Saturday, March 24, 2012

The End of the Tunnel (Intro Is Drawing To A Close)

Wow! I cannot believe we have been at this for 24 days already, and at the same time it is getting routine enough that it feels like this is how we have been doing things for some time.

Some interesting things about the GAPS diet:

It totally changes your "meal clock."  I wrote a few posts ago that I still was not going to eat fish for breakfast.  And then just a few days later, I did.  I have grown accustomed to having sauerkraut on my scrambled egg & avocado in the morning, too (sometimes with a bit of homemade sour cream to top it off).  Hey, you never know until you try it, right?  The first few days of just soup do something radical, they totally reorient your brain and palate, or so it seems.  Suddenly my concept of what is "breakfast food" and what is "dinner food are not that different.  Funny, right?  Before starting GAPS I could not fathom how we were going to manage with all these odd foods at odd times of day, and now it really is not a big deal at all.

Here is a typical day on the GAPS diet for us.  Since we are all on different stages, I will start with mine, and then show where Jeff's and Joshua's varies (I am on stage 5, Jeff is on stage 3 but moving toward 4, and Joshua is on stage 2):

First thing in the AM (After I get Joshua fed) I have about 4 oz of freshly pressed juice mixed with kombucha.  Then a little while after that I will usually have a cup of coffee.  Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends not eating anything until around 10, because until that point the body is still in detox mode (from 4 AM to 10 AM).  So a little before 10 I usually have an egg, lightly scrambled in ghee (clarified butter) with some onions, topped with some avocado, sauerkraut, and a bit of homemade sour cream (as mentioned above).  Usually I will also have a mug of broth with this.  And water.  I try to keep up on my water intake, and our well water is really great.

With such a late breakfast, I do not usually have a mid-morning snack or anything.  Lunch is usually a salad with peeled & sliced cucumbers.  Today, I added carrots.  I dress the salad with a little olive oil and squeeze a lemon quarter over it.  I have this with a mug of broth, and mix a raw egg yolk, a spoonful of ghee, and some sauerkraut juice into the broth.  It gives the broth a rich, but salty and slightly tart taste.

For an afternoon snack I will usually have a "pancake."  These pancakes have only 3 ingredients: a nut or seed butter (we use peanut but when Joshua reaches this stage we will make his with Sunbutter), cooked & mashed winter squash, and egg.  I use a 1:1:1 ratio, where an egg is about 1/4 cup to make 2 medium sized pancakes).

Dinner varies, but it is usually either soup or "deconstructed soup," which is meat and veggies with the broth on the side in a mug.  Again I usually mix an egg yolk, ghee, and kraut juice into the broth.  We use different soup recipes to keep things as interesting as we can.  Technically I can have meats cooked by roasting or grilling, now, but roasting for one is a little wasteful, so I am holding off on that until Jeff & Joshua catch up.

For dessert, I have recently started having baked apple.  If I am still hungry, I will have a few tablespoons of sour cream with a little honey drizzled over it.

Jeff's diet is similar, except that he is not on the raw veggies stage yet, so he often has soup or deconstructed soup for lunch, too.  Also he has not fully introduced dairy yet, so no sour cream dessert for him, either.  He is putting ghee in the soups, and tonight or tomorrow night we will do a skin trial for him with whey.  That is the next step.

For Joshua, we have introduced duck egg yolks successfully, but we could not get many, so tonight we will trial chicken egg yolk on his skin.  He has shown some healing in the allergy department already, so we are just hoping and praying that it extends to the egg allergy, too.  He has eaten some non-pureed meats and veggies, but he still prefers some of them pureed.  While he has eaten some meats that were re-heated in ghee, we have not officially introduced it yet, so generally I stir a little pastured lard into his puree instead of ghee.  Tomorrow I will offer some mashed avocado, and in a few days the sunbutter pancakes.

Joshua is gaining weight (3 lbs over his starting weight already) and growing taller.  All of this is happening so quickly that it absolutely blows our minds.  He went from 4 months with no growth at all to gaining 3 lbs and 3/4" in a few weeks.  He is babbling more (as he had stopped for a while), and getting back more of his old demeanor.  He is literally trying to eat us out of house and home!  He is sleeping better, though he is still waking wet pretty early in the morning most nights.  Overall, though, we have fewer nights where he is waking just to cry, and that is a blessing.

