Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A challenging time

I've been quiet here on the blog for a month now and thought I should write a quick post ... not that I imagine anyone is out there waiting with baited breath!

This has been a really challenging month for me personally. On Thanksgiving my beloved Grandma had a stroke. Initially we believed she would be able to recover but after about five days in the hospital the family decided it was time to move her to Hospice. Her last night in the hospital I received news that she was not doing well and in a flurry I packed bags and food, planning to stay at my Aunt's house and not knowing how long we would be gone. I feel extremely lucky that I live nearby and was able to spend an entire week with my Grandma at the end of her life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This past week has been dedicated to trialing coconut in Ellie's diet and I am super excited to say it passed with flying colors! Horray!

I can't believe it's been since June that we last trialed coconut. It didn't go well. For a long time we thought Ellie was sensitive to or allergic to coconut but through a looooong discovery process we realized she wasn't able to digest foods high in saturated fat.

Things have been crazy since then and it just was never the right time to try something so risky. But Ellie's been doing great and we decided to take the plunge.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Falling off the wagon & a big discovery

A lot has happened since I last wrote. Where do I begin...?

Two weeks ago our little family flew down to LA to spend the week for Ian's work. On the flight Ian and I ordered a gluten-free snack pack. I ate the olives, he ate the chips, I ate the almonds, he ate the hummus. Since weaning Ellie I had really done quite well at sticking with our diet parameters and strategically adding foods that I was fairly sure would be healthy additions for me. But that snack box had a square of dark chocolate. And that chocolate had sugar in it. And I took a bite. I only had a teeny tiny bite of one teeny tiny corner. I congratulated myself on my restraint. It was my first taste of sugar in 11 1/2 months. Within an hour I could feel something was wrong. I was anxious, agitated and my brain suddenly felt foggy. Getting from the airplane into the rental car was too much for me to handle.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Making mistakes

I'm wondering when I'm going to stop writing "weaning is hard" posts. Not today, apparently! This week I have encountered a really unexpected challenge with weaning. I thought that getting Ellie and I on separate diet paths would be good for both of us - I'd be on an expanded diet and she'd be able to stay in the holding pattern that's working well for her. But it's not that simple.

What I didn't anticipate is that with my newfound freedom, I'd want to bring Ellie along with me to enjoy a host of new foods! It's not that I had specific foods in mind that I was desperate to add to her diet, but I just wanted my newfound sense of liberation to include her.

And so this week has been an absolute mess of unplanned food trials. This week I've exposed Ellie to citrus, red peppers, a pinch of raw brownie, potatoes and a buckwheat cookie. Not smart.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Will wean for raw brownies

Ellie's been weaned for 9 days now and I have to admit that many of the foods I've added back into my diet since then have not been that thrilling. Eggs are very nutritious, thrifty and convenient, but not exciting. Potatoes are dense and filling and comforting, but not swoon-worthy. It wasn't until yesterday that I ate something that made me say "Yessss, this was worth weaning for." 

And that thing, not surprisingly, was chocolate. Raw brownies, to be specific. Our nutritionist posted a link to this raw brownie recipe on her Facebook page. If you "like" Replenish PDX on Facebook you will find the best recipes ever - I don't know how Andrea finds all this fantastic stuff on the Web.

So in honor of Halloween, which I spent last year wistfully drooling over bags of candy I couldn't eat, I will share with you what I'll be munching on for this sweet holiday! They take about 2 minutes to make from start to finish, they're GAPS-legal (ironically) and they are divine!

No Bake Brownies from juliemorris.net

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cutting the cord

Oh man. Weaning is hard.

Even though I was totally ready to wean Ellie, had thought everything through and really knew deep it my heart it was time - the actual day when you stop nursing your baby is a heart breaker.

The plan was for Saturday morning to be our last nursing session. Ellie woke that morning and we nursed in my bed and then we had to jump out of bed, pull our pre-made green smoothies out of the fridge, throw our bags in the car and head to the airport for Denver and grandma and grandpa's house. I think - for my family - having this trip planned was exactly the right thing to do. Ian and I tend to over think things and I think if we had been home this week we probably would have doubted the decision to wean and maybe even changed our minds. But being in a house buzzing with family has been great - it's distracted Ellie from wanting to nurse and it's helped me get over the hurt of losing that tie with my baby.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quinoa! A big departure off GAPS

Last night was a big moment. Our family dined on quinoa for the first time in ten and a half months! For  those of you who don't know, quinoa is often treated like a grain (it's prepared and served like other grains) but is actually a seed (along with amaranth, buckwheat and millet). While these grain-like seeds aren't allowed on GAPS, they are allowed on another healing diet called the Body Ecology Diet, which also treats gut disbyosis and candida. This is just another step away from GAPS and toward something that is working better for my family.

Ellie did fantastic. She actually really enjoyed eating the quinoa, which I was dubious about because we've recently introduced lentils and adzuki beans and she isn't a huge fan of the texture of either of these foods. ("I don't like duki beans.") But she declared she likes quinoa and ate up a bowlful of the quinoa-veggie salad I prepared. Yay! She slept through the night, woke up happy and has had healthy poops.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our last week nursing

Well, the time has come. We are almost done nursing. I can hardly believe it. Even though Ellie is ready and I am ready, there is a part of each of us that would love to continue nursing a lot longer. I think that if we weren’t in the situation we are, with our diet the way it is, we probably would continue for longer. But we are where we are and part of that reality is that nursing just doesn’t fit into the picture anymore.

Ellie and I have had our fair share of nursing challenges and this transition has caused me to reflect back on them. A few stories:

  • When she was born Ellie could not figure out how to latch. I remember the white board in the hospital room where we were supposed to mark down times we tried to nurse and note an “N” for nursed and “A” for attempted. By day 3, when we went home, the board was full of “A”s. She had lost so much weight by day 4 that we were told to use a supplemental nursing system and formula or else she’d be checked back into the hospital. We were terribly frightened and I felt like I had failed her. Finally my milk came in and we were able to nurse, though it was very painful.
  • Ellie’s latch didn’t significantly improve until she was about 3 or 4 months old. During her early months I developed Reynaud’s Syndrome, which caused terrible pain during nursing. I was able to recover from this through acupuncture and lifestyle changes.
  • Ellie experienced failure to thrive again from about 10 to 15 months. Despite the fact that she was a healthy weight during those first 10 months of nursing, much of that time when she was exclusively nursing, I had many doctors tell me the failure to thrive was because of nursing and that I should wean her. I refused, and as we got dairy, soy, eggs, gluten and more troublesome foods out of her diet her weight returned to healthy levels.
  • The biggest challenge by far was going on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and GAPS diets with Ellie. Right now we’ve been following those diets for 10 months. I hope I never have to eat this way again, but I’m glad I was able to continue nursing Ellie through such a difficult time.

