This past week I decided to embark upon the wonderful GAPS diet. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet. This is a particularly strict diet consisting of 6 stages and meant for those who really have digestion and health concerns who want a strict and helpful way to cleanse the body.
The process started over the weekend. I went and bought an organic free-range chicken and basically threw it in the crock pot on low with a little salt and whole peppercorns and some apple cider vinegar. After about 2 hours I took out the chicken and picked off all the cooked meat and threw the bones back into the pot. Then I added some organic carrots, celery and rosemary. When the bones were soft enough, I cut them in half and scrapped out the bone marrow and added it to the broth and threw the bones back into the crock pot. After about 24 hours, my broth was ready to go and I sifted out all the bones and put them in the freezer to make more broth later in the week. I was ready to begin the strictest diet I have ever done.
Monday 8/26/13 – I woke up and had a bowl of chicken soup. So there are some carrots, celery and meat in this mixture and down the hatch it goes. The peppercorns and rosemary have given the broth a very nice taste. I do not feel hungry afterwards. After about 2 hours it’s time for more soup. I decided to add in some probiotic organic sauerkraut (only about 2 tablespoons) to my diet before I eat the soup. Usually on this diet you wait a few days to incorporate, but I felt it was necessary for my body. In between my meals of soup, I drink freshly grated ginger tea. By the early evening, I feel super exhausted with headaches (not just any headaches either, this one shifts all around my head). I read that this is completely normal as all of the bad bacteria and toxins are getting out of my body. Doesn’t make me any happier, I can’t wait to get to the point where I feel amazing…is that time here yet?
Tuesday 8/27/13 – I wake up feeling just awful. Granted, I have already written a blog about cleansing and how you don’t feel great for at least 2 days, so I am fully aware of this hate for life (see blog here). I still have that miserable headache, only now I have no appetite (I read this also normal) and eating this god awful soup is making me nauseous (also apparently totally normal). I decide to lie back down and rest, hoping I will wake up feeling a little less like death has become me. Thankfully I do! I wake up a couple of hours later and notice my headache is subsiding and I want to eat that damn soup again. I pack up a thermos full of soup and grab my sauerkraut and head into the office. My coworkers and friends already think I am nuts. “What no coffee?”, one of them asks, “nope, ginger tea!” I reply enthusiastically. As the day winds on, I start feeling more and more amazing! This is incredible! Just soup and I am starting to feel like superwoman. I have an acute mental clarity and a hunger for life. The headache is getting smaller and smaller. This doesn’t make me like the fact that I am eating only chicken soup though, so I have decided to stop by Whole Foods later and inquire about some grass-fed beef bones to make a beef stock. My body seems to do better with beef anyways, so maybe this stock will provide even more glorious feelings of superhuman power. I was even able to go to a yoga class and felt really good throughout practice even with the little food in my system.
Wednesday 8/28/13 – I woke up really tired but I also was up late cooking beef broth as I have unsurprisingly gotten rather sick of the chicken. I had bought bone organic grass-fed marrow bones and some meat and started making the broth. I feel a little more exhausted today than I felt for the better part of yesterday. Could be that my body is still detoxing and getting rid of bad bacteria. Nonetheless, I was even more jealous of everyone else’s “food” today, stuff I normally wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. So I am really looking forward to Stage 2 where I can eat more than just stock with meat and ginger tea. In fact in Stage 2 I can start incorporating egg yolks into the soups, and veggie and meat casseroles. Today I also ate a small piece of salmon, as I needed something a bit different and the Omega -3‘s in the fish are good for my body on such a restricted diet. I have been supplementing my diet with Omega-3 fish capsules but it is also good to each the fish itself. I also attended a seminar on hormones taught by Sharon Brown, a Nutritional Therapist and GAPS Specialist. I learned many new things including the need for more good fat in my diet. I am excited to start incorporating more coconut oil and grass-fed butter into my cooking when I can cook foods again and not just eat them boiled.
