weeks 3 and 4

Finding my Feet: Weeks 3 and 4 on GAPS (second time around)

When I did GAPS in 2014 it was by the book, and documented step by step on this here blog. I attended numerous lunches and birthday dos, and even went to a hen party.

Stone. Cold. Sober.

And that was fine. I was in the zone. My buzz came from knowing I was healing my leaky gut. With each week that passed I knew I was becoming more and more healthy, and was utterly thrilled with the results.

I also had three teeny children aged 0-4, and averaged four hours sleep per night. Socialising wasn’t at the top of my agenda, and I could take or leave the booze.

Fast forward to now, and things are different

My children are 3, 5 and 8 – they are much more challenging, as well as home educated. Although I’ve stuck rigidly to the food side of GAPS Intro this time around, I just haven’t been able to say no to the social side.

Whilst reaching for the gin/wine bottle every night wasn’t doing me any favours, the release of seeing friends and having a few drinks is absolutely necessary. Living in a chronically stressful, pressure cooker environment is phenomenally hard, and escaping from it once in a while is beneficial for me.

Finding the elusive balance

When I re-embarked on GAPS a month ago, I was drinking too much and convinced that this was at the root of a lot of my problems. I only wish it was that simple! Unless you haven’t noticed, I’m ridiculously hard on myself, and tend to blame myself when things go pear shaped.

I’ve learnt this past month that GAPS is not a cure all for chronic stress, if the root of the stress doesn’t come from you. It will, without doubt, help you think clearer, especially if you’re coming from a starting point of poor health and a rubbish diet. Coming from my starting point however, it’s just not as cut and dry.

My solution

So, I’m fostering my own version of GAPS. Which entails eating stages 1-4 Intro Diet food, having one coffee a day if I fancy it, and a few drinks once a week max. The drinks will be either good quality vodka or gin mixed with fresh lime and soda, or home made water kefir or kombucha. No more wine loaded with sulphites, no more shop bought tonic water. If I’m drinking, those drinks will be completely natural. GAPS has broken my three or four times a week drinking habit, which is amazing.

This might seem lame to some, a cop out even, but I’m comfortable with this, and I think it’ll provide a good balance. It’s all very well and good saying that you don’t need alcohol to have a good time, but as long as it’s being enjoyed in moderation I don’t think it’s a problem.

To enhance my good gut bacteria as much as I possibly can, I have started taking a highly potent probiotic, and will be sharing regular updates to tell you if I’m feeling better for them.

All in all this journey of mine is about a path to better happiness, and I’m really excited about where I’m already at with it.

Watch this space!

 

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Second Week on the GAPS Intro Diet: What I Ate, How I Felt and the Effect it had on my Family 

Click on the coloured text for the background on how I’ve arrived at the need for GAPS for the second time in three years, and my first week on Intro blogs.

What I ate

Last week I moved through steps one and two of the six step Intro Diet quickly, because I didn’t have any digestive issues. No stomach cramps or problems going to the toilet. I was able to introduce eggs, avocado, home made sauerkraut, ghee, goats milk yoghurt, goats milk cream cheese and cows milk fermented double cream without any reactions.

This week I ate step three food, which was largely stock, soups, stews, boiled meat and the foods listed above. First thing in the morning I drink a pint of water. Then after being up for about an hour I change my water kefir grains and make my way through a litre, sometimes more – click here for more info on kefir. I also make a big jug of fresh herb and ginger tea to drink throughout the day. If I’m hungry for breakfast I eat scrambled eggs cooked in ghee with a big cup of stock. If I’m not too hungry (which is most days) I start drinking stock around 10am, and eat lunch around midday.

Lunches consist of boiled meat from the stock, sauerkraut and avocado drizzled with ghee. Dinners are slow cooked stews or blended soups. Check out this post on my other blog for recipe ideas.

I cannot recommend highly enough finding a cost effective way of sourcing bones for stock, either before starting GAPS or very shortly into it. I’m currently buying organic chicken carcasses for 75p at my local farmers market, and I’m going through six a week which enables me to drink 1.5-2L of stock each day and have plenty in the fridge for evening stews.

How I felt

Overall I felt great, and every time I saw anyone they commented on me having a glow and looking svelte. Sleep deprivation, due to the kids, has got really bad again though, which is understandably taking it’s toll. However, I was able to get up early ahead of the children a few times to crack on with writing, which I wasn’t able to do prior to going back on GAPS.

The weird leg rash has all but gone, and my skin is super clear.

