What better way to pick back up on blogging than with a diet? Diet fads are a cultural obsession of industrial nations; we all want the magic diet that will make us thin and happy. The problem is that most of the diets out there that are publicized are going to do the exact opposite. Low-fat diets just starve your brain of much needed cholesterol (your brain is composed largely of cholesterol, and it’s included in every single cell in your body) and the ability to absorb and process all other nutrients, and low-calorie diets just starve you, period.
Anyway, I’ll save my rants for later. Today I’m going to give a brief overview of the GAPS diet. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. This term applies to those people whose digestive systems (guts) are damaged to the extent that they can’t detoxify their bodies, leaving the blood-brain barrier open to lots of heavy metals and plastics. Most people recognize that things like aluminum cause Alzheimer’s, but metals and other toxins can cause everything from depression and eating disorders to autism and schizophrenia. The purpose of the GAPS diet is to heal the mucosal lining of the gut so that the bad bacteria will stop producing toxins and to enable the good bacteria to give you a continual supply of vitamins–namely B Vitamins and Vitamin K. This will correct the acidity of your stomach so that you can properly digest food and give your body the chance to detoxify itself and start actually absorbing nutrients.
Why am I doing this? Well, I have celiac disease and I want to get over it. What celiac disease does is harm the little hairs (called villi) in your gut that absorb your nutrients, so in effect it’s starving me of nutrients. I took gluten out of my diet (bread, pasta, cereal, most baked goods) and got kinda better. Then I took out dairy and got better again (celiac disease is an auto-immune disease that is commonly paired with dairy as an auto-immune disease). With that narrowed down, I realized that grains were giving me mood swings (PPD is NEVER fun), and after I got rid of those, I noticed that even starches were giving me issues. That brought my diet down to pretty much meat, fish, fruit, veggies and nuts. Not very easy! And I always have issues when I eat out. My theory is that when I heal my gut, most, if not all of these issues will go away. I’ll still eat organically, locally, and other foods that don’t come in containers, but at least I’ll be fine when I eat out or just REALLY want a bite of that chocolate chip cookie.
So what is the GAPS diet? It is hard. We cook almost all our meals at home, and a regular night can include a roast chicken with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, veggie soup in homemade stock, and perhaps a side salad with olive oil, lemon juice, avocado and tomatoes. To drink we’ll have some virgin kombucha cocktail (or organic wine), and then perhaps some kind of digestive tea, like cardamom spiked with licorice root. That said, GAPS DIET IS HARD. The Introduction Diet has six stages, and then there’s the final diet. It can take from a few weeks up to a year to get through the intro diet, and the final diet should be continued for at least six months, sometimes years. Stage One in the Introduction Diet starts with just meat/fish stocks, some non-starchy pureed veggie soups made with the meat/fish stocks, and some probiotic juice from fermented veggies or whey. From there, you meander your way through very specific stages on to the final diet. This includes all meats, all fruits and veggies that you’ve determined are okay, raw or homemade dairy products, gin and vodka (yay!), and eggs.
I’m going to walk you through my experience with the diet. Later I’ll post the general guidelines to the GAPS Introduction Diet, so stay tuned to see what crazy things are in store! (see next post here)