One Year on Eating Real Food: GAPS

Some readers will come here not knowing what GAPS is.  No biggie.  Suffice it to say, food matters.  Eat real food.  Read on.  And others will come here wondering if GAPS works.  Suffice it to say, eating this way keeps us feeling better.  Read on.  But I know some readers are coming here to know:  “CAN I EAT PIZZA AGAIN…”

“I’ll bet you feel so good, you never go back,” said my dear medical school friend, Megan, as we talked about my “dietary rehabilitation” last year by phone.  Between a total of seven young children interrupting us.  Four nagging on her end.  One playing piano and two singing on mine.

I seriously thought her four had tipped her over the edge.  “Never go back?”  I picked GAPS over Paleo so I could go back!

Here Lies Terri’s Voodoo Diet
June 22, 2012-June 22, 2013

One year on GAPS, the crazy sounding, “voodoo” in my mind, diet I picked to try to cure my gastrointestinal tract.  I thought I would lay it aside at one year.  Zipping it up.  Dusting my hands.  “Well, gave that an honest try and it didn’t work.”  But our family feels and functions better on the real foods that GAPS outlines to eat.  It is left to be seen if GAPS will allow me to eat pizza and breadsticks again.  I haven’t tried a gluten and dairy trial since Easter.  One day at a time here.

What GAPS has helped, in no particular order:

1.  Elimination of frequent tension headaches.  Subtract Aleve.

2.  Elimination of daily allergic rhinitis in 4/5 of our family members and a decrease in 1/5.  Subtract 3-4 Flonase prescriptions.

3.  Elimination of dry eyes.  Subtract Restasis and Patanol.

4.  Weird female hormonal issues resolved.  Subtract estrogen cream and air conditioning bills.

  • Mid-cycle pelvic pain (Painful Middleschmertz is what it’s called.)
  • Nightly hot flashes and sweats.
  • Non-infectious vaginitis/dryness.
  • Relations (This is an honest blog, but I still blush.)

5.  Brain fog and “swooshy” head with rapid movement.  Subtract the snack I ate to feel better.

6.  Adult-onset acne.  Subtract the expensive face cleaner.  Rarely use it anymore.  Just warm water.

7.  Fatigue.  3:00 p.m. killed me.  7:30 p.m. rolled around and I was ready for bed.  Subtract the extra afternoon cup of coffee.

8.  Severe constipation afflicted two of our family members.  The pediatric member is cured no matter what she eats now, whereas dairy used to immediately stop bowel movements within 24 hours.  The adult member is now at least controlled with OTC magnesium.  Subtract Miralax.

9.  Chronic cough/cough variant asthma resolved if dairy is eliminated.  Subtract Flovent and albuterol inhalers.

10.  Weight loss.  My husband has lost thirty pounds and is still trending down.  I lost 13 pounds, but I bounced back up and hover around an 8 pound overall weight loss.  ADD in having to buy new clothes.

11.  Carbohydrate addiction.  Controlled.  At the holidays I “challenged” wheat and dairy treats, the monster roared back.  Even though I went back to GAPS allowed foods, it usually took a couple of weeks to abate the honey, almond flour, and dried fruit orgy that ensued after tasting wheat and dairy treats again.  The pacing lion in the kitchen (that’s me) came back.  What can I eat?  Roar.  What can I eat?  Roar.

Subtract…I don’t know.  How about add in more assured control over cravings and food choices when I follow GAPS?

12.  Frequent upper respiratory tract infections.  Improved.  Subtract cough and cold OTCs.

13.  Chronic sinusitis.  Not one episode compared to 3-4 antibiotics the previous winter.  Subtract pain and multiple antibiotics.

14.  Seasonal allergies.  Drastically improved.  Our worst family member needed only about 4-5 doses of antihistamine this year.  Subtract Xyzal, Singulair, and Flonase.

15.  Year round goopy nose in child.  Resolved.  Subtract “yuck.”

16.  Concentration and hyperactivity-type behavior.  Improved.  Subtract private school tuition.  I’ll keep her homeschooled.

17.  Frequent complaints of “tummy aches.”  Eliminated.  Subtract antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and “you’re faking.”

18.  You know those few times a month where you get this “woe is me” feeling?  The “leave me alone” feeling?  The “my life is perfect but I’m still unhappy” feeling?  Sometimes it coincides with hormones and sometimes it doesn’t.  Well, that’s gone.  And I say “good riddance” to that for sure.

What GAPS hasn’t helped:

1.  I developed bilateral knee swelling and pain after playing volleyball this year.  GAPS hasn’t really been the cure-all for our musculoskeletal aches and pains like I’ve read for some people who start grain-free diets.  On the other hand, my husband says his knees feel better with less weight and he knows he’s helping his long-term risk of osteoarthritis.

2.  My constipation is much, much better.  Without my magnesium, the urge interval is 5 days, but stools are Bristol stool chart “1” (not really passable).  With my magnesium, the urge interval is about 1-2 days, and Bristol “4.”  Sometimes, the effect is overreaching.  I don’t know if it’s the magnesium or an irritable bowel type response to something I ate.  I’ve never had irritable bowel before GAPS, but sometimes my symptoms now seem that way.

3.  Bloating.  That’s not really fair.  GAPS has actually decreased the bloating, but it is still present.  Like a “baby bump.”  I want it to go away.  I suspect FODMAP and SIBO coexisting.  I’ve tried the SIBO/IBS-C antibiotic regimen.  It helped some, but the symptoms came back.  Certainly, as good as I feel, I can tolerate some bloating.

4.  GERD.  My husband still has issues with GERD.  However, he still won’t give up his Diet Dr. Pepper(s) every morning.


We had to identify food sensitivities using GAPS to figure some of this out.  Allergy testing wasn’t too helpful.  I cannot eat a full-GAPS diet with abandon.  I’ve had to give up dairy, nuts, eggs, and even coconut causes issues I don’t like.  So to say “GAPS” makes me feel better is a reach.  To say GAPS helped me identify food’s role in our family’s health and taught me about real food is the honest truth.

The idea behind GAPS is that after a year or two, you’ll be “cured” of food reactions of any kind.  I’m happy with just control, I guess.  But we have had “cure” in two children.  One has had her dairy sensitivity resolved.  She can eat dairy now without issue.  We still try to keep it a treat.  But even a treat “locked” her GI tract and nose up a year ago.  It took six months on the diet for successful dairy introduction for her.  Another child’s constant runny and snotty nose has resolved.  Even when she eats “crap” on vacation.  A year ago, it was constant.  Then we started GAPS and it only came with cheats.  Now it doesn’t really come at all.

So we have two who can eat without worries on vacation; the rest of us have symptoms when we deviate from GAPS foods or eat GAPS foods we’re sensitive to. I like this real food, and so I’m going to continue GAPS for another year to see if I can fix my constipation and introduce dairy and wheat.  Pizza and breadsticks.

No matter what, I want to always keep my family true to a whole foods type diet.  Real food.  Real health.

And my blog posts are no substitute for a visit with a doctor or health professional.  They’re stories from my life and mind.  For you to laugh about with your doctor.

Questions, comments, gripes, or complaints?

Warm smiles your way,



A Little Overview on GAPS

Some Early Successes We Have Seen in our Family 

GAPS Helping My Chronic Constipation

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