Thursday 8/29/13 – I woke up feeling less worn out but I think my body is still getting rid of those pesky toxins. I was able to add an egg yolk to my beef broth for breakfast which was super! On such a strict diet, it’s the little things like adding in 1 extra food that make you feel so excited to eat. Due to Sharon’s advice last night, that most of us American’s are rather iodine deficient due to lack of seaweed in our diet, I also added the sea plant Kombu to my soup. It has a very mild flavor, not as pungent as some other seaweeds. I continue with beef broth and add some poached salmon to my diet as well. I read that I can possibly start to incorporate plain yogurt, and I find a good organic one. Stoneyfield’s Organic Plain Yogurt has 2 additional cultures than other yogurts and no additional sugar (fructose) or tapioca starch. Yes plain yogurt is rather bland, especially since I must have it plain now, but you know something? It’s nice to have something else to eat other than broth! Yogurt is basically the only dairy I ever eat so I don’t feel bad about eating it but if dairy is difficult for your digestive system I recommend Goat’s Milk, tastes the same. I was energized enough to teach a fabulous yoga class and ate some more, yes that’s right, more broth (though it is nice to switch between chicken and beef to switch it up). I decided to try a casserole, though one that is meant for a later stage, Roasted Tomato Basil Casserole. It was really tasty and had very few ingredients. This recipe I got from Eat Nourishing and I really felt like expanding my diet just a bit. Seems to do fine in my system so far.
Friday 8/30/13 – Woke up this morning and made some fresh carrot juice (which is alright according to GAPS if you experience constipation apparently, however I don’t see much of a difference though it can take a few days to get regular). Then I ate my bone broth soup with an egg yolk and a little bit of boiled grass-fed beef. It has been extremely hot so the idea of eating warm foods is not exactly appealing but I do it anyway. Once I get to the office, I eat some more yogurt which despite its bland taste is actually quite nice to eat on such a miserably hot day. I ate some more of my Roasted Tomato Basil Casserole and then it was time for dinner. My girlfriend was in town so I took her to Urban Solace, where they have a gluten-free menu option, local, organic and sustainable foods. I had done some research ahead and saw that I could eat the Grass-fed Beef Cheeks and be totally within GAPS diet rules. The Beef Cheeks is actually amazing, very moist and tender and just melts in your mouth. It is served with some sweet potato mash which probably had lots of grass-fed butter which is exactly what I can eat. I even tried a little of my girlfriend’s hamburger which was amazing. The hamburger comes with french fries and I had to try a small fry to see how it tasted to me. To my complete surprise, my taste buds had evolved to a degree that it did not taste good at all! While my girlfriend ate her hamburger and fries with an organic beer, I sipped on strawberry-kiwi loose tea with no caffeine. After dinner, I decided it was so hot that we needed a treat. We went to a self-serve frozen yogurt shop and I opted for plain tart yogurt with some shredded coconut and sliced almonds. It was delicious. I was definitely envious of the peanut butter and chocolate options, but I was quite alright with my selection. I noticed after our early dinner that I was hungry around 9:00pm so I ate a little more of my casserole and an egg bite my girlfriend had prepared (very simple egg, ground turkey and kale). I was surprised to be so hungry but decided it was ok to cheat a little on this very strict diet in such horrible heat!
Saturday 8/31/13 – I woke up this morning feeling good, and for the first time without any coffee, I was able to have a bowel movement in the morning! Looks like my digestive tract is doing much better now and all the probiotics I have been increasing in my diet seem to be helping. I also weighed myself and I dropped 2 pounds after just 5 days of this crazy diet! Not that I need to lose any weight at all, but my scale also shows a decrease in body fat as well which is just wonderful. So I drank some ginger tea, which I but rosebuds in as well for a little different flavor, then I sipped on some more bone broth before my lady and I headed out to breakfast. We head around the corner from my house to Heat Bar and Kitchen, where they too have local, sustainable and organic selections. Of course I can’t really eat anything on the menu itself, but I can order a side of poached eggs and some bean and meat chilli and still be on track. I also looked up the ingredients on the frozen yogurt I ate last night to some disturbing news. Yogurtland, Pinkberry, all the chains really, all have mono and diglycerides, guar gum, maltodextrin and dextrose. I am now in search of an all organic yogurt shop but apparently none exist in San Diego. I went to the football game with my dad and my girlfriend and drank only water, but ate some of the meat in the VIP section. I attempted to bring my own food but the heat really gave me second thoughts about eating it, because I was worried it went bad. However I cooked a nice, GAPS friendly meal for my lady and I upon our return home. Grass-fed burgers and shredded zucchini and carrot saute with some organic grass-fed aged cheddar cheese.
All in all, I give myself an A for effort even though I had a couple hiccups upon the weekend. I have discovered that my taste buds are very much sensitive to flavors and spices and I feel much more grounded and alive. I will continue to eat within Paleo and GAPS rules in the upcoming week and see if I continue to feel improvements in my general health. I expect to have more improvements in my digestion and continue to see fat loss. I would definitely recommend this diet to anyone who wants to improve their health. I would advise however, that it is really strict at first and incredibly difficult. Once you get over the 1st stage hump though, experimenting with new recipes is really enjoyable!