Two years of clean eating and healthy living reversed my son’s dairy intolerance, eczema, and digestive issues. I am excited to share my experience with the GAPS diet.
If you have been one of the many MANY people who have requested that I post about my experience with the GAPS diet, thank you! I am very passionate about the GAPS diet and am so excited to write about it.
For some reason, every time I sit down to write out my schedule, I kept forgetting to add this one to the calendar. Apparently, I needed several reminders! 😉
PIN IT FOR LATER
A LITTLE BACK STORY
Many of you know that I have 4 kids. Well, this story is going to focus on my second child, my sweet little boy Sam. When Sam was almost 2, he got very sick. He had what I thought was a cold with a runny nose and a cough. As the cough continued to get worse, he started to run a fever.
The fever continued for several days. I took him to the doctor, and he tested positive for RSV. He had low oxygen levels, 84 to be exact, and the doctor told me to keep a close eye on him and sent me home. If you are a nurse or know anything about oxygen levels, you are probably wondering why the heck we got sent home. I was a young mom and trusted the doctor. How was I supposed to know what 84 meant? I know now that anything less than 95 is a cause for concern.
When I got back home with him, my mother n’ law was there watching my other two children. I laid Sam on the couch and watched him sleep. It wasn’t a normal nap time for him, so I knew this meant he was not feeling well.
AS I WATCHED HIM, I NOTICED HE WAS STRUGGLING TO BREATHE.
My mother n’ law was urging me to take him to the ER. But I just came home from the doctor who had said he was fine. Why would I take him in?
I did a quick youtube search on what to look for in a child that was labored breathing. He fit the bill completely. The chest was caving in; nostrils were flaring, wheezing. He had it all. With the push of my mother n’ law, I decided to head to the ER.
On the way, I called my sister n’ law, who was a nurse, to tell her what was going on. She advised me that I was making the right decision and that I should drive safely but fast. Uhhh, ok, so this is serious?? I hung the phone up with her and called my husband to have him meet me at the hospital.
Once we were in the ER, we told them his oxygen level was 84, which they immediately verified right there at the counter. By this point, his oxygen level had dropped to 81. The nurse then called for an oxygen tank and wheelchair to be brought in. They hooked him up in the waiting room then quickly rolled him to a room.
BY THIS POINT, HIS OXYGEN LEVEL HAD DROPPED TO 81.
They wheeled us back into a room and started breathing treatments, high flow oxygen, and ordered chest x-rays. The x-rays confirmed that on top of the RSV, he also had double pneumonia. They quickly wanted to transfer us to another hospital that specialized in children because they were not having much success with getting his oxygen levels up.
People were in and out of the room, and everyone was moving so quickly. I remember yelling out, “Is my son going to die?” I don’t remember if anyone answered me or not. We were then put in an ambulance and were heading to the next hospital.
On the way there, the EMT told me that if I hadn’t brought him in that he could have died overnight in his sleep because kids can only labor breathe so long. Those words rang in my ears.
Once we got admitted and settled into the new hospital room, I had to leave Sam to go home to my newborn baby boy. This was the toughest thing I ever did. He was screaming for me, and I cried all the way home. Thankfully, my husband was there with him the whole time. My newborn baby had a cough as well, so I knew nursing him often was key. Thankfully he never got more than a little cough!
Sam was hooked up to IVs of antibiotics for 5 days and had multiple breathing treatments a day. I absolutely hated the thought of him being on antibiotics and knew that it was destroying his gut flora that could later lead to more issues, but this was the one time I knew it was necessary.
I like to use antibiotics in life-or-death situations, and I am very thankful for them in times like these.
OK, so that might have been more than you bargained for, but it is a big part of this story.
WHAT HAPPENED OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS?
Sam developed eczema. At times it was really bad. It was on his face, arms, and legs. He also had lots of digestive issues and abdominal pain. After most meals, he would get very bloated and complained about his belly hurting. I took him to a holistic doctor in my area who ordered some blood work to confirm that he had a dairy intolerance.
I knew he was reacting to some food but couldn’t pinpoint it. Once I had an official diagnosis, it made my life easier.
RESEARCHING THE GAPS DIET
At this point, I was already a true believer in natural remedies and knew a little about gut health. I knew enough to know that I could reverse his issues, but it would take a lot of work. While researching, I stumbled upon the GAPS diet. I listened to YouTube videos, read the book, devoured the website, and read testimony after testimony. I decide to dive right in!
The GAPS diet was formulated by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
GAPS STANDS FOR GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME
The diet is designed to heal leaky gut syndrome, which can be the root cause of physical and neurological issues. On the diet, you eat nutrient-rich foods that are anti-inflammatory and easy to digest. Eating all gut-friendly foods gives the gut time to heal and reseal.
The diet has stages, and depending on your situation; it will determine how long you will be in each stage.
HOW TO START THE GAPS DIET
Stage one consisted of broth, soft vegetables, and fermented foods. This was by far the hardest phase, and I am forever thankful that I had a very easy-going boy that wasn’t picky at all. The poor dear ate the vegetable soup with my homemade bone broth for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
He also had homemade sauerkraut at every single meal.
WE SLOWLY ADDED IN MORE FOODS
We continued with the soups but added chicken and beef. I started giving him eggs, which made life so much easier. This was when I started making my butternut squash pancakes!
EVENTUALLY, WE WERE ON FULL GAPS
Full GAPS is the stage of the diet where you can eat any GAPS approved foods. This felt like major freedom. In a nutshell, he could eat meats, vegetables, fruits, and fermented foods. Dairy is allowed if fermented and if you can handle it.
At this time, he still couldn’t have dairy.
I GOT USED TO PACKING FOOD EVERYWHERE I WENT
Every birthday party, vacation, or picnic in the park, I had to pack a GAPS meal. It got much easier with time and eventually became second nature. Going “out to eat” wasn’t an option at the time.
The whole family basically ate GAPS because I wasn’t going to make separate meals. I was not as strict with the rest of us, but I would say 90% of the time, we were doing GAPS as well.
THE RESULTS WERE AMAZING
It took two full years of being on the GAPS diet to reverse everything. He isn’t intolerant to dairy anymore; in fact, he enjoys raw homemade 24-hour fermented yogurt daily. His eczema is completely gone, and he has zero digestive issues.
It was amazing to see the difference!
THE SUPPLEMENTS WE USED
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He took digestive enzymes with every meal. We slowly weaned him off it, and now he no longer needs them. Even with fermented foods at every meal, I still gave him a daily probiotic supplement. He took b6, vitamin D, and desiccated liver daily.
He was low in these vitamins because he wasn’t digesting his food properly. Even though he was eating a healthy diet, his body wasn’t absorbing the nutrition.
We recently got his bloodwork drawn, and all his levels were in the normal range.
WHAT CAN THE GAPS DIET DO FOR YOU?
It can be life-changing! Not only can a leaky gut be tied to physical issues, but it can also be linked to neurological issues too. It is crazy to think that a simple diet can be so life-changing, but it can.