Today begins the first of a 30 day GAPS diet cycle. What's GAPS you ask? Read about it here, here, and here. And as you can see from the food list, it's not as restrictive as it first looks. The introduction phase is very simple- warm, nourishing stock and boiled meat and veggies. Plenty of water. Lots of good foods to feed the happy critters I'm trying to grow inside my intestines. My gut flora is clearly off balance and this diet will help me get it back to a healthy state.
And as an added bonus, I've no doubt I will begin to shed pounds. Right now I am holding strong at my 193 number (13 pounds lost) and I expect it to fall fast as I will be naturally limiting calorie intake through my food choices (there are only so many calories one can consume when one is eating mostly vegetables and boiled meats) as well as after an entire month of inactivity getting back into the working out saddle.
GAPS diet enthusiasts report clearer skin, healthier hair and nails, a re-charge of energy and vitality, just to name a few. My greatest challenge will be to incorporate fermented foods into my diet. I will mainly be relying on kombucha and plain greek yogurt as we are moving this month and I can't see myself spending the required time to ferment my own veggies while we're in transition between houses!
Gut flora imbalance has been implicated in autism, ADD, allergies and other autoimmune disorders, colitis, and a host of other Western diseases including, it might surprise you to learn, depression and mood disorders. Basically the theory goes- if the gut is sick, the body is sick. If the gut does not have balance, the body does not have balance. If the lining of the intestines, which is a direct pathway to the blood stream, is "leaking" then the body is being slowly poisoned by the foods we consume. Further exasperated that by eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in processed, non-nutritional empty carbs, high doses of bad-bacteria-and-yeast feeding refined sugars, and massive amounts of bad oils and 'fake' foods (ie: high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, etc) and you've got a real recipe for disaster, or chronic illness, on your hands. Large proteins from the foods we eat can "leak" into the blood stream through the lining of the gut and then the immune system reacts to these foreign particles by attacking the body in various ways. Additionally, when good bacteria is missing from the system the bad bacteria and yeast are better able to flourish, causing another host of problems. Years later, while these two conditions have quietly been wreaking havoc on the body for decades, a person is told by a doctor to take ever mounting numbers of pills to try and control body-wide system failure when the problem is in the gut and is as easy to fix as repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria and eating to support their growth.
The GAPS diet isn't so much a "diet" as it is a transitional, healing way of eating for a non-determined length of time. Basically, you eat this way until you are well. Then you pretty much need to continue to eat clean for most of your meals most of the time to maintain your health. Once the gut is healed it can handle an occasional influx of 'bad' foods (aka: date night pizza!!!) but overall the commitment needs to be a clean, non-processed eating for life if one would like to reap the benefits of a healthy gut. Some choose to stay on GAPS for life because the symptoms of their conditions are only improved by this method of eating. I'm committing to 30 days and then I'll re-evaluate from there and decide if I can move towards a less restrictive eating plan.
My focus now is completely on health. I'll still weigh in and I'm hopeful that my body will shed it's unneeded and unhealthy fat stores. But my focus isn't on losing weight but rather the healing of whatever happened to me last month. It was a huge wake up call. I just watched my lover celebrate his 35th birthday and I stand to face mine in November. I was reminded often this past week that we're now "half-way to 70". And he's right. I stand on the precipice of the part of my life when my body will begin to decline (slowly! hopefully!). If I want to retain the vim and vigor of a young woman then I must treat my body as the beautifully made, precious commodity that I have unwisely taken for granted. I have used my body as a garbage dump. For the sake of ease or pleasure or taste I have frequently loaded it with non-nutritive, harmful foods. And now I am paying for those choices. It's not too late for me (or for you!!!) to take back the temple and nourish it back to health. GAPS will help me do this literally from the bottom up.
I will keep you updated on how it goes. :)