I had been ferociously committed to nursing Ellie no matter how restricted our diet because I believed (still do) that nursing was essential to her good health in the past two very difficult years. And Ellie is one of those super persistent kiddos who gets attached to something and will. not. let. go.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A season for slowing down

The rain has set in for the season here in Portland and each evening it gets dark a little earlier than the last. In the summer months Ellie and I spend as much time as possible outside and now that the weather has turned dark and dreary we are staying inside and I am turning my attention to the slowness of the season.

We have transitioned from eating the quick salads of summer to the slow foods of fall: chicken soup, bone broth, roasted vegetables. It seems like everything I make in the kitchen these days takes time. I make crackers, which dehydrate for a day. I ferment nut cheese, which takes about a day and a half. I soak and sprout lentils, which takes two or three days. I ferment vegetables, which takes about a week. This approach to food takes planning and patience and – I think – encourages great appreciation for the foods we put in our mouths.

Our social life is also slowing down. I’m always reticent about this transition at the end of summer and then grateful for it as fall really takes hold. During summer it seemed we were out and about at least once and often twice a day. Now we are staying inside for entire days and I am satisfied if we make it to library storytime and a playdate for the week’s outings. This process of slowing down with the season is always challenging for me and this year I’m trying to be more purposeful about the change.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yummy Pear Spice Crackers

I don't usually share recipes on here because I'm not the most inventive cook in the world. Especially since going on SCD/GAPS my cooking has been extremely simple, which has actually been quite wonderful. I'm a baker at heart and because we're grain-free and egg free and Ellie can't digest almond flour very well we just don't bake right now. But!

I was making a batch of the Raw Sundried Tomato Crackers from Living Cuisine the other day when I had an inspired idea to make a sweet version of the cracker. We are very slowly exploring adding sweeter fruits to our diet and in the past week I've even had a teensy-tinsy bit of honey a couple of times and things have gone well. So to celebrate our newfound love of raw crackers and sweet, juicy fall pears I invented these crackers:

Pear Spice Crackers

2 cups flax seeds
4 ripe pears, peeled and cut up
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. honey

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Broken Open

There’s a book called Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow. I haven’t read the book, but did see the author interviewed on TV years ago. The interview stuck with me, I suppose because I thought I had been through some difficult periods and come out of the experiences with positive changes. If only I knew then that my troubles would pale in comparison to what would come later. I now look back and honestly wonder what it was that was so hard about my life in my 20s.

I remember one thing the author said vividly. She said, “relax into the mystery of life as it is happening.” I look at that quote every day and try to let it inform my thoughts and actions.

Ellie is now 2 years and 3 months old and the first two years of her life have been by far the most challenging period of my life. Those two years brought an onslaught of challenges that just seemed to pile one on top of the other: difficult birth, extreme challenges establishing nursing, painful nursing because of Reynaud’s syndrome, failure to thrive, unsupportive doctors, colic, severe sleep depravation, lack of support, feeling alone, food allergies, a second, scarier round of failure to thrive, elimination diets, feeding therapy, learning to go dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, citrus-free, coconut-free, then learning the SCD and GAPS diets, learning about gut disbyosis and all its health ramifications, learning how to be an advocate for a sick child, caring for a child experiencing a “healing crisis,” which at times felt worse than caring for a sick child and finally – and equally challenging – is learning how to transition to parenting a healthy child and letting go of the anxiety and militancy that accompanied the sick years.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New life in the kitchen

I’m not going to lie. Doing GAPS has seriously messed with my love of cooking. My love of food, even. Early GAPS was tremendously overwhelming. Not only was I dealing with a sick child and a very irritable self, I was constantly cooking. And I was cooking foods I wasn’t particularly enjoying. The amount of time I had to spend in the kitchen was really hard on Ellie. There were times she’d just stand in the kitchen and cry while I was too busy balancing three things on the stove and two more in the oven while chopping yet another thing – unable to pick her up or play with her. It wasn’t long before I was resentful of the diet and dreading my time spent in the kitchen.

This summer I acknowledged that the form of GAPS I was currently practicing was not working. While of course GAPS had done wonderful things to help heal Ellie, I also saw that it had created a major rift in my relationship with her, and I had to take a step back from the insane amount of work I was putting into preparing our food. Summer was such a gift. The bountiful produce available in summer became a lifesaver. We started making green smoothies for breakfast, which saved me so much time every morning. I started tossing hearty salads for lunches and dinners and finding time for Ellie again. Snacks are usually an apple with nut butter these days, which takes just a minute to peel, slice and present.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gastroenterology Round II

Yesterday we went in to see a new GI. Even though we had a bad experience with Ellie's first gastroenterologist (who told me the reason Ellie was failing to thrive was because I was nursing her and if I would only feed her formula our problems would go away), I managed to work up some optimism that a new GI would be able to give us some answers.

Not so much.

While the new GI seemed like a great guy and was very positive about everything we've done to help Ellie so far, we did not leave feeling any clearer on what is going on. After we left, Ian said, "so, what did you think?" to which I replied, "I think I know more than that guy does!"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our diet

After spending three months on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and four months on the GAPS diet we've now come into our own and we're following our diet. I finally have found a group of foods that are allowing Ellie to thrive and that I'm managing to survive on. While I would love to be eating a more expanded diet, I'm not ready to wean so I'm sticking with this and taking it one day at a time.

For the most part our diet is the SCD/GAPS diet in that we don't eat grains or starchy vegetables but we have departed from time to time, like with stevia. The big difference I suppose is that we don't eat the way GAPS is prescribed anymore. We eat relatively low fat, we don't eat organ meats or cook vegetables in loads of lard and we aren't eating much in the way of soups, though that's probably a seasonal thing. And our focus is on lots and lots of fresh produce.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ding dong the bugs are dead!

This past week we got the results back from Ellie's stool test... I'm thinking this requires a little background.

Back in November Ellie was really, really sick in spite of going off dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, citrus and a number of other foods. We were seeing a chiropractor at the time, who was doing cranial sacral therapy and adjustments to help unkink some stuff that got kinked during Ellie's very long labor. Anyway, the chiropractor also recommended doing a stool test because, she said, kiddos with issues with that many foods are likely not allergic to all of them, but have some underlying gut dysbiosis. Back then I had no idea what gut dysbiosis even was. So we did the test and the results came back showing two bad things: Ellie had major overgrowth of some bad bacteria, including something called klebsiela pneumonia, which was at a pathogenic level of 4 out of 5. The second thing was that Ellie had zero growth of lactobacillus, which is a beneficial bacteria. We put Ellie on antibiotics to kill the bad stuff, and her symptoms greatly improved while she was on it, but as soon as it was done she was sick again. And that's when we discovered the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which we started Jan. 8.

