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We have celebrated Winter Solstice for a few years as a family, but never have we shared this celebration with friends. This was going to be our year. I was going to invite friends and it would be magical and well-planned. Then my kids started cycling through short (but contagious) fevers. We called off the friends-coming-over part and decided to make-do and celebrate this holiday alone!

Captivated by candlelight

Dinner was nothing special– cabbage salad and soup– but any meal can be made magical with candlelight.

Light promises to return

This year, I really wanted to focus on two things. First, embrace and accept the fact that we are in the darkest time of the year. Second, remind myself and my family that the light is returning. We took turns talking about what we remember from this last summer, as well as what we look forward to this summer. It helps me feel less overwhelmed with the darkness when I just accept that it’s a part of the year’s cycle, and remind myself that it won’t last forever.

Elsa’s face, like the year. Dark and light.

This has been a wonderful year. We have experienced better health than ever before, we have made progress to accomplish our tiny house goals, and we have had many days of loving our kids and our friends. It has had a lot of sad days, anxious days, and “junk days” that went un-enjoyed… as any year has. But mostly I remember this year for all the happiness we have felt.

Time for some good books

We read two very good books that I had borrowed from the library. One was Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, which spoke of a boy taking a quiet walk in the snow with his dad to find an owl. The other book was The Shortest Day: Celebrating Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer. This book explained the history of solstice and the science behind it.

Embrace the darkness, take time to rest. Summer will come quickly.

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This is an overview of the GAPS diet. I am not an authority on this subject and I don’t know every single detail of the diet. However, I have spent a lot of time reading about this diet and implementing it for my family. If you want to know more, visit the GAPS website and read the book. I hope this at least piques your interest and will be a springboard for you doing your own research!

Our family has found a lot of health and healing from the GAPS diet (I lost 30 pounds in 6 months on the GAPS diet!) and I think it has the ability to heal a variety of health issues.

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

Who is the GAPS diet for?

This diet was developed by Dr. Natasha McBride to help with a range of psychiatric, psychological, immune, and digestive problems, including:

  • Autoimmune disorders 
  • Widespread inflammation
  • Dyspraxia
  • Schizophrenia
  • ADHD and ADD
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • IBS
  • Dyslexia
  • Asthma
  • Allergies

GAPS stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome because of the link between the gut health and brain health. Your gut wall acts as a fortress that processes everything in your gut, making sure it is in a correct form that your body can use. When your gut loses its health, your whole body begins to suffer. A damaged gut’s can’t produce enzymes that help your body break down food particles. You can begin to have what is called “leaky gut”, which means that, over time, your gut wall has been damaged with poor eating and has developed holes which allow particles to enter your bloodstream that wouldn’t be able to fit through a healthy gut wall. Your body doesn’t know what to do with these partially undigested food particles and can develop allergies to these foods. 

The way to heal the brain is to heal the gut wall. The GAPS diet does this by taking out difficult-to-digest foods and replacing them with easy to digest, nutrient dense foods that allow your gut wall to heal. By eating probiotic foods, you will also re-colonize your gut with good bacteria, which help you to get the most nutrition out of your food. 

How do I follow the GAPS diet?

There are two sections to the diet:

  • Full GAPS– This is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet consisting of mostly meat, vegetables, eggs, and nuts. It is recommended to follow the Full GAPS for 1 1/2 -2 years for full healing. 
  • Intro Diet– a short-term cleansing and healing for the gut wall that takes 3-6 weeks to complete.

Let’s look at these two parts of the diet in more detail:

 

This is how I get my kids to eat GAPS Intro soups- I blend them and serve them with a straw!

Intro Diet

This part of the diet consists of six stages and takes 3-6 weeks to complete. Fairly healthy people might be able to complete it in 2 weeks. For people with more severe digestive issues, such as IBS, Crohn’s, Autism, and depression, this diet will take more like 6 weeks. Each stage builds on the one before.

Stage 1– Homemade meat stock, boiled meat, boiled vegetables, and sauerkraut juice

Stage 2– Continue with soups, add egg yolks

Stage 3– Add scrambled eggs, avocado, and fermented veggies

Stage 4– Add baked meats, fresh juices, and nut flour bread

Stage 5– Add cooked fruits and raw veggies

Stage 6– Add raw fruit

This is a very difficult diet to follow, but It is worth every bit of work. It is hard to make broth constantly, and after a few days of soup, you get pretty ready to sink your teeth into something crunchy. But it does an amazing job cleaning your system and healing.

 

Full GAPS

You will spend the majority of your time on this part of the diet. Visit this page for the Full GAPS food list, but here are the basics of what you eat:

  • Raw dairy
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Homemade bone broth
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Lots of oil (good fats such as animal fats or coconut oil or avocado oil)
  • Fruits
  • Honey (small amounts)
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, and water kefir.
  • Low starch legumes such as lima beans, white beans, and lentils
  • Eggs

 

Sauerkraut

Supplements

It is recommended that you supplement Full GAPS with: 

  • Probiotics
  • Essential Fatty Acids such as Cod Liver Oil, Nut/Seed blend oil, and Fish Oil
  • Vitamin A which is found in Cod Liver Oil
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements

For us personally, we have only taken Cod Liver Oil, which supplies vitamins A and D, Omega 3 fatty acids and DHA. We also supplement with a magnesium foot soak. We also eat fermented food almost every day (sauerkraut and kombucha) instead of taking probiotics. We just don’t feel like we have the money to spend on probiotics. This is my cheap “hack” on probiotics, and although I doubt we get as many strains, it’s better than nothing.

