GAPS Stage Three

Blog Post | April 10, 2016 | By

Stage three. You nearly did me in. I’ve almost quit throughout this stage. Twice. We are at nine weeks in today, that deserves a hip hip hooray if I don’t say so myself, especially if we focus on the first, actually second sentence. That also means that we’ve been hovering around stages three to four for about six weeks. Yes, that is a long time. That’s the thing that I’m finding with GAPS, that it isn’t one size fits all in any way shape or form and to try and fit ourselves into a ‘we must be at this stage by this date box’ is really not going to help anyone, especially my sourdough brain as the date to try this gets pushed further away! My mantra all along has been take it slow and do it properly and then hopefully we won’t have to go back to the start to often, if at all. It has taken patience, mixed with a lot of long suffering but as we start to move onto the next stage now, whilst in the middle of it, it felt all consuming and overwhelming,

I’m now grateful as in hindsight it really does go by quickly in the grand scheme of things.

The positives to come from it have been seeing Samuel and myself start to tolerate salicylates again. This point alone even four months ago wouldn’t have been possible, we were facing many years on the low salicylate diet (which I wasn’t prepared to do, for no other reason than it was so restrictive and when you love food as I do, that’s just plain depressing!) We are both ok with little amounts of honey, activated almonds, carrot, zucchini and squash now and even some fresh coriander and boy does it feel good, like James Brown good, like I knew that I would…

I’d say the main negative for hanging around a stage too long is hunger, or in my case mismanagement of hunger and because of that staying in ketosis for too long. Bryce particularly was having terrible blood sugar crashes, lost a lot of weight and was all round feeling pretty terrible physically and mentally. I’d never probably seen him quite so bad mentally, we knew this was all a normal part of the detox process but we’ve been so caught up in looking out for the boys needs (detox baths, food) that we haven’t been looking out for ourselves enough. We spoke to Mary from Good Mood Food on Monday and she mentioned that we weren’t detoxing ourselves nearly enough so all those toxins that were being released during die off had no where to go, hence they go straight to the brain and create brain fog, irritability, depression just to name a few. So we’ve started iodine painting for some adrenal support, Epsom salt foot baths each night (a bath would be better but time doesn’t always allow), we’re drinking one tablespoon of activated charcoal every second day at the moment. This will all help to start to push those nasty toxins out rather than letting them float around. The other factor we needed to consider was food. He just hasn’t been eating enough and by the boys time spent opening the fridge door, obviously they haven’t either. Actually, either have I but as a mother we all do that, worry about what everyone else is doing and forget yourself! This isn’t so much a negative on staying on a stage too long, this is more to do with pure food volume. Back in the kitchen we went and we’ve upped the volume of food, including meatballs with duck fat and salt and some veggies (if we have the time to add the veg) to snack on during the day, some Almond & Pumpkin Bread (I got this recipe from Jo Whitton at Quirky Cooking with some chicken liver pate to spread on top (if the bread is warm we put some ghee on first to melt then the pate or even a little honey on top – yum!). These few steps the last two days have made a really noticeable difference for his blood sugar levels, general wellbeing and sanity. He was starving! I’ve realised even though I’m feeding the boys three big meals in the day and a few little snacks, the little snacks just aren’t cutting it so I need to get some more food into their repertoire now and fill those little tummies up. I was chatting with a friend on Insta the other day as I posted a picture of Jack eating the bread with pàte and coriander and she asked if he’d always eaten this way. No, he hadn’t. He was what would currently be termed a fussy eater. As I’ve mentioned before he was all carbs, carbs and more carbs. He was so disinterested in meat and most veg. This same boy on day four of GAPS intro was thanking me for chicken soup with vegetables. My hunch now (I haven’t had time to research hence I own the hunch, it has no expert backing, though I will get onto looking into it soon) is that this fussy eating occurs when the gut is overwhelmed with baddies and they’re in such force that they tell the brain to feed them – hence carbs and starch cravings. These baddies hate good bacteria, protein and good fats hence they don’t demand them and the kids don’t want to eat them which equals fussy eaters! Ta da, does this make sense? Anyhow back to the starving males,  I made a yummy shepherds pie Tuesday night, using pumpkin soup and stock to thicken with pumpkin mash as the top with some ghee on top (you could use cauliflower mash also for both, we’re just not quite tolerating it as yet) and I tell you it was so hearty and delicious, even the spare dinner got eaten! Jack then slept 12.5 hours that night which was super great for him (he’s usually a great night sleeper but early riser lately) and same for Sammy. Unfortunately, though Sammy woke the next day with a huge puffy eye which is indicative of a histamine reaction so I think we all got a little too excited at our new meal and overindulged, whoops.

To recap some of our stage three adventures, we are still juggling the egg tolerance with Jack and I and Sammy seemed ok then not ok on Avocado so I pulled him for two weeks and then reintroduced and he now seems ok again. That’s the thing with salicylates as they can build up and accumulate, so what he can handle one day if he has again the next and the next it can tip him over. Hence our slowly, slowly approach. There would be the odd night when we wouldn’t have stock as the base of our meal (thank tiredness for that one) and give in to a grilled meat with veggies cooked in stock, I think more so probably so we could feel normal and have dinner on a plate. However afterwards both Bryce and I would note how we missed the stock. It’s just so nourishing it feels good to drink it. That was a few weeks ago and I’d say now that I’m happy to have the odd meal without the stock and I don’t get that craving anymore which to me would suggest that healing is taking place as my body isn’t so desperate for it.

