A Year on the GAPS Diet
I was recently looking at some of my first posts about the GAPS diet and realized…it’s been a year! I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. So let me see if I can manage to say something coherent about our experiences over this past year. I still feel that my gut needs to do some serious healing, but it is in such a different place than it was a year ago that I feel I have hope to live a normal life again. Lately, I have even had much more energy than I have had in years. I sure hope this continues to improve as I am always amazed at all the things people manage to fit in their lives, that I couldn’t imagine doing right now. I would also really like to get more involved with various community groups here in Vancouver–up to this point I have been nervous to get to involved and have people depend on me for something, only to get sick at the wrong moment and have to flake out. I prefer to be a person who does what they say they will do.
It is interesting to look back and realize that February is often a month of change for me. Maybe my New Year’s Resolutions finally kick in or something. Last year, not only did we start the GAPS diet but I went back to work, briefly, for a catering company during the Olympics. It was really hard and my body ached the whole time, but I did it and I was glad to know that I could still hold my own in a commercial kitchen. I had to completely turn myself off to survive and would drop into a bath the minute I got home and to bed as soon as the bath was over. It was especially good as it made me understand I didn’t like going back to robot mode. I have come to realize that my family is very good at disassociating. There have been many times this has been necessary and helpful in my life, but I am no longer willing to live like that. I discovered I couldn’t go back to that way of life again. It kills your soul and turns you into a zombie.
The most recent event that disturbed my digestion was during the last Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy course that I assist with. The course is organised into 5 day blocks every couple months. The days run from 9 to 5 and we work on each other during the sessions. I still find doing 5 full days very tiring. I am not used to being around so many people for so many hours in a day, and I find it draining. During this last block, I was eating my lunch at cafe’s downtown, to socialize with the students and teachers. I soon found that even though I was sticking to soups, it was hard to know what was in them, and by the end of the week I had obviously eaten a few things my digestion wasn’t ready for. On top of that we had a flea infestation and I wasn’t able to sleep very well at night. I got extremely worn down.
Over the past few years, getting tired and stressed like this would usually result in a cyclical vomiting episode that could last for days. Fortunately, this time all that happened was I became extremely hypersensitive–crying at the drop of a hat–as well as getting into what I have started to call ‘thought ruts’. I have noticed when I have toxins overloading my blood and liver, I can say something rather benign to someone–which they probably didn’t give a second thought to–and then spend hours beating myself up for saying it–thinking what a silly, horrible person I am and whatnot–questioning my motives for saying it to the nth degree. On top of that I will be so irritable that it is probably best to just avoid me. It is very helpful to be able recognize what is going on and go take a bath or drink some bentonite clay and go to bed.
To go a bit deeper into this train of thought, I remember when we were living in that moldy apartment in New Zealand a few years ago. I was doing freelance catering–working at a lot of industrial catering sites. I was doing hospitals, police academies–even airline catering. These types of cooking jobs are really soul killing. The place I worked the most was for airline catering. Airline catering is even worse than most industrial catering because you have to follow exactly the recipe for everything, all the portions have to be measured out precisely and you have to note down what you are doing and the temperature of it every 15 seconds (or so it seems). You also have to use sanitizing chemicals constantly. (It is basically HACCP on steroids.) The kitchen was really drafty and cold, the lights were all florescent–there was no natural lighting–the floors were constantly wet, slippery and very hard for standing on for long hours.
All of these conditions combined until I was constantly getting flashes of disasters happening whenever I looked at something. I would see a wet floor and instantly see myself slipping and cracking my head open on the floor. I would see an industrial mixer and immediately think of my arm slipping into it and being shattered in many directions. I would see a thermometer and immediately see it somehow gouging into my eye, blinding me–when I was working at the grill (which normally I love–nice and hot) I would repeatedly see myself falling face first into it, burning my nose and cheeks off. At the time I noticed that it was really weird to be getting such a constant stream of disaster images, but I didn’t understand the impact micro-organisms have on our nervous systems.
