Why Do People Do This Crazy Diet? ...Introducing, Starlene!
I was slender for the first two decades of my life, even underweight as a child. Then I had my two sons in my mid-twenties and never got back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. I thought at the time that having children had changed my metabolism. In looking back with what I've learned from GAPS, now I believe it was the birth control pills I was on for two or three years, and the four courses of antibiotics I'd taken in the year prior to becoming pregnant with my first son.
When I was 29, I went on the first diet I'd ever been on in my entire life. Low fat dieting was the rage and it seemed to make sense. And it worked - at least in the short term. I lost the twenty pounds I needed to lose, and attempted to eat low fat for the next three or four years. I ended up with strong cravings for foods I'd never craved before, like donuts and cookies. Looking back, I think it was the fat my body was so desperately craving. While on the low fat diet I also did not eat any types of sugar, or white flour. It is difficult to eat low fat along with no sugar and no white flour! Over the years I struggled to stay on low fat but I gained the weight back and then some.
Next I embraced the body acceptance movement. For fifteen years, I worked to make all foods "legal". I followed the precepts of Overcoming Overeating by Hirschman and Munter and one of the recommendations is to eat as much of the foods that "glitter" as you want. If you like Doritos, stock your cupboards with a dozen bags and eat to your heart's content. If you like ice cream, fill the freezer. I never was in a position financially to fill my home with junk food, but I did my best and the technique did seem to work to a certain point. I eventually got to where I could take or leave Doritos, and ice cream would become freezer burned in my freezer. The one good thing that came of those fifteen years - I legalized butter - because up to then butter was akin to eating poison. I "legalized" everything... but kept gaining weight. Two more tenets from OO - intuitively listen to your body and eat what you were hungry for, and stop at satisfaction instead of overeating. I could never master those, and continued to gain a few pounds each year. Two problems there, first of all, when you are eating junk food, your body isn't going to say, I'd like 1 ounce of liver, 2 pats of butter, a cup of bone broth with a side of broccoli. The other problem I realized after being on GAPS for a while is that I was easily able to stop eating at fullness. It was the addictive pull of carbohydrates that caused me to overeat. This was a great relief.
Even though I continued to grow larger, still I remained determined to never diet again because after all, diets don't work. I weighed close to 250, (I'm 5'4") wearing size 20 pants and was so very uncomfortable, but determined to love my body just the way it was.
Fast forward to 2009...
I'd heard about GAPS while on the Discussing Nourishing Traditions list. I never imagined I'd need to do GAPS because I didn't think I had any digestive issues (not realizing exactly how much occasional constipation is a digestive issue, and duh, overweight not being a digestive issue? And what about all the bloating, and my distended belly? hah).
My husband had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in January 2009 and was told by his doctor there was nothing diet-wise that could be done, except for cut down on red meat, and use a medicated steroid foam. I think he used the medication once and then refused to use it again. Finally after a year he was ready to try something, anything to address the issues he was having. He took out our Prescription for Nutritional Healing and decided he wanted to try and follow the recommendations. When I looked over it, I knew from my studies in traditional foods that it wasn't the right course of action to take.
I decided to order the GAPS books. I started reading them, and joined the Yahoo Group GAPShelp near the end of November 2009. In reading the books to see how to get my husband started, I started to think maybe I could address my mild depression, maybe help with my constant tiredness . Even though I needed to lose weight, I didn't go on GAPS to lose weight. I suppose secretly I hoped I would lose weight.
Initially, we planned to do a "trial" of GAPS for ten days on my vacation at end of December. But after joining GAPShelp, I became eager to get started. I was reading so many inspirational stories and I wanted to see what GAPS could do for me. I went to full GAPS on December 6th. Within two weeks I had the most amazing healings that were so monumental for me that I was convinced to stay on GAPS forever no matter if they were the only healing I experienced. I also realized there was no such thing as a "trial" - it was either commit or not.
The first - my feet stopped hurting. My feet had been killing me for the previous two years and the only shoes I had found that I could bear to wear were these ugly men's casual wear shoes that had a thick cushiony sole. I had to wear shoes every second I was on my feet, including getting up in the middle of the night to use the toilet (and back then I had to get up numerous times). I had a pair of soft flip flops to wear in the shower as I could not tolerate being on my bare feet. On Day 13, I realized my feet weren't hurting! The second - my back used to stiffen up at night while I slept, and I could not be in bed for more than 7 hours or it would stiffen up. This was very painful and it would continue to hurt and feel stiff for a couple of hours. I couldn't say, lay in bed watching tv or reading for half an hour and then sleep 7 hours. From the minute I laid down, I had to get up seven hours later, or my back would be aching so bad that I was forced to get up from the pain. I do not do well on only 7 hours sleep and I work so I couldn't nap every day. I had to take naps every weekend just to try and get enough sleep. It was also on Day 13 that I noticed the back pain was gone, and I was able to start sleeping 9 hours without pain.
These were huge huge huge for me. If that is all I ever got out of GAPS, I was convinced. I can still remember the pain from both ailments, and am so excited to be able to wear pretty and fashionable women's shoes now, instead of ugly men's shoes! I even had to resort to wearing those ugly men's shoes to church wearing dresses. I felt like an old frumpy fat woman.
Not any longer!
I have blogged about my experience on GAPS from the first day. My most popular post is my six month update where I share all the problems and issues that had been resolved and healed by GAPS.
I must say I owe a lot to the GAPShelp list for inspiring me and giving me the courage and support to start on GAPS. I truly believe it is the mother of all diets and everyone can benefit from it. Dr. Natasha said in a podcast that she keeps her family on GAPS because it prevents common maladies, so that is good enough for me.
And I'm also very grateful that I decided to give the GAPS diet a chance. I am a much happier person today, and I shudder to think of going back to the way I was before GAPS. I'm still on my GAPS journey and hope to have more good healing to report at my 18 month update.
Starlene, one day malady-free ;-)