There was day in mid March, a Saturday that I was just so spent, I kept bursting into tears on and off throughout the morning (boys not listening: I’d cry, our plans for the day changed: I’d cry, feeling lonely: I’d cry) , to the point where eventually Bryce had some sense and suggested I go and lay down for a bit, I think more for the boys sanity than mine. I did and just laid there sobbing, curling my legs up to my chest in the foetal position, I was just done. It was the first time I considered quitting GAPS. The isolation and the intensity of needing to keep going day in, day out just to exist was too much. The previous weekend we’d been to two events on Saturday and Sunday afternoon and both times I had to cook all morning just so we could go and the kids could eat and then once we go there I needed to spend half the time in the kitchen cooking up their food. It is so lonely. Yes, it does pass and no we didn’t quit but boy I wanted to. The only thing that kept me going on that day and even last week as the same exhaustion hit (hello major head cold and no time to rest or recover), was that this is it. If we can’t fix our guts, particularly Samuel there’s no way we’ll get him showing less spectrum behaviour and because his copper levels are so high, if we don’t correct this it’ll make life very difficult for him and those around him.  So this is it and we’ve just got to press on. We seriously considered keeping Samuel at stage three and moving the rest of us on to keep our sanity in check. However I think especially during school holidays when Jack is home all the time also it’d be too stressful to have different meals and for Jack to be eating food in front of him he can’t eat. We’ll stay together but just up the amount of food (pate is a great snack for doing that) and give Bryce heaps of meatballs that he can take to work.

I’ve just order our first starter culture from Kirsty at Kultured Wellness yesterday. We’re going to start with an apple juice starter culture as we’re still avoiding coconut at this stage. I’m excited to get this and start fermenting some foods, Kirsty offers low histamine ferments which will suit us to a tee until I can get some of our methylation issues sorted. We’ve stayed completely off fermented foods due to histamines and also cultured dairy as we were all so dairy intolerant and our nutritionist and I just felt it’d be best to do the basics first as there was so much gut healing that needed to take place and then add in the cherries on top later. We feel it’s time to start that process now so will start with the ferments and some juice from a six-week sauerkraut, when I say ‘juice’ that’s very generous as to start with we’ll be putting 1 drop in a cup that the four of us will all share! We want the good bacteria in there but not too much too soon as it’ll create way too much die off which wouldn’t be pretty. Dairy will be next but we’ll leave that for a few weeks yet. Again slowly but surely we’ll get there. We’re also going to start on carrot juice this week. I’ll be really interested to see how Samuel goes with this as in the past carrot has given him eczema (which further convinces me that skin conditions are born in the gut; they just have to present somewhere on the body to signal a problem) so watch this space to see if enough healing has occurred for him.

One thing I’m slowly getting better at is finding ways to get out without spending a whole morning preparing. Last weekend we felt like a country drive. These are becoming more common these days as we yearn for nature so much more than we ever did. How incredible is the body, as we progress with our healing it tells us exactly what it needs, anyhow I digress, we jumped in the car just after lunch and headed for the Macedon ranges. As we drove out of the city,

I felt I could breathe again.

It’s so calming driving towards mountains and tree’s and away from smog and noise, gosh I am becoming old aren’t I! As we wound our way up the mountain in amongst the most beautifully coloured autumn tree’s I was happy and life was good and yes these moments do exist on GAPS! We drove onto Woodend after playing fishermen and lion tamers in one of the stunning gardens up on the mount, to a fabulous kids park and on the last night of daylight savings we squeezed every daylight hour for what it was worth, chasing the boys around, jumping on the flying fox, sometimes three at once and then cooked a BBQ with some beautiful lamb chops we’d gotten from Inverloch, drank some stock we heated on the BBQ and then gave the boys some leftover lunch veggies. Apart from the wasp drowning in Jack’s stock drink and the associated meltdown because his stock was lost, it was magic and it was easy.

Take Away’s from Stage 3:

  1. It’s ok to go slow. Listen to your body, not the book. If you feel like you need to hang around a stage a little longer, do!
  2. Find a great support network: Join Facebook chat groups, attend GAPS meet up’s in your city, do whatever it takes to just talk GAPS with people who get it. It brings a normalcy and a togetherness like nothing else and it’s so necessary and valuable. I’ve met some really beautiful women through Instagram from all over the world. We’ve never met, had a coffee or picked up the phone but we’re sharing our journey’s online together and for me its been a truly encouraging.
  3. If you’re hungry EAT! I was so focused on the three big meals a day I was neglecting keeping up with some nutritious, filling snacks in between (jellies just aren’t a good everyday option to fill up those bellies, big or small!) Even having a pot of soup on the stove that you can dish up a bowl when the hunger strikes is so easy but works so well.
  4. Keep expectations in check. GAPS is expensive at the beginning. We usually run a weekly budget and at the moment pretty much everything is going towards food. We sneak the odd date night in but it might just be a movie rather than dinner and movies, or a drive up to the country, or a walk along the beach. If you’re with a partner together time during GAPS can be so integral to keep the fires burning and there are way’s without spending a fortune so make it happen. Also be ready to see the majority of each week’s income to go on food for the first little while. Yes, it’s a sacrifice but in my mind if we didn’t the costs we’d be paying for years to come (Speech Therapists, Doctors, Tutors etc.) would far outweigh the monetary sacrifice we’re making now.
  5. Keep up the Detox. It’s really easy to remember to look after everyone else but making sure your own detoxing needs are being met is really super important. Soak your feet in an Epsom salts foot bath each night and spray some magnesium oil on the sole’s of the feet (the best spot for absorption!) and it’ll help eliminate those nasty toxins.

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