Jeff reports feeling better, overall.  Including having more energy than he used to when he is out working on the farm during the day, and improved digestion. He is not feeling hungry all the time anymore (he did for a bit in the beginning), and he has lost some weight.

Other than my own weight loss, I was not sure I was getting too much out of this, until Istarted looking at my finished to-do lists.  I am self-starting much more readily than I ever have, and I have to "think out loud" much less often, too.  I was also looking for some resolution regarding an itchy scalp issue I was having (and had linked to possible yeast issues), and while I did not get it through diet, I did about the craziest skin care thing I have ever done and made a kefir scalp mask last night.  Nothing fancy.  Washed my hair, worked kefir through my hair and massaged it into the scalp, and wrapped my hair in a towel for 45 min or so.  Rinsed it out, shampoo as usual, conditioned, and was done.  My scalp is feeling MUCH better today.  I think I am going to do that with every shampoo over the next week or so, just to make sure the change is a permanent one.  I am now a hippie health and beauty QUEEN.  Even if I was NOT yet experiencing more focus and motivation, it is nice to be back in clothes I have not worn in over two years!  But yes, all this extra motivation is so helpful.  Today I was a rockstar in the kitchen AND I did laundry (folded it AND put it away).  I did a lot of "extra" kitchen stuff today so that I can have the next couple days pretty free.  Namely, I want to be able to enjoy some Sunday rest tomorrow, and get caught up on "non-GAPS housework" on Monday.

OK, so that is our update!  GAPS is going well on all fronts and we are feeling better than ever.  Praise God!

Monday, March 19, 2012

GAPS Update: Stages 1, 3, and 4.

Wow, has it been a crazy week in the kitchen! I am having a lot of fun, though, as we figure this GAPS thing out together.  I joined a "GAPS Support" Yahoo group this week, and it has been a wealth of information (as well as a good opportunity to see where others are on this journey.

We were not able to get duck eggs at the market last week, but they said they would have some for us this week (most likely).  If not, I may just get brave and trial actual egg yolk on Joshua's wrist.  Either way, we will definitely be moving him into stage 2 by the middle of this week.  He is doing great on stage 1, so it is time to move on to the next round.

We have seen some interesting signs of healing in Joshua.  For one thing, for the first time in several months (and since he was measured at 30.25" AGAIN at the doc's office 4 weeks ago), Joshua has grown!  He is now 31" even.  Praise the Lord!  He grew 3/4" in just a few weeks!  And he no longer wakes in the night unless he has had a diaper leak (the problem here is that he is now soaking his diaper every night).  Apparently polyuresis (excessive urination) is a sign of the detoxing/cleansing process his body is going through.  So he is still waking up every night, just no longer waking up for no apparent reason.

It has not been a perfect GAPS experience for him, he did manage to get into some of his cousins' chocolate graham crackers.  I do not know how much he got, but when I found him he had a thin chocolate ring around his mouth, and a bit on the inside.  However, in the past when he has gotten into those (or their chocolate animal crackers) his eczema flairs up and he has horrific diarrhea (sorry if it is TMI, but this is a GAPS blog, after all) which makes his whole bottom break out in a rash. Not pleasant.  This time, he was certainly cranky all day after eating them (which has also happened in the past), but his eczema is no worse and he did not have any diarrhea at all (in fact, we are on practically 2 straight weeks of solid, normal BMs, and this is a miracle for him)!  So, he still appears to be somewhat allergic to the wheat, but less allergic than he was, for sure.  I am very curious to see what his most recent blood test tells us, 1 week after him having been on GAPS.

The only difficulty with Joshua is that, as of today, he seems pretty bored with his food.  He will not eat any meats or veggies unless they are pureed, and we have been varying the puree quite a bit each day, but he is not as interested in it, all the same.  He showed interest in what I was eating today, but it was scrambled egg w/mashed avocado, so I could not share it with him (yet).  I did offer him a piece of my sauerkraut, but he was not interested in that.  So I think I am going to just start offering some of the unpureed soup along with the puree at meal times, to see if we can get him eating what we are eating, anyway.  Pray for us in all of that, please.

