In my last post I talked about leaky gut and why I'm on The GAPS Diet. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out "Leaky Gut, The GAPS Diet and Nutrition Response Testing." What I didn't tell you was how I jumped into GAPS completely unprepared! If anyone is considering taking on GAPS or any other type of healing protocol puhleeeeeaaaaaaase learn from my mistakes. I caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress with these 4 mistakes.
1. Starting the diet unprepared
I failed to do the proper research, and I didn't take the time to make sure I understood the commitment I was about to make. I actually didn't even read the whole Gut and Psychology Syndrome book before I started, because I was so anxious to get going. The steps in the book are very basic and easy to follow, but I often found myself confused and trying to “cheat” or do things my own way. I also expected results immediately. I ended up eating broth and soup for a month or two because I stayed on the first step of the diet for so long. My skin initially cleared up and then it broke out really badly a few days later. I was thinking that my skin needed to be healed before I could move on, but that was just unrealistic. The GAPS Diet can take years to properly heal one’s gut. There’s no way I could’ve been healed in one week, but I was convinced I was doing something wrong when my skin continued to get worse.
This taught me that it's okay to take the time and do the research to properly prepare for the next step. I have a tendency to jump into things impulsively, because I want results immediately, but it doesn't always work like that. Sometimes you have to make calculated decisions in the planning process instead of throwing yourself into an unknown situation without knowledge of the possible outcomes. Turns out that sometimes symptoms get worse before they get better on GAPS (it's called a healing crisis). So I was right on track.
2. Rushing through the process
I tried to fast track success. I jumped to therapeutic doses of probiotics without slowly working up to them, because I wanted to kill all the pathogens in my body immediately. Instead of this expediting the healing process, I ended up dealing with uncomfortable die-off symptoms for months without understanding why GAPS wasn't working. Little did I know, I was killing off the pathogens too quickly, and my body was unable to rid itself of all of the toxins. So where did they go? Right into my skin; causing scaling, alligator skin, cuts, redness and inflammation all over my face (my hands, insides of my elbows and knees too, but I was more concerned about my face). I was so worried about getting through this diet that I tried to skip steps and just get to the results. Healing doesn't work like that.
Again, I was so concerned with results that I was cutting corners to get what I wanted. But it doesn't work like that! The only way out is through and believe me, I'm going through it now.
3. Doing too much
I started this diet at the worst possible time ever. It was summer and the whole intro of the diet consists of soups, broths and cooked meats and vegetables. I had broths and soups constantly simmering on the stove in 90 degree weather, and my mother hated my entire existence. I also started the diet the week I began two new jobs, one of which was teaching a kettle bell class at 6am and 7:30am. I am not a morning person, so this was a challenge to say the least. I also started working with kids on an all-teen summer musical. A few weeks later I started rehearsal for a show which included dancing, singing and acting all day. I also thought it would be a great idea to start riding my bike some days to work AND I still made time to lift weights every week. Basically I'm crazy and was #teamtoomuch the entire summer. I didn’t realize how much this diet was going to affect my body and my overall energy. I thought I would be okay since the diet was not far from how I already ate. Little did I know. There were days I would teach the class and come home and sleep all day. I would tell myself, “Okay, you’re going to lie down for an hour and then get some work done.” Next thing I knew I was waking up to the sunset. Not to mention I was super moody. One day while riding my bike to work I couldn’t make it up a hill I previously had no issues with. That’s when I knew, “Girl, you doing tew mach!” A week or so after that I finally started reading GAPS Guide and learned how important it is to take it easy during the intro. It suggested not working out at all, taking time off from work, getting help from friends and family to cook all the food, and planning out various low stress activities to partake in during the intro phase.
I have a hard time being still. This entire process has taught me that it’s okay to take time off. It’s okay to relax and let your body heal. I’ve felt guilty multiple times this past year because I thought I wasn’t doing enough. Sometimes it was difficult to see my friends and colleagues book shows, commercials, and movies while I was sitting on the couch itching away. I’m happy and proud of them, but I had to get out of the habit of comparing myself to others. My journey is completely unique to me, and while this isn’t my favorite part of the journey, it’s necessary to get me to where I’m supposed to be. This is only making me stronger. And I’ve learned so much! And now I have the opportunity to share it with you.
4. Focusing only on diet
The GAPS program is much more than the food you put in your body. Like I said in my previous post, GAPS is about diet, detoxification and supplementation. I had the diet and the supplementation down, but I neglected some important parts of the detoxification. A month or two into GAPS I discovered detox baths, and they changed my life. Detox baths help draw toxins out of the body, bring die-off relief and soothe eczema. I have started taking detox baths everyday rotating the use of Epsom salts, Dead Sea Salt, apple cider vinegar, baking soda and bentonite clay. Two more important things to pay attention to are the cleaning and personal care products you use. Our skin absorbs everything we put on it, and a lot of commercial beauty products contain toxic chemicals. Skin Deep is a great database which rates beauty products on their toxicity and provides a break-down of the toxic chemicals. Cleaning supplies are another culprit for common toxins. Be sure to read the labels, because even “all natural” products contain toxic chemicals. I’ve switched my laundry detergent, dish soap, bathroom soap, hair products and household cleaning supplies to non-toxic alternatives. Dr. Bronners is great because you can literally use it for everything. It’s my laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap and sometimes shower soap.
I'm no expert on GAPS, clearly, but I hope that my multitude of mistakes will help anyone who is considering going on this journey. Unlike me, please really do the research, read GAPS Guide, find the GAPS blogs with helpful tips and recipes, and take some time off before you start this program. I stressed myself out for no reason during this process when I really should have been doing the opposite. If you don't even know where to start, I've put some helpful GAPS bogs below. And as always, do it with the help of a GAPS specialist or naturopath. I started this all on my own without the support of a doctor familiar with GAPS or at least a friend who had done it before. Don't be me. Be better. Much love and until next time!
I'm Lauren, aka Just Du Pree, and I want to thank you for reading. This is a space where I share my very personal journey healing from eczema and topical steroid withdrawal (among other things), life lessons I've learned along the way, and occasionally the thoughts of an awkward Black girl (no Issa Rae). I'm a performer and filmmaker, so if you feel so inclined, pop over here to see what goes on in my mind on the regular. If you like what you see, you can stay up to date with my work here. Much love, friends!