OK! So fast forward to this summer, when Ellie is still not doing well in spite of having been on the diet for months.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Success in San Diego

Our trip to San Diego was an unbelievable success! I was very apprehensive about taking a trip at all, let alone a trip where we'd be without a kitchen, but it went incredibly smoothly. Ellie woke up once a night to nurse, but didn't complain once of a tummy ache and didn't have any reflux or tummy cramping. She pooped three times on the trip and two of those were formed, which was hugely exciting (you poopologist mamas know what I'm talkin' about).

It's amazing how travel can change your perspective and help you see things in new ways. This is why I love traveling and perhaps a piece of why the past two years - where travel has been either impossible or miserable - have been so difficult for me. Shifting perspective helped me see our situation in a new way, helped me see Ellie in a new light and helped me approach our days differently.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Five days without a kitchen

We are heading out for a vacation! Every time we've gone out of town since we started Ellie on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and then GAPS she's gotten sick. So it's an understatement to say I've been a little anxious about heading out of town. I actually didn't want to take this trip at all. Ian is going to San Diego for a work conference and he spent months trying to talk me into going along. I told him it would be impossible with our diet ... but Portland has been incredibly gray this summer and finally on a very rainy July day I relented and told him to get us tickets. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Working without a diagnosis

We took Ellie in for an abdominal ultrasound and to get some bloodwork done on Monday to look into the theory that she is having some type of problem with her liver, gallbladder or pancreas. The only other experience I've had with an ultrasound was the one I had when I was pregnant with Ellie, in which the ultrasound tech explained what we were looking at and was generally a wealth of information. So I was surprised and frustrated when the tech on Monday wouldn't tell us a thing. She said they'd write up a report and send it to Ellie's doc and only then could I find out the results. Well that took 2 days and the waiting drove me up the wall. Finally I got this email today from her doc:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting closer to the answer?

In the past week we have been thinking and learning a lot about fats and fat digestion and it feels like we may be inching closer to figuring out what is going wrong with Ellie's digestion. Several times in the past week I've actually uttered the phrase "what if this is the last piece of the puzzle!?!"

Over the course of months it's become apparent that Ellie cannot tolerate saturated fats. The foods she has reacted worst to are very high in saturated fat: ghee, coconut oil, beef, tallow, cacao butter and eggs. A couple of weeks ago I trialed cacao butter in my diet and it was immediately apparent it was a problem. Ellie suddenly wouldn't go down for bed, telling us her tummy hurt and having the jerky cramping abdomen during sad awakenings overnight. I had thought duck eggs were fine, but Ellie hadn't been doing well for about a month and so three days ago I pulled the duck eggs and suddenly she was a different person. The last two nights she's slept nearly 12 hours in a row! Hallelujah.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Navigating murky waters

I have been hesitant to write lately because a lot of things have happened that I haven't really know what to think and/or say about them. We've received new information about Ellie's health, we've had family in town, we traveled out of town, Ellie and I both came down with a stomach virus, we marked 6 months on SCD/GAPS, we've had several food trials fail, Ellie has been riding a constipation/diarrhea roller coaster that's made everyone miserable, we started a new supplement, we've seen a new doctor and been referred to yet another doctor. Bleh. It's been an exhausting month.

It feels like the energy shifted about a month ago when we got back the results for Ellie's IGG allergy test. It came back showing us nothing. Nothing we didn't know already, anyway. The ONLY food she had a reaction to was chicken eggs, which we had already confirmed as an allergy through a skin prick test at her mainstream allergist's office and subsequent elimination and challenge. The test showed nothing else, and we were shocked. Nothing for dairy, nothing for gluten, nothing for coconut, nothing for citrus - shocked.

Friday, July 15, 2011


It happened. My baby girl turned 2. I can't believe it. The past couple of weeks have been crazy - crazy busy and also just crazy emotionally as I try to process the fact that Ellie is 2. There may or may not have been a moment where I sobbed to Ian "I can't believe she's 2 and she's not better yet!"

These types of milestones have been hard for me from the beginning. When Ellie was a baby I created imaginary timelines to reassure myself that things would normalize soon. For example, there was a phase where I had to put Ellie in the Ergo and walk up and down the house, BLASTING an Irish lullaby CD while bouncing up and down with! a boob in her mouth - sometimes for a half an hour or more - just to get her to sleep. And she never slept more than 30 minutes. During that time I told myself she'd be an easier baby after her first birthday. Lots of people had told me tough babies mellow out by their first birthday. Well those people hadn't met Ellie. By her first birthday we had barely begun our elimination diet journey and hadn't even figured out she was allergic to eggs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Contemplating cake

Day 70

My teeny tiny baby girl's second birthday is coming up in a week. I can hardly believe it. Seems like yesterday she was a seven pound six ounce feather resting on my chest. There's a lot I could say about the past two years and how challenging and wonderful they have been, but it's all such a jumble in my head and heart right now I don't think I could write very coherently about it.

Instead ... I'll focus on cake! I am trying to come up with a recipe for a birthday cake that fits all of our restrictions. A month ago or so I was saying "who needs a birthday cake! She's only two, she won't notice that she didn't have one." But then we recently went to a birthday party and Ellie got to help blow the candles out and the look on her face was priceless. I turned to Ian and said, "Cake. She must have a cake."

Monday, June 27, 2011

A rough week

Day 68

Last week we trialed coconut, which we hadn't tried since the early days of SCD (it didn't go well). This time around it didn't go as badly (no hours-long screaming sessions in the middle of the night) but there were enough concerning symptoms that by day five I had to pull the plug. Ellie was frequently telling me her tummy hurt, her sleep was being affected and she developed a rash under her eyes and all over the trunk of her body.

