One of the things that I love about the GAPS diet is that it is intended to be something you can do on your own. It is all laid out in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book, and there are lots of other resources available online to help the intrepid person who is willing to give this a go.
However, there are definitely times when it is extremely beneficial to work with a professional during your GAPS journey. I recently came to that decision, and am so thankful that I did.
The Problems Begin
Since early January, I have been getting more and more exhausted and have been having frequent headaches. I was thinking maybe it was just me needing more B12. I decided to give oral B12 supplements a try and see if my energy levels started to come up.
I also thought maybe my thyroid was getting more out of whack. I had had my levels tested a few months before and knew it was borderline, but thought maybe something was going on with that. So I had started reading up on hypothyroidism and researching what can be done to improve it without taking medication.
As the next month or so progressed, my energy levels continued to plummet, even with the addition of B12. My headaches were starting to happen just about every day. And the real bummer? The rash that I would get on my arms when I used to eat wheat and dairy was back, super strong, and spreading to other areas.
I was really starting to feel lost and not sure what my next steps should be.
A Ray of Hope
I had registered for a couple of GAPS cooking classes taught by Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well. I had heard such great things about her and her classes and found out she was doing a whole series of classes nearby. I decided I needed the most help with culturing dairy, and more specifically the process for doing the dairy protocol for someone who has a dairy intolerance, and the fermented veggies class.
I am so glad I went! While the actual learning of how to make butter, ghee, yogurt, sour cream, and kefir was very helpful and useful, it was more the realization of what has been going on with me in the last couple of months.
First of all, Monica mentioned during one part about headaches and exhaustion being signs of die-off. Wait a minute, that’s me! I knew about those signs, too, but didn’t really connect it with what was currently happening to me. I also knew that die-off can cause symptoms like you used to get before starting GAPS. Also, me!
While she was demonstrating kefir, and mentioning how much of a die-off reaction it can cause, I asked if you can have too many kefir grains in your kefir. The answer? Yes!! So, apparently you should only have a couple of tablespoons in a quart of milk. I just kept leaving all of my exponentially growing grains in my batch each time. When I got home and took a look, I realized I had close to a cup of kefir grains in my two cups of milk. Yikes! Monica was saying that the more grains in there, the stronger the die-off reaction it can cause. Well, no wonder I am exhausted and have so many headaches and my crazy rash!
But wait, there’s more. Monica was also talking about the probiotics you should be taking while on GAPS. I had recently decided that I should really get started on getting up to my therapeutic level of probiotics. And I really should. However, after talking at the class, I realized I made the jump way too fast from 2 capsules to 3 1/2 capsules. What happens if you go too fast? Too much die-off!
What a relief to realize I was probably doing all of this to myself! (Oh, and what a bummer to realize I was doing all of this to myself!)
A New Plan
It turns out Monica also offers wellness consultations. I had already been thinking I needed to work with someone to figure out what was going on with me. After taking her class that morning, I knew I wanted to continue working with her.
I was able to meet with Monica just a few days later. After talking with her and answering lots of questions, I have a new plan in front of me to help me continue with my GAPS journey. This time it will be more of a focus on stair steps to my ultimate goal rather than jumping in too quickly at times.
It also turns out I’m not currently eating nearly enough fats and ferments. This is really important to fix since they are cornerstones of the GAPS diet. I am working on increasing both of these right now, and will be attending a fermenting veggie class this coming Saturday.
Monica also mentioned the “I” word to me, too. For those of you not on GAPS, that means the intro diet. I must admit, after completing intro once, I never had any intention of ever doing it again. Ever.
It really isn’t a terrible thing, but it’s definitely more challenging than just continuing along on full GAPS. But, it will be for a shorter amount of time, probably just a couple of weeks, and Monica thinks I’ll see some much improved healing. And, I must admit, I agree with her. My intro re-start date is March 16th. That gives me a little time to get prepared before jumping back into that.
The exciting news of it all, though, is that I’m going to be doing the whole dairy protocol once I start intro. This will begin the process of trying to re-introduce cow’s milk dairy into my diet. This will be a very slow process over the course of at least 36 weeks. Oh, and that doesn’t even include getting to cheese. That’s after those 36 weeks.
Making Your Decision
So, how do you decide when it’s time to get some professional support on your own health journey? I think it’s a really personal decision. There are lots of people out there who see great success while doing GAPS on their own. However, if you feel like your healing has stalled or if you’re starting to feel worse or see old symptoms return, I’d highly recommend working with someone who is very knowledgeable and experienced with the GAPS diet.
I feel such a sense of relief knowing that I have someone who is helping to guide me through the rest of my journey, and particularly through intro again. I’m already seeing my energy levels improve. I can’t wait to see how much better I will be feeling in a few months!