Weeks 5-7 on GAPS (kind of)

Can we talk about how confusing nutrition is? It’s like advice on getting a baby to sleep times a million. It’s challenging to obtain solid, well-accepted data on nutrition since it’s hard to do a randomized controlled trial with people and the food that they eat. Add picky kids to the equation, and it is virtually impossible. So what one expert says will heal everything, another says will put you in harm’s way. Roll the dice 😉

 

My envy of plants with their diet of water, sunlight, and some good ol’ CO2 continues.

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Lucky roses

 

Fortunately, it seems we’re learning more and more about the human microbiome and epigenetics. So while the experts are making sense of these things, we do our best to hook onto really smart health practitioners who are constantly obsessing over all of this information, scour the Internet, listen to other families and parents who have experience with similar situations, and listen to our bodies. In James’ case, we watch like a hawk for any physical or behavioral changes and do our best to limit the variables that could explain any changes. And most importantly, pray for guidance.

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James prays for all of us!

 

Shortly after my last post (finishing up week 4 on modified GAPS), James seemed to be going through a regression period. His eczema and overall demeanor were still worlds improved from what they had been, but an eczema flare showed that something was going on, and so did his irritability, less adaptability, and increased stimming. He also randomly threw up after a couple of meals.

 

So we began the guessing game. Is the zucchini we tried bothering him? I made the broth more concentrated this last round thinking it would help him. Was that too much? He’s eating way too many bananas…that definitely could be it. Was he exposed to mold somewhere or some other toxin? Or is it just kid stuff? Maybe he’s tired. Maybe he’s over scheduled. Maybe not scheduled enough. Maybe his little sister is pestering him too much.

 

I often observe his cheeks while he eats meals to see if there’s a difference in redness or bumps after he finishes. After we included daily avocados and made the broth more concentrated than it used to be, we started noticing he would rub his cheeks during meals. After the broth, especially, they seemed to become red pretty quickly. Which, I guess, is strange for eczema to worsen so fast, since it can often take 24-72 hours to show up after a trigger.

 

So that brings us back to the histamine sensitivity hypothesis his physician suggested after he vomited during first couple of days on GAPS. Histamine issues can come along with gut dysbiosis. When you look up histamine foods, they’re pretty much all of the foods that James eats—broth, avocados, fermented foods (like his beloved homemade yogurt), bananas. He also seemed to have more trouble when I was daring and added a splash of the fermented sauerkraut juice in his broth. GAPS is high on the fermented foods, which are also high in histamine.

 

I guess that means we need to regroup again. We can’t remove all of those high histamine foods, since he would be left with chicken, ghee, blueberries, supplements, and the tiny pieces of vegetables we are able to hide in his food and smoothies.

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Spot the zucchini!

 

 

But we’re going to try to limit them to see if histamine is indeed a problem. And we can do things like adjust the broth cooking time so it has less histamine. We can avoid serving him leftovers as well, as the histamine levels increase the longer foods stay in the refrigerator. And figure out how to get some other foods in James in the meanwhile 😛

 

We’re also trying a new prescription called low dose naltrexone, which blocks opioid receptors and is supposed to generally boost the immune system and calm down inflammation. Let’s see what happens!

 

Though it’s a little frustrating when we have to reassess, the progress continues. It goes in waves, but the general direction is still forward. When we visited friends who hadn’t seen him since January, they were floored at how he had grown. He had much more interest in interacting and communicating and had a much faster warm up time. Since you can easily lose sight of that in the day to day, it was really nice and affirming to hear.

 

When it’s obvious he’s feeling well, he is THE most delightful person to be around. Sunshine radiates from those beautiful eyes and smile. We work every day to allow him to feel like his best self.

 

James pumpkins

 

And for Thomas who continues to stick to GAPS religiously (he’s on stage 4/6 of the intro now!), he is still gaining weight and tolerating new foods as he slowly introduces them. Depending on how he feels, he might jump to an earlier stage of GAPS to let things settle before jumping to the next food. For the past two years, he has lost weight, plateaued, and then lost some more, no matter how much he ate. It is so exciting to see things move in the right direction for him!

 

Onward and upward.

 

 

 

 

 

GAPS- Weeks 3 and 4

These last two weeks have left us very hopeful.

 

Thomas is generally feeling better, and he’s eating a ton, including foods that have caused reactions in the past year or two.

 

These include- eggs, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and ghee! A drop of ghee made him sick for two weeks a few months ago. Now he eats it on and in everything with no issues.

 

James has also continued to improve! It took a little bit of time to recover from the plethora of new things we shouldn’t have given him all at once, but after a bit of a reset, he came back stronger than ever.

 

His cheeks are still just about clear of eczema (yay!) and the other patches on his arms and back are decreasing a little bit each day. He has also been eating much more than usual, which is so gratifying. Still limited foods on his modified GAPS diet (meat stock, chicken with ghee, avocados, homemade yogurt, bananas, blueberries), but we have nothing but time. Also can we talk about how much chicken he is eating?? He’s always refused meat, but cooking the already boiled chicken in ghee (so much ghee) has just made a world of difference for him.

 

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So much chicken!

The next new food is going to be a tiny bit of squash blended into the soup to see if his body can tolerate it. If it does, then we’ll see if he will accept small pieces of it that we don’t hide. 🙂

 

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Look at those clear, itch-free cheeks!!

 

Also, a lot has happened these past two weeks in terms of behavior and progress!

 

  1. Outbursts—reduced dramatically. I would estimate about 75% reduction, especially in the last few days. And I’m guessing that many of the outbursts that he did have were because he was hungry, and we hadn’t figured out yet that he needed much more food than in the past. Transitions have been easier, he’s more flexible, and he’s more willing to try new activities. We have been lucky that he usually saves the more vocal protests for at home. He’s pretty good at holding it together in public. But I can’t tell you how life-changing it is to not always be on edge waiting for the next outburst.

 

  1. Mouthing- once again, significantly reduced. Maybe by half. In the past year or so, his mouthing has been out of control. We would walk out of a room and back in two minutes later to find him chewing on books, toys, furniture, just about anything. These past two weeks, I have barely given him his sensory necklace.

 

  1. School progress- After three weeks of vacation, James returned to school last week and had the best first day back ever. His physical therapist reported that he was understanding and following directions in school so much better. At one point, they asked him to sit in the red chair, and he responded, “no, green chair” and walked over to the green chair where a friend was sitting. They were so excited, they had the poor friend move to a different chair. So..maybe putting his own spin on the directions. But understanding and then interpreting them to his liking, for sure.

 

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All smiles after his first day back at school

 

  1. Communication- We’ve heard more unprompted sentences these past couple of weeks, and so have his teachers! He has also been making more attempts at conversation both with us and with people outside of his family, which just warms my heart. It is my favorite.

 

  1. Gross motor- For the first time, when we were in the front yard, James took off independently and walked down the sidewalk, shouting, “let’s go!” He made it all the way to the corner. We joke that, “c’mon James!” is probably one of the most used phrases in our house. He needed no coaxing that day.
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Independently going for a stroll in the neighborhood

 

 

I remember one of his very wise therapists telling me when he was a few weeks old that we had to remember this was a marathon and not a sprint. My naïve, eager self half-listened at the time, but obviously remembered those words. I never thought the marathon would involve food and overall health, but thinking of it in those terms has helped a naturally impatient person to grow the patience muscle a bit more. And it has been and will continue to be worth it. God knows what we need to work on, for sure.

So grateful.

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