Jeff is moving through stage 2 and into 3.  He is handling the peanut pancakes pretty well and is pretty grateful for the added variety in his diet.  Personally, I cannot wait until he's on 4, because I am not going to roast or grill meat for myself, I need someone else to feed who is on stage 4 with me.  But actually, I will be moving to stage 5 within the next few days.  Hooray, salad!

Jeff and I are both losing weight, which is a nice perk to all of this, even if it was not the point.  Yesterday I fit into some shorts that I have not been able to wear since before Joshua!  Wooo!  Talk about a celebration!  As far as Joshua and gaining weight, he actually lost a tiny bit in the beginning (about half a pound)but has been pretty steady since then (and he grew taller!).  We are hoping that as we add on more foods he will start to gain more. Not only that, but Joshua's demeanor has already improved considerably (less fits.  We do know that he is in that place between 1 and 2 that means lots of tantrums, but he was throwing some that were concerning me and those ones are consistently decreasing in number.

I am glad to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for myself (Full GAPS), and cannot wait until Jeff and Joshua are there with me.  Thanks for your prayers, and keep 'em coming.  We still have a long road ahead of us, but it has been a good experience so far!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

We Survived Making Fish Stock!

Alright, when I am in the mood, I enjoy the taste of fish, but I have never (ever) really enjoyed the smell of seafood in general.  So even though I know there are plenty of good things for us in bone broth made from fish...I have been sort of dreading this first endeavor at making it.  I was terrified it would make my whole house smell gross.  But we knew we had to get it over with, so we took another plunge.

First, let me just say that I found Jeff's fish-buying experience hilarious.  He went to the World Market in Decatur because we knew they had a great selection of very fresh seafood.  They also have all kinds of weird things you might not find at other grocery stores in just about every department of the store.  So we figured, this was the place to go in order to find whole fish.  Well we were right, but Jeff said the guy kept trying to make sure that he was actually looking for an entire fish with the head and all, like he just could not believe that was what Jeff was after.  But finally, after about 20 minutes of looking for a fish that had not yet been cut up, he returned to Jeff with a humongous cod, and then managed to find him some red snappers that were in the same condition (and then the sardines for my "fun" fermented fish fiasco/fiesta...we will decide which f completes the alliteration later).

The laughs just keep on rolling in over this fish situation, as my 4 year old niece walked in on Jeff fileting the fish. "Uncle Jeff, what are you doing to that fish?" When he explained that he was cutting it up so he could eat it, she looked horrified, and asked, "But why isn't it in the ocean?"  He again explained that it was so he could eat it and she said, "But it has EYES!"  Poor girl has just learned that sometimes we eat things that have (rather, used to have) eyes.  The fish will no longer have eyes when we eat it, though.  That is a little too much for me to handle.

Anyway, so today Jeff fileted the fish and we threw it in the stock pot with ridiculous amounts of garlic (to help cover the smell), as well as some onion, peppercorns, a little Apple Cider Vinegar (again, for the fish taste), and some Celtic salt.  What can I say? I am a bit of a baby when it comes to fishy smell.  Or so I thought...

I was getting some things done in another room, when I came out into the living room and smelled the stock right away (from three rooms away).  But it was not that bad!  It actually smelled kind of buttery (like the time we sauteed some sea bass in butter, lime, lemon, and garlic).  No butter here, but plenty of buttery fish smell.  And then, when we took the pot off of the heat, we had some errands to run.  A couple of hours later we came back, and the fish smell was already gone!

I am actually looking forward to eating the fish soup.  I had to strain some kefir (for the upcoming fermented fish I will need kefir whey), so I thought the thicker kefir left behind would make a great "sauce" for the fish.  I added copious amounts of dill and garlic and that is sitting in the fridge as we speak, awaiting lunch time tomorrow (I cannot do fish for breakfast yet.  I know Jesus could, but I am just not there yet).

So we survived the experience of making fish stock, and I think that I will even be able to do it again with the red snappers later.  One more "new GAPS experience" off of my list!