The effect it had on my family

This is perhaps the hardest part. I naively thought I’d be so completely zen with the kids that my great mood would have started filtering down by now. Cards on the table: I haven’t been 100% zen, because challenging children are still, well, challenging. Whilst me doing this has undeniably been a good thing all round, it’s certainly not lead to such huge and noticeable improvements this quickly that I can shout from the rooftops about them. Change never happens fast, and I have to keep hold of this to remind myself that I’m doing a great thing for us all. Life will get easier right?!

My husband and I both had a booze free weekend, which was also fab. Clear headed, hangover free, uncaffeinated days really are a thing of beauty.

First Week on the GAPS Intro Diet: What I Ate, How I Felt and the Effect it had on my Family 

GAPS INTRO STAGE ONE

Day One: 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock and lots fresh herb tea (made from boiling water and herbs grown in my garden and dried out at home).

I felt like I’d been knocked for six, but put that down to caffeine withdrawal. Had a cheeky afternoon nap while Freddy watched a film sitting on my lap and the girls watched a different film upstairs. That was basically how the day rolled, and I paid the price with a truly horrendous bedtime. I was not going win any parenting awards that day, but hey ho!

Day Two: 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock, little bit of boiled meat from stock and herb tea, with a tbsp of loose leaf Oolong added.

Definitely felt more human, but wasn’t functioning at full capacity. We had another day at home, which certainly wasn’t easy, however I was much more able to step in to diffuse meltdowns and didn’t feel completely broken by the end of the day.

leg rash before and three days into GAPS

GAPS INTRO STAGE TWO

Day Three: 1L water kefir, 2L Chicken stock (twice with egg yolk) and herb/Oolong tea throughout the day, slow cooked brisket with garlic, onions, carrot and butternut squash in the evening.

I sprang out of bed at 5-something for the first time in months and realised I wasn’t grumpy. Also the strange rash that appeared on my left leg on 29/07 has massively gone down. It was very sore, itchy and inflamed but is noticeably better in all areas.

We had a lovely day with friends, and I was absolutely fine preparing food and not getting tempted to eat it. I did end up feeling a bit queasy after the stock with egg yolks so won’t be doing that again – it passed quickly though. My two girls had a sleepover in my eldest’s room and put themselves to bed, which is a total and utter miracle in itself!

Day Four: 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock and herb/Oolong tea throughout the day and slow cooked pork blade with garlic, onions, turmeric and carrot in the evening.

Another early wake up, but rather than struggle to get out of bed I was more than happy to get up earlier than the rest of the house and did some editing work on my novel. I felt good today, although noticed a bit of nausea after drinking the tea, so will leave the Oolong out, as I’ve discovered it’s quite high in caffeine and I think I need a complete break from caffeine. Had some very challenging moments with my eldest daughter but managed to stay calm throughout, which is a huge achievement.

Day Five: 1L water kefir, 1L chicken stock and herb tea throughout the day. Soup for lunch made from stock and veggies out of last nights dinner with a little bit of boiled chicken and home made ghee drizzled over the top, boiled chicken and sauerkraut for dinner.

Didn’t have any nausea after drinking the tea, so I think staying off the Oolong for the time being is a good move. I found that I was hungrier today than I have been, but I realised that I drank less stock than other days, as I was out all afternoon, so that’s probably why. No reaction to the ghee or sauerkraut which I’m very happy about. The inflammation around the strange leg rash is completely gone, and the rash itself is now just a few spots. It’s been incredible watching it disappear each day, and to think the doctor prescribed steroid cream (which I didn’t use).

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Day Six: 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock and herb tea in the morning. Boiled chicken, sauerkraut and ghee salad for lunch. Fasted from 1pm through to 11am.

Months ago my husband and I booked tickets to an outdoor festival and stay overnight in a hotel – it’s a rarity for us, so we weren’t about to miss out. I couldn’t take food and drinks into the event, so made sure I drank plenty of stock before heading out, and had a nice filling lunch before going in. Then I took it as a great opportunity to a little fast. Intermittent Fasting is incredibly beneficial for the body, check out what the fabulous Mark Sisson has to say on the matter in this detailed article.

GAPS INTRO STAGE THREE

Day Seven: breakfast out: plain poached egg yolks, avocado and smoked salmon. 1L water kefir, 1.5L chicken stock and herb tea throughout the afternoon. Beef shin casserole in the evening.

