Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Why I started the GAPS diet

I started because I was desperate.  I had autoimmune arthritis that suddenly raged to the point where I could not walk in the morning.  For some time before that, I was continually gaining weight despite walking 10k per day and eating moderately.  I had no energy despite a whole foods diet.  I could not focus well enough to do my job.  I suspected Hashimoto's disease, as it was in my family, but I was dismissed by several doctors, one who only looked at T3 levels and one who hadn't seen bloodwork or done a physical exam.

I had been an academically and professionally ambitious runner who worked extremely hard in every area of life.   I became an obese person with no personal interests except sleep, and no professional ambition beyond getting through the day so I could sleep some more.   I was 26.

After seeing a naturopath, and trying a number of different ways to control what she agreed were Hashimoto's symptoms, there were no naturopathic options left.  I started searching the internet for ways to deal with my thyroid symptoms via diet.  (At this point I had already read about half a dozen books on hypothyroidism and had implemented all of the dietary advice I could find - to no effect.)  Then I found GAPS.

I was initially confused about why a diet for autistic children could help an adult with autoimmune issues.   After further research, I was intrigued, but unconvinced this would help me in any way.  I was already juicing, eating gluten-free, eating food in the form that nature provided, etc. etc.  This just looked like another low carb diet, and having tried those before, I knew that just going low carb would not help with weight loss for a Hashimoto's patient.  (Even though according to every doctor I saw, I was not, in fact, a Hashimoto's patient.)

The GAPS diet just seemed unnecessarily prescriptive.  Do I really need to eat squash and nut butter pancakes to be healthy?  How could drinking broth possibly help with an arthritic knee I've had since the age of two? 

I researched it on and off for about a week.  I happened upon a blog written by someone with thyroid problems and saw her weight loss pictures.  I grudgingly decided to try GAPS, thinking, even if I just loose a little weight, it will take some pressure off my joints and some stress off my thyroid. I decided I would try for a month.  I reasoned that this was one medical intervention couldn't possibly hurt me.  Furthermore, it had been developed by an M.D., who seemed genuinely intellectually curious, (an M.D. and two master's degrees!? and neither of them in business?) and genuinely interested in helping patients the world over.

So, I boiled bones, and drank ginger tea, and ate raw eggs in broth, and drank carrot juice. I experienced a little die off, but I wasn't taking probiotic foods or capsules just yet, so it was not significant.  By the time I was on part 4 of the Intro, which was only about six days into the diet, I felt like a completely different person.  I was stunned that I saw changes as quickly as I did.  Prescription thyroid medication often does not work this quickly.

More on these experiences in my next post.

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