I’ll just be here, eating something made from almonds.

October 25, 2011 · 25 comments

*

Everybody does weird diets sometimes, right?

I’ve chronicled past fascinations with them, and most of the time, if it’s totally out-there, un-sustainable (i.e., you live off avocados & chia seeds until the day you die, hopefully soon), it’s easy for me to turn away.

But over the past six or so months, I’ve become more and more convinced that there is a connection between what I’m eating and how I’m feeling. Which is overall, fine, as in, if I went to a doctor and had a physical she would likely tell me I am “the picture of health” or something equally encouraging. And if I complained to her about the little things that bother me (brain fog, minor anxiety, minor aches & pains) she would likely tell me that I’m just a mother to three young children, or that I’m nearing 40, or that she can write me a script that will make it all go away.

For a few years now, following various “real-food” blogs, I had heard about people doing the GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) diet. I connected it mainly with parents using it to alleviate symptoms of autism in their children, and it seemed extreme, so I saw no reason to investigate further. But a couple months ago my naturopath convinced me to read the book. And when I did, it was so logical in its description of how the health of your gut is directly related to everything from depression to chronic pain — I decided it was worth giving a try.

But aren’t those decisions always so much easier said than done?

I didn’t really mean to start it last week. I meant to have a plan. The diet is designed to be temporary (2 months to 2 or more years), but during that time you eat no grains whatsoever. Also, no starchy fruits and vegetables (i.e., potatoes, yams, etc.). No refined sugar. In some cases (ahem… mine), no dairy.

Lots of eggs, bone broths, soups, ferments, and fats from coconuts and animals. And nuts. As long as they are soaked overnight, you can eat just about any nut or seed.

So last week, I had all this bone broth in my freezer. I had gotten to a point where I wasn’t eating much grain anyway, it just didn’t taste good to me. Dairy was also something I had been avoiding. I figured, why not go ahead and do this?

It began innocently enough, by having a hot cup of chicken broth one morning for breakfast. At lunch, a plate of leafy greens with leftover chicken. For dinner, coconut lamb curry. By bedtime, the diet was on.

But then the next day, mid-morning, after my brothy breakfast, I was hungry. And couldn’t find a single thing to eat. I wanted cheese & crackers, but those are both off-limits. I scrounged through my GAPS cookbook and found a recipe for grain-free “flatbreads:” eggs, almond flour, almond milk, salt. I cooked them up, and gnawed unsatisfactorily — a spongy, eggy pancake topped with almond butter wasn’t what my brain had in mind.

So I washed it all down with more bone broth.

Really, now. Don’t all of you jump on this bandwagon with me at once, it might get tippy.

The thing is, it’s not bad to have to re-think what I eat, how I snack, what I rely on that might not be the best thing for my body. And it is usually interesting to me, having to cook with ingredient restrictions (i.e., gluten or grain-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc.) But right now my options feel suffocatingly limited. It’s been less than a week, but if I never saw another nut-based food item again I’d die a happy woman.

I had a dream the other night, that I was sitting in the kitchen of one of my favorite real-food bloggers, surrounded by all these other like-minded bloggers, and I was asking them, over and over: But did any of you see any improvement in your health after being on the GAPS diet? Over and over I asked, all night long, and never got an answer (darned sub-conscious, with its inability to work through problems to which I don’t already have a solution).

As of this morning I’m still on it, trying to find new ways to make snack foods, easy dinner modifications, and the like. But I’ll be honest — right about now, January is seeming like a much better time to start a wacky diet. What else will there be to do? Everyone else will be doing there detoxes and cleanses, I could at least have some company in the land of the deprived.

Stick with it? Postpone until the New Year? You’ll know the answer in coming weeks, as you notice whether all my posts become variations of things containing almonds.

* This is not my photo, stunning as it may be. When I went to shoot something this morning, I found I was ironically out of almonds.

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This post is linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

 

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{ 24 comments }

Beth (OMG! Yummy) October 25, 2011 at 9:25 am

Funny that we both wrote blog posts along a similar line this week — I just wrote about 5 ingredients to avoid and foods that can heal you based on a conference session I attended last August.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t have the discipline for that restrictive a diet, but then again those foods don’t make me feel bad. I am lactose intolerant and have learned to live with minimal dairy – i.e. it’s a good thing we love Asian food in this house! Not a dairy product in site!

Good luck but please don’t stay in the corner!

katy October 25, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Great post at Andrew’s! That’s the perfect list for people to keep in mind when trying to go unprocessed.

Don’t worry, I don’t have time to stay in the corner ; )

Jennie Rader October 25, 2011 at 9:49 am

Oh Katy, how I love you. Because you always make me feel less crazy…:) We are kindred spirits.

And if you delay until Jan, Im with you girl. ALL THE WAY.

katy October 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I’m holding you to that…

designhermomma October 25, 2011 at 9:49 am

Can you drink alcohol? Because I’m pretty sure that’s the only way I could ever get through it.

katy October 25, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Supposedly, you can have “quality” wine (um… that could be a problem), but technically only after a while being on the diet. But I’m already breaking rules left and right, so I’m currently breaking that one. Yet another reason to postpone until January — this is wine-drinking weather!

Stephanie October 25, 2011 at 11:10 am

I contemplate them, and then try to imagine doing it on a budget that doesn’t really involve much sustainable meat, and I crawl back to my small amounts of corn, rice and buckwheat. Honestly, the larger difference is in avoiding everything processed. If I just ate completely homemade food (we’re talking washing rice and grinding my own flour) all the time, I’d be exhausted from cooking and slightly bored but probably feeling slightly better GI-wise.

