Tag Archives: introduction

Twelve Thoughts for Twelve Days of GAPS Intro


3 egg yolks

3 egg yolks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Those without serious digestive problems and food intolerances can move through The Introduction Diet quite quickly.” Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride

When I started GAPS a year ago for my severe, chronically slow GI tract, I naively thought I could just speed through introduction. Not only did I think I could, I did, for better or for worse. This time around on GAPS re-Introduction, I’m less naive and more confident: food intolerances pinned down, cravings much improved, educated about issues like FODMAPs/amine intolerance/SIBO/coconut oil die off/etc, sorted through probiotic and supplement choices.

I am composing a list of thoughts from my twelve days of introduction, in no particular order. I am not a GAPS provider. I am not a practicing physician. Read my blog as an auto-biography of my musings and learnings as I journey through food, not as a source of medical diagnosis or treatment advice.

1. My fingernails are growing great with all of this broth!

2. Why does it seem I am getting more intolerances?  I’ve seen other people complain about this. I used to theorize it was because I just wasn’t paying attention and didn’t recognize intolerances before starting GAPS. (A year ago, I never made a connection between food and any of my symptoms.) But I swear, when I started this diet, I was absolutely fine with chicken, chicken broth, and coconut products. In fact, I relied on them heavily early on. Over the year, head throbbing, tension headaches, fatigue, sleepiness, and grouchiness started setting in again–it took me awhile to pinpoint these “safe” foods as culprits, too, after initially feeling so great. Now, going through introduction, I can add egg yolks to the culprit list. I really thought those went fine on the last introduction, even though egg whites did not.

My second theory about my increasing food intolerance was that my body just took awhile to gear up its reaction after being inundated for so long with my dairy sensitivity (and possibly gluten–but I’ve had no true interaction with that this year so it’s not truly fair to say I’m gluten intolerant). And my third theory thought maybe I had a leaky gut early on, and so the foods I relied on heavily, I became intolerant to. Whatever the reason, egg yolks give me a 4-6 hour headache, sleepiness, and fatigue.

3. FODMAP foods clearly play a role in my bloating.  Tomato, beets, and onion in a vegetable soup led to a few days of significant bloating and even a day of diarrhea (about 8 episodes), which prompted me to stop magnesium and all supplements, including the Saccharomyces I had been titrating up, egg yolks, Epsom salt baths, current soup batch, and sauerkraut. After several days, I pinpointed the diarrhea to too much tomato. The bloating to tomato, onion, and beets. When summer produce ends, I should probably be more FODMAP diligent.

4. Aside from that day of likely FODMAP overdose, I still don’t poop on my own. How that works I have no idea. Clearly my GI tract CAN work. So why doesn’t it all the other days? Insane. I can pee. I can sneeze. I can blink. I can gag. But I can’t poop. I stopped the magnesium for five days after the diarrhea episode, and I had five days of nothing. Coffee backwards and all. I retook my magnesium last night, and I’m sure it will take a couple of days to work. I am lucky, I guess. I really don’t have any uncomfortable feelings with this. I know some people do.

5. Hitting a roadblock at Stage 2 with eggs really puts a wrench in the situation. I had to waste several days figuring out it was egg yolks, which kept me on Stage 1 too long for my taste! I introduced egg yolks about day 4 or 5, when I was feeling very good. I started feeling bad in the head, and I didn’t know if it was a low carb syndrome or a response to the diet or just not enough calories. So I rode it out a day or two, very frustrated, until I dropped back to stage 1, removed chicken broth, chicken, and egg yolks (supplements and sauerkraut, too). I still am not sure about the chicken’s effects, and as I don’t want to feel bad again, I don’t want to stick it back in! However, the egg yolk I am sure about. The question is, what to do about it? I won’t eat them. I don’t want to feel bad. Do I stay on stage 1 until I can eat them? Ugh. Can I really stay on Stage 1 that long? I am not “that sick.” I should be able to fly through intro! Is it really the yolk itself? Or is it something the chickens are fed? Who knows?

This food voodoo is crazy. I guess that’s okay, as long as I’m not!

6. Ghee seems to be okay, I think. I don’t like it, though. But 1 teaspoon a day for two days seems fine so far. Good to know.

7. I have family visiting, and so I added in avocado to look and feel more normal eating. My turkey looks a lot better topped with boiled beets and avocado than it does plain.

