I’ve never really deprived myself of anything edible. Sure, there were the few months in 2006 I went dairy-free while nursing my son, and there was that odd, brief bout with vegetarianism during my sophomore year of college (I thought it would impress the hipster guys, and help me lose that freshman 20 — boy, was I wrong on both). But other than those times, I’ve historically been an everything-in-moderation kind of girl (within legal limits, I’m still a goody-two-shoes at heart).
I’ve never written many details on this diet I’m doing — mainly because I don’t want to bore you with the minutia of my dietary challenges. But to give a brief description of how the GAPS diet works: it is very similar to other diets out there (such as South Beach) in that it starts out with an extremely limited spectrum of allowable foods, then phases more foods in over the course of a few weeks to a few months. When I started GAPS back in October, I jumped to the last phase, or the full GAPS diet. I saw many recommendations for doing it this way — it is too overwhelming mentally and physically to go from eating a full (albeit whole, natural) American diet to the intro diet. So I’ve been on full GAPS for over two months, with some cheating (I still drank wine, still occasionally had a gluten-free cracker or bowl of rice).
Last Friday was my day to start the intro. It was Friday the 13th, which seemed appropriate — he intro phase of the diet should last about 30 days, and consists of eating mostly homemade bone broth (almost a quart a day!) and homemade soups made with non-starchy vegetables, meats, and fish. Slowly over the course of 6 stages I will introduce fermented foods, cultured dairy (homemade yogurt), and nuts.
The past four days have felt like a lifetime.
I don’t know how many of you have fasted, or cleansed, or in other ways severely limited your diet. But truly, you begin to see the world in a new way.
I’m not claiming a spiritual experience, though I can clearly see how fasting creates an ideal environment for, shall we say, focusing.
Some things I’ve learned and/or experienced over the past 96 hours:
- “Die-off” is real. And it totally blows (unless you are a fan of nausea and flu symptoms).
- Anyone who makes the statement, “I love soup — I could eat it every meal,” has obviously never had to eat soup at every meal.
- Once you have eaten soup for every meal, you feel as though you’d trade a limb for something crunchy.
- Since crunchy can’t happen, you will settle for boiled hamburgers. Which you eat ravenously, as though they were the most delicious dish you’ve ever eaten.
- At some point during fasting, you might start to imagine that you are a cast member on Survivor, back when it was good, circa 2002.
- Since, to your imaginary dismay, you have still not been voted off the flippin’ island, you decide there’s nothing to be done but eat more soup.
- When you put new ingredients in the soup, like fish instead of chicken, you become irrationally pleased with the result, like you now deserve to be the next contestant on Top Chef.
- Leaving Survivor behind, your new fantasy involves being the fourth sister on Little House. I mean, they were starving most winters, right? If they had an onion to boil in water for dinner, they were thrilled. That’s the mindset I’m seeking.
- When on a diet like this, it’s best to just keep a salt shaker in your pocket.
- Remember when I complained about starting the full GAPS diet? Right. Well, let’s just say that my tune has changed. I am counting the days until I can be back on that diet, it feels like I will have limitless options in just 26 days. Grains? Who needs them. I would kill right now for a giant bowl of dried fruit and nuts.
So, yeah, it’s been hard — but don’t go worrying about my going over a proverbial ledge. I have other friends here who are doing the diet as well, and there is a growing online community of people diving into the intro together to offer support.
And, in some ways, I just have to laugh. I’ve said on more than one occasion that I can give up most anything, that my willpower is strong — but that the day someone tells me I have to give up red wine or coffee? That is the day I will continue to live in blissful denial. It looks as though I’m eating those words, as we are often led to do.
But I’ll be honest here. It feels really weird to say it, and I’ve heard similar things from fasters (is that what you’d call a person who fasts?) and always thought they were delusional — but for me, I think it’s been a really good thing to do. Fasting in this way is resetting my taste buds to appreciate and be satisfied by natural sugars, and even giving me new cravings for healthy foods that I previously struggled with liking (such as fermented vegetables). I feel like I’m learning even more about how to make delicious foods from very limited ingredients, learning how to savor common flavors like never before. It feels like I just cleaned out a room in my house, down to the walls — and my job is to rebuild it, seeing all of my things anew.
Of course, it also helps to know that someday (date TBD), I will have that coffee and red wine again. And they will likely taste better than ever before.
This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday.