Saturday, October 12, 2013

The GAPS Diet: What I Learned

We've officially been on Full GAPS for two weeks now. I am really glad that we eased into it earlier this summer, because the only thing my brothers have been really complaining about is the restriction on chips (no corn allowed). Now that we're back to our "normal" diet, the main points I took away from the strict Introduction were these:
Scrambled eggs, spinach, kimchi and cheese sauce.
1. Eat lots of cultured, fermented, pro-biotic rich foods. I have been trying to include our raw yogurt, sour cream, sauerkraut, kimchee juice or kimchee into almost every meal each day. 

2.  Make your own stock/bone broth. It was easier than I thought, and so much more nutritious than buying! (Probably cheaper too, though I haven't calculated the price.) This winter, when we're making soups more often, I plan to continue making our own stock rather than buying the preserved, carton-packaged (albeit organic) varieties. Mom and I made about 7 quarts (some we froze) with about 15-20 minutes worth of prep time (chopping vegetables) and then the stock just simmered on the stove until 5pm. We made chili with a little less than two quarts last night, and it was great!

3. Listen to your body. Okay, so this one wasn't specifically learned by the GAPS Diet, it's something I already sort of knew, but after the cleanse of the Intro Diet, I felt more in tune with the specific nutrients and foods that my body wanted. Your body is designed to desire the foods that will give you the nutrients you need. Our problems start when our bodies' requests for nutrient-dense, healthy foods are drowned out by the screaming demands of sugar addiction and other cravings. On Full GAPS we are still strictly avoiding processed sugar (honey is allowed), and we're completely off grains and starches (no rice, oats, corn, potatoes, etc.) so I feel confident that what I want when I'm hungry is actually the best thing that I can eat at that moment. I actually have no cravings!

4. Make meal plans. I sort of did this during the week we did Intro Diet, but we did not do it last week or this week. It's hard to implement because Mom and I often share the task of figuring out dinner, so we really need to do meal planning together or it doesn't quite work. I like the idea of meal planning, and when we take the time to sit down together and try to figure out some ideas it usually goes pretty well. It's just hard to find the time. If I ever have my own home, meal planning is definitely something I would need to keep myself organized. There's nothing worse than dinner time coming around and you suddenly realize you have no idea what to cook, and there's nothing ready to throw together (Oh dear, I forgot to thaw some hamburger meat!) and hungry family members will be complaining soon...

It's also really difficult to figure out healthy meals that the guys will want to eat. Like typical guys, they could happily eat pizza, hotdogs, any kind of chips and dip (queso is their latest favorite), potato chips, hamburgers, anything fried, and all kinds of dessert. They ate everything we fixed pretty well during the Intro Diet (probably only because they knew it was limited to one week) and I was hoping that it would magically fix their taste buds and cravings for sugars, starches and everything grains. I guess it didn't yet, because one guy in particular been complaining any time that we have stew or soup that it's "diet food" but he can't come up with anything he wants to eat that doesn't include pasta or chips. Finding healthy things that guys want to eat might be the most difficult challenge I've ever faced.

So my fifth and final tip: never give up. Becoming healthier is a long, slow process... and I'm pretty sure you never really reach an arrival. There's always new things to learn, new things to implement. Being as healthy as I can is just another part of life for me, and some seasons in life are just healthier and easier than others. Try to have fun with it!

I am terrible at that, but I am trying to take my own advice. I tend to go overboard and get too strict with things like this. Healthy eating doesn't do you any good if you undo all the good by stressing and being miserable yourself. I keep reminding myself (and others in my family help remind me too) that I need to lighten up. Don't get discouraged by slumps, and enjoy the journey. It's taken longer than I hoped (I tend to have unrealistic expectations) so if I treat is as something I have to "survive" through, I might sink into despair, but if I enjoy it, and don't impatiently look for the end when we can go back to occasional (sprouted, soaked or soured) grains and such, then it might just be pleasant.

I think it's definitely been a great experience. I feel great, I think this has helped my digestion a lot. I didn't think I had much to fix, but I've noticed a lot of improvement in how I feel after meals. Satisfied, but not sort of heavy or bloated, which was a feeling that I had begun to associate with fullness. I feel like I digest my food much more quickly, and don't need to eat quite as much. I think this is mostly due to including plenty of cultured pro-biotic foods, and I plan to continue that, dare I say, for the rest of my life!

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