We went to a lovely breakfast restaurant at around 11am, and I ordered plain poached eggs and only ate the yolks, avocado and smoked salmon, along with fresh mint tea. I have to admit, seeing my husband tucking into his ‘Full American’ which is essentially an English breakfast with a stack of pancakes on the side, did make me envious. It looked so amazing. It was the first time I’ve looked at non-GAPS food and wanted to eat it, but of course didn’t.

Overall 

I’ve noticed a massive improvement in my mood, and am much more upbeat than I have been in a very long time. The food prep side hasn’t bothered me in the slightest, but I have come from a starting point of strict paleo anyway. I haven’t had any significant detox symptoms, largely I think because I haven’t eaten processed food or refined sugar for so long.

The best thing is that I’ve got so much more patience with the children, and am heaps calmer than I was this time two weeks ago. Hubby and I reconnected at the weekend too, and I’m confident that brighter days are here for our family now.

I moved quickly through the first two of the six stages of intro, and plan to eat stage three food for at least a week before moving onto stage four. I haven’t had any stomach or digestion issues, which is wonderful.

All in all I’m feeling great, long may it continue!

 

 

Back to GAPS I GO

Well hello there. It’s been a while since I posted to this blog, but a lot has happened since my first GAPS journey in 2014. I’m not sure where to start, so I’m going to give you a stream of consciousness update on where I am and how I got here. I’m going to add some links to my other blog, so click on the coloured or highlighted text for back stories.

Bottom line: I’m a 38yo sleep deprived, chronically stressed, mum of three. My children if they are on their own are awesome, not to mention oh so very beautiful, but collectively they are as challenging as all hell. I am very blessed to have a supportive husband, who is present when he’s here, but he has a demanding job and works long hours. Some days it’s fair to say that I start the countdown to bedtime before we’ve even had lunch.

Our eldest is high functioning autistic, and our other two are possibly on the spectrum as well. Our good days are what most would consider to be horrendous, and our bad days are too depressing to even repeat. My children fight. A lot. The noise levels inside my house are beyond ridiculous. They don’t talk, they yell. They’re like Mr. Noisy before he checks himself. They spend a lot of time crying, as do I. When the tears run out all that’s left is the ringing in my ears and white noise inside my head.

I had a tough childhood. Left home at 15 with nothing, and fought my way to get where I am. The first decade came with lots of boozing and drugs. I partied hard, and enjoyed it (mostly) at the time. Until I didn’t enjoy it. When I was 22 I had my first mental breakdown, and my eyes opened wide by a counsellor. She forced me to look at my childhood, full of abuse and bullying, and made me see that it wasn’t my fault. You can read more about that here if you like.

That’s the thing with adults who were bullied and abused as children. They often go into the world thinking everything was their fault somehow. It took a long time for me to realise that I was just a kid.

She also told me that I drank too much and partied too hard, but it fell on deaf ears at that point. Four years passed, and my mental state deteriorated. Then came breakdown number two and rock bottom proper. That’s when I looked the demons in the eye and started getting my shit together. Among other things back then, I learnt self-control when it came to the booze.

Less than two years after rock bottom I fell pregnant with my eldest. I was holier than thou during those nine months, and hardly drank for the year that I breastfed her. I then had two more kids in four years.

When my youngest was a newborn I embarked on my first GAPS journey, which was documented on this here blog. I stuck to it like glue and have never felt better. My energy levels were like nothing I have ever encountered, and I felt clear headed for the first time in my adult life. To sum it up: I felt well and happy, two things that do not come naturally to me.

The trouble is, when it comes to the drink, once you’ve crossed the line you’ve crossed it. I’ve been telling myself for a decade that I’m in control, and for a long time I was only drinking every now and then. Unfortunately this isn’t the case anymore. For months now I’ve been on a cycle of not drinking Monday to Wednesday, and drinking in some way Thursday to Saturday, as well as a lot of Sundays. For more months than I care to remember, at least one day of the weekend has involved being so hammered I’ve passed out. I could tell you a laundry list of things I’ve done in the last year that I’m not proud of, but what good will that do?

Bottom line: my drinking has gotten out of hand and my mental health has massively deteriorated. I need to take action to fix my broken self, so I’m no longer just swimming and surviving. So that I can thrive, and start being the in control mama that my wonderful children need me to be, which will absolutely help them to thrive too.

I’ve been eating well for a long time, and even had a halfhearted attempt at GAPS in January, but it’s just not enough. So it’s back to GAPS Intro proper for me. Step one was yesterday and so far so good. Not having any coffee was easier this time than it has been before, and I haven’t found the liquid diet of chicken stock and herb tea hard work. I am determined to succeed this time, and who knows, once I’m functioning at full capacity I might even enjoy being teetotal.