I was so sad about this because I has really gotten my hopes up that coconut would be OK, which would make the diet so much easier. Especially snacks. It seems like so many GAPS-friendly snack recipes call for coconut or coconut oil. And doing GAPS without dairy or coconut is a real pain. There's something so sad to me about baking blueberry muffins with duck fat in them. :(

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Breakfast of champions

Day 62

We have completely changed our breakfast routine and I am loving it, so I thought I'd share. I reported previously that our attempts at juicing were big failures. But I've learned a thing or two about juicing since then. Like carrot juice is a terrible idea for people who are not tolerating sugar well. So we've switched to "green" juice. Another thing I learned is that even green juice can be a shock to the system, so it's good to combine it with healthy fats in the form of a green smoothie.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What our blood can tell us

Day 61

Recently we started seeing a nutrition counselor and one of the things she wanted us to do right away is get some blood tests done. Thankfully I was able to get them all done through our insurance and as the results trickled in, I forwarded them to our counselor. The results didn't say much to me, and didn't warrant an alarmed phone call or email from Ellie's doctor or mine, so I assumed there wasn't much news to be found. But late last week I sat down with our counselor and went over the results and what she shared with me was fascinating. I thought I'd share.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Constipation and the gluten connection

Ellie has been doing great in so many respects over the past two weeks that the fact that she was still suffering from constipation sort of flew under my radar. I was aware that she was not going for several days, but I let it slide just because she was sleeping so well and was so happy during the day. Big mistake.

Last night was the end of the third day of no pooping. After dinner she seemed to have a BM and asked for a new diaper. She was really, really upset and we assumed it was because she was bothered by her dirty diaper. When we got her upstairs and I opened her diaper it was immediately apparent why she was screaming.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The magic of raw foods

Sometime last week we took another bold step and introduced raw vegetables, including the nightshades tomatoes and peppers. It all started with a bad night, which we were suspicious was caused by sauteed red bell peppers. I consulted with our nutrition counselor and she suggested trying dinner the next night with only greens as the vegetables. Ian didn't totally get that message - and was in charge of dinner that night - and made a huge salad with the butter lettuce I bought, but also included cucumbers and tomatoes. I cringed and went along with it.

And Ellie did amazing that night! So amazing that we've had a huge salad at dinner every night since then and she's been doing fantastic. We have previously suspected Ellie was sensitive to nightshades, which I can now confidently say can be ruled out because she is absolutely thriving on tomatoes and peppers.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finding balance with fruit

Day 47

Since we re-introduced fruit last week I've been exploring what fruits work for us and in what amounts. For example, Ellie is fine having one or two ripe strawberries, but five or six is too many. Half of a peeled green apple is fine, but it has to be with nut butter. If she eats it by itself we head straight to fussy town. Last week I baked some almond muffins that were sweetened with very ripe bananas (no honey) and those too were fine in moderation.

I got a little cocky with all this success and last night had half of a banana and this morning had another half, and Ellie had half a banana with her breakfast. I'm trying to search for words to describe what happened next ... it wasn't pretty.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Moving pieces of the puzzle around

After two horrible nights, we had to go back to the drawing board this morning to try and figure out what had gone wrong. Last night was truly a nightmare. The only solid block of sleep anybody got was from 2-5:40 a.m.

My biggest suspects were too many almond flour muffins or too many strawberries. Ellie had eaten both of these things in very small amounts and done fine, but then we got a little loose with the treats and that's when things went south. I also suspected beef, some spicy food we had eaten and wondered if the increased amount of probiotics was causing problems. So today I chose one thing to keep the same and took everything else out. I kept the probiotics the same, since that's the most important element of the diet. I completely removed the muffins, strawberries, spicy food and beef.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Teething - another layer of confusion

Oh boy. After quite a few consecutive nights of peaceful, quiet, calm bedtimes, Ellie has been refusing to go to sleep the past two nights. This could mean anything. Reflux? Food reaction? Die-off? Teething? Doing GAPS with a toddler involves a lot of detective work.

So I go back to the food journal. OK, yesterday, four things changed. It was the first day I gave Ellie a second dose of probiotics (at lunch in addition to after dinner), it was also the first day I allowed her to have a tiny string of sauerkraut (in addition to the kraut juice), it was the first time she had more than one strawberry (she had 3 or 4 I think) and I foolishly made dinner a tiny bit spicy, adding chipotle powder.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I am declaring Intro over (!!!)

Day 43

Today Ellie and I had our first raw apple and our first almond flour baked good, which are both in Stage 6 of Intro. Since nobody died or doubled over immediately with stomach cramps, I am declaring Intro officially over!!!

We didn't do every step of Intro and we didn't do every stage in order. God knows we did not do it perfectly. But we did it! We survived, and I think a lot of healing was accomplished.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Adding some tools to the toolbox

Today was our first meeting with our new nutritional counselor. I was very impressed with her and really touched by how much she got what we were going through. I felt very believed, which is not a feeling I come away with after a doctor's visit. So that is a good starting point for a new relationship.

I believe this is Ellie 13th or 14th health care practitioner and retelling her health history has become an incredibly emotionally exhausting experience for me. After the meeting I just wanted to crawl into a corner to get over the emotional process of laying out all that's happened over the past two years. And in fact I did go home and had a really deep sleep during Ellie's nap.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Toddler-approved egg-free, nut-free GAPS pancakes

We are currently out of duck eggs so for breakfast this morning I had to rely on the tricks I developed in our egg-free days. I whipped up these pancakes, which were a huge hit with Ellie. I genuinely enjoyed them too!

A recipe like this is great because not only is it egg-free and nut-free, it's also dairy-free, sugar-free and a great way to sneak liver into your little one's diet. This could be made with a lot of different vegetables, like pureed butternut squash or cauliflower.  When I bring these over to Ellie's highchair she shouts: "Pancakes!"

Monday, May 30, 2011

Doing what it takes to stay sane

Day 40

Since having a major crisis of confidence in GAPS, I've really relaxed my attempt to do GAPS Intro as close to the letter as possible. I found that I just had to let go in order to keep my sanity.

Yesterday we included a chopped tomato in a soup and introduced avocado. We also ate chicken livers for the first time. Three new things in one day - I would have considered that reckless a couple of weeks ago. The avocado was absolutely delicious - creamy and fresh tasting - mmmm. Aside from a reflux wakeup at 9:30 p.m., Ellie slept through the night til 5:30. This is remarkable because last time Ellie ate avocado she was up for hours in the night screaming with an ouchie tummy. Today she had a fairly bad face rash, so the jury's out on whether the additions were a very good idea. I don't really care, though. Honestly I feel like if something isn't causing an allergic reaction, we're going to keep it in the diet. I'm so tired of how restricted our diet has been.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Contemplating our way forward

Day 38

It's been a roller coaster ride lately. On Wednesday - optimistic from our recent addition of fish - I fed Ellie green beans and roasted duck (both new additions). She was up in the night with terrible reflux and I felt so discouraged. Then, on Thursday, we had a playdate and I spontaneously decided to feed Ellie (and me) 1/2 a banana with nut butter. I didn't have any food prepared and the kids had brought snacks and I just couldn't bear to let her watch them eat their granola bars and raisins with nothing to eat herself. And - surprisingly - nothing horrible happened. Feeling incredibly restless by dinner that night we decided to make something with red peppers and spices - also new additions - and Ellie did absolutely fine. Yesterday we tried scrambled duck eggs and again they made us both sick. Adding on to all of this - we have been introducing commercial probiotics and S. Boulardii and Ellie has shown zero signs of die off.

