It’s been a chock-full two plus weeks! It seems we have experienced all of the emotions and physical symptoms we’ve had in the past two years in these past 16 days.
In preparation for GAPS, I read a lot about other people’s experiences, and I can totally see how many people have had to start and restart this multiple times. It. Is. Intense.
The first couple of days, the kids reluctantly ate their soups for meals. And we realized how quickly we would go through soups and the homemade yogurt. Though we were technically allowed to add vegetables from day one, we tried to give everyone a day or two of just plain broth and meat with salt in case anything else would aggravate the very reactive gut linings. Georgia was cool with the chicken broth, but on the second round of plain beef soup, she made it known that she was done. I couldn’t blame her.
James was never happy to see soup, but we’ve been working with him to eat broth for about four months in preparation for this. Though James ate foods with all kinds of tastes and textures as a baby, he started to become picky around 15 months, and when the gut issues became more pronounced, so did the pickiness. Unfortunately, we usually have to play kid music videos to get him to eat the soup. This drives me bonkers. I can feel generations past and present and any childhood expert shaking their heads at me. But I tell myself that most of them probably don’t have a malnourished child who is reactive to a million foods and has sensory issues with foods on top of it. So youtube it is-for now.
On the second and third day, James refused to eat soup at dinner and then vomited. The third day, it was projectile vomit. (Fun fact- it was also directly on my MacBook. He’s an excellent shot.)
That third day dinner, he then refused to eat any yogurt, and he was extremely lethargic. When I took his temperature, it had actually dropped significantly, which scared me enough to find the contraband Cheerios and force feed them to him until he started to get his energy back, all while I stress ate raw honey.
We spoke with his doctor the next day, and she wondered if it was a histamine reaction since broth could be a high histamine food. His skin had actually completely cleared from any eczema, and when we did some blood work shortly after, his histamine levels were within normal range, so we weren’t sure if that was the case. Obviously it’s a bit hard to tell after the fact.
Dr. Natasha Campbell, the creator of GAPS, had mentioned on her FAQs that vomiting can be a sign of hypoglycemia when a patient’s carb intake is significantly cut. Though James was already gluten free, his limited diet still consisted mainly of carbs with Cheerios, quinoa pasta, and bananas. So in consulting with his doctor, we moved him to a modified ketogenic diet, which is essentially the same thing as the full GAPS diet, just without the more intense intro stages. It’s still completely grain free, all whole foods, and avoiding certain inflammatory foods. This made us feel a little defeated, as the introduction stages of GAPS are set up for more intense healing of the gut lining. But maybe we can go back to the intro once his body starts to adapt to low carb ways and he becomes less picky, God-willing!
After making this change, James was much better. His skin was still clear, he was happier, more verbal, singing more songs than usual in their entirety, more aware of his surroundings and more interested in the activities of the people around him.
He even tried a couple of new foods!! We’ve read about this happening for kids who are picky eaters. We tend to be attracted to the foods that our bodies don’t process well. When we take them out, we become more open to other things.
James eating “pancakes!”
“Pancakes”- Four eggs and a cooked chicken breast blended in the food processor. Fry up the batter in ghee like pancakes! Recipe courtesy of Julie Matthews
The kids were nuts about these things. Fry little shreds of chicken in ghee until they get crispy like chips. Thomas came up with name and method- reminiscent of the crispy pieces of chicken his mom used to make for him.
James eating mixed vegetables??
This was the most beautiful and bizarre sight. These were made by my very talented mother-in-law in one of the soups. They were in Georgia’s plate, and he just went for them. And ate the whole plate.
So of course we got excited and also gave him a birthday cupcake for Georgia’s 2nd birthday….twice. It was a GAPS-approved recipe with all healthy ingredients, but definitely not something his body was ready for. The eczema started to come back. So did the edginess. And so did the pickiness.
He hasn’t touched a cooked vegetable since then, and the “pancakes” are now licked (still some serious progress!), but he never takes a bite. We are going back to plain broth, homemade yogurt, avocados, blueberries, and bananas for a few days to get his body back to where it was.
Thomas had a rough couple of weeks. Headaches, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, shortness of breath, all of the fun symptoms you can imagine. The second day, he actually broke out in a fever and chills! Apparently this can happen from bacteria die off. He hid the scale the first two weeks, so he wouldn’t be able to see how much weight he lost.
Some people try to start this diet during time off from work or an easy period of time. Being the sacrificial father that he is, he started it when he had a million things going on at work so James could start it during a school break. Somehow the man survived.
During the second week, his mom came to help us cook and take care of the kids. Though I am generally a good recipe follower, I don’t know food well enough to know what herbs, etc, work together well. So she made our soups into gourmet soups, which helped a ton. Thomas’ weight loss has seemed to hit a plateau, so hopefully regaining it soon follows.
He’s sticking out the introduction stages of GAPS and is currently on stage two! And the past couple of days, he’s started to feel much better. Just really tired. Making progress.
Georgia and I moved with James to the full GAPS diet. She was much happier to see blueberries, eggs, mangos, and avocados back in her life. She’s also been asking for birthday cake for a couple of months, so she was thrilled when her own birthday cupcake came. Her digestion has been a little off, but hoping that’s just because she had probably more sweet things than recommended for her family birthday party (Though we managed to make it almost all completely GAPS recipes! Thanks, Internet!)
And for me- I actually feel great physically. The first couple of days, I had a headache and felt really weak in the morning until I ate. But my body has adapted to the grain-free lifestyle, and I definitely have more energy than I normally would on not a lot of sleep. I’m hoping the boys follow soon.
So, some first two week reflections:
Lessons that were/are hard to learn for us—
- Don’t rush foods when you have food sensitivities. Just don’t. Even if it’s a sibling’s birthday party, and the parent guilt starts to take over. Give the body a chance to adapt and heal with each new food introduction.
- Nothing is going to be perfect. Really appreciate and be grateful for those wins when you get them.
- Time. So much time in the kitchen and away from the not super independent little children. It’s not their favorite or mine. I’m hoping we become more efficient as time goes on. We try to make things in big quantities, but we also seem to eat them in large quantities? Working on a better plan.
- Social situations- navigating these is pretty tricky. James is generally used to eating separate food, but Georgia is not. We try to bring along snacks that they both love, so they don’t get too much snack envy.
- James trying three new foods in a week?? Though we had a bit of regression these past few days, we can’t forget that. That’s pretty much a year’s progress, considering his history.
- Even though it’s so much time, I love cooking like this. I love feeding my family whole, organic foods and nothing processed. It’s been an intimidating goal for us for a long time, so in many ways, it’s a blessing that the issue was forced on us.
- The bit of progress we’ve seen in these past two weeks is so very promising. Makes it all worth it!
- We are so, so, SO blessed to have so many supportive, loving friends and family. There were so many encouraging messages. And we could feel all of the prayers lifting us up!
Thank you for following. Here’s to the next couple of weeks!