 

Detoxifying the Home

Make sure you quit using chemical cleaners, soaps, shampoos, candles, air fresheners, laundry detergents, and lotions. Dr. McBride also suggests not getting new carpets, furniture, or paints since they off-gas chemicals. Don’t get any new mercury (amalgam) fillings and decrease your exposure to lead and other heavy metals. You are cleansing your body, so make sure you aren’t burdening your body with things that will make it difficult to completely heal.

You really can’t go wrong by trying this diet. It is full of whole, real foods that will nourish your body. 

Recommended reading

 

Explanation of the GAPS diet by Dr. Natasha McBride-

 

A GAPS cookbook with great recipes and encouragement-

 

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I’m excited to share my experience with the GAPS diet. I hope it inspires you to pursue health and healing in your own life, no matter where you are! I also discuss  learning to accept the body you have and focus on health and strength, not chasing that “perfect body”.

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no cost to you. Read my disclosure policy HERE.

 

I got married when I was 19. Before our wedding, I was stressed, and like any bride, eager to not regret my body in the wedding pictures. So I ran a lot and ate very little and got my weight down to 139 lbs. I liked my body, I liked my wedding pictures, and I was ready to take on the world.

 

 

Yeah, let’s just say the next 6 years hit me like a locomotive. They were beautiful years of holding babies, nursing babies, and loving babies. But they were also desperate years of back-to-back pregnancies, sleepless nights, and tired days. Yet no matter what the challenge, food was something I could count on to comfort me. Desserts were a “reward” for getting through the hard day. And they did make me feel better. Kind of. 

After our fourth and final baby was born, I was 180 lbs and I felt frustrated with all the extra fat on my body. I never had been fat before and I didn’t feel like myself. But I never thought that losing so much weight would be a option, so I decided to embrace it and bought a bunch of “fat clothes”. 

 

Starting the GAPS diet

Six months later when we decided to follow the GAPS diet as a family, our major motive was Trent’s health, but I also secretly hoped it would help me lose weight. 

In the midst of our whole family becoming healthier, I began to see the fat basically melt off my body very steadily. I was losing 1-2 lbs a week, and before I knew it, I had lost 20 lbs and my friends were starting to comment about how good I looked. That felt great. 

 

 

After 4 months of following the Full GAPS diet, we took a few weeks to go back and do the GAPS Intro diet, and I kicked my last 10 lbs. I was 150 lbs, a wonderfully healthy weight, and feeling great about myself. I had new clothes, I fit in my “goal jeans”, and I didn’t cringe when I saw a picture of myself.

I also had much more mental clarity, sustained energy, and a heightened sense of well-being.

 

Learning to Accept My Body

About a year and a half later, I am still 150 lbs and still feeling pretty great. And we don’t even follow the GAPS diet anymore! We eat several gluten-free grains (like sprouted rice!) and even splurge every few weeks when we encounter “junk food” the we’re out-and-about.

Do I still kinda hate parts of my body? Absolutely. 

Do I see other women and wish I had their body? Yes.

But I am choosing to not let it take over my life. There will never be a perfect day where I am completely satisfied with my body. 

I have also realized that, even if I lost every ounce of fat on my body, I would still not look like a supermodel. I just am not built that way. And that’s OK. I want to be healthy and strong and that is my priority at this point. 

 

 

Is GAPS the only way to lose weight or be healthy?

While I think the GAPS diet is an amazing way to heal your gut and lose weight, I don’t think it’s the only way you can achieve your health or weight loss goals. My mom has lost 20 lbs in 8 months following the Keto Diet. I know others have found healing through the AIP Protocol and SCD diet.

One thing I really like about GAPS is that it allows you a period of time where you heal your gut wall. Once you are healed, your gut is no longer “leaky” and is able to properly digest the foods you do eat. This can be a wonderful reset for your system.

Understand that following the GAPS diet is a big commitment of time and effort. You will spend many, many hours making broth, straining broth, chopping veggies, blending soups, and mixing salads. You have to be committed before you start or you will fail. But the time you spend in the kitchen will be well-spent when you start feeling healthy, thinking clearer, and seeing your kids thrive.

 

Recommended Reading

This explains everything you need to know about the GAPS diet:

This is a beautiful GAPS cookbook that helps you through each stage:

 

Feel free to share with us all in the comments what diets or protocols have helped you reach your health or weight loss goals!

Be sure to like my Facebook Page to receive updates each time I post on my blog! Thank you to each one of you reading; I really appreciate you. 

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