Wish me luck, and if you’re interested in following this new journey of mine, please subscribe.

Thanks for reading!

 

The S Word…

Last Thursday, after about a fortnight on step four, I felt the time had come to move to step five.

We went to Battersea Park for a picnic on Saturday. They had a lovely little jazz festival on in their bandstand, with various stalls selling food and drinks. Among them was a mobile ethical coffee van also selling juices and smoothies made from scratch. I spotted a rare opportunity to buy something that would be completely GAPS legal and I pounced on it! I had a small (200ml-ish) ‘veggie reviver’ made from carrot, beetroot, cucumber and mint and it was absolutely delicious. I drank it as slowly as I could – which admittedly could have been slower – but it was so refreshing in the heat.

Within ten minutes I felt nauseous and light headed, not great when you have a five month old baby strapped to you. Then I couldn’t stop yawning and had to have a sit down. I felt like someone had smashed me over the head with a hammer. Carrots and beets are fairly sweet as veggies go, so I’m thinking it was a classic sugar reaction. First comes the rush, then comes the crash…

While we’re on the subject of the S Word, I don’t think I’m tolerating it well at all. The first part of step five is adding pureed apple – which was uneventful, no reactions. Next up is increasing your honey intake, so I made some little frozen fudge balls (super easy and absolutely amazing, recipe to follow). Each one has about 2g of honey in, and I was having three pieces each day. Although this only equates to just over a teaspoon a day, eating them sparked off a sweetie chain reaction which made me crave more sweets. Which I didn’t have, and it left me feeling really low. I also noticed I was even more hungry having them in my diet, and I was already ravenous anyway. Totally natural and to be expected when you’re exclusively breastfeeding a chunky baby, but even I was shocked by it.

This past week has also seen me bloated, windy and leaving behind nasty smells in the loo. I’m convinced that sugar is the culprit, so I’ve stopped the honey, fruit and juices today (Wednesday). I’ll monitor how I’m feeling over the next week and see if it’s made a difference. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be staying on step four for a tad longer. And that’s just fine. As I said before starting intro for the second time, I am in no rush and am determined to enjoy the healing process this time round.

GAPS is all about listening to your body. If something I’ve recently added into my diet isn’t agreeing with me then it has to be removed again. I have faith that I’ll be able to successfully reintroduce it once my gut has healed. It took 35 years, a very poor early diet, years of taking the pill and a lot of party related abuse to get me into this state. It’s not going to heal over night!

On a brighter note I ordered a food dehydrator and am seriously excited at the new possibilities it’ll bring to my kitchen 🙂

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First days of the Full GAPS Diet

After a whole month of very limited eating, I felt ready to take the plunge and transition over to Full GAPS. To be honest there isn’t much difference between step six and Full GAPS, and eating wise I’ve kept things pretty simple and will continue doing so. It’s pretty much going to be meat, fish, veggies, salads, soups and a few treats for the foreseeable future. As well as continuing my supplements, probiotics and fermented foods.

As I mentioned last week, I get very hungry around 4:30/5pm when the girls are having their dinner, and unsurprisingly this is when I end up snacking (albeit on super healthy food). Today I tried something different, and ate a slightly smaller dinner than I would usually have with the girls then had a small bowl of green veg soup later on when hubby ate. I feel this will suit my needs so much better than snacking earlier and eating big later. When I first started cutting out sugar and processed food back in 2007 I would eat like this and have my last meal around 5pm. It worked well then so I don’t see why it shouldn’t now. It also means that rather than being in the kitchen doing, I’m sitting with the girls while they are eating, and that cannot be a bad thing 🙂

I went to a different farmers market on Saturday and happened upon a raw goat milk stall, which I was thrilled about. I’ve been tolerating goat milk kefir quite well, and raw organic milk is much preferable to its pasteurised alternative. I made some yoghurt which came out beautifully and tasted gorgeous, and have been making 2yo banana smoothies with it every morning which she’s been loving. I’ve got a little jar of yoghurt starter topped with milk in my warm kitchen, eagerly awaiting it to turn into curds and whey so I can have a crack at making cheese. I’ve also just come across this which claims you can make kefir from coconut milk. It may well be my solution to getting the good stuff into my 4yo, seems rather unfair that the person in my family needing its benefits the most can’t currently have it.

We’ve got a massively busy fortnight coming up – including two picnics, a pub lunch and three days of entertaining at home. It’s going to be very interesting to see how I fare up. Wish me luck!

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