I am super excited about my first guest post, written by Natalie Lamb. A lady that is not only a GAPS Practitioner and therefore knows the diet inside and out, but someone that has done the diet herself. I sent Natalie a list of questions, which she has kindly answered. I have found them really helpful, I hope you do too!
Why did you start the GAPS diet? (health issues, food intolerance, etc)
Working as the Technical Advisor for Bio-Kult probiotics we regularly get enquiries from people on the GAPS diet. To be able to fully support our customers I undertook the GAPS practitioner training. As a qualified Nutritional Therapist and having read the GAPS book I was able to sign up to the course. Having suffered IBS type symptoms in the past I was keen to support my gut in the best way I could. Having previously come off a vegetarian diet, reduced my alcohol intake and starting to take a daily probiotic I had already improved my symptoms greatly but was still keen to try the diet for myself.
The GAPS diet really resonates with me as I feel it is a very natural way of eating. It utilises traditional ways of growing, purchasing and preparing real food. As someone who has also suffered from adrenal exhaustion I find the closeness to nature and connection to where my food comes from therapeutic in itself.
How long did it take you to complete the intro diet?
I spent nearly 3 months working my way through the 6 stages of the introduction diet. I reached stage 6 at around the end of the first month. I really enjoyed every stage, experimenting with new foods and different methods of preparation. There were so many new recipes to try that I didn’t get bored of the foods nor did I see the choice limiting. With such a high intake of protein and fat I rarely found myself hungry and in fact ate smaller portions than I may have done previously.
How long was your road to recovery?
From the first week I experienced a flat stomach with no bloating. With all the hours of food preparation needed with the diet I was surprised during the whole 3 months at how much energy I had! After week 1 and 2 I experienced 2 half day episodes of mild thrush and cystitis. A problem I wasn’t currently experiencing. However, I understand this could be explained as the possible Candida and E. coli leaving the body for good!
What did you find most difficult, and how did you overcome it?
I found travelling away with work and social events most difficult. Exhibition venues are notorious for their limited lunch array of pre-packed sandwiches! I purchased a few large thermos flasks before starting the diet so I was able to take home made stock with me to the hotel room! I armed myself with a cool bag and some supplies such avocado’s, tomatoes and hard boiled eggs! Most restaurants were happy to serve meat or fish with vegetables and no sauce if requested – although we had to walk past the collection of Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Italians! I also made it through 2 hen do weekends full of alcohol and refined carbs! As the champagne flowed I enjoyed sipping on a cup of stock or a fresh mint tea! The other hens were all in amazement at my will power but were also all very interested in the GAPS diet, with many experiencing gut issues themselves. I would say the most important thing is to be organised, well prepared and one step ahead.
What are your essential GAPS store cupboard ingredients?
- Himalayan rock salt for fermenting
- Local organic apple cider vinegar to help with meat digestion and to encourage nutrients to leach from the bones when making stock
- Ground almonds for making pancakes, bread and cake towards the end of the diet – my sugar and gluten free cakes with homemade sour cream went down a treat on several social events!
- Coconut oil for cooking and body care – my scrambled eggs have never tasted so good!
Please tell us your top tips for success for children on GAPS
I would suggest getting the children involved in some of the food preparation. Perhaps get them involved in growing in the garden, farm visits or pick your own, having a range of colourful vegetables and making pancakes or breads in animal shapes for example. Eating together as a family and all enjoying the food I would imagine would make the diet more exciting opposed to a chore. If all else fails I would suggest trying to at least feed them some homemade stock daily and giving them a little of a multi-strain probiotic in a drink. Once the gut starts to improve a little then food choices may be easier to change.
Any other pearls of wisdom, please share 🙂
To limit the risk of failure I would suggest you familiarise yourself with exactly what the diet entails before you embark on your journey. I would advise you to research where you can buy organic supplies locally, buy or borrow equipment you may need and experiment with making staple foods. I spoke with my local organic farm who agreed to save the bones of the pigs or lamb they slaughtered each Wednesday when I required them. They were keen for me to utilise the bones that they currently have to pay to be discarded! I arranged extra freezer space with several kind neighbours. Borrowed extra kilner jars from a friend to bulk store homemade sauerkraut and fermented veg. I borrowed an extra slow cooker and bought a meat cleaver so I was able to utilise larger bones and have an abundance of pre-prepared stock in the fridge.
I would also advice joining a local GAPS group or finding some like-minded people nearby to share recipes and meals with. I had several friends experimenting with fermentation and one with a baby who was experiencing colic. We would regularly get together to get excited about GAPS food which kept me motivated.
But most of all enjoy the new range of real foods and sense of wellbeing!
Thank you so much Natalie, for your great advice. Stay tuned for Natalie’s second guest post next week all about probiotics.