February 01, 2011

The WHY Behind Our Diet/Lifestyle Change

For those who want to know WHY we're doing what we're doing...this is a pretty thorough explanation!

About a year ago my friend and neighbor Sidra went on the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) after doing much research and going to many doctors to figure out what was wrong with her.  Though she wasn't actually diagnosed with MS, all the signs were there, and had things not changed, that was probably the road she was heading toward.  She mentioned what she was doing, and it sounded a bit extreme at the time, although I figured it was necessary given all she had been going through physically.  I was amazed that her 5-year-old son, Samuel, was also on the diet.  They were doing the Intro GAPS diet, which is very, VERY restrictive and focuses on healing the lining of the gut walls and repopulating the good bacteria in the gut while starving the bad bacteria.

I didn't think much more about it until the summer, when at some point she said to me that the diet was good for people with allergies and asthma.  Samuel has had a number of food allergies and also struggled with asthma, to the point that Sidra wouldn't let him go anywhere during the fall and winter months for fear he would be exposed to something, which would then have him severely sick for weeks on end.  Sidra specifically mentioned Arden, knowing that he especially deals with allergies and asthma.  Out of curiosity, I looked at the GAPS web site, but not for long...it looked too weird for me.

Meanwhile, in June I dealt with a very nasty yeast infection, something that I've pretty much never dealt with before.  Another friend, Stefanie, helped me overcome the symptoms with homeopathic remedies after the OTC stuff I tried actually made things worse, and finally I got past it.  Then, in November, another one hit. This time the remedies didn't do much of anything, and I was in major misery.  I was desperate and spent some of my insomniac hours online, reading various articles and web sites about Candida and how to control it.  Once again I looked at the GAPS web site and even asked my mom what she thought about it.  I cut out sugar and started eating a LOT of plain yogurt in the mornings.  Days later when nothing had changed, I finally made an appointment on base and got some prescription medicine to deal with it "once and for all." 

Or so I thought.  Five weeks later ANOTHER infection hit.  This time I was unable to get in to see the doctor I had seen before, and since it was a Friday, I got my own 3-day OTC remedy, which thankfully did seem to help this time.  The doc called me on Monday to follow up, and when I mentioned my dietary changes, she pretty much said that diet wouldn't affect the problem.  I had already been thinking completely otherwise, so I just thanked her and hung up, deciding that I really needed to look into things for myself.  Three infections in 6 months?!  And the doctor didn't seem to think that was unusual or worth investigating??

Well, the holidays came, along with learning I was pregnant, and I began to be more concerned about the best way to take care of my body.  After the new year rolled around, our neighborhood ladies' Bible study got together, and Sidra was sharing how God had allowed her to help so many families from her church to start the GAPS diet and see positive changes with their health.  The next day I got an email from a friend at church asking for prayer for her 2-year-old daughter, who was very ill with a lot of intestinal issues.  It was a complete case of God's timing--I asked Bethany if she would mind if I sent her message on to Sidra, and then I called Sidra to let her know what was going on.  I ended up talking with Sidra for nearly an hour, and after the conversation, I really felt like this was something OUR family needed to be doing.

And I didn't like it!  Not one little bit! 

I decided that really, I COULD NOT do this diet if only a few members of our family were going to follow it.  No WAY was I making multiple meals and dealing with complaints from those who couldn't have what the others were having.  So I talked to Ted about it, figuring that he would say something along the lines of...yeah, maybe it can help some people, but it's not for us.  And then I'd be off the hook.

But that wasn't what Ted said.  He heaved a big sigh, and pretty much verbalized what I had been thinking.  "I think this is something we need to do."  Doh!  There went my last excuse!

For the next couple of weeks, we did some more research.  Sidra come over to our house one evening and spent several hours telling us about various phases of the diet (which we ended up not doing--we haven't done the Intro diet at all) and some of the reasoning and scientific principles behind why we should be eating or not eating certain foods.  We took notes.  I attended a Weston A. Price chapter meeting at which Sidra spoke for about 20 minutes on the GAPS diet, then ordered some cod liver oil and a ginormous vat of coconut oil from the main speaker of the evening.  (What is this world coming to...I am voluntarily going to put cod liver oil in my body!!!)  We also learned about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is similar to GAPS, and per Sidra's suggestion, we decided to do more of a combination of the two since we don't have as severe of issues as some others who are on the diet start out with.  Plus, with being pregnant, I need to make sure I get good things like milk!

I had just done a big commissary shopping trip right before all this started happening.  Sidra encouraged me to just use up the food that we had so that we didn't waste our money, and then plan to shop for the new diet when I was ready.  During these weeks of preparation, we began talking with the kids about all of this, telling them that when we start the diet, this or that would not be allowed and so on.  We talked about wanting to get the boys OFF their allergy/asthma medicine (Arden has been on Singulair and Claritin or Zyrtec daily for at least 3 years now, and Tobin has been on Flonase off and on for a few years).  Tobin and Arden could see the wisdom in this, as they have had to have albuterol inhaler treatments frequently during the winter...usually winter is not a time with these kinds of problems for them.

So...now you know the thought process behind this decision!  Probably more detail than anyone really wanted or needed to know, but people have been asking, so there it is!  More to come.


Sarah Brown said...

I'll look forward to hearing more. Any non-weird websites/resources you can point us to? Hannah and I are *this close* to starting allergy shots. Hannah basically can't go to anyone's house because she gets so sick. --Sarah Brown

Megan said...

This post about the effect that our diet has on our gut's flora made me think of something I read a while ago about how a single bottle of formula will make major changes to a newborn's gut and make them more susceptible to illness and food allergies. It takes 2-4 weeks of nothing but breastmilk to heal a baby's gut after a bottle of formula. Introducing solids forever changes the baby's gut, too. I'm curious what recommendations the GAPS diet/Weston A. Price make for introducing solids to breastfed babies (what and when). I have a friend who held off introducing any grains, even rice cereal, until her baby was 12 months old, but I can't remember which dietary practices they were following.


Bob and Claire said...

I will definitely be curious to hear more as well! Interesting!

As For Me and My House said...

very interesting....I would hope things are getting easier in the kitchen! :)

As For Me and My House said...

I meant I hope, not I would hope :)

Amy Kilpatrick said...

My good friend, Jessica, has directed me to the Westin A. Price website numerous times. Good luck, Beverly. I know how difficult these type of changes. By the way, CONGRATS on baby #6!!

taylordi said...

We had Meghan treated at/by a Naturopath for all her food allergies. It was work doing it but now she is fine. We also did some with Tabitha and she hasn't had any asthma symptoms in a year.
When Tabitha started solids I was hearing that if your family had food allergies, especially wheat or gluten to avoid starting any grains until the baby was over a year old. I wish I had waited, oh well at least they continued to nurse until they were 2 years old.

Good luck with the diet changes, your body can heal it self if given the chance. Please let us know if it helps everyones allergies, I know Ted has them most of his life.

Krista said...

Not too much information at all. After you posted about it I went and started reading on their website and yeah, I was a bit weirded out! We don't really have many health problems, but I'm all for eating healthier and helping our bodies! Do keep writing about it!
And I would be totally overwhelmed if I had to do it on my own so I'm glad you have a friend to guide you!

Debi said...

I admire you for doing "whatever it takes" to bring health and wellness to your family. I wish you the very best of luck with this and "stick to it-ness" I've attemped to be a vegan and a vegetarian twice in my adult life and made it a year the first time and only 6 months the second. I find these types of things fun and a challenge at first, but always go back to the SAD (Standard American Diet) Knowing you, your will power to keep with it will be better than mine!