I've just about hit the six month mark on GAPS, so I've decided it's time for an update. Here are my impressions:
It's not hard
I was already a decent cook, I was already eating whole foods, I was already eating gluten free. Switching to GAPs does not have to be painful.
It's not deprivation
I've eaten more desserts on GAPs then I ever would on a regular basis - and certainly. Culinary-wise, these have been the best six months of my life. I even find myself wondering what all the fuss is about Christmas, Easter etc. on GAPs. The 'traditional' meal is roast meat and veg - skipping the stuffing and potatoes in exchange for good health is no difficulty. GAPS desserts are often far better than their sugar and wheat laden counterparts. Even wine and spirits are permissible. Most good quality cooking is largely GAPS compliant anyway - ok, you can't have the pasta or potatoes, but is that really so hard?
I liked doing Intro more than once..but I didn't follow Intro to a T
I never ate a nut butter pancake, I still haven't made a ferment, but I did eat Stage 1 - 3 soups for about a week each month. Cycling through a loose version of intro every month felt right for me. (Versus trying to struggle through all eight phases in one go.) I used this approach because I always had mad cravings for rich food before my period. These subsided significantly on GAPS, but, on doctor's orders, I still listen to what my body wants and vary my diet over the month. I also found I was too tempted to whip through the Intro in days.
I'm glad I didn't start with the Intro
Easing yourself in by eating GAPs for a few weeks first makes a lot of sense. I did this because I was skeptical, but I think I may have given up had I tried to jump right into intro with probiotics. NB - I didn't start routinely taking probiotics until I had the diet down. This meant I had a tiny amount of die off when I went on GAPS, a bit more on Intro, and a bit more when I started probiotics....this die off was bad enough, I'm glad I didn't have the full experience.
It goes beyond health and diet
It got me thinking about food, the handling and treatment of animals, the environment, my environment, and all those subjects that we sometimes avoid because they are unpleasant. It got me feeling better in my own skin, not just because I'm healthier, but because I'm now confident that listening to what my body wants is the key to eating properly. I appreciate food and I'm not living in constant misery over my weight.
As a caveat, I say this having strayed from the diet numerous times. Months 1, 3 and 4, I was very strict. (Month 2 was December, so I ate far too much cheese and some chocolate etc. etc.) But I was finding toward the end of month 4, I was having energy problems. I was enticed by stories on other blogs about boosting energy by eating carbs. But I had only been on the diet for six months, and I found that eating carbs pushed me back into the world of severe arthritis pain and thyroid symptoms. Ultimately, I'm finding that a few gluten free carbs here and there (no more than once a week, and preferably only twice a month) keeps my energy problems at bay while avoiding excessive damage and autoimmune issues. But I think that the first strict month and going back through Intro regularly are what make this work. That's my plan for the six months to come.