Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Top GAPS Diet Mistakes

The body is a complex system and our digestion is the foundation. Messing up our digestion can mess up any number of other body functions. For me, I've suffered intense adrenal depletion, body chemistry changes, emotional stress, lowered immunity, and elimination issues. This affects how I need to do the GAPS diet - particularly the adrenal fatigue. This blog is about the mistakes that I made; they may or may not apply to you. I hope this will be helpful whether you are trying to learn about the GAPS diet or are someone in my life trying to learn more about me.


1. Not enough broth

My first month back on the GAPS diet, I did not notice much effect on my digestion. When I thought back to what I ate, I realized that I was not eating bone broth every day! The recommended broth intake is with every meal. I bumped up my broth/soup consumption to at least twice a day and now I am noticing a difference. A good homemade bone broth is rich in gelatin, healthy fats, and minerals. The gelatin is very soothing and healing to the digestive track. The minerals in the broth are highly absorbable and essential for healing.

Solution: Continuous brew broth.  I have a crockpot going all weekend and just keep making soup and then adding more water. The last batch is usually not very gelatinous, but, it is still beneficial. This method keeps me eating plenty of soup, which is so much more digestible for me.

You can also make lots of broth at once! It makes your house smell, so it can be good get it all done at once.


2. Too much fruit and honey

I am not endorsing eating cats.
Without dairy, grains or sugars, I have been at a loss of what to eat. Smoothies, fresh fruit, applesauce and other treats started filling up my diet, as they are "GAPS legal." But, I've been overdoing it to the point where I feel nauseated from eating too many sweets. The bad bacteria produce alcohol, giving me the symptoms of being hung over. Fruits do have some di-saccharides in them, and they do provide food for bad bacteria. While I wouldn't avoid fruit altogether, I definitely am eating too much. I also believe many fruits may be too acidic for my stomach. I'm not worried about them affecting my body pH - I actually feel like my stomach is burning when I eat them. 

Solution: Eat more soup! I have to keep telling myself, "It's okay to eat soup all day!" I eat boring soups, I eat fun curries with pumpkin.  I have to keep eating every 2-3 hours so my blood sugar doesn't drop. Unfortunately, this means a lot of prep to constantly have soups and non-fruit snacks available. I also juice a lot of veggies instead of fruits.


3. Too low carb 

It's pretty hard to get carbs without grains and fruits! My adrenals are so taxed, that going so low carb makes me almost useless. It's abundantly clear that eating any grains at all makes my gut incredibly inflamed. And fruits make my stomach burn and are possible not good for me to eat a lot.

Solution: Eat a bunch of squash. My favorite is kabocha squash, either steamed/mashed or roasted with coconut oil and salt. Or, I like to roast it and then cut it into cubes to go in Thai curry.  Ultimately, it's better for me to eat something than let my blood sugar crash. My latest favorite is to make curried roasted root veggies.

Recipe for Curried Roasted Root Veggies:
Chop a bunch of beets, carrots or radishes, coat in coconut oil and sprinkle generously with curry powder. Roast on 400F for 45-60 minutes, depending on how small the chunks are.

Grain free bread - not terrible for you in moderation.

4.  Too many baked goods

Baking grain free means baking with coconut or almond flour. I don't seem to digest nuts with ease, although much more easily than grains. I also think that eating a ton of nuts is not part of a well balanced diet.  And, I feel it keeps me from what I should really be eating which is vegetables and broth. I will still eat some baked nut flour treats, but not daily.

Solution: The problem is the solution - baked goods kept me from eating soup. Eat tons of soup!The roasted root veggies can really help satisfy the need for something baked and sweet.


Fermenting purple cabbage and kombucha.

5. Not enough fermented foods

I try to eat fermented foods with each meal. To do this, I need a bunch of plain kraut on hand at all times. Kimchee doesn't go with everything. But, I do like to have kimchee around too, as well as other fun variations on kraut.

Solution: Invest in kraut making kitchen goods and starter cultures. Then you can make tons of fermented veggies cheaper!  Drinking kraut juice or beet kvass can really help keep up the intake of probiotics. Here is a recipe for fermented herbal tea that I want to try!



6. Too much alcohol 

The GAPS diet says some liquor and dry wines are okay "occasionally." What does that even mean? For me, figuring out how much I can drink and not feel negative results has been difficult. Finally, I think I've realized that I cannot really handle any alcohol right now. And what's the point anyway? I am not a glass of wine with dinner kind of person - I rarely only want one glass. Usually I want to drink because I am in a social setting - a wedding, a birthday, etc and so usually I want 2 or 3. But that's definitely too much.

Solution: Avoid drinking situations as much as possible. Ask friend to go to tea, for a walk, to the beach etc. Living in San Francisco, I really enjoy seeing old films at the historic theaters like the Castro theater.


7. Not enough planning
Going on the GAPS diet is a major lifestyle change. It has changed not only what I eat, but how I spend my time, who I hang out with, and just about all parts of my life. I started the GAPS diet several times and couldn't maintain it. There always seem to be a reason to cheat - a wedding, a work trip, stress, etc. Often I don't have enough snacks to keep my blood sugar up.

Solution:  Keep meat and veggies well stocked at all times! Prepare lots of foods in advance. Have at least two different flavors of soup on hand at all times. Have ready to eat protein like salami, cooked shrimp, or cooked sausage (some of these are not recommended for severe GAPS patients). Always have broth cooking or in your fridge. Buy extra broth from butchers who make it from bones. Always bring your own food where-ever you go. See my post on Traveling on the GAPS diet.


It is okay to eat soup for breakfast! Beet kvass makes a great beverage too - sometimes I even crave it!



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