Toasted ground seeds and nuts can be bound with egg and nut butter to make decent crackers that aren’t spongey!

I’d delay to January if you have many family and friends events involving food/traveling. Otherwise, you’ve started; why not continue?

katy October 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Thanks for the tips on crackers, Stephanie, I’m trying them tomorrow ; )

I’ll likely give it another week or so before deciding whether to carry on in any fashion until 2012. I’m guessing that even if I decide to officially postpone, I’ll keep up with parts of the diet that are doable.

Chris Rossebo October 25, 2011 at 11:16 am

Soaking the almonds made me think of Madhur Jaffrey’s “Perfumed Almonds” which is soaking 14 almonds with 5 cardamon pods, a tablespoon of sugar (sub honey or rosewater) in a cup of boiling water. in the morning peel and serve. She remembers them being “brain food” as a child she was given them before tests in school.
Good luck with the diet!

katy October 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Chris, that sounds amazing! I think I’ll be trying that one soon, I even have cardamom pods from last winter’s chai mix — thanks for the tip!

Marcy October 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I hear you — I keep also running into stuff about gluten specifically, or grains in general, soaking or not soaking, not to mention dairy.

My inner scientist wants to do a seriously systematic elimination diet to find out exactly how each kind of food really makes me feel — at any time of day, at any point in my cycle, at any time of year — but that would be unfeasible.

Not wanting to settle for murky research, I haven’t done much other than reduce carbs where I can and soak grains when I can, in addition to the various healthy things we already do.

I’ll be very curious to follow your progress!

katy October 25, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Your inner scientist should take a peek at this book — I’m not a scientist in any way, shape, or form, and found it fascinating. Scientifically : )

And I’ll keep you updated! Probably to the point of madness for us all…

Marcy October 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I’m afraid to read it. I’ve read quite a bit about GAPS at other websites. For the sake of my “I just want to enjoy eating” husband, I am reluctant to further fuel the fires of my food education… drat, that would have been so nicely alliterative if I could think of a synonym for education that starts with f.

Amy October 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I cannot think of any torture more exquisitely horrifying than limiting your food intake to that extreme right before the marvelous eating season known as “Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s.” You know, God doesn’t count any calories, fats, or sugars consumed during that period.

katy October 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Yeah, I even thought about postponing until Lent. But then I remembered I never do Lent.

Nancy October 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm

I love how you try all these crazy diets! I kind of feel like not cooking with any milk, eggs, nuts, lentils, peas, chickpeas, or shellfish is a harsh enough diet for me to shun trying to eliminating even more. When you said you were hungry after having your hot broth for breakfast, I kind of started chuckling and my imagination went crazy with visions of how this diet might alter your mind. I will be checking in regularly to see if this diet makes you hallucinate, and then you blog while hallucinating – kind of all Dali-esque. That would be off-the-rails-awesome! :) Fingers crossed.

katy October 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Trust me. You will be one of the first to know if this diet is a hallucinogen. My fingers are crossed as well!

bethanyrx October 27, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Have you seen/heard of the website Health Home & Happiness? [healthhomehappy.com] It’s written by a mom who’s been doing GAPS for her kids/family, and she has all sorts of real-life info, meal plans, etc. At the very least, it might assuage some of your fears about how people who need to do it make it happen.

katy October 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Just found that yesterday! I totally randomly read a post at Nourishing Gourmet, and she interviewed three women who are on GAPS — one was the HH&H blogger. It was actually very encouraging — mainly in that they all recommend doing the full diet before the intro diet.

AND I noticed when I linked to Health Home & Happiness that she has the meal plan — I will likely get at least one month of it, just to get me thinking in the right direction.

Thanks for your tips! Nice coincidence ; )

bethanyrx October 27, 2011 at 5:19 pm

oh, and look! she had a mushroom soup recipe the other day! 😉

http://www.healthhomehappy.com/2011/10/fast-mushroom-soup-with-fresh-herbs.html

Heather @ Nourishing the Heart October 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

I just got the GAPS book and, ironically, am thinking of starting the diet for our family in January. I know I couldn’t pull it off now with the holidays coming up!

Mandy October 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I’m going to be re-starting the GAPS diet in January – I’m inching my way there now by eliminating sugar and grains. I did it a year and a half ago for about 5 months. Even though I was fatigued beyond belief when I started the diet (for the first 3 months, actually…), at month 5 I felt better than I ever have in my entire life. Digestion was great and I felt a sense of ease and well-being that I am hoping to find again the second time around. In hindsight, I should have continued with the diet, as my health issues slowly came back.

Love your blog! It’s really cool to see someone writing about eating well in my home-state. Makes me feel more hopeful about moving back someday. :-)

katy October 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Ok. So I need to shoot for month five? I need a goal…

When your issues returned, was it because you just went back to your old way of eating? This is disconcerting!

Thanks for reading & commenting! Where did you grow up in Indiana? We love Indianapolis!

Mandy November 3, 2011 at 11:28 am

You know, I would say your goal should reflect your state of health. The more health issues you have and the longer you’ve had them, the longer you should probably do the diet. Adults tend to heal fairly slowly – I’ve learned that for long-lasting results you should do GAPS for 1 year past the point that you start feeling fantastic (yikes, right?). I think I just got to that fantastic point and quit too early to really shift the state of my gut for good. I stayed low/no sugar for a long while after GAPS (and kept eating a very healthy diet), but things really got off track when I added some cooked whole grains (teff and quinoa, to be exact).

I grew up in Richmond. I think if we moved back to Indiana, Indy would be our first choice – it really is a nice city. I’m glad to hear that you love it!

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