All of these things put together have raised some serious questions about the GAPS diet. First it's important to say that I have no doubt that going through Intro has been a helpful and healing experience for us. There's no doubt that GAPS has a lot to offer. But.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trying to find a doctor who gets it

Day 35

First the good news: fish is totally OK! Yippee! We had trout again for breakfast this morning and it was delicious.

On to other things...

I've been putting a lot of time and effort over the past couple weeks to find a doctor (Western or naturopathic) who can help guide us through this process. To say it's been a frustrating experience would be a major understatement.

First, I contacted Ellie's pediatrician and told her I was interested in seeing a developmental pediatrician at the same practice. I explained that since developmental peds work with autism - and GAPS is used to treat autism - I thought that would be my best chance of finding a doc who understood GAPS and was covered by our insurance. What a waste of time. Our pediatrician questioned me about Ellie's development. I told her it was fine. She checked with the developmental ped - who had never heard of GAPS and said seeing that specialist didn't make sense.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fish is in! (I think)

Day 34

Despite the fact that Ellie didn’t have a great night last night, this morning I felt ready to forge ahead. When I opened the fridge this morning to contemplate breakfast options, our neighbor’s trout peered out at me from inside the clear meat drawer. Alright, I thought. Let’s give you guys a try. I rinsed of the six small fish and lined them up on a foil-lined cookie sheet. I let Ellie take a look (she was very intrigued!) and put them under the broiler for 5 minutes on each side.

I served the fish alongside pureed cauliflower soup with raw egg yolk and man we were both excited! Fish! I never knew I could feel so grateful for fish! I carefully pulled the meat away from the tiny bones and plopped bites on Ellie’s highchair tray. I could not keep up with her! And every time I feel behind she pleaded, “more fish!” I know that when you’re trialing a new food you’re supposed to start with a small amount, but for some reason Ellie and I struggle with that rule. So between the two of us we ate two entire (small) fish. Ooops. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pondering fish

Day 33

Even though Stage 2 includes fermented fish, we skipped that step. Ellie has gotten sick after eating fish the times she's tried it, though it was never a very controlled experiment because we didn't have her food allergies/sensitivities nailed down at all. So fish is scary. Add to that fermented fish, and I've been beyond intimidated. The idea of letting fish sit out on my counter for a few days really grosses me out.

Still, fish keeps popping up in my head. Every time Ian and I talk about what to trial next, I suggest fish. I suppose my body is craving a non-meat source of protein. We are definitely in a food rut. But we keep coming back to weighing the risks vs. advantages and decide fish is too risky right now.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 31: Looking back at the first month

Despite the fact that Ellie, Ian and I are all down and out with minor colds, I've been reflecting the past couple days over all we have gained over our first 31 days on GAPS Intro. Some changes worth noting:
  • Ellie and I haven't had a drop of honey or fruit for 31 days. After asking for bananas or apples daily for the first week or so, Ellie's stopped asking for fruit and my cravings for sweet things have also gone away. I no longer feel like I need something sweet every day to feel "normal." I've found my ability to distinguish real food from junk has become more accurate. At the grocery store yesterday, I had no desire whatsoever for Oreos or granola bars or other sweets, which looked a lot more like products and packaging than food. Yet at the checkout stand I saw a magazine cover photo of strawberry shortcake with glistening berries piled high with whipped cream and that sure did make my mouth water. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 29: An unlikely menace

Spinach. Go figure.

So two nights ago Ellie slept through the night. Yesterday I fed her some soup with well-cooked spinach pureed into it. The spinach gave me a terrible stomach ache, which was the second time that had happened for me. Then, this happened (from my food/symptoms journal):

Ellie wouldn't go to sleep at bedtime - needed extra patting and singing. Up crying at 10:30 - reflux - nursed and went back to sleep. Up again 15 minutes later crying - Ian held in rocking chair for 45 minutes then back to sleep in crib. Up again shortly after that - I went in and not very kindly told her to go to sleep. Slept til 5:20 - tummy hurt - nursed and back to sleep in crib. Up at 6:40 - nursed/slept in bed until 9:30. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 28: Slowly but surely

Last night Ellie slept through the night for the second time since going on Intro. Yay! She did wake up at 5:30 a.m., but that's really common for her to do the first night of sleeping through. If the trend continues, she gradually sleeps a little later each day. My response to this wonderful development is to not change anything.

I am on my second day of probiotics and S. Boulardii and doing fine besides increased tiredness. Maybe weariness is a better word. Ellie has seemed fine, except she's had a runny nose and lots of sneezing, which is unusual for her. No idea if that's related or not. If tonight goes well we may give Ellie a tiny bit tomorrow before her bedtime.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Days 26 & 27: A new game plan

The past few days I've been contemplating our GAPS journey thus far and looking for what's been working and what hasn't. I've come to terms with the fact that I need to let dairy go for now. After I ate goat yogurt two days in a row, Ellie was up for hours that third night with a tummy ache. So I'm letting it go. It's hard. Yogurt would be a great source of probiotics and calories for us, but it's not in the cards. I'm tabling all dairy for 3-4 weeks and then will try again, this time strictly following the protocol for starting whey on Intro, rather than jumping into eating amounts of yogurt that had been fine for us pre-Intro.

If I could go back and do things over again, I would not have trialed ghee. Ellie was showing a lot of progress just before that and we have still not recovered from the setback. It is a big lesson: be patient. Be OK with just hunkering down even in the middle of Intro for a little while if things are going well. I am feeling a lot more cautious with risky foods now. For example, one of the next things we should introduce is avocado and Ellie reacts to avocado (I think it is somehow related to her citrus allergy) so we're skipping it for now. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 25: Mysteries and theories

I think perhaps the most challenging part of this diet is that it is impossible to know what is going on 100% of the time (or 75% of the time, for that matter!). Is a symptom caused by die-off, meaning the bad bacteria are dying and healing is happening? Or is it a food reaction, meaning your body can't handle the food you just ate and you should back off of it for a while? Or is some other factor that you haven't even considered causing trouble? It's nearly impossible to know and I am struggling with embracing the not knowing. I was a newspaper reporter for a living so I thrive on finding answers and piecing together disparate information into a logical narrative. But this is simply not possible with GAPS - especially with the added complication of doing GAPS with a nursling. I need to work on embracing the not-knowing and find some peace.