Monday, March 12, 2012


I am truly amazed at the progress we have made in the last several days.  Joshua has been eating three meals a day of GAPS-legal foods since Thursday AM.  We started with butternut squash boiled in broth (and pureed in that broth); but I was a little disappointed that he was not eating anything else.  He ate butternut squash for three meals Thursday.  By the next day, however, Jeff had a stellar idea.  "Let's puree the pork in with the squash!"

As an experiment I tried the pork pieces shredded up but not pureed.  He ate all the squash but did not touch the meat.  He did want seconds though, so I took my immersion blender and pureed the pork in the remaining squash.  I did have to push that first bite.  I took a moment when his mouth was open, screaming, and stuck a dab on his tongue.  And he was mad, but then he swallowed.  So he reached for another bite, swallowed, then yelled (at me) about it.  But he kept going, even despite his yells, until he silenced himself altogether except for exclamations of "Mmmmm." 

Sunday we added spinach to the puree, along with a bit more broth so it resembled more of a thick soup than "mashed potatoes."  He ate that readily, even though the color changed.  Today we added carrots, and decreased the amount of squash (up until today he has been going through one entire squash per day) by half.  A little more broth, and we have been putting a small spoonful of rendered lard.  Initially we had added a few drops of honey, but now we are leaving the honey out entirely.

So as of today he has had three full meals with more of the broth, three different vegetables, and a good amount of meat.  But that is not the ONLY progress we have made...

Joshua is starting to vocalize with more syllables than "da da da" for the first time in a few months.  The words he has lost are already starting to return.  Just this morning he would wave "bye bye" but what he said sounded like "da da."  By tonight, he said his first "Bye bye" also in a couple months.  I was so flabbergasted that I was tempted to think it was all in my head, but he waved and everything.  And his overall demeanor has improved greatly.  Fewer tantrums and fits, more of the joyful laughter he had us so used to.

Now the update on us...

Jeff is still in stage 1 of the intro, but considering adding the egg yolks in soon.  We will do the skin test before we introduce the ghee, just to make sure.

I have been eating the raw egg yolks, soft boiled eggs, and ghee with my soups, and I am loving it.  I am feeling less hungry, and the flavor it adds to the soup is pretty fantastic.  I have not tried the fermented fish yet, but I have been making kefir, so tomorrow I will strain some to make kefir way, and then I will make my first batch of cultured sardines.  I am not exactly thrilled or excited about it, haha, but I figure if it is part of the protocol, I should at least try it.  Then I will be moving on to stage 3 of the intro (hooray, mashed avocado and almond butter "pancakes")!

Tonight we tested egg yolk from duck eggs on Joshua's skin (he is allergic to chicken eggs but I have read that many people who cannot tolerate chicken eggs can have duck eggs).  Since stage 2, which we will be moving him into in a few days, has egg yolks as part of the protocol, we want to see if the duck eggs might be an option.  I do not think we will test ghee on him, though.  Since we already know he is allergic to dairy, Dr. Campbell-McBride's suggestion is to go through the whole intro (all six stages) and then introduce dairy in a very structured approach, beginning with the ghee and moving forward from there with increasing "allergen potential."  So I will render chicken fat so we can add that to his soups, and render more lard for cooking the foods in the subsequent stages of the intro.

Right now the fact that we are not all on the same stage is not that tricky, but I am hoping that we will all catch up at some point (maybe while I am waiting for the fish to culture before I move on to stage 3).  Either way, I am preparing myself for the eventuality of being on full GAPS before my guys, and preparing myself to juggle the two.

For the first couple weeks trying to find a rhythm has made consistency in just about every other arena very difficult, but I think we are finally getting back into the swing of things.  This has not been easy.  It has challenged us on multiple levels, but I am very glad we are doing it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Yogurt Nog?

So, I think it goes without saying that soup three meals a day can get old really quickly.  Now that I am on stage 2, I decided that I should mix breakfast up a bit.  I have been gradually increasing the amount of homemade raw yogurt I've been eating, and today is when I started with egg yolks.  That gave way to this glorious idea:

Yogurt Nog

1/2 to 3/4 c plain homemade yogurt
2 pastured, organic egg yolks (carefully separated)
honey to taste

Blend on low speed, pour and enjoy!

