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.
A lot of the things that should work are not working. Dairy did not work in any form. I notice that feeding Ellie lots of fat aggravates her reflux. But the book says we should be eating a lot of fat. Juicing totally didn't work for us and I'm afraid to try again. And I'm supposed to be seeing some type of die off showing me that the probiotics are working and I'm seeing nothing. I understand that constipation is common on Intro, and both of us have been suffering from that in spades. We are sick of our food. I knew that doing GAPS Intro would be hard, but at this point I wonder if being this miserable is worth it. Today we were out to lunch and Ellie developed a terrible face rash when the other people at the table squirted lemon into their waters. This shows me we're nowhere near "healing" her food allergies and I wonder how many people have actually healed allergies with this diet.
Of course we've seen improvements. I don't want to make it seem like this has been a failure. For example, since starting SCD in early January we haven't had to give Ellie Benadryl to end a food reaction once. That used to be a common occurrence when she'd be up for hours in the night screaming and cramping.
Yesterday I had a brief phone conversation with the nutrition counselor a local naturopath referred me to. I had filled out a very detailed intake form so she knew Ellie's storied health history. One of the first things she said was this:
"Natasha Campbell McBride is brilliant and I respect her a lot," she said. "But I’m not a fan of the diet at all. Nutrition is like math – there’s more than one root to solve a problem."
Ahhh ... a woman after my own heart. I went on to tell her how awful I have felt since being on SCD and now GAPS (for a total of 139 days now). And about how, while some of Ellie's symptoms have improved, others have not improved or even gotten worse. For example, she started growing well once we started SCD. But her reflux has been absolutely awful, especially since going on Intro.
"That’s no way to live," she said. "Our food should be nurturing us."
She said she believes GAPS is too fatty and not fibrous enough, evidenced by the fact that Ellie and I are experiencing chronic constipation, which was not a problem before going on the diet.
I am struggling with all of this new information. When I initially read Breaking the Vicious Cycle and Gut and Psychology Syndrome I was nodding the whole time, reading passages aloud to Ian and highlighting a large percentage of each book. These were the first explanations I had read of what was going on with Ellie. Everything about them rang true - her issues with gluten and dairy, her low immune levels, her many and increasing food allergies, her sensitivity to loud sounds, her reflux and stomach cramping, her failure to thrive - it all made sense after reading these books.
So why is it that the diets prescribed in the same books don't seem to be working for us? I believed so completely that I had found the answer to our problems when I read these books. So I'm sitting with this uncertainty. I'm not making any changes, besides progressing through Intro as prescribed in the book (well, as closely as I can get anyway). We have our first full appointment with the nutrition counselor on Wednesday and I look forward to hearing more specifics about what she thinks will work best to heal my baby.