Today I had two more attacks of the strange stomach pain I described in yesterday's post. The first was shortly after brunch and the second shortly after dinner. Both were much milder than yesterday's, but still unpleasant for sure. I have lots of theories bouncing around in my head - that I'm struggling tolerating eggs is one. I had soft-boiled eggs with brunch and a raw yolk with dinner. This theory doesn't totally resonate with me because I've been eating eggs for nearly two weeks now, mostly without these pains.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Days 23 & 24: Soup strike and sautes

Ellie has not eaten soup since she threw some up three nights ago. She's had a bite here and there, but is mostly refusing it. This is a problem. The majority of one's diet in the early stages of Intro is soups and stews and Ellie is just not eating it. Mama's in a bit of a panic.

At dinner tonight Ian asked Ellie why she wouldn't eat her soup and she answered, "eating soup feels ouchie." Oh great. Now I'm pondering whether she's created that association because that's what she threw up Wednesday night, or because that's the vehicle her probiotics are delivered in and those are upsetting her tummy or if perhaps she's made the connection that the liquidy soup will only painfully come back up as reflux overnight.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 22: The expert has spoken

Day 3 of our ghee trial went down like this:

  • Ellie woke up at 5:30 a.m. This was her M.O. during the bad old days and is always a bad sign. Just the other day she woke at 4:55 and let me nurse her and put her back down for another stretch of sleep, but today she was up. Not good. 
  • For breakfast I decided to have ghee myself but not give Ellie any and see how the day played out, thinking I’d likely give her some ghee after her nap. 
  • Over the course of the morning Ellie became obsessed with nursing. I’d guess she nursed close to a dozen times between waking up in the morning and going down for her nap. And she asked to nurse at least twice that many times. Frequent nursing and getting obsessed with nursing is always a sign of a food reaction for her. When she’s doing great she can go from her morning wake-up nursing session to her going down for nap session without needing anything in between. 
  • At lunch she hardly touched her food. This was a big warning sign for me because she has been eating enthusiastically ever since starting Intro.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 21 - Vindicated!

My suspicions were right! (I'm pretty sure!)

After Ellie suddenly did worse last night and I studied our food journal I came to the conclusion that beef had been causing her problems. This conclusion didn't make a ton of sense, since I had introduced ghee yesterday and it made much more sense to suspect the ghee. But my food journal and my mama's instinct told me to pull the beef. Whenever Ellie gets sick and there are several foods in question, I pull the food I'm most suspicious of out of her diet and keep everything else the same. This is critical. If you make any other variations it will be impossible to know what's what.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Days 17-20 - Eggs, beef and ghee

Our "staycation" is over already! It went by in a whirl. We didn't get around to doing much of anything. I think it was good for Ian to stay home and see how all-consuming this diet is right now and how needy Ellie is when she is not feeling well. (Not that he doesn't see that on weekends, but four days straight is another matter.) I'd calculate how many days straight I've been doing it but that would probably make my head hurt.

On Saturday we were indeed feeling bold and served up soft-boiled duck eggs with our breakfast soup. Ellie was very excited! Eggies! Having the egg white in addition to the raw yolk was much more satisfying and helped me stay fuller through the morning. That night Ellie slept through the night for the first time since starting Intro. Horray!!! Last time we trialed whole chicken eggs she was up with stomach cramps for hours. Since then she's just been doing great. I am so, SO happy to have eggs back. It's been 9 months since we've been able to eat eggs and it opens up so many possibilities, especially when we get further into the diet and can do some baking. Mmmm. Plus soon we'll be able to eat scrambled eggs, which are the world's best (nutritious) "I don't feel like cooking" food.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 16: Holding steady

Today was a largely uneventful day. Yay! I increased Ellie's sauerkraut from 3 drops per bowl to 4 with no ill effects. I was hit with an unexpected wave of die-off nausea late this afternoon, but she seems to be doing fine. I am wiped out from a really challenging week and am looking forward to a four-day "staycation" we are having starting now! I'm off to put on some jammies and watch a movie. Tomorrow (if we're feeling bold) we will trial soft-boiled eggs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 15: Operation Kraut Drop is in effect

As I wrote yesterday, we are working under a new theory, which is that even 1/2 tsp. of sauerkraut juice was way too much for Ellie. So today I literally started dosing out sauerkraut juice with a dropper. It's kind of ridiculous. BUT! It also worked.

This morning I went to drop the kraut juice in Ellie soup and she refused to eat anymore soup! So that told me she too has made the connection that the juice is making her sick. So at lunch I had to be sneaky about it and got two drops on a spoonful without her looking and which she happily ate. At dinner I was really bold and put three drops on her food. Results? Her face rash (which I'm pretty sure is due to excessive detox) has completely cleared, she took a longer nap than usual and woke up from that nap crying, but not hysterical. Hey, I'll take progress in whatever form it wants to come in. Then tonight at bedtime she went down without a fuss. Over the past week she's been crying for at least 30 minutes each night at bedtime and tonight she did great.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 14: Another recovery day

Ellie had another bad night last night so we just took it easy today and focused on Stage 1 soups with raw egg yolks mixed in. I think I am having a really hard time figuring out the probiotic piece of things - both in terms of what types of probiotics Ellie can handle and how much.

After discovering the hard way that it was way too soon for yogurt, I focused exclusively on sauerkraut juice and since she's still been doing poorly I've been wondering if I'm even doing the kraut juice wrong. I had been giving Ellie 1 tsp. per bowl of soup. Today I backed off that dosing. I skipped kraut juice entirely at breakfast (for her) and she had a great morning. I was able to take her out for a stroller walk in this gorgeous spring weather and she did not protest being in the stroller once. Very unusual! At lunch I tried just 1/2 tsp. of kraut juice with her soup. Within 20 minutes the face rash that had been fading away all morning was back with a vengeance, she was incredibly fussy and complaining that her tummy hurt. Aha! So even 1/2 tsp. is too much.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 13: A recovery day

Ellie and I spent today recovering from whatever threw us off course the past couple of days. I strongly suspect the carrot juice, but really it's anybody's guess. My hope is that tonight will go well so we can go ahead and trial ghee tomorrow. Because I am deeply afraid of cow's milk at this point, I've made ghee out of goat milk butter, which is not going to be sustainable because that stuff is expensive!

