Yesterday I went to my first GAPs support group run by Sarah Bowles Flannery in Richmond. I met some lovely ladies who were all finding their way through GAPs for themselves and their children. It was a really great opportunity to swap recipes and share stories, and it got me thinking about my loves and hates of following this diet.
Firstly I have to say the diet has made a huge impact on my life and the lives of my children, and Harry I genuinely believe would be in a horrendous state if we hadn't taken the plunge. I am sure he would be medicated for reflux, medicated for eczema and probably had numerous rounds of antibiotics for chest and ear infections. I am sure as well we would have had plenty on visits to A&E with seizures and no doubt would be on some hideous amino acid formula with general food aversion. Instead we have a healthy happy very energetic 1yr old which we are thankful for.
So what do I LOVE about GAPs?
1. I have sooooo much more energy, patience and positivity.
2. We eat such a variety of fruit and veg now our diet is so colourful.
3. Both boys have good appetites, are really good at trying new foods and we have discovered new tastes.
4. It gives us control back over conditions like allergies, to help us see a way we can get better not just live with the symptoms.
5. It "feels right" preparing food by traditional methods and knowing you are eating things to nourish your body not just give you calories.
What foods do I LOVE on GAPs?
1. Fermented foods - yes I love sauerkraut!! I can't believe it but I do. I also love my coconut milk kefir and water kefir. Tasty foods that I had never tried before.
2. Chicken Liver Pate - my boys adore this and it is sooo good for you. Again a huge surprise as the thought of it is quite yucky but it tastes delicious.
3. Avocados - Harry and I eat at least one each a day either on their own or in coconut kefir smoothies.
4. Coconut flour waffles & muffins - this is really for the boys but even Thomas who knows what "real" things like this taste like, loves them.
5. Coconut Oil - Harry and I can eat this straight off the spoon and I use about 2kg of it a month in cooking, smoothies, waffles and added to soups etc. So great for you and antibacterial/anti-fungal too.
6. Raw Egg Yolk - again a surprise as I immediately thought I would be sick, however they taste great and with some vanilla & honey taste like custard, or added to soups they taste like you have added cream. They also make great cake icing mixed with cacao butter and are highly nutritious when from a good reliable source.
7. Vegetable juice - it makes you feel amazing! I like carrot, beetroot, kale, celery, cabbage, lemon and ginger. Sounds gross but actually tastes great!
What things do I HATE about being on GAPs?
1. So much washing up!
2. Cooking after a really long day and I'm tired, much easier to call a take away but not good for you!
3. Did I mention washing up!!
4. Having to plan ahead for parties, trips, days out etc. Batch baking of muffins/waffles etc and sorting out how to transport kefir & sauerkraut.
5. Oh did I mention so much washing up!!
What foods do I dislike on GAPs but tolerate for the sake of healing?
1. Broth broth broth!!! We hate the smell of it constantly cooking and hate drinking it. Can tolerate it in soups and can drink it when mixed with kefir and ginger. Unfortunately it is the key to success on the diet so we have to put up and shut up!
2. Fermented Cod Liver Oil - YUCK but we take it anyway.
3. Fatty tissue and cartilage - both Thomas and I struggle to eat the fat off meat and can't stomach any cartilage etc. I grind it down when I can so they can't tell and Harry doesn't know any different.
4. Soup in the summer & for breakfast - Thomas especially doesn't like soup when its hot so despite it being a bit weird for me he eats things like carrot soup cold. He cried when he had to have soup for breakfast on the introduction diet - he ate it but for us it does feel weird.
I would be lying if I said being on GAPs is easy. It isn't! There is a lot of cooking and using traditional cooking methods takes time, as they were developed largely when women didn't work so much. Juggling cooking (and washing up) around work and caring for your children is hard, but as many people on the diet say, the alternative would be much worse. Caring for your children who are always in bad health is much more worrying and time consuming so while prevention is an effort I think it is worth making.