Now, I actually had adapted that this morning when I had it, I poured it over some butternut squash puree (the puree we have been making for Joshua, butternut squash boiled and mashed in bone broth).  The tartness of the yogurt combined with the sweetness of the squash actually made it taste peachy.  It was like I was eating some kind of creamy peach porridge.

I know, it is a very simple recipe.  But after a week on soups for every meal, glorious is the most appropriate word, because having something not-soup for breakfast made the rest of the day so much better for me. Also it was surprisingly filling, and is really soothing for the stomach.  Dr. Campbell-McBride says that raw egg yolks are so readily absorbed that they require almost no digestion. And of course the yogurt is probiotic, so it is good for the stomach as well.

So, there you have it. Healthy, good for the digestion, GAPS legal. My new favorite breakfast (until I get scrambled eggs back in the lineup!)

Little Victories

So, just one day later, I am happy to report that Joshua ate three meals today and one snack, all GAPS-legal foods, though not a lot of variety.  Most of what he ate today was butternut squash (that had been cooked in homemade beef broth) and broccoli (also cooked in the broth).  The squash we actually mashed in broth, and also added some pastured lard, and a bit of honey.  So, he did get some broth and some good fats.  However, he is still not drinking the broth on his own (but I have "dream fed" him a little bit here and there while he was sleeping. We are going to work more on the broth, and continue the (diminishing) juice with (increasing) kombucha.  I am very hopeful.  My child who refused to eat for two days ate every meal today. Praise the Lord!

As for Jeff and I, we are doing pretty well.  While we have had some mild die-off symptoms, it has been a pretty gentle intro for us.  I had a bit of a rough time today with nausea (that seemed to be related to blood sugar).  I have had a hard time getting enough to eat in a day because of course there is not a lot of variety in stage one of intro.  Textures easily put me off, as does too much repetition.  So I have been eating, and not skipping any meals or anything, but maybe not eating as much as I should be.  And I felt it today.  Nausea aside, though, I am feeling pretty good.  A little tired, which is probably also due to not quite getting enough to eat.  But my sinus infection is clearing itself up with no antibiotics (just PRObiotics), and my mental clarity is already improving some.

Jeff has had no problem always keeping a cup of broth nearby, and eating several bowls of soup per meal.  He has a man's appetite, which maybe supersedes the issues of repetition that I struggle with.

Tomorrow I am moving into stage two of the intro, while Jeff is going to stay on stage one a little longer (as is Joshua, of course).  I am not presently dealing with any digestive issues and my die-off seems to be slacking off, so I'm going for the extra nutrients and a little variety.  I will start by adding an egg yolk to my breakfast soup, and maybe add some ghee to lunch and dinner's soups.  I am not sure if I am brave enough to try the fermented fish recipes yet, but I am working up to it.  With a few more options to get some good nutrition on stage 2, I will not hurry it too much, because I want to take my time on each stage to make sure I am letting the diet do its work.  That is going to be hard, though, because stage 3 of intro is when I can start having the "pancakes" made with almond meal...not to mention ripe mashed avocado.  Those will certainly add some nice variety and substance.

One thing we're trying to do is not eat one kind of stock for too long.  Right now a batch of stock lasts us about two days, and we alternate types of meat.  Tomorrow morning we will be finished with the beef stock, and we will switch to pork (made from uncured ham hocks and neckbones).  With the pork we like to do winter squashes and spinach and other greens.  With the beef we have done a lot of yellow squash and zucchini, broccoli florets, and carrots.  We are making a special trip to a market in Atlanta tomorrow, where we will get some fish for fish stock.  Jeff is working on his Whiz-Bang Chicken Plucker, and after that is finished we will have some chickens to add to the mix.

Things I am starting to notice already - my skin is getting a more youthful glow again already, and that makes me happy.  I have heard from some others that the ample supply of collagen in the broths would have that effect, as well as possibly healing things like stretch marks and that lovely "extra skin" from pregnancy from the inside out.  These are not the reason I am doing GAPS, but hey - what a perk!!  I have not seen any effect yet on stretch marks, but seriously I will just be content when people go back to guessing way too young for my age.

Some of the less positive things:

I really miss bread.  Jeff, who has been bread free for much longer, does not seem to empathize with me much in this craving.  I went from regular (soaked or sprouted) bread eating to none at all far too quickly!

