Our Story of Healing with GAPS
Our family’s story of healing is all about “baby steps.” You won’t find any drastic, sudden change in our family’s eating habits. We eased into different changes over a lengthy period of time and used a variety of diets to get where we are today.
Our family consists of myself, my husband Shawn, our 6 year old son Sam who is on the autism spectrum, our 4 year old daughter Sarah, and our 2 year old son Andrew. We’re expecting baby #4 to arrive sometime in early June.
When Andrew developed eczema around three months of age (around February 2009) I started researching how my diet could be affecting him. I was exclusively nursing at the time. Up until this point, I had never really thought about how the food we ate affected more than just our waistlines. We were the typical family consuming the Standard American Diet. In order to alleviate Andrew’s eczema I soaked up every bit of knowledge I could find on food allergies and food sensitivities. I started omitting certain foods from my diet in order to try to give my baby some relief from the itchy rash. First I gave up wheat. Then I gave up wheat and dairy. I was willing to do anything to keep my baby from scratching himself until he bled.
So, while I was doing this trial and error change in my diet, the rest of the family kept on eating as normal. One day a friend of mine witnessed one of Sam's awful meltdowns. She knew that we had issues with Sam exhibiting autistic-like behaviors, one of which were "meltdowns over nothing" that came on a daily basis. She recommended that we look into the Feingold Diet.
I did, and when I read about the symptoms that could be helped, I cried. This diet gave me hope that I could help Sam through changing our eating habits.
So, in July 2009 the whole family switched over to the Feingold Diet. The Feingold Diet eliminated all artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives from our diet. In the beginning stages, it also eliminated salicylates. The changes we saw were amazing! We saw an immediate improvement in Sam. He no longer would wake up screaming from his naps and he was finally able to be fully potty-trained. The autistic-behaviors did not go away entirely, but they did noticeably improve. Andrew's eczema, however, went away totally and completely! We were only on the diet for a week before his skin was beautiful and clear. This was my turning point. It was easy for me to see how the food we eat can drastically affect so many aspects of our lives.
After being on the Feingold Diet for a month or two, I also decided to remove MSG, corn syrup, and sodium benzoates from our diet. In my mind, it just started to make more sense to eat foods that had been messed with as little as possible. I could see that, when our family ate foods that were closest to God's design, we felt better and were healthier.
Around September 2009 I found a farm two hours away that offered raw milk. We started making the trip there and began purchasing raw milk, farm fresh eggs, and free-range antibiotic/hormone free chickens. I had confided to the owner of the farm that we were attempting to improve Sam’s autistic behaviors through diet modification, and it was around this time that she recommended that I check into the GAPS diet. I admit that I did briefly look into it at that time, but it seemed so hard that I dismissed it and kept on trying less restrictive diets in the hope that they would work.
We continued to take little baby steps in the direction of a Weston A. Price diet www.westonaprice.org by adding in grass-fed beef, organic fruits and vegetables, unrefined coconut oil, cod liver oil, and soaked grains.
In April 2010 we eliminated gluten from our Weston A. Price diet. Within days we again noticed changes in Sam’s autistic behaviors. His communication improved and he finally started playing with other children. Prior to this he would simply play by himself or stand alone and recite TV shows/movies to himself. On this gluten-free Weston Price diet Sam improved, but it wasn’t consistent. He would still have really good days and really bad days, so I wasn’t completely thrilled with the outcome. Because of this I ultimately decided to give GAPS a shot. I wasn’t ready however to dive head-first into Intro, so our family went straight into Full GAPS in October 2010.
We stayed on Full GAPS for eight weeks. During that time there were a few improvements, but nothing amazing in my opinion. I really couldn’t justify removing so many foods from our diet for the miniscule improvements that I saw. So, after eight weeks, I took us back to our gluten-free Weston Price diet.
The regression Sam experienced at that time was phenomenal. He couldn’t sleep. He started biting his brother and sister. The humming and clapping and chest-hitting escalated. He lost so much control over his body. The meltdowns became unbearable. He argued with us over every single tiny thing. Our family was tired and miserable. At this point it was so bad that I was willing to do anything to get some relief. So, in January 2011 we jumped back into GAPS. However, this time we went in with the Intro diet.
We’ve now been on Intro for 17 weeks and I am still in amazement over the improvements we’ve seen in Sam. Looking back…I see how much I dreaded doing a restrictive diet and how I procrastinated with less-restrictive diets until our family was miserable. How I wish that I had just jumped into GAPS Intro when I first heard about it! How much frustration and anguish I could’ve saved us! Our daily life is so much easier now that Sam can control his body better and communicates better with us. Having me tell you about the improvements really doesn’t get the point across as well as seeing the changes with your own eyes. You can get more details about our story and view before and after videos of Sam’s improvements here:
The “after” video on this site was taken after only 4 weeks on GAPS Intro.
For other, more recent videos, and updates on Sam’s progress, you can visit my blog at www.SAHMville.blogspot.com
It’s my belief that Sam’s body has been gradually healing since July 2009 when we started the Feingold diet. Making small changes in getting rid of the toxins in his food and environment did make a difference. Between starting Feingold in July 2009 and beginning GAPS Intro in January 2011 Sam made slow and steady improvements. But it wasn’t until GAPS Intro that we noticed drastic noticeable changes in Sam’s behavior. So, while I definitely see the benefits in the other less restrictive diets, none of them had the amazing outcomes that GAPS Intro has shown. Because of the progress that I’ve seen in Sam so far, I am so hopeful about the improvements he’s going to make in the months to come.