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. 

We are taking the week off of introducing new foods and focusing on starting probiotics. I started with a tiny amount of this probiotic, along with a tiny amount of Saccharomyces Boulardii, which is supposed to help get Candida in check. I'm not sure if this is the probiotic I'll stick with in the long run, but since I was paying for shipping for the S. Boulardii I thought I might as well get their probiotic too. I didn't experience anything too terrible as far as die-off goes. I was definitely tired and weaker than normal today, but it was manageable. I am going to take these for a couple of days before trying them on Ellie to see how it affects her through my milk.

I've noticed that some of our ongoing mysteries and problems seem to be resolving themselves. I believe my terrible stomach aches were the result of both cooked eggs and fiber. So I'm back to cooking veggies well in soups and emphasizing the raw egg yolks. Elle's soup strike seems to be coming to an end. It's helping that I've only been offering soup about once a day, and I've been making them much more substantial. What a relief.

It seems like GAPS has taken over our lives. Ian and I talk at length every night about how things are going, how we should tweak our approach, how we can get more calories, etc. etc. etc. I feel like if I'm not cooking, I'm feeding Ellie or doing dishes. I am spending a lot of time during naps or after Ellie's bedtime researching the diet online, reading GAPS blogs, re-reading sections of the GAPS book and studying up on supplements and doctors. I know the intensity of these early days can't last, but it is overwhelming at times and important to acknowledge. I told Ian today that I feel like I could study this diet for 10 years and still not completely get it.

But honestly this is all preferable to where we were at four months ago. At least now we're spending our time working to fix the problem. At least now we understand what the problem is. Before that we would just talk at length, wondering what on earth could be wrong with our child and putting tremendous amounts of effort into an elimination diet that wasn't getting us anywhere. I re-read Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's article on food allergies last night and found myself nodding my head vehemently to this sentiment:

On top of that (food allergy tests) lead to a simple conclusion, that if you remove the positive foods out of the diet, it will solve the problem. In some cases, indeed elimination of a trigger food helps. However, in majority the help in not permanent: the patients find, that as they eliminate some foods, they start reacting to other foods, to which they did not seem to react before. The whole process leads to a situation where the person finishes up with virtually nothing left to eat, and every new test finds reactions to new foods. Majority of experienced practitioners come to the same conclusion: the simplistic idea of just don't eat foods, you are allergic to does not address the root of the problem. We need to look deeper, at what causes these food intolerances.

This is so true for us. First we eliminated dairy. Then we discovered soy caused the same symptoms. Then Ellie started reacting to eggs. Shortly after that we found corn was a problem. Then we saw major improvements after removing gluten. Then she became allergic to citrus. By the end simple things like bananas and honey and beef were causing problems and it does indeed seem like there's nothing left to eat.

So I plug ahead, hoping that all this work really will heal Ellie's gut (and mine) and that we will be eating a broader variety of foods soon.


  1. hi annie. Once I finally cut out all dairy - and it took me a while to finally do! - it was so worth it - i wish i'd done it sooner... but that's only possible with hindsight. Louie has naturally refused all diary he's ever been offered apart from little bit of butter now and then. I'm not sure if the following is relevant but it came to mind to share: Louie and I had a breastfeeding problem in his first year - turns out I had too much foremilk (the watery milk high in lactose) and he was getting too much of that and not enough hindmilk (the fattier bit that comes second). For weeks he had a sore tum, spluttering/sicking, greenish runny nappies and was losing weight. The doctors said it was some sort of gastric bug and ran tests but they came back negative. From what I read it seems the next step for most mainstream medicine, if lactose intolerance is then suspected next, is the baby coming off breastmilk onto formula. Luckily I made a call to the LLL helpline even tho i didn't know it was a breastfeeding issue at the time(wow they are amazing - saved us twice). In just a few hours with the right advice he was on the mend. The advice was to block feed. (I'd read lots of books on breastfeeding but hadn't come across this). I'd been making the problem worse because when he'd splutter/sick i'd try the other side and kept alternating - he just kept getting lots of watery high-lactose milk which made his tum even more delicate. So block feeding was staying for up to four hours on one side before switching. Makes a big difference especially if the baby is feeding a lot. Once we were balanced again and now as he doesn't feed so often I just make sure that I start a feed from the side I finished on - so in effect it is used twice before the swap. I'm not sure if that would still effect an older baby but might be worth experimenting with as lactose is an issue/irritant.

  2. Julia - Thanks so much for these suggestions. I had heard the block feeding suggestion before, but I never tried it because it seemed to be advice for overabundant supply, which didn't seem right to me since Ellie was failure to thrive and so many doctors implied that I must have low supply for that to be the case. Interesting... I'll have to experiment with this approach. Thank you.