The grocery store.  Oh my word.  We needed to stop in and get a few things we did not expect to run out of, produce wise.  Let me just tell you that going through a grocery store when you are in the first week of GAPS intro is basically pure torture.  Shiny pictures of processed junk that I otherwise do not have nearly so hard a time turning down turn me into a drooling mess.  And there is chocolate around every corner!  We do not really shop in actual grocery stores very much, and maybe some good planning would have prevented this trip.  So, if you are starting on GAPS and you have good farms/farmers markets where you can get what you need, avoid the grocery store until you get that gut flora in check.  Yeast totally exacerbates carb cravings.  Kick the yeast, and THEN go to the grocery store.  (On a totally Trekie side note that will make my father and my friend Monique very proud:  Jeff and I have had several conversations about how yeast (and bacterial overgrowth, too) are basically The Borg.  Think about it, they take over, they speak in the royal plural, and they are very difficult to refuse.  "Resistance is futile. Chocolate can be assimilated.")

There are ups and downs, and we have experienced many in just the short time we have been doing this.  But even with the downs, I whole-heartedly recommend GAPS to anyone who is dealing with children with multiple allergies (or if you have multiple allergies), signs of digestive distress, or even just mild indications that your gut flora might be off.  It is not easy, but it is worth it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Getting your child to eat GAPS Foods...can it be done?

So, this is where we are right now.  Jeff and I are fully on intro, and Joshua....Joshua is not really eating. We were offering him "transition foods," by putting homemade sweet potato chips in his broth, or letting him have a banana at the beginning of the day, but the starchiness of those foods perpetuate the problem (feeding the bad gut bacteria) and prevent him from getting hungry enough to start eating the GAPS foods.  We are offering him plenty of food, and he went most of the day Monday without eating any of it; then he devoured lots of cooked-in-broth broccoli florets that night for dinner.  He went to town.  But he maybe overdid it, and he did not get a lot of the FAT from the broth the broccoli had absorbed, and so now....he is constipated.  Being constipated, he is not very interested in food.

Addressing the constipation is interesting.  I know it is partly because he needs more fat, and the source of fat that is most accessible is the fat in our broth.  He will not drink the broth (even though before he started self restricting he LOVED to drink broth) while awake, so we have been waiting until he is asleep.  We hauled the bottles (that we used twice back when he was nursing, haha) back out of storage and cleaned them.  Then, we put some bone broth in the bottles once it had cooled sufficiently (but the fat was still liquid, very important). Joshua gets to a certain point of sleepiness where the pacifier just falls straight out of his mouth, and I waited for that moment to slip in the bottle. He sucked a few times (though a little trickled out of the side of his mouth) before realizing something was up.  He started to wake, and I quickly slipped the paci back in and he settled back down.  We did this several times with him in my arms like when he was nursing.  Eventually he woke enough to roll over onto the bed, he put up with me giving him one or two more sucks like that, and then  rolled over onto his belly.  I did not want to aggravate him or interrupt his sleep further, so I left it at that.  We'll give it another go at bedtime (maybe rocking him in the rocker at the same time?).  Anyway, the broth is so he gets enough fat to help move things along.  Also, we are giving him some kombucha with each cup of juice he drinks.  Dr. Campbell-McBride talks about probiotics being key in resolving constipation, and her other suggestion is an enema (with probiotics included in the water).  But with all the frequent diarrhea Joshua has had in the past, he is really touchy when it comes to his "diaper area," and I am just not prepared to create one more battle by trying to give him an enema.

The juice is totally not GAPS legal, but it is the only thing he'll drink right now, and is a great vehicle for the kombucha.  Honestly it is mostly water, with a splash of juice, and a little more than a splash of kombucha.  It was more juice, but we have been gradually stepping that down.  So he is still drinking plenty of liquids throughout the day, and I am confident that once we resolve the constipation his appetite will return and he'll eat the veggies.

