Friday, July 26, 2013

Learning Curve

We are almost two months into our GAPS journey, and considering how daunting this adventure is, it is going very well. That is not to say that we haven't seriously contemplated quitting more than once. But things are getting easier, and now that we're basically past the Intro Stage, a little less expensive. And, as a home educator who loves to learn, the educational aspect of this whole experience has been rather exhilarating. 

Over the last six weeks, I have learned to make yogurt,
whey (one of my new favorite drinks), almond and coconut milk, cheese (that was an accident, lol, but a good-tasting one), almond meal, bone broth, homemade gummies (though mine haven't turned out that pretty), fruit leather, an incredible variety of soups, gluten-free bread, pancakes with squash instead of flour, smoothies from juice that has as many veggies as fruit (and we love them?!), make "ice cream" with my Omega juicer, soak and dry my own nuts, and even (though not very successfully, yet) kefir. My daughter has taken care of the sauerkraut, but we're eating homemade now!!
Cheese - an accidental success...

Our children still get very hungry, and not having any "cheap fillers" like rice and potatoes to extend meals and fill tummies has been exhausting as well as expensive; we are, it seems, constantly preparing or cleaning up from preparing food. If you are considering the GAPS diet, a factor you definitely need to consider is the cost, both financially and in time. And going anywhere is extra complicated, because (at least from my experience) there simply are no GAPS convenience foods. Everything takes advanced preparation and a level of intentional planning. The good news is, it gets easier as you go.

Another really neat aspect of what we're doing is what our children are learning. My son (who is six) had enough money to buy a cantaloupe at the fruit stand we buy our fruits and veggies from. He brought it home, cut it up, shared some with his brother and sisters, then froze the rest for later! I was so proud of him. 

Though the journey has been very difficult, and not very fun on several occasions, I am loving the lessons I've learned, and am incredibly thankful the learning curve is not quite so steep.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 25

It is hard to believe how much time has passed since my last blog. Quite exciting times we've had around here, too. Because of our cheat day, we took a few steps backwards on the stages, which I expected. Then we progressed a little too quickly, and a few kids had both tummy aches and extra trips to the toilet. Good ol' bone broth and very very cooked veggies with sufficient probiotics fixed everyone right up. 

Having been at this for almost a month, the family is settling into a fairly comfortable routine. It is still pretty busy in the mornings, getting everyone their probiotics, making juice, scrambling eggs, then cleaning up again in time to rest a little before jumping into lunch. But, it is getting easier. So much easier that we've started adventuring out a little ways from home. It isn't too adventurous; my parents' house, or the local park, but still, we're gaining confidence and that is fun.

Having gained a little bit of confidence, and having cheated without too much difficulty last week, I decided I'd try it again. A friend and I met at the local public market, where a gentleman makes the most amazing scones you have ever tasted. Even though they are chock full of all the foods I've given up, the temptation was just too great. I bought a scone. And every last crumb was savored. 

But, the delight didn't last that long. After visiting for a bit, I began to feel less than great. Then, I began feeling pretty crummy. Before too long, I was downright miserable, not sure I'd be able to drive all the way home. When I did make it home, a brief trip to the bathroom was my only stop on the way to bed, where I promptly collapsed.

This morning, thankfully, I woke up feeling fine. Other than taking a few steps back on the Intro diet (by choice, because my tummy needed a break after its assault), I didn't notice any lasting effects from my dalliance, by God's grace. And, knowing that neither milk nor sugar caused a similar reaction (I ate both on the Fourth of July), I am fairly confident that wheat was the trigger for my misery. So, even if I do fall off the wagon again (which I doubt, because I am feeling much better in many ways), it certainly won't be with a scone made from bleached white flour, or anything with a grain in it at all!!

One positive benefit of having been through my adventure yesterday; I know how much better I feel now; it hasn't even taken six months, like Dr. Campbell-McBride recommended. It is a gradual change, so you don't realize the transformation that is taking place until you add something back in that is bad. Then the light bulb goes on. It is an easy decision at that point to avoid the triggers!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cheat Day

Today is the eighteenth day of our GAPS diet journey. And, considering that we took a cheat day yesterday, things haven't been too bad. I'm extra tired, probably from the sugar I consumed (gummy bears and some delicious Ben and Jerry's ice cream) as well as the detox resulting from the probiotics killing off the unhealthy bacteria that got a boost yesterday. Of course, the restlessness of my two youngest children contributed to my low energy as well. But, I digress. What, you may be asking, is a "cheat day?" Well, let me explain.

A "cheat day" is when you choose to cheat on the GAPS diet. It is definitely not recommended, because whatever cheating you do slows the process of healing your gut, prolongs the time you need to be on the diet, and can have some pretty painful consequences, depending on where you are in the healing process and what you choose to eat.

Because yesterday was the birthday of our country, we intended to celebrate with my family, at a local park with river access. We planned and prepared diligently, trying to make sure we had what we needed for the adventure, and realizing that time was of the essence, because we couldn't bring enough snacks to keep kids sustained for too long. Having done so well with the process, and having been at this effort for so short a time, we really didn't want to loose momentum. Until, that is, we arrived at the park and discovered the plethora of forbidden foods at every turn. My sister isn't on the diet. She wanted goodies. My niece isn't on the diet, and she also wanted goodies. My parents aren't on the diet, and they wanted goodies. Even being very discreet and as supportive as they are for our journey, it was almost impossible not to notice the potato chips, cookies, candy, and fresh fruit.

