I loathe the idea of “quitting.” Anything, really.
But, as some of you already know, I made the decision several weeks ago to end my journey with the GAPS diet. After I was off to a great start, I began experiencing some difficulties with GAPS that made me reconsider whether or not this was what my body needed right now. I had already resigned to cheating on the diet, but soon after that, the slope got so slippery I was ready to be done with GAPS entirely.
What Went Wrong
As I explained before I even began GAPS, my biggest health concern was my inability to gain and maintain a healthy body weight. I was diagnosed with “failure to thrive” as a child, and remained significantly underweight as an adult.
After studying up on GAPS and all they various health problems associated with gut dysbiosis, I was convinced that the cause for my weight problems stemmed from an unhealthy gut. So, I determined GAPS to be the answer.
I was thrilled — and quite surprised — to gain four pounds on the Intro diet. I thought surely as more and more foods were introduced as I continued with the Full GAPS diet, that I would continue to put on weight. After all, my appetite was finally quite healthy for once in my life, and I was appreciating food like never before. But, that didn’t happen.
I didn’t gain any more weight in that second month. Actually, I started losing some. My appetite sunk down quite a bit, mostly because the foods I was allowed on the Full diet started becoming less and less appealing to me — particularly the carbohydrate-rich foods I needed to eat. I knew I had to make sure my carb intake didn’t dip down into levels which can become problematic, or inhibit my weight progress.
But I didn’t want piles of veggies on my plate anymore. I was tired of gorging on fruit between meals. I lost my taste for coconut flour breads and baked treats. I even started getting sick of the taste of honey.
All I really wanted was a damn donut.
Falling Off the Wagon
If you’re a follower on Facebook, you might have noticed a little debacle a while back over my posting that I had gone a good step beyond cheating on GAPS with rice and potatoes.
I ate an english muffin.
Made from processed, refined wheat, a store-bought english muffin is probably the least-(GAPS)-legal food I could have possibly chosen.
But, get this. I felt completely fine after I ate it.
And boy did that throw me for a loop. I began to wonder if I should just allow myself to eat what I wanted to eat. I started thinking that maybe a restrictive diet wasn’t going to be best for a super skinny girl just trying to pack on a few pounds.
“But, don’t I need GAPS?” I thought. “Won’t it ruin my gut health to go another route so far from the diet?”
The reality that I wasn’t gaining any weight started sinking in, and clearing up my judgement.
“Enough with the gut health dogma,” I started to decide. “I have to gain some weight. And it’s not happening with this.”
My wedding is coming up this summer. I felt the clock ticking, and started leaning toward scrapping the whole thing.
I tried explaining myself to my readers in the Facebook post in which I made my confession:
“The muffin thing wasn’t planned. Quitting GAPS wasn’t the plan, either. To be totally honest you guys, the reason why I’m ready to try another approach so quickly is because I’m on a time crunch. I’m getting married in 2 1/2 months. I’m very self conscious about my body and being underweight and the thought of wearing my wedding dress and seeing all the pictures of me being ridiculously skinny just makes me want to cry. I would definitely stick it out if I thought I would be able to gain some more weight within the next couple months, but I really doubt it at this point. My primary goal is the weight. So, I’m going to do what it takes to meet that goal, and then reevaluate things after that.”
I didn’t want to cry and I didn’t want to have to struggle with my weight any longer. And soon, I discovered another problem that might be the culprit, and it wasn’t something I was going to be able to address easily with GAPS.
A Different Approach
I’m very grateful for GAPS because of what it taught me and the ways that it did seem to help me even for the short time I tried it. I’m proud of myself for actually buckling down and doing Intro for a full 30 days. I’m glad I at least gave it a shot to see if this diet which is so miraculous for so many people could be what I needed.
I don’t know whether or not I truly did have the gut damage I feared, but I suspect I did not, at least to the degree I had imagined. Most people who go on elimination diets like Intro can’t go scarfing down glutenous breads all of a sudden with no issues whatsoever, if they have a legitimate intolerance to such foods.
I learned that something else was more than likely to blame.
Never had I even considered that I might actually have a problem with this, since all my life (just like every other skinny person, ever) I had heard how “fast” my metabolism must be. Why else would I be able to eat cookies and ice cream and be stick-thin? And a “fast” metabolism is what everyone wants, right?
Yeah, but, I didn’t have it.
Actually, most people who are significantly underweight have very slow metabolic activity. I had no idea until I started reading about that crazy Matt Stone and his books about the subject.
So how did I figure out this was my problem? Well, a great way to determine how fast or how well-functioning your metabolism is, is just to take your temperature. A low body temperature indicates a slow metabolism, which leads to a whole bunch of other health problems.
I had already been taking my temperature on a regular basis because I chart my menstrual cycles. I clicked over to see just what I had been mindlessly plugging into the app on my phone first thing in the morning after I hear the beep of my digital thermometer — and I was shocked.
A normal temperature is, as you probably have heard, around 98.6 degrees. I learned in Matt’s book that a normal basal body temperature, first thing in the morning before any activity, should be 97.8 – 98.2 under your arm (which runs half a degree lower than oral temps), though it will vary for a woman based on whether or not she’s ovulated yet for the month.
Many of my temps were in the 96′s, and low 97′s, and that’s taken orally. I thought that was okay because a basal temp is supposed to be lower — but that is too low. And as I learned from Matt, pretty typical of those struggling with being underweight. And overweight. And just about any other form of ill health.
Skinny Mini Recovery
So it was decided. This needed to be my priority. Raising my body temperatures and fixing my metabolism would mean I needed to drastically change what I eat. My diet needed to be based on that which GAPS tends to reduce — carbohydrates. GAPS isn’t intended to be a low-carb diet, but it is difficult to get enough carbs when so many of the most carb-dense foods are excluded from it, like grains and potatoes. And it’s just about impossible to get enough carbs to rehabilitate your metabolism with a program like RRARF (Matt Stone‘s metabolism rehabilitation program) if you’re limited to GAPS-legal fare.
Ironically, my next step was reading a book about weight loss — Diet Recovery. But like I started to explain in my last post, it’s all about the metabolism. Virtually every function of your body is affected and/or governed by your metabolic rate. And if yours sucks like mine did? You’re not doomed with that for life. Fixing your metabolism really isn’t all that difficult.
I’m happy to report that since making this switch from GAPS to a metabolism-restoring diet, not only are my body temperatures up to a healthy range, my body is finally shaping up to be just what I’ve always dreamed of — shapely! I’ve rather easily put about ten pounds of meat onto my bones, and I could not be more thrilled. I’ll be explaining more about all that, and how you can do the same if you’re underweight like I was, in my next post.
Have you ever given up on a diet or health program?
What were your reasons? Why did you change to your current diet choices? And how has your health changed as a result?