If all of this seems a little drastic (as I am fully aware that it may) I should explain that Joshua is your "typical GAPS patient."  Every time we have removed a food he is allergic to, he is fine and symptom free for a little while, and then develops a new allergy. Milk and eggs were the two at the beginning, and all his eczema began to disappear and his bowel movements normalized very shortly after removing them, this lasted a few weeks.  Then he was suddenly reacting again, this time to wheat and corn.  We remove those, and he develops an allergy to coconut (we had been giving him coconut milk) and to oranges (and this is when we discovered his allergy to our much-avoided soy and peanuts).  He develops an allergy to peas (related to soy), we get all of this out of his diet, and then after the typical symptom free period, he develops an allergy to rice and (apparently, though it has not been tested yet) quinoa.  I mentioned this tendency to his ped and she shrugged it off.  But, because of this trend, I am fairly confident that if we keep removing foods, he will keep developing new allergies. This is something Dr. Campbell-McBride has said is standard to GAPS patients, and I had mentioned my concerns about this to his doc long before reading Gut And Psychology Syndrome.

So, basically, we are covering all of this in massive amounts of prayer.  How can I let my son go on eating only one or two foods, and foods that will worsen his condition, at that?  But waiting this out feels pretty cruel, too.  Massive amounts of prayer are the only way I am getting through the day right now.  Still, I am convinced that this is the best route.  Because of all his allergies, the foods on full GAPS are basically the only foods he is not allergic to, but how can I get him to eat any of those foods without resolving the gut flora issues that have him craving starchy foods? Prayer needs to be (and is, now) my first response, my constant practice.  God gave us this boy, and He is obviously the one we should look to in caring for him.

Friday, March 2, 2012

GAPS Days 1 & 2: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

So yesterday we officially started GAPS, and we survived!

We are easing into the intro, since we still had some perishable non-GAPS foods to get rid of, and we are moving nice and slow so we do not overwhelm Joshua.  He is not eating a lot right now, and from what I have heard about young toddlers on GAPS, that is pretty normal, but I am a mom so of course it is a little hard for me.  We had a breakthrough, tonight, though, and I will get to that a bit later.

First, let me tell you about the few weeks before we started. This is a little long, but bear with me (especially if you have kids with food issues).

Joshua developed yet another food allergy (rice), and when we removed all the rice from his diet he started self-restricting his food. He has done this before, when we removed corn.  Basically, whenever we discover and remove an allergen, Joshua restricts what food he will eat a little more.  Some of his allergies never had the chance to cause this problem.  We knew he was allergic to dairy since before we started him on solid foods, and we knew about the eggs shortly thereafter. We never gave him anything with peanut because we know his cousins are very allergic.  And we never gave him anything with soy because it is a phyto-estrogen and therefore we follow a "no unfermented soy for our family and no soy for growing boys." policy.  But we were giving him organic grits, blue corn chips, and things like that.  He loved the blue corn chips with salsa.  At that point he would also happily eat whatever we put in front of him. He gnawed on strips of pastured pork chop or grass fed steak, and hungrily ate up bacon and sausage.  He ate a whole host of vegetables, including green beans, broccoli, carrots, summer squash, collard greens sauteed in rendered bacon fat, swiss chard cooked the same way, raw cucumbers,.  He ate all kinds of fruits, bananas, strawberries, oranges, melons of myriad varieties, apples, and pears.  We took the corn away, as well as oranges and wheat.  It was a big transition, and he responded by restricting his foods even further. He would still eat potatoes and sweet potatoes, but he stopped eating most other vegetables except for broccoli and carrots, he stopped eating all fruits except bananas and strawberries. And he was eating rice chex and veggie straws (not proud of that but they were non-allergenic snacks that traveled well), as well as occasional Enjoy Life bars and fruit squeeze pouches. 

Well, a week and a half ago we went to see the allergist for the first time.  He explained that he was not a fan of the type of machine that our pediatrician did Joshua's blood test on, and wanted to reconfirm a few of the allergens with a scratch test.  Well, that told us that some of the allergies he had actually were much stronger than the blood test showed, AND that he is allergic to rice.

We pulled the rice from his diet and suddenly Joshua only wanted to eat bananas, sausage, potatoes, and fruit squeezes.  He would not even touch broccoli (which was definitely his favorite vegetable until that point).  Other things were concerning me, namely that Joshua used to use the new words he was learning all the time.  He would look out the window and say "chicken" while pointing to the chickens.  Now he just says "da" for a lot of those same things.  He still says "Mama," "Dada," "Please," and "Detta (for shupetta)."  But a lot of his other words are being replaced with "Da."