If it really was the carrot juice, I feel like I have more to learn about candida. I have always had a suspicion that both of us or at least I have some candida issues because lots of sweet foods have been problems in the past, including SCD/GAPS legal foods like pear sauce and apple cider. Actually one of the reasons I was so happy to discover GAPS was I felt like the SCD community (hope I'm not hurting any feelings here!) could be overly focused on sweet foods and on using SCD ingredients to make Standard American Diet foods, thus not really learning a new way of eating. So as much as I've come to hate broth and soup, I'm also kind of loving it because we're learning a whole new way of eating.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 12: What a mess

Ellie and I were both a wreck again today. It's frustrating when it takes me days to figure out where something went wrong. I think in this case it's probably the carrot juice we introduced yesterday. I'm not sure if it was "too detoxifying" or if it was simply too much sugar too soon. But Ellie was a cranky, needy mess all day today - telling me her tummy hurt over and over - and is now refusing to go to sleep once again. (Ian took over baby duty - thank God for that.)

Last night bedtime took 2.5 hours and before I rip all my hair out and run away from home I have to remind myself that it used to be like that every single night of the week and that overall, things have been better than those bad old days lately. I lost my temper with Ellie this morning (yelling at a young child who is hurting makes me feel like a serious jerk) - which is an indication to me that the juice is a problem because of the sugar.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 11 - So, so confused

Today was a rollercoaster of a day. Ellie has been struggling with constipation since starting Intro so I decided to try introducing carrot juice this morning per Dr. Natasha's suggestion to start juice early when constipation is present. I had no idea a little bit of carrot juice was going to completely knock us on our asses. I knew that carrot juice was detoxifying, but jeesh!

I felt profoundly tired all day. The closest thing I can compare the feeling to is the tremendous physical exhaustion I felt during the first trimester of my pregnancy. Ellie experiences die-off differently. She gets super fussy and clingy and impossible to please. She wants to nurse constantly, which is always rough when I am feeling terrible too and all I want is to lay on the couch alone.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 10 - Aha!

One of the biggest challenges of doing GAPS or any other elimination diet with a nursing child is that there are always two sets of variables that can affect the child's symptoms. There's what the little one is eating and then there's what mama's eating. Ideally, mama is eating exactly what baby is eating so there's no doubt about what caused a problem when it arises. But this is often impossible, at least in the long term. (We've been at this for a year.)

One thing I've found is that there are some things that bother Ellie's tummy when she eats them, but don't affect her when I eat them. Things like broccoli or green beans or other fibrous vegetables, for example. But sometimes I get a little carried away in hoping that something I discovered was bothering her will still be OK for me to eat. This was the case with goat yogurt.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 9: Fermenting and Playing

Last night went remarkably well so we are cautiously putting duck egg yolks in the "safe" category. I feel like it's a little too early for a big "hurrah!" because some foods have taken days before they caused a reaction for Ellie, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

After having several good nights of sleep in a row (one waking to nurse is so much easier than two or three) I felt a burst of energy this morning so Ellie and I tackled some fermenting projects. I have made sauerkraut several times before, but never with much success. Thankfully my new friend Chris posted awesome tips on her blog for how she creates fail-proof kraut. I incorporated some of her tips and the kraut already looks better than any of my other batches. Ellie had fun helping me pound the cabbage:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 8 - Being brave

I have been so nervous about this day for weeks. Ellie is allergic to eggs and it terrified me that one of the first things you add after Stage 1 (if not the first thing you add) is raw egg yolk. I made a compromise and bought duck eggs, something we've been wanting to trial for a long time but just never felt brave enough. People say that the proteins in duck eggs are different enough from chicken eggs that some people with an egg allergy can tolerate them. An added bonus is that I bought pastured duck eggs, meaning the ducks weren't fed soy or corn feed. Since Ellie is intolerant to both soy and corn - this should eliminate another variable.

So I heated up some chicken soup this morning and separated two eggs, plopping a yolk into each of our bowls. I whisked the yolks into the hot soup and celebrated with Ellie that we were going to have an "eggie" for breakfast! The soup went over well and I had another yolk with my lunch. I had a minor tummy upset after lunch - not sure if it was the two yolks or what ...? One of Ellie's early symptoms for an egg reaction is a big bumpy rash all over her chest and that didn't happen today. The next symptom is her waking up all night with stomach cramps and screaming and crying, so we'll see how tonight goes. I am feeling cautiously optimistic. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Days 6-7 - Turning a corner

Thankfully things got better right when I really needed them to. Last night my daughter's bedtime was disastrous and I was super nervous about another bad night, especially because Ian had left for another business trip. I postponed my own bedtime for a long time, assuming I'd just have to get up and nurse if I went to bed too early. But I didn't hear a peep from Ellie and finally crashed at 11:30. And the next thing I knew - it was morning! She slept through the night!!! This is always the first sign that she is on the right track.

I am still trying to sort out why Ellie is doing great at naptime and terrible at bedtime and I think I've narrowed it down to the goat milk yogurt we introduced three days ago, which she's been having after her nap. I think one of the big learning curves for me is realizing that what was working on SCD may not work now that we're doing the GAPS Intro. For example, Ellie was drinking a cup of yogurt a day on SCD, so we thought it would be no big deal to give her 1/4 cup of yogurt on her first day. I'm pretty sure that was  BIG mistake. I realize I need to take every. single. word. of the GAPS book seriously, and not think we can skip some parts because "we're different." If Dr. Natasha says to start with 1 tsp. I need to start with 1 tsp.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Days 2-5 - WOOF!

So day 1 felt oh so manageable and exciting and then Ellie and I woke up the next morning feeling like a truck had hit us. I was nauseous all that day and Ellie was a WRECK. Unconsolable crying, telling me her tummy hurt, etc. etc. I could barely get it together to make soup. Oy. Thank goodness Ian had returned home from his business trip on Day 1 and was able to take Ellie for a few hours the afternoon of Day 2 so I could lay down and try not to throw up.

One of the things I find fascinating about all of this is that I came to SCD and then GAPS having "no health issues" of my own. I was "perfectly healthy." But the reality is that my gut health was in bad shape, and then I passed that bad ecology on to my babe, who manifested much worse symptoms than I ever had. Her issues have included over her short 21 months on Earth: reflux, failure to thrive, a gazillion food allergies/intolerances, stomach cramping, aversion to eating and some symptoms of dyspraxia, which I had never even heard of until I read the GAPS book. But when I look back on things, I did actually have quite a few health issues - they were just minor and chronic and typically not something you'd go to the doctor for. But as I'm seeing those symptoms fall away through SCD and now GAPS I can see how truly unhealthy I was. I've lost weight, my cycle is much more regular that it used to be (it took me two years to conceive Ellie), I rarely have trouble with PMS or cramps anymore (I used to be bedridden for a day every time I got my period) and the minor reflux I used to be annoyed by at bedtime is gone. So hurrah for health!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 1

It is the end of day one and I am wiped out. Changing your own diet while mothering a child coping with the same changes is exhausting. Overall Ellie did really well today. She ate four bowls of soup (yay!) and took a good nap.

