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I loved my trip up north. I really did. But the first half of this trip was pretty hard on me at times. I didn’t just go off of GAPS for this weekend. I crash landed into pizza, ice cream, baked goods, and more.
And it was all delicious. I mean, I went to a placed called the Grilled Cheese Emporium and got grilled cheese with a side of mac and cheese. Heaven.
We also got a blueberry, wild rice scone. Which is essentially Northern Minnesota in baked good form.
Unfortunately, these made me pretty sick. As you would expect when, after 6+ months of squeaky clean eating you dive face first into a vat of sugar, baked goods, bread, and conventional dairy. I had some pretty bad stomach aches, which then diminished into nausea and motion sickness. Thankfully, the cabin was thoroughly stocked with broth, activated charcoal, probiotics, and other healing foods. My meals often were either soup or looked like this one:
Others looked more like these. I can actually tolerate real, properly prepared food quite well. So cheese stuffed meatballs in organic tomato sauce over homemade bread was okay in small amounts. A pancake made from sprouted organic wheat berries, freshly ground and soaked in Kalona Supernatural buttermilk, was digestible for me. (Holy cow, does that read as pretentious to you as it does to me?!) Especially when paired with vegetables, a soft boiled egg, and ginger kombucha in a wine glass.
We brought 2 gallons of green beans from the garden up. I don’t know why his parents grow so much. Eat ALL the green beans, even for breakfast!
But the struggle wasn’t the digestive problems. Those are uncomfortable, but they fade and heal. It is the emotional reactions that are terrifying and leave scars. Eating too much. Feeling out of control of my body and my actions. Feeling so much guilt for eating poorly and damaging my body. Feeling shame for how I look.
Then came the anxiety attacks. The reactions that can really only be called tantrums. The emotions so out of my control and terrifying they left me sobbing in fear of my own mind. Then the guilt for ruining my husband’s vacation and making him take care of me. I look so happy in all the pictures, and I sound so happy when I talk about the trip. Because I was. These emotions would come out of nowhere, and I can barely remember them now. Just that they happened.
(before anyone gets too worried about me, I am seeing a therapist)
Many things could have triggered this. It could be related to the sugar and processed foods. Or it could have just been a self-induced reaction from the guilt of eating them. It could have even just been some necessary emotional detox that vacation allowed.
I’m telling you this as a lead in to my next section – did GAPS cause my disordered eating. Because I want to be honest with you about what is happening with me right now as I make the transition off of GAPS and try to find my way in the real world of food. I am not abandoning you; I will always be a huge cheerleader of GAPS. I am just trying to find myself.
Did GAPS Cause My Disordered Eating?
Recently, someone asked my if GAPS made my disordered eating worse. This is a tricky question when it gets down to it. I feel very strongly that GAPS did great things for my body. Because of this, I am scared to show myself going off GAPS, and I am scared to mention it in the context of my disordered eating. I don’t want to lose my credibility, especially with my book so recently released. Is that selfish? Yes. But those feelings are there. I don’t want people to think my advice is bad, that not even I can stick to it. That GAPS isn’t as wonderful as I have said.
Disordered eating and eating disorders go so far beyond GAPS. I had problems before I started. My eating was out of control, and I believed eating the right foods could fix everything. My food anxiety got worse with GAPS, but I don’t think I can say GAPS itself made it worse. I took GAPS further than my body needed, and I warped my relationship with food even further. I did that, not GAPS. In fact, going through GAPS and following the advice in my book helped keep a lot of things at bay. I believe that the healing I experienced thanks to GAPS gave me the strength and clarity to acknowledge that I had a problem.
GAPS gave me the confidence to eat ice cream, scones, meatballs in tomato sauce. It gave me the knowledge to quickly recover from those decisions by nourishing my body with broth and fermented foods. It gave me the confidence to make sprouted wheat pancakes that my body can tolerate.
And I know that I can go back. Everything I learned is still there, and I can pick it back up if I ever need to, for any reason. But right now I need to confront my relationship with food. Rather than hiding behind nut- and sugar-free GAPS, where I barely have the resources to binge. Where I gave myself orthorexia, disguised as “following the protocol,” as a coping mechanism. I need to learn to handle food in real life. Setting restrictive rules just puts everything on hold or misdirects it. The underlying problem is still there.
Many people can use GAPS to heal from an eating disorder, and I do believe that it has given me mental strength I wouldn’t have otherwise. But right now I just need some time off to nourish my body with a wider variety of foods. To challenge myself. To experience fear and confront guilt. It is not going to be easy, and I am definitely scared. But I will find healing.
So, did GAPS cause my disordered eating? No. It didn’t. It did not even make it worse. It was my self-imposed beliefs and attitudes that did that. It was my mental illness. I don’t want anyone to shy away from healing because of something I have struggled with for years.
GAPS is truly powerful. Even my husband, who has watched me struggle through this all, has told me he believes it has done amazing things for me and is the best way for me to eat. It is all about mindset, and being about to happily live your life.
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