Now it is confession time: I only read the second half of Gut and Psychology Syndrome at first.  We were only concerned with food allergies, so I only read about the food.  In the few days before the diet, I started reading the first half of the book, and I kind of went a little nuts.  I started reading about they "typical GAPS patient," and felt like I was reading about Joshua.  Suddenly limiting his food is something Dr. Campbell-McBride spent a bit of time on.  Then I was reading the blog of another GAPS mom and she talked about her child losing words and mentioned some behavioral things I had been picking up on in Joshua, too.  Beyond that, I learned that this was a long time coming.  Joshua, like many GAPS patients and like this one blogger's kid, had persistent cradle cap and a persistent yeasty diaper rash as an infant.  My whole world was spinning for a minute as I realized that Joshua is not just a kid with food allergies.  He is a GAPS patient.  But now I had something new to panic over, if he is so intent on self limiting his foods, how am I going to get him to eat the GAPS foods?

I am going through all of this here on the blog because I had no idea some of the "quirks" I was noticing in Joshua's behavior were common to other GAPS kids.  I had no idea that sudden self-restriction of foods was a sign that behaviorally a child could be headed toward the Autism Spectrum, or that the persistent cradle cap and diaper rash could have been my first clues that his gut flora was off in a way that could trigger food allergies and all the things we are dealing with now.  And right now you might be thinking that your highly allergic child is just that, and maybe a lifetime of eating around those allergies is not so bad, after all.  Especially because GAPS can be so intimidating at first glance.  But if your child is like the "typical GAPS patient," maybe it is worthwhile to pursue.  Dr. Campbell-McBride also mentions the fact that for the GAPS patient, simply removing allergens only goes so far, as the patient will likely develop other allergies if the condition is untreated.  This definitely seems the case for Joshua.  It seemed like he never reacted to at least half his allergens until he had been eating them regularly for some time.

OK, finally, tonight's breakthrough.  We tried to use the ABA method that Dr. Campbell-Mcbride talks about in the chapter "Oh No! It's Feeding Time," of GAPS.  We had limited success.  We stuck to our guns, and offered Joshua a sweet potato chip (homemade and fried in pastured lard) for every spoonful of broth he ate.  But he never willingly ate any.  We did give him some in a dropper, and gave him a chip after each time that he swallowed, but he didn't ever choose the broth.  I know it is a process, but we were not sure if we could handle more nights of screaming fits.  Tonight, we dipped the sweet potato chips in his soup puree, and it worked!  The idea is that:  as we gradually give him probiotics and feed him the GAPS approved foods, we will also decrease the quantity of the non-GAPS foods, and then he'll be fully on intro.

And our mistakes so far:  I have regularly been making kombucha, kefir, and other probiotic foods at various points over the last three years, so when she says to start with like a teaspoonful of sauerkraut juice in some cooled down broth, I scoffed.  We have all consumed a good amount of probiotic foods before, so why start so small.  Well, Joshua had horrible diarrhea and diaper rash today, and I know it is because I put a splash of kombucha in his drink not once, but 4 times.  My intentions were good: correct the gut flora imbalance and he won't crave those horrible starchy foods, but we have to start small because it is a marathon, not a sprint.  For me, I have had monstrous headaches all day long (like, I can feel my pulse in my teeth).  I also overdid it on the kombucha yesterday.  What we are experiencing is called die-off, and it is the release of toxins (and therefore, these wondrous symptoms) that occurs when the pathogenic bacteria and yeast die off.  This is why you start slow.  I backed way off today on the probiotics for both Joshua and I, and slathered his poor backside with coconut oil.  By tonight he was already looking better.

So that's it, the good, the bad, the ugly.  I think we are going to make it.  I know that this is exactly what we need, so we are going to take baby steps all the way through intro and into full GAPS.  I am glad, reading other GAPS mom's experiences, that we have at least one medical professional that is fully supportive of our endeavor (Joshua's new allergist/immunologist, who said that though he'd never heard of it before, the premise makes a lot of sense). I have a feeling that his support is going to be necessary.