Why I Decided to Start the GAPS Therapeutic Diet

My husband was actually the one who discovered the GAPS diet at the end of 2014. He read up on it and begged me to start January 1, 2015. After reviewing the protocol I told him there was no way I would be able to do GAPS while working full-time, so we put it on the back-burner while continuing on the protocol my doctor had prescribed.

After leaving my full time job in July to focus on my health, the idea of GAPS once again popped into my head. But by this time I had also become acquainted with other healing diets (specifically The Elimination Diet, The Wahls Protocol, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and the Auto Immune Protocol), and decided that my symptoms may be more immune related, so I chose to give the AIP a try.

Even though it seemed quite restricted at first, The Auto Immune Protocol was easy for me to manage and my health improved significantly. Those pesky bouts of inflammation that I hadn’t been able to get rid of on my doctor’s prescribed protocol were less frequent and much less severe when they did appear. I found a great place in the AIP community, and have several people and resources that I turn to for advice and encouragement. But right before the holidays I started attempting reintroductions of foods and found myself back in the same old place—lots of swelling, general fatigue and above all, frustration.

My next bout of research led me down the path of detoxing, and inevitably back to the GAPS diet. While there are many similarities between the AIP and the GAPS diets, one of the main differences is the GAPS diet focus on gentle detoxing. I’ve gotten to know my body pretty well over the last couple of years, and I know this is an area that I need to work on. (I would argue it’s an area that we ALL need to work on)

I don’t want to be a person who hops from approach to approach, looking for the “next best thing”, which is why I took a lot of time to consider whether or not this would be the right change for me. I have now read the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Book TWICE from cover to cover, and reviewed certain chapters several times over, and every time I think “Yes. This sounds exactly like me and what I need!” I have been around long enough to know that some approaches work wonderfully for some people while leaving others with little improvement. I just hope that I can find some healing. My hope is that instead of just identifying triggers of inflammation for permanenet removal from my diet, I can see progress in actually healing my gut so that I am able to reintroduce foods in the future. I finally asked my doctor at the end of 2015 if the GAPS diet was something I should consider, and she agreed that it would be good for me.

This therapeutic diet focuses on healing a leaky gut, which is the root of the majority of problems in the body. There are two phases to the diet—the Introduction Diet, made up of 6 stages, which focuses on gently detoxing and healing gut inflammation, and the Full GAPS diet, which is more of a maintenance plan while the final healing takes place. They recommend following the diet for 2 years, which I know is a huge commitment, but based on the various elimination diets I have been on for the past 2 years, I am confident that I will be just fine.

One of the main things I like about the GAPS diet is that there is a well organized plan. Obviously everyone will make adjustments to the plan, but I know which supplements I need to take, which foods I need to eat, how and when to reintroduce new foods, and which detoxing methods to use. Even though some of that information was out there for the AIP, I seem to process it better in this form, and I am happy to record everything on my self-created spreadsheet.

Every new venture comes with a bit of fear, though, and I must admit that I am dreading having to find my place in this new community. I’m worried that it won’t work. I’m wondering how long I will be able to eat soup before I “accidently” punch someone in the face or throw my husband’s toaster out the window. (Detoxing causes irritability, just a heads up)

I do plan to use the knowledge that I gained from doing the AIP to guide my time on GAPS, being cautious of nightshades and choosing very nutrient dense foods like organ meats. The diets really are quite similar in many ways, so I hope to still be able to participate in AIP discussions and provide encouragement for those who are on the AIP journey.

I officially started the GAPS diet on February 1 (the day after returning from our feast of a cruise—talk about ambitious!) I’ll share my first week of meals on Monday…be prepared for more soup than you can ever imagine!

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