Having bad yeast, bacteria or other pathological micro-organism colonizing your intestinal tract and mucous membranes not only causes physical harm but also influences your mind, thoughts and imagination. As a result of these experiences I have come to understand more fully how much diet affects how we think and how we imagine our world to be. Parasitic micro-organisms basically create a paranoid filter for processing events. The people who are running our country and our world are often those folk who are too busy to take proper care of their diet–they have no inkling how helpful micro-organisms can be. As a result they are paranoid, their imaginations are constantly showing them the worst case scenario and they often get stuck in ‘thought ruts’ which they can’t get out of. This is the type of mentality that thinks it is necessary to go to war with everything–a war on drugs, a war on cancer, a war on raw milk, a war on terror–they think the only solution is to wipe [it] out completely. It is a very fascist way of seeing the world.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, we have had a flea epidemic lately, which has given me more understanding for the fanatical need to wipe something out so it doesn’t keep laying eggs and coming back. I have been using natural methods to deal with the fleas, which takes more work than simply spraying some chemicals around. Parasitic micro-organisms often are the cause of this all or nothing mentality in humans. As the diversity of a persons’ gut flora is compromised, so is the ability of that person to be flexible, accepting and curious. Instead rigid, stubborn, irrational, stuck and highly paranoid thought processes take control.
Over the last year I have taken various steps to assist our healing process. The first was to get a water filter, get raw milk, ferment as much food as I could and get on the GAPS diet. The second was to start learning how to detox my body and how to avoid adding more industrial chemicals to the mix by learning how to make my own shampoo, using soapnuts for laundry and detergent and starting to do tai chi and qi gong. Now I am working on further refining my protection against chemicals and electro-magnetic frequencies. We were really broke when we started this diet, so I have had to add things in slowly as we can afford them. Just today we got a shower filter, and I have a bath filter on the way, as I often worry about the chlorine in our bathing water, I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
We got a Himalayan salt lamp for Christmas which helps protect us from some EMFs (I also think cats and plants can help with this too). I have found myself to be highly sensitive to electro-magnetic frequencies since having my gut damaged so drastically. Don’t quote me on this, but I personally think tinnitus is not some imagined noise people hear in their heads. I think they probably have gut damage and as a result become extra sensitive to many frequencies we normally filter out when our helpful micro-organisms are creating a buffer. The GAPS diet and probiotics are slowly starting to help with this, in particular grass-fed butter can be helpful as it seems arachidonic acid may help to protect against EMFs.
We also started taking probiotics as I mentioned earlier. We waited to start taking these until just a couple months ago. One reason was we couldn’t afford them (quality probiotics are very expensive), the other reason was that I thought we wouldn’t need them. I don’t like supplements much in general as they are often a rip-off. I do have to say they (Bio Kult) have helped immensely–we are currently taking them twice a day, plus all our kefir and other fermented foods. (We also take cod liver oil). At this point I personally think that it was good waiting until further into the diet to start taking them, as our bodies had time to get a bit more balanced and are able to utilize them more efficiently. My kidneys and liver were extremely unhealthy, so having a huge amount of toxins rush into my blood stream after a die-off of candida or other harmful micro-organisms, gives them more work than they can handle and can be dangerous. It is best to do this detox process slowly over time, so it is good to be careful about adding probiotics into your routine. Start small, sometimes you even need to open the capsule and just take a tiny pinch to start. Watch your reactions and see how you go.
It took me about 6 months to get comfortable and develop a routine around cooking all my food from scratch and have enough time left to update my blog, garden and get involved with various communities etc. I feel very strongly that this aspect of the diet is very important. Not only does it provides you with good nourishing food, but it teaches you daily rituals, respect for food and the work and effort that have gone into it. It really deepens you and gives you roots–especially if you delve into your own ancestral foods and traditions. This diet has not only taught me how to understand my body’s signals better, but it has taught me how to cook in a completely different way than I learned working in the culinary industry–in fact it has taught me how to get in touch with the whole largely uncharted world of micro-organisms and their personalities.
There is another aspect to this that I will be exploring more in the upcoming months and that is the relationship to addiction and bad diet. It seems that the true cause of addictive ‘personalities’ is more to do with malnourishment than being a character trait. But I have already babbled on for longer than I intended to, so I will save that can of worms for another day.