So, we decided to cheat. We gave the kids special permission to eat goodies, in moderation (a concept that is, I've discovered, completely incomprehensible to a six year old boy, lol. He ate like he was starving. Then again; he always eats like he's starving!) fully aware that we'd deal with consequences later. I just thought it would be several hours later, like eighteen, or twenty-four, not six or eight. Anxiety and tummy aches were the worst consequences, and the fatigue I mentioned earlier. All things considered, I'm very glad we made the decision we did. We will not, however, be cheating again any time soon. And other than ice cream, I don't really want to!

Actually, I'm surprised by how my tastes have changed in such a short amount of time. Instead of eating carelessly and with abandon yesterday, I ate a few bites of various things, but didn't long for any of it. And, instead of being put off by the smell of broth, I realized it smelled really good; my husband said the same thing; the broth smelled good. How different from just a few days ago. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day Sixteen - Adventures in the Heat

Yesterday was a sweltering 105 degrees where I live. Even with the most enticing aroma, no one in my house wanted to eat bone broth. As a (sometimes) compassionate mama who tries to (almost) never make my kids eat anything I don't like, we decided to forgo the GAPS Intro essential, and "go rogue." 

Instead of bone broth, we pushed the envelope a little and added frozen bananas to the fresh juice we were already drinking, for smoothies. Another wise mama suggested I freeze some of my yogurt into ice cubes, so those went into the blender, too. The result was both refreshing and delicious. After lunch, we hard boiled eggs, instead of scrambling them, and headed to the river to play in non-chlorinated water, as Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends. It was wonderful. And the kids played for almost two hours without any melt-down issues. 

For dinner, we again steered away from the bone broth, though it had cooled to around 95 by that time. Instead, a luxurious salad, with fresh lettuce from our garden, avocados, home-toasted almonds, and (a very few) delicious pieces of fresh, peeled cucumber. For a dressing, I blended some cold-pressed olive oil into homemade yogurt, then added a touch of sour cream and some of my home-dried herbs. It was amazing.

My husband grew up with garlic salt on his salad, so I took some dried minced garlic I'd picked up from the local  public market (dried by the elderly gentleman who grew the garlic) and pulverized it, along with some sea salt, with my mortar and pestle. That worked fabulously, too.

When it was time to go to bed, since it was still close to 90 degrees in our house, I used our shaved ice maker to shave ice, then added fresh juice to make healthy slushies. It worked!! And it made the juice go much farther.

In the end, I was pretty proud of myself. We were able to mostly stick with the diet in spite of the record-breaking heat, and it was downright enjoyable! And, time for true confessions: I seriously considered giving up on the whole thing yesterday. It was just too overwhelming, for a variety of reasons. My husband, who wasn't that enthusiastic about beginning this adventure, was the one to point out all the reasons he thought we should continue!! His encouragement, along with some great suggestions, turned the tide on my despair, and helped give us a delightful day.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day Fifteen

I have a confession to make. I am sick of broth! I am sick of making it, sick of smelling it, and especially sick of eating it. Especially when it is 105 degrees outside. The last thing on earth I want to eat is bone broth, even if it is full of yummy veggies and gaining flavor every day. After fifteen straight days of it, I'm sick of bone broth!

And, I'm not real sure we're seeing any results. So far, we've sailed through the first four stages with hardly any issues at all. A couple of days I had migraines that were triggered by die-off, and a few days several of us felt pretty tired, but I think it was more a problem with not eating enough carbs than from die-off, or any significant indication that this diet is doing anything more than making me crazy.

Yesterday, we went without our customary carrot juice before breakfast. You are supposed to drink juice on an empty stomach, and I just didn't have time to get everything done in time to leave for church. So, we went without juice. That was a mistake. Our four year old didn't do well, having a cosmic meltdown before church was even half way through. So, we went home, after buying MORE carrots (bringing us really close to 200 lbs of carrots in two weeks, lol), and making some juice. 

Thankfully, the juice worked its magic (again) and everyone settled down quickly. The rest of the day was quite enjoyable, except that kids were "starving" at bedtime, again. We have tried to plan snacks before bedtime, so little ones go to bed with full tummies, but they have radar!! If one of the older kids, or my husband (who has been coming in late the last few nights) starts to scramble eggs, or heat soup, they are up begging to eat whatever is being prepared. Ugh. Still working on dealing with that.

One positive note; I've battled yeast infections for years. One doctor told me it could be related to my dad's exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, but I don't know. Anyway, I've battled it for years; tried all sorts of products, took prescriptions, even went on a very restrictive candida curing diet (which you can read about here), without success. But, after only two weeks, I'm seeing remarkable improvement. So, that is evidence something good is happening from all this craziness and challenge.

And, as I think about it more critically, my little ones haven't had as many meltdowns/anxiety/panic attacks since we started. Like I said, Little Dot had a cosmic meltdown yesterday at church, but those used to be a much more common occurrence. Besides, we're committed to this for two years (unless life improves earlier), so I better find reasons to be thankful instead of looking for things about which to complain.