Let food by thy medicine

June 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

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If you look closely at this picture of Macaroni on Halloween last year you’ll notice her neck looks ashy or different. That’s not make-up — that’s eczema. This picture cannot truly capture the degree of eczema that is all over her body. {Click to enlarge the picture for a clearer perspective.}

macaroni 2

I’ve mentioned before my goal of healing Macaroni of her chronic medical issues through food. So far, we’ve done gluten-free, and tried the vegan plant-based diet, which she couldn’t stick to for long and which ultimately may have made her problems worse.

Most recently, we’ve started living like cave girls and roughly following the principles of the Paleo Diet which means no grains (including corn), no gluten/wheat, refined sugar, processed foods, and no legumes, in addition to everything Macaroni is allergic to.

Although she was mildly improved taking those things out of her diet, she still didn’t have the level of healing that I was hoping for. In fact, the first few days were great but she didn’t get that much better.

So, I did what every scientifically minded person does, I went to Facebook. I posted a question about Paleo Diets and whether anyone has success with using them to treat illness.

And then I sat back and waited.

I got a quick response from a friend who suggested that I connect with another Facebook friend who had success with The GAPS Diet. I learned from the other friend that her child’s chronic eczema and food allergies were healed on GAPS, and invited to a GAPS Kids group on Facebook. I was intrigued by what I found there and thought this may be the cure I was looking for.

But, it seemed so complicated and hard and how would I find the time to do it?

I mean, you make everything. EVERYTHING! As much as I want to heal my child, I can barely find the time to put on mascara on a regular basis so how am I going to find the time to make my own yogurt… or hell, to even learn about how to make my own yogurt?

So, I started to read every post and every blog and every anything I could find about GAPS and how to do GAPS and still have a life.

So, what is GAPS?

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

{I am no expert by any means, so if you want detailed information please look at the website or purchase the book.}

The premise is that the health of our gut impacts our overall health. People with an imbalance in their gut or “leaky gut syndrome” can suffer from things like food allergies or eczema to more severe conditions like Autism and mental health disorders. The doctor who came up with the diet. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, healed her son of Autism with this diet.

The diet is designed to heal and balance the gut through gentle healing foods and the introduction of healthy bacteria. It’s a temporary diet that one slowly comes off when they are healed though one can never go back to eating SAD (Standard American Diet).

Some people begin with the Intro Diet, which starts with a very restrictive menu that includes only broths, boiled meats, and specific boiled vegetables, and has several steps were food is slowly added in. The Intro Diet is one path that GAPS people take on the way to healing.

Others jump into full GAPS which is much less restrictive than the Intro Diet and more similar to diets like the Paleo Diet or SCD Diet (Simple Carbohydrate Diet).

One of the foundations for the GAPS Diet is meat or bone broth, fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kefir with every meal, as well as the avoidance of all toxic things. GAPS patients are also encouraged to take probiotics. There’s also an emphasis on getting as natural food as you can find (and afford) meaning organic, and grass-fed or pastured animal products.

So, are we on GAPS?

Well, yes and no. We’re basically on almost but not quite full GAPS.

I have been planning to put Macaroni on the Intro Diet (and to do it with her) but am still learning, researching, and figuring out whether that’s necessary or best for us.

In the meantime, I’ve adopted many GAPS principles. For example, we have fermented foods with every meal in the form of sauerkraut juice or actual sauerkraut. I give Macaroni and Ladybug probiotics, and we have bone broth with every meal and I also use it to cook with.

I am making a concentrated effort to purchase grass-fed beef and pastured chicken and eggs. All the dairy that I consume (because Macaroni is still allergic to dairy) is raw and made from grass-fed milk. I cook with coconut oil, olive oil, and clarified butter or ghee only.

We still avoid gluten, processed crap, grains except for the occasional small amount of white rice (easier to digest than brown rice), and generally avoid legumes. So, we basically just eat meat, vegetables, fruit and starches in the form of sweet potatoes, squashes, and the once in a while red potato.

It sounds extreme and like we don’t have a lot of options but we actually have tons of options and eat really well. The only thing we miss on a regular basis is pizza and there are even GAPS legal pizza crust recipes!

Someone like Macaroni is more limited than others because she is allergic to dairy, all nuts – not just peanuts, coconut (except coconut oil, go figure), seafood and shellfish. Those are all things that someone on full GAPS can have in their diet. Someone on full GAPS can also have fermented brown rice, quinoa, and legumes, all things we currently avoid.

So, for us for the time being, that means no making breads or pizza crusts from coconut flour or almond flour which is a bummber, but c’est la vie.

We have also incorporated things, like detox baths and using magnesium spray nightly, to help our bodies get rid of the toxins they’ve been holding onto so they’ll run more efficiently.

Magically, or maybe as expected, Macaroni is healing. Not only is she healing but it seems like every day she’s a little bit better than the one before!

She can even tell that she’s healing and that healing is more than just her eczema. The eczema is not the illness. The eczema is a symptom of the illness or imbalance. We’re not just trying to treat what may seem like a superficial skin condition here (and it’s WAYYYYYYYYYY more than that) but to heal the root of the problem that causes the eczema.

The eczema is healing, but we’re also having a healing of her spirit too. It makes it easier for her to say no to candy (though she still has her moments) because she wants to punch eczema in the face and stomp asthma’s lights out. She wants to send her food allergies packing with a one-way ticket out of here.

I have to be honest and say that it’s a lot more work. It’s a lot more work.

There is always bone broth on the stove being made and I cook every meal from scratch. It’s hard not being able to order pizza on Friday nights or bringing our own snacks to the movies.

It feels like there are always endless piles of dishes, always grocery shopping, and that I spend so much time planning meals. It’s almost like a second or third job, at times.

Although we ate healthy before, it was not with this level of attention to detail. It matters what the chickens ate, it matters whether there is sugar in sauce, or corn oil, or any other number of things that are included in “healthy” food.

It’s also a lot more expensive. At Costco, you can get five dozen eggs for $7. Pastured raised eggs (soy and corn-free) are $9.99 a dozen. I did a happy dance to find them on sale this week for $7. We have six people in our home. We can go through five dozen eggs in the blink of an eye. Grass-fed beef is at least $6.99 a pound.

Organic produce is also more expensive. Don’t even get me started on how angry it makes me that healthy natural minimally processed food is a luxury when it should be a right.

But the healing is there and it is real!

For the first time, real true healing.

It is worth the extra effort to make our own candies to bring to parties, or to adjust the budget to accommodate for the increased cost of food. It is worth every effort and every moment even the uncomfortable ones or the emotionally draining ones. It is worth the endless piles of dishes, and the hours spent reading about GAPS or detoxing.

I am not sure where we’re going on this path but I know that I see health and for the first time I feel confident that one day she will be fully healed.

And all of this will just be a memory and something that made us stronger.

Like so many other mothers, when the doctors didn’t help me, I had to believe that there was a way and that my child would not be doomed to suffer. I had to trust that she would be healed; that I would be able to heal her.

It is in healing that we rebuild ourselves and realize that our weaknesses were just lessons to show us how strong we really are.

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