GAPS Diet Days 17-20: A Practice in Mindfulness
My mind is a hyperactive place. I usually have 5 or 6 different thought streams running through it at the same time. People often tell me to slow down while I’m talking a mile a minute, switching from one topic to the next. I tend to get in my head when attempting to resolve personal problems. I will over-analyze a situation to its death, running through every possible rational and irrational explanation and outcome. The ridiculous part about this approach is that I usually end up in a place of mental exhaustion, at which point I am forced to just let the problem go. As soon as I do this, I allow space for the answer to come up naturally. Usually this takes place in the early morning. After days of mental anguish, I will wake up with the truth sitting there bright and clear as the new day. Every time, the answer was there all along, waiting patiently for me to get over my intellect and myself. For me to let go of my ego enough to welcome a truth that sometimes wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I just needed to let go of control of trying to come up with the “right” answer and instead pay attention to the things my heart and gut were telling me all along.
I read an article recently about a really cool study showing a link between mindfulness practice and improved physical health through changes in the molecular structure of genes. This GAPS Introduction Diet has certainly been an opportunity to bring my focus inward to the connection between the foods I eat, my body’s physical response, and the deeper spiritual cleansing that is happening at the same time.Mindfulness is a whole new approach for addressing my chronic health issues.
I’ve been doing the physical work for a long time. Since I was very young, I have used my body as a sort of science experiment - trying the latest elimination diet or detox protocol: vegetarian, pescetarian, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, sober, Paleo, and many combinations in between. With each new experiment, I would see initial positive results, but the digestive issues and inflammation would always return. In many ways, I’ve been following the Western medicine methodology of treating the surface condition rather than addressing the root cause.
A recent conversation with a good friend/holistic nutritionist shed some light on this issue. She has been dealing with chronic stomachaches for some time, but during her recent total-relaxation vacation in