Thirdly, add cod liver into your diet as a daily supplement.  Dr. Natasha recommends fermented cod liver oil.  I buy a flavored one from the health food store and haven't tried fermented yet.  Cod liver oil contains vitamins A and D.  Most of us are deficient in vitamin D.   Low levels of vitamin D can lead to chronic pain (which I was having before I started supplementing), muscle weakness, poor ability to fight infections, mental illness, anxiety and a host of other problems.   Vitamin A and D work together and Cod liver Oil contains both.  Make sure which ever source you buy is pure and GMO free.  Follow the dosing on the package. 

Lastly, pure virgin coconut oil.  Prior to starting GAPS I read a book called, Eat Fat, Loose Fat by Sally Fallon.  I had been complaining to a friend of mine of how fatigued I constantly felt.  She told me that coconut oil had been a miracle for her and to read the book.   I purchased it and took one Tbs in a cup of tea.  I was instantly sick, dizzy, and vomited!    Again,I can't emphasize enough start SLOW, especially if you are used to a low fat diet.  Coconut oil contains lauric acid which has antimicrobial properties that can help fight parasites, fungal infections, and viruses that cause food poisoning.  Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are easily digested compared to other fats.  Also, coconut oils structure does not change when it is heated as vegetable oils do.  Therefore it is healthier and safer to cook with coconut oil or lard than with vegetable oils.   Coconut oil can naturally lower your cholesterol, which has been exactly what it did for me.  Prior to using it, I had never been able to increase my GOOD cholesterol (HDL), even with exercise and weight loss.  After using it my numbers are right where they should be, I just had my blood work done last week to prove it!   Coconut oil prior to meals causes satiety or the feeling of being more full and you are likely to eat less than you would had you not had it.  Finally coconut oil gives me a rush of energy that I did not have prior to using it.  In fact, I have to be careful to not take it too late in the day, or I will be up all night due to it's energy boosting effects.   Coconut oil is amazing for the skin and hair.  Put it on your hair and face before bed, I put it all over as it helps with dry skin.  I also recommend it for diaper rash and eczema, as it has anti fungal properties and can help prevent yeast.  Recently, Henry had what looked like cold sores or blisters on the outside of his lips, I put coconut oil on them for the past two days and it did spread and is starting to heal.  Amazing!

Of all the dietary changes we've made, being consistent in taking probiotics, bone broth, cod liver oil and coconut oil have given us the most bang for our buck.   If I start to slack on any of these things, I feel it in my energy levels.  In general I have noticed that our family has been less sick with viruses, stomach flu and respiratory illnesses since we've been more consistent especially with probiotics and cod liver oil.   In my next post I'll discuss more on staying healthy this up coming winter!