Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Surviving Stage 1 of the GAPS Diet

I did it! 

Five days of only broth, soup, boiled meat and squashes and veggies (only non or low starchy ones) and Sauer Kraut juice. Those are the stage 1 allowed food. For a full list of the foods allowed at the 6 different stages of the GAPS introduction diet, see a nice page put together by Health, Home and Happiness.

Alright,  I might have eaten a few other things not on that list. This diet is so challenging,  and hard to stick to and yet there are very few sources of support for how to deal with this. However,  my only cheats were foods that are allowed on the full GAPS diet (stage 7): fruit, honey and the kombucha drink. Those things don't sound too bad right?  

The reason the Full GAPS diet allows fruit and honey because they mostly have monsugars. Refined sugar, or table sugar, is a di-sugar, which actually takes work for the body to digest. Monosugars are absorbed easily by the body. To learn more about this, read my blog on sugars.

My kombucha cheat may have been a bad idea, since kombucha is fed refined sugar there may still be sugar in the kombucha drink unless the drink was cultured for long enough that the culture consumed all the sugar. With store-bought kombucha, you can't be sure. If you brew it at home, make sure to brew it for longer, say about 30 days. 

Besides avoiding the disaccharides, and grains do break down to disaccharides, it is very important to avoid starch on the GAPS diet. One of the most common mistakes in the GAPS diet is to remove all grains but not remove starches. For other common mistakes see the post by The Healthy Home Economist.  My previous comfort food when I tried the Paleo diet was sweet potatoes, but alas, no more. I love kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) with coconut oil and himalayan sea salt. It is my new favorite thing to eat! I've been a little bit too worried that it's higher in starch than other squashes, but from a brief web search, it seems like it is in the same category as other winter squashes which are allowed on GAPS. 

A nutrotionist told me to deal with GAPS cravings by mixing honey with butter or coconut oil. She also recommended ginger tea with honey,  between meals as all sweet things should be taken.  The website Home Health and Happiness recommends some juice and a nap to deal with carb withdrawals. However commercial juice is not recommended for many reasons.

One thing I feel there is not a lot of support on, is how to deal with the emotional experience of the GAPS diet. Since the GAPS diet is to heal the gut, and the gut-brain connection, its no surprise that it might also be a moody experience. As all these toxins are released and bacteria die off, it's triggering my depression and anxiety. The rest of this blog is focused on ways to ease the emotional stress: 

Another recommendation to help with the detox is to take baths, with Epsom salts or other detoxifiers. Living in my tiny San Francisco apartment, I don't have a bath tub. So I've been doing a foot bath every night. I made a nice mix:
1 cup Epsom salt
1 Tablespoon Almond oil
80 drops mixed essential
(I used Rose, Rose Geranium, Jasmine, and Ylang Ylang) 

The foot bath is very relaxing, and I do it before bed. It actually helps me sleep better than a full bath. I think a full bath might be too intense for me, as well as dehydrating. With a foot bath, I get some detox support and a lot of relaxation. For city girl who walks around a lot, not always in comfortable shoes, I think these foot baths are going to become a regular part of my life! 

I'm doing this diet because I have years of gut issues, depression and anxiety. One thing that I've learned over the years is how to use music to support my emotional needs. While I love dancing, poppy music, I don't have the energy for it right now while in the beginning of the introduction diet. But I need uplifting music. So, mellow yet upbeat music is what I am looking for and I found this in Yo La Tengo's new album "Fade" (2013). Sometimes bands that have been around for awhile disappoint. Not this album. It's got all the best features of Yo La Tengo's lengendary past, and yet it's also refreshingly unique. I can't get enough of it! Highly recommended for the GAPS intro diet, or for a happy, mellow Sunday afternoon. 

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