Today was one of those days where I felt like the only time I was sitting down Ellie was nursing. She has these "high need" days where she doesn't feel well and nurses for comfort. I also somehow got a lot done - I made the vegetable medley ferment with beet, cabbage, garlic and dill from the GAPS book and I got another batch of beef broth started. I even dashed out to buy an immersion blender (so excited about that) and to get some more bones/meat/veggies at the store. I feel absolutely ridiculous at the meat counter these days ordering so much stuff and saying things like, "um, can you saw those bones in half so I can get the marrow out? Yeah, thanks." 

Ellie was extremely fussy this morning, which I think had more to do with the aftermath of our last-minute banana binge yesterday. She also had a terrible diaper rash. Then she was a wreck late this afternoon. I think that was caused by hunger because I didn't have an afternoon snack prepared for her and then dinner was running late. As soon as she ate some beef butternut squash soup she said, "tummy feel better." Phew! But then her tummy hurt again at bedtime so who knows what's going on. Navigating her tummy problems has been so challenging and I'm anxious for her communication to keep improving so I can get a clearer picture of what's going on. Or maybe GAPS will actually fix her tummy problems so we can stop trying to figure it out. Now, wouldn't that be nice?

I was surprised by my lack of cravings today. I was very satisfied by my chicken veggies soups for breakfast and lunch and the beef soup for dinner was really good. I had grown accustomed to having a sweet snack after putting Ellie down for her nap - something like an apple or banana with almond butter or some almond cookies. So when I came downstairs from putting her down I felt that pang for something sweet, but was able to just observe it and move on. Hopefully the cravings stay that manageable!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finally ready to start

The thing that's interesting to me about patiently plotting out a big change and making small steps to prepare for it, is that by the time it's time to make the change you can feel completely ready. In the past I've been the type to jump quickly into big changes - completely unprepared - and then find myself overwhelmed. The past three weeks of preparation for starting the GAPS intro have had me feeling anxious and then suddenly today I feel totally ready. Amazing!

I think my biggest anxiety about starting GAPS is that we will be hungry. We came to SCD in part because Ellie was labeled "failure to thrive." She was below the third percentile for her weight and falling. Her weight started dropping when she was about 10 months old - the same time we introduced dairy and soy, both of which we quickly discovered she was intolerant to.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inching closer

A lot of people who give GAPS advice say that you should slowly inch your way towards the GAPS diet rather than just switching from your current diet to GAPS overnight. This is excellent advice. First of all, it takes weeks to stockpile enough stock and meat in the freezer to get through the beginning of the intro diet. Second of all, it can be painful to wean yourself off whatever will be hardest to go without on GAPS.

For me, that thing will be sugar. The GAPS diet doesn't allow any fruit at the beginning and very limited honey. And I am actually planning to do the intro without honey because I suspect Ellie and I may have candida (a yeast overgrowth that causes a host of health problems and thrives on sugar). So over the past three weeks I've been slooooowly weaning myself off honey and fruit.

It's interesting the changes I've already observed. For whatever reason honey and fruit tends to make Ellie and I a little emotionally unstable (I'm putting that nicely). The first time I trialed raw apple, she started hitting me. I thought this was really odd. Tried it again a few days later and I had to pull her out of library storytime because she was hitting other kids. She is not a hitter (like, ever) so this behavior was very concerning. Unfortunately the same goes for mama. As I've been eating less and less fruit, I'm more aware of it's affect when I do have it. Off sugar I've been feeling a lot more cool, calm and collected (which is a big deal with a very needy toddler in the house). The last couple times I've had a piece of fruit I've completely lost my temper with her within a half an hour. Crazy stuff! I haven't had honey for about two weeks now and I've noticed I'm falling asleep at night much more easily than I used to. A couple days ago I had a weak moment and ate two dates and I was lying awake until 1:30 a.m. I think a few lessons like this are helpful to see that GAPS isn't onerous depravation but a healthy change we need to make to feel better.

So while it will be sad to say farewell to honey and fruit, I think the breakup will be good for everybody. Hopefully as GAPS does its work and our guts heal we'll be able to handle fruit and honey with more grace.

I'm at the place where I wish we were starting GAPS tomorrow but I know we're not ready. I have 6 pounds of chicken legs, wings and necks sitting in the fridge, ready to turn into more stock tomorrow. Then, tomorrow night I pick up a shipment of veggies and pasture-fed meat from a food buying club I just joined. So it's looking like a Thursday launch date.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Getting ready to start

I am writing my first blog post at 12:30 a.m. because the yogurt I'm making for my daughter will be done fermenting at 1 a.m. and this is the kind of thing you find yourself doing when your kiddo is on GAPS. Well, technically we aren't on the GAPS diet - not yet. We've been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for the past 96 days (yes, I'm counting) and we're about to transition to the GAPS diet. What is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and what is the GAPS diet, you may ask. This is a questions I'll be much more successful answering when I haven't been awake for 20 hours.

I felt compelled to start this blog as a response to how isolating all of this can feel. Having a sick baby is confusing and isolating, to say the least. Then, when the baby doesn't grow out of the "colic" but just develops more confusing and ambiguous health problems, the isolation gets worse. Then, in order to address the health issues, you go on a series of crazy diets in order to make the baby better ... well, you get where I'm headed. Now we find ourselves in a place where we can't eat at restaurants - we can barely eat at the grandparents' house. SCD and GAPS are intense commitments and intense experiences. But they are ultimately transformative experiences - at least I'm clinging to the hope that we'll have the transformative experience many others report having.

Another reason I decided to start to this blog is because I am nursing my little GAPSter, something I've come to find is fairly rare. At least I think it's rare. In all my online SCD/GAPS networking, I've yet to find another nursing mama who is doing the diet simply because it is what their nursing child needs to improve their health. It feels like a crazy thing to do, and some people have told me that in not so many words. But it's the right thing to do for my baby. We're in this together. As Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride explains in the GAPS book, babies with GAPS syndrome have severely screwed up gut flora, and we get our gut flora from our mamas at birth. So I figure if I got Ellie into this mess, I'm going to get her out.

GAPS begins sometime this week. Haven't decided if it will be tomorrow or Thursday or some day in between. And I'll be writing about the experience here.