When we started this journey almost 2 years ago, I had no idea what was in store. I ambitiously, but naively took on putting my family through the GAPS diet in hopes to give my son a better quality of life. I wanted to heal him from food allergies, heal is eczema/hives and heal any gut inflammation. I honestly could have never imagined how hard it would truly be, nor could I foresee all the twist and turns this journey would take us on. I had hoped to be super transparent throughout the process, but as time went on my level of stamina and enthusiasm towards it all just faded. Mostly because I was exhausted physically and emotionally, but some of it was because I had doubt in the back of my mind. I was scared of the criticism and judgement on the what if I did all this “crazy stuff” while sacrificing so much and we still weren’t any better off in the end? My expectations of support and the reality of what was there from others was not the same. And working through all that through this process somewhat silenced me as well. I wanted our family to be an inspiration and one of the only ways I knew to do that was to put out recipes that we created along the way and share some of what it looked like to go through the diet. I didn’t share all the ugly because if you knew that from the beginning, it would be hard to convince anyone to do it. But ultimately you get too invested to quit and as you see the process through, you can finally see it all come together. My perspective of this process and how it all went down to get us to this point has changed. As I start to reflect on it all now I can truly say it was all worth it and I much more clearly see how the protocol truly worked for us. Through it all, the good, bad and ugly has changed our family so much and really shown us a level of strength I never knew we had. There is so much I could write out about the highs and lows of this process. The emotional toll it takes on everyone and how I had to dig deep within me, push harder then I ever thought I could go to get through all the obstacles that you face during this process.
After almost two years, we are finally ready to transition my son off of GAPS which will take some time to do. To be able to say those words out loud bring tears to my eyes and so much ecstatic joy in my heart. I can say without any question, that going through this diet truly healed my son and gave us all the answers we needed for him to move forward with a better quality of life. We healed his eczema and random hive outbreaks, gut issues from his food allergies/sensitivities and also identified major inflammation triggers that he will always need to avoid (that are not allergies). Yes, he will still avoid certain foods he has allergies and sensitivities to (like gluten), but we no longer have to wonder what other foods bother him. He used to cross-react to other foods when we were just avoiding his allergens. I could never figure out what was causing the problem. And he can now eat almost everything that was causing issues before (I would like to expand on that explanation another time if I ever get our whole journey on paper). Interestingly enough, through this process we were able identify Parker’s main underlying source of inflammation. This was undoubtedly the biggest piece of the puzzle for him and we will avoid it in any food going forward off of GAPS. The ironic part is that it wasn’t something we were actually knowingly consuming on GAPS because it’s not allowed. The culprit happens to be soy and there is absolutely no soy allowed on GAPS, but most animals that we consume are fed a supplemental soy diet. Because Parker is so sensitive, eating meat, including deli meat or eggs that have had supplemental soy feed in it would cause a build up of inflammation in his system. It caused him to be hyper-reactive to other foods he could actually tolerate fine otherwise. In other words, he can only tolerate eggs that are from soy-free hens and can only tolerate meat that is predominately pastured. Most feed organic or not, usually has soymeal in it. *This is why it’s so important to know how the animals are raised and fed – because packaging can be misleading. You literally have to seek out soy-free meat, otherwise, you can guarantee there’s soy in the feed. There are very scientific reasons as to why and how the soy can translate from the feed to the output of the chicken, turkey, pork or beef – that then translates to inflammation into a person who is sensitive to soy. This was especially hard to figure out not only because we weren’t directly consuming soy, but also because he never had an immediate reaction, it was a build up process over time. It would take months for they soy to build up after doing a round of Intro (the most healing phase of the diet) that it not only caused a very uncharacteristic skin reaction, but also caused his body to get so inflamed he would hyper-react to many other non-offensive foods. Figuring this out was truly the process of GAPS working itself out as we did two rounds of Intro and watched him as his body changed and clearly revealed the pieces of the puzzle. I can’t even express how amazing this phenomena really was to watch and also express how incredibly difficult it was at the same time. As my practitioner always said, we heal like an onion. Once the body is strong enough to address, it will unravel another layer and reveal deeper issues. Again, there is so much I can write out about this and how it all happened. I literally could write pages and pages with pictured documentation on what it looked like to go through all these changes. And how we figured it all out. And now, so much make sense because this was the piece of the puzzle we could have never figured out without going through GAPS. And thankfully, we have some wonderful sources for pastured animals and soy-free chicken eggs.
Now, I want to take some time to transition off of GAPS and not focus on food so much as we transition our family to a new city. So for the time being, I want to take time to just live with all we’ve learned. I want to restore balance and flexibility and spontaneity again within my family. We will forever be changed by what has taken place. We will always lead through what we have learned and experienced. I hope to take some time to reflect and eventually write it all out on paper. I have so many aspirations and dreams that I need time to soul search and really figure out where to focus my time. I don’t think we went through this just for Parker, I believe there is a bigger hand in all this guiding us to a place that will help others. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I hope over the next few months we will figure that out. I believe I will come back to my true calling, but I am just not sure how yet – cookbook, legit blogging (I only say that because I have not exactly put real effort into blogging while going through GAPS) or maybe even a brick and mortar storefront? Who knows, but for now, I am temporarily shutting down my Instagram, Facebook and blog. I will keep it all open, just not post until I am ready to come back.
Lastly, I want to share that I could have never done this protocol without mentioning a few people.
1) First and always first, the good Lord was with us the whole time. I have no idea how I would have gotten through this if I didn’t have a faith. There are so many times I would cry myself to sleep and wonder if we would make it another day. Every day, specifically through the Intro phases, I would have just enough to get through each day. I think our reliance on Him during this time really showed us a dependance that we have never had before. And I can honestly say that when I was at an all time low, I literally experienced the hand of Jesus on me in way I have never felt. I will forever be grateful for such a special and intimate moment. It’s a true testimony I hope to share one day.
2) My husband and kids – there’s so much I could say here, but without my husband who supported me and did a lot of dishes (!) I could have never made it through this protocol. Honestly speaking, this process and season of life tested us more then I’d like to admit. It was real reality in our household but we got through it together as a team. And for that, I am thankful. My kids are so amazing, I just can’t say enough because they were willing, even though it was more then just hard. This process has built their character and discipline that will continue to serve them well in life. It specifically has given Parker a rare sense of compassion and he really can empathize with others who have different circumstances then what is considered a typical norm. They truly amaze me and their resilience to go against the grain of what is considered a normal diet is just unbelievable. I am so proud of all they have accomplished together.
3) I also have to mention my GAPS practitioner. I have had the privilege of working with a Neuroscientist for a major hospital research facility whose primary job is to study the gut microbiome in children. Her brilliance is well beyond our time and her heart is as good as gold. I don’t think I can put my gratitude in words right now other then saying I will forever be indebted to what she did to help our family find success and she will always remain close in our hearts!
4) Lastly, the support of the 25+ GAPS Momma’s I networked with through our Atlanta based practitioner’s Facebook group, the friendships and support were always there when I needed it. You Momma’s are some of the strongest women I know and we will always have a special bond!
Thank you to all who have followed us and supported us along the way!! It feels so good to see it all come together, the silver lining, the end result and the hope we have for our future! I will be available to reach at any time via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures of Parker before GAPS:
Pictures of Parker after GAPS – happy, healthy with chocolate all over his face :):
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.