8. I have lost track of stages. I’m certainly past stage 1, but not past stage 2, and  since I know avocado from stage 3 and I get along great, aside from tummy bloating, I added that in yesterday. So I guess I’m stage 1, plus ghee and avocado. Those egg yolks really slowed my progress.

9. I did cheat one day when my family first came (Day 9). I had 6 super fresh sweet cherries. A few bites of fresh cucumber with vinegar. And wilted Swiss chard with bacon drippings. And some grilled zucchini. But I suffered no ill effects from that, and I’m back on track.

10. Is GAPS helping me?  I don’t know! It clearly helped me identify food intolerances, but will they go away? And why is it the best I can get my constipation is GAPS plus magnesium? I really, really hoped constipation would go away. And if I am stricter will nuts, eggs, coconut, chicken?, dairy, and gluten eventually be able to be incorporated into my diet without dry eyes, headaches, grouchiness, pelvic pain, etc? Or are they things that will just need left out and retried intermittently?

11. Why are you doing this? Now it has become a challenge. A personal test of this diet. A curiosity of mine. Am I banging my head against a wall?  Maybe, but it’s an experiment to try.  I’ve always been stubborn, but I’m not stupid. So I’ll see what’s up. I’m watching. Weighing. Reading. Listening. Observing. In the end, I may not follow any diet plan at all except my own, based on my own self-observation. And that’s probably the best diet for me. I’m totally able to accept GAPS won’t cure my GI tract and food intolerances, but I think it deserves a good trial.  And it seems there are plenty of other people and conditions it has helped.

12. I roasted a turkey that we had in the freezer from Thanksgiving for my family, and then I boiled the bird for me. I don’t know if that’s completely legal, but it sure did taste great and made good broth! It kept me going. It was a pastured turkey, and the meat is lasting forever. So is the darn liver on that thing. It was huge. And seafood still helps keep me going, too.

That’s enough!


In the draft bin: What I am Feeding My Poor Family During Their Stay With Me

GAPS Intro

“Testing for food allergies is notoriously unreliable:  if they had enough resources to test twice a day for two weeks, they would find that they are “allergic” to everything they eat.  As long as the gut wall is damaged and stays damaged, you can be juggling your diet forever, removing different foods and never getting anywhere.  From my clinical experience, it is best to concentrate on healing the gut wall with the Introduction Diet.  Once the gut wall is healed, the foods will be digested properly before being absorbed, which will remove any food intolerances and allergies.”  Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition)

Juggling Discovered Food Intolerances

That’s it.  I’ve had it.  I spent a month in June following GAPS (as I have been for a year), subtracting foods that autoimmune Paleo prohibits (nuts, seeds, nightshades, eggs) and removing coconut, chicken, and fruit as my own noted personal food intolerances.  I felt great.  Absolutely great.  Mere coincidence.  I think not.  Then, vacation came and it all come to a halt.  Fine.  I can’t keep that up anyway.  Yesterday I ate blueberry egg casserole, and in the afternoon, you could have fried an egg on my temper tantrums.  Eggs make me moody.  Yeah.  Go laugh.

Whether the intolerances have always been there or not, I cannot say for sure.  Before March or so of last year, I had no clue that food did anything to my body other than  pack on a few pounds.  Food intolerances were not on my radar.  Ever.  Ever.  Ever.

Well, here I am.  One year on GAPS, started for my chronic constipation, and I can control nearly all nuisance symptoms I used to get (while wondering what caused them), yet ignored:  headaches, brain fog, dry eyes, stuffy nose, blowing chunks of gunk out my nose, sore throats, exhaustion, days of irritability and withdrawal, bloating…face acne…butt acne…you name it.  Actually, my constipation has become quite manageable with magnesium “Natural Calm”, although it’s still something I have to take daily.  However, to control all of these other things, I have to eat “clean for me.”  And I’m not strong enough.  Lordie, who is?

So, dang it.  I’m doing GAPS intro again.  Starting this morning.  I’ve committed to another year of GAPS, so why not give intro another whirl for “deeper healing.”  Oooooohhhh.  Aaaaaaaaaah!

