And no, we’re not giving up yet!
I also wasn’t real thrilled with the idea of eating nothing but boiled meats and squash and soup for a month. Turns out that’s not all you eat, but, still. The Intro part of the diet still does sound pretty scary.
But the more I learned about it, the more I realized it was what I needed to truly be healthy. I needed to just bite the bullet and go for it. I decided I would start as soon as I was able to get everything I would need for GAPS.
And thankfully, my man was all for it — he wanted to do it too. Logistically, I’m the one that does the cooking around here, so it made sense for him to just eat what I’m eating. But, he knows as well as I do that just about everyone has gut damage, and won’t have optimal health without having healed it. We also want to make sure we’ve both gone through GAPS before having children, so that our kids inherit good, healthy gut flora from the start.
So, with plentiful amounts of butternut squash and a gallon of chicken stock to start off with, we had our first GAPS meal on Monday, the 6th (day after the Super Bowl, of course. We wanted one last beer!).
We ate a nice bowl of squash soup for breakfast, and I boiled up a few jars of lunch for Pre-Hubs and sent him on his way.
Later, I got a sweet little text from PH saying that his food was still warm — my lunch system (mason jars, cloth towels, insulated lunch container, described in my post about everything you need for getting started with GAPS) had worked, and his food was still hot at lunchtime. And, he had to say that his intro butternut squash soup was “really good! I can do this!” Yeah. He’s amazing.
We were housesitting for the first four days (bad timing on our part) and although it was nice having a larger kitchen to work with than that of our little hippie home, it was pretty rough being surrounded by food that we couldn’t eat. Some pretty terrible cravings ensued.
The biggest offender? FRUIT.
Oh, my GOSH how we wanted that fruit. It seemed so ironic how here we were on this quest toward optimal health by healing our guts, and yet we had to deny ourselves some of the most commonly-regarded as “healthy” foods, these innocuous fresh, raw fruits.
But, GAPS Intro has you start on only the very easiest foods to digest to allow for healing of the gut — and raw fruit doesn’t make the cut. It’ll come in a couple more weeks in a later stage.
Lesson learned: do not “cheat” on Intro!
Poor PH had an unintentional slip-up a couple days ago. He was visiting some friends after work who casually and kindly offered him probably the worst possible thing his detoxifying gut could have ingested — a beer.
Understandably, he really didn’t want to have to explain to his friends why he couldn’t have one beer and that he was on some weird diet — and I wasn’t there to put the blame on — so he went ahead and took it. Sipping it slowly so as not to be offered yet another one, he said he could feel the effects of it almost immediately. He discreetly poured out the last third or so of it before he left, and wished he would have just pretended to be drinking it and dumped the whole thing out instead!
PH was a wreck when he came home. He was completely and totally out of commission for the rest of the day and night, and said he felt like he had a flu. I gave him some probiotic sauerkraut juice and he went to bed at like 7 because he felt so sick and tired.
It was crazy to me that just one week prior, we were both putting back a couple of those Bud Lights at a Super Bowl get-together, with no noticeable problems whatsoever. When clearly, all along this was something our bodies weren’t tolerating well. We were just so used to eating and drinking the wrong things for our guts, that we weren’t able to notice or feel how it was affecting us before. I think when you have an intolerance to a food like that, and you’re still consuming it regularly, your body just learns to cope with it, despite the damage being done.
Good thing is though, now we’re both convinced that we shouldn’t be tempted to cheat, or especially have any beer, for the remainder of our GAPS journey. I’m a beer girl myself, and that was one thing I was bummed about giving up. But after seeing what happened that night, I know that cheating with a nice, dark porter I usually like to enjoy, really won’t be enjoyable at all!
Biggest challenges so far
Intro really isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it did take some getting used to. The cravings for food we couldn’t have which was sitting right in front of us at that house was rough. A couple times, I had to go into a grocery store which was half PURE TORTURE and half absolutely nauseating. There were all these pink and purple, heart-shaped Valentine’s day treats by the bakery section, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to just rip them open and scarf down ten cookies, or vomit at the sight of it all.
Having such limited food choices on stages 1 and 2 of Intro is challenging, but not terrible (especially with the recipes from the intro handbook I’m using), although we did start to get kind of sick of eating nothing but wet, boiled food after the first few days of Stage 1. Having a casserole of beef and squash baked in the oven instead of boiled in stock was quite a treat on Stage 2! We’ve found that drinking a glass of cold ice water every now and then helps to balance out all the steaming hot meals. It may be winter elsewhere, but it’s 80 degrees here and hot soup or stock three times a day doesn’t always sound very appetizing.
It’s been a bit of an adjustment having to wake up early enough to cook or reheat food for both of us before PH leaves, plus packing a hot lunch for him. But I’ve actually come to enjoy that. I like sending him off with healthy, healing meals, and knowing he’s not gonna resort to some nasty fast “food” joint. I actually feel badly that I wasn’t doing this all along with just regular real food.
Similarly, it’s been weird knowing that if I don’t bring Intro food with me if I leave the house for any length of time, I can’t eat. If I get hungry and don’t have my lunch bag, I’m screwed. Thankfully, it’s not that hard to just throw some jars of soup and stuff in there and take it with.
Overall we both have been feeling great, but PH has noticed probably the biggest noticeable change — his joint pain went away!
PH is a contractor and does a lot of hard, hands-on labor on the job. For months, his shoulder, knee, and elbow had been hurting him, and he also cracked a rib a couple weeks ago. He had been taking a pretty strong dose of over-the-counter painkillers just to get through the day. But he knew that wouldn’t be good to take on Intro, so he stopped. He said he felt like his pain is almost completely gone! This is almost certainly due to all the bone broth he’s been eating. It has lots of collagen from the gelatin in and around the animal bones, which is really good for joint health and rebuilding tissues.
I began noticing that my skin felt more full and plump — again, likely from all the collagen I’ve been consuming in my bone broth. I also have felt like I have a bit more energy when I wake up in the morning, and I feel more able to concentrate on my work for longer periods of time.
It’s common to go through a bit of a phase on Intro where you feel pretty awful, due to the detox effects of the diet and the bad bacteria in your gut “dying off.” But we haven’t experienced any real symptoms of die-off yet, although we haven’t yet begun our therapeutic-grade Bio-Kult probiotics, which might do us in for a bit of a reaction as our pathogenic flora gets whooped by all the new good guy germs.
One down, three to go!
We’ve been following the What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on GAPS Intro Handbook from Cara at Health, Home and Happiness. The book is laid out so that you stay on each of the 6 stages of Intro for five days, and if you have any reactions to a newly-introduced food, to go back to the previous one. We’re already on Stage 2 with no issues at all, so we’re right on track to be moving through Intro in the 30 days outlined in the book. You can check out the book for yourself and even download the first couple chapters for free here.
Have you gone through GAPS intro?
Or are you interested in giving it a try? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!