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As I post pictures of all of my GAPS meals on Instagram, I frequently got comments about how I make Intro look easy. Easy? Really? All I’m doing is posting pictures of soup. I’m also posting journals like this one from a month into the GAPS Introduction Diet (before I had discovered any confirmed food sensitivities):
Have you heard of dysthymia? Most people haven’t. It is a mild form of chronic depression. I have not been formally diagnosed, but when I was seeing a counselor last year she thought I may have it. If you read the diagnostic criteria, that is me to a T.
I don’t think about it much, though. I had the idea that I have all of these symptoms that collectively are defined as dysthymia. Either they are who I am, or they are caused by other people or hormone imbalances. But the reality is that this is a mental illness that causes these symptoms. I need to heal that just as much as I need to heal my cycles, acne, or thyroid.
Since starting the GAPS diet, which I did without thinking much about dysthymia, I have been generally happier, more energetic, and more emotionally engaged. This makes days like today that much harder. I worry that I’ll never fully overcome this. That it was the pistachios from last night, that nuts are my emotional trigger and I can never eat them again. That I have an issue with dairy, which has yet to be demonstrated. Oh yeah, anxiety is one of my emotional issues, too, that is coming out today.
It’s called Gut and Psychology Syndrome for a reason, and I’m getting hit hard by the psychology part today. So I’m loading up on the fats and the broth my body is craving and reminding myself that this is a healing diet. I will heal. The road may be long, but I will get there and that is something to rejoice about, rather than lamenting the length of the journey.
I have done my best to be open about my process and my struggles throughout GAPS. When I made the decision to restart Intro, 3 months into my GAPS journey, I especially made an effort to bare my soul to the Instagram world. I wanted people to know what Intro is really like. The emotional aspect of it can be particularly difficult for me at times.
But I guess in a way Intro has been easy for me, and I can see how that has showed through in my food posts. I try to not complain about my food or what I could not eat. Instead I post (rather poor quality, which I guess makes my life seem more realistic) pictures of soups that sounded delicious – and they are! Because I’m not going to suffer while on Intro. I am in this for the long haul, and it needs to be sustainable.
Batch cooking is a huge part of this. If I have the energy and ingredients, I cook up a storm. I fill the fridge and freezer with meals for me to eat. Most days, cooking is simply heating up a pan of soup and adding a few extras. Even though I have reintroduced roasted and baked meats, I rarely eat them. Soup just requires so much less work and planning. Intro is easy for me because I don’t expect much out of my food, yet I take time to enjoy the stages.
Sure, I longed for those pancakes or a hamburger, but I don’t need them. In fact, taking the pancakes back out of my diet when I discovered an issue with nuts didn’t bother me much and I think I only ate a hamburger once during my first month on Stage 4. Yes I have cravings and I miss chocolate and toast, but I try to savor the meals I can have. I love soup, so let’s make it tasty and enjoy it!
Intro is easy for me because I’ve done this before. Not GAPS Intro, but other elimination diets. My body and my mind knew the drill and were ready to handle it. Not everyone has this luxury, so be prepared for a fight if you do not ease into Intro through Paleo or Full GAPS. GAPS Intro is by far the strictest and the hardest elimination diet I have done, and yet it has been the most sustainable for me. It is what is right for my body, and that right there is the key to sustainability.
And honestly, I think Intro has easy for me because I choose to take it slow, rather than rush through. I’m not hurrying to add in new things or keep track of where an entire family is. When I have an issue, I don’t have to try to stress over what it was; I usually have a pretty good idea. If I don’t know, I take a step back. I don’t have to strategically plan my meals; I eat what I want from a “yes” list that I know well. If I notice it is around time to add something in and I am not experiencing any strong symptoms, I do (okay, I’ll be honest, there were a few foods where I was counting the days). But I don’t stress about moving on. Like I said, I love soup. Why would I rush leaving Intro when I am so happy eating these foods every day? Again, it goes back to enjoying where you are, rather than wishing you were somewhere else.
I think the most important thing to realize is that GAPS isn’t always easy for me, and when it is, it isn’t just because of my mindset (although that plays a large role). A big part of it is simply where I am in life. I don’t have children that I have to deal with (just a husband). I work from home, so I can take a personal health day…or week. (Want that luxury? I’m always looking for team members) I haven’t had to deal with awful die-off or reactions to everything single thing I eat. GAPS has been very healing for me, and while I do have some bad days, in general I have been very lucky.
Maybe when people said I made GAPS look easy, they meant doable. And it is that. You can do GAPS.
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