My Food Intolerances

Over the last year, I have put foods in and out.  In and out.  In and out.  In and out, trying to manually pinpoint food intolerances.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  There are a lot of foods, and there are lots of combinations of them together!  After I pinpointed them, I went to my allergist and got IgE skin tested.  Nothing showed up.  He reassured me I still had intolerances, they just weren’t IgE related.  I wanted them to be IgE related so I had validity to my own, mostly subjective, observations.  I want a test to prove me.  Is that so wrong?

Over the year, I have determined symptoms caused by foods in my own body:

Dairy:  Well-prepared, cow-fresh yogurt gives me a 3 day headache and terrible brain fog.  So did goat’s milk yogurt.  It causes irritable bowel type diarrhea. (Yippee!  Gotta’ go NOW.  Oops.  Had to go THEN.)  Exacerbates female mid-cycle pain.  Ghee and butter do the same things, only milder symptoms.

Eggs:  Eggs give me headaches and irritable bowel type diarrhea, like dairy.  Also, very dry eyes and acne.  Mean and moody.  Husband:  “What’d you eat today?  Eggs?”  Wife:  “Yes.  How’d you know?” Symptoms last about 3-5 days.  In fact, dry eyes don’t start until 2-3-days after eating them.

Nuts:  I get a stuffy nose with nuts and blowing gunk out in mornings.  Moderately dry eyes, depending on amount eaten.  The dry eyes doesn’t start until about 3 days after I’ve eaten nuts.  All nuts and seeds are culprits.  Also acne and mild tension headaches come.

Coconut:  Makes me want to go take a nap about an hour after I eat it, lasting about 4 hours.  Coconut oil causes headache and diarrhea.  This may not be an intolerance as much as it could be related to it’s anti-microbial properties.

Chicken:  With chicken, I get a headache and get moderately irritable and moody.  Seems to be intensified when I eat pieces besides the breast or with the long-boiled broth.  Seems to come a few days later, about when I’ve forgotten I ate chicken.

Fruits and veggies:  No problems except with bloating.  Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels, etc), melons, and apples are the worst, but all fruits flare up bloating.  Bloating is MUCH better than one year ago, when it was at its worst and actually kind of hurt!  Now it’s more cosmetic.  I don’t usually self-limit TOO much based on bloating, unless I have to put on a swimsuit!

As I’ve gotten the GI tract to a tolerable level, comme ci comme ca, I am left with the symptoms I really didn’t know food could cause:  tension headaches, brain fog, fatigue, and moodiness.  That almost one month of GAPS/autoimmune Paleo/minus coconut and chicken left a goal in my brain.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to eat nuts and eggs and not get acne, dry eyes, tension headaches, and mood changes?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to eat an apple and not swell up like the old gray mare?

For me, yes.  So, to make my experimental journey complete, I am repeating GAPS intro.  I don’t intend to make it a long drawn out process; that just doesn’t seem right.  But boiled meats, veggies, and broth as gut rest and strong nutrients sound reasonable.  Being more diligent with my omega-3 and probiotic.  Staying away from sugar sources for a little bit.

I’ve got broth in the fridge.  A big pot of boiling carrots.  Some long-boiled greens.  Some boiled beets.  Some crock-pot pork.  Some ground beef.  Jars of sauerkraut.  The next three days will be 101 ways to mix these ingredients.  (Remember factorials?)

Add in some fermented cod liver oil, fish oil, digestive enzymes with HCL, vitamin B12, and a probiotic.  I’ll skip the magnesium a couple of days and see what happens.

Enough is enough.  June showed me how I want to feel and function WITH eggs, nuts, coconut, fruits, and cruciferous vegetables in my diet (grains and dairy are another story).  So GAPS intro here I am again.  I’m hoping in one year, give or take a few months, I can type a complete success story on constipation, bloating, and headaches related to food and crawl quietly back into a world that doesn’t have quite so many food conversations.  But I may not be able to write that success story, and that’s okay for me!  I am still way better off with overall health than I was a year and few months ago!

I am not a GAPS provider.  I have not taken any GAPS classes.  I’m just telling my story.  Don’t make any medical decisions based on what I say or do.  I don’t think GAPS is God’s gift to the world.  Even to the diet world.  When my self-experimentation is all said and done, I’ll eat a whole foods diet of things that allow me to feel good:  potato, rice, or otherwise.  But I’ve got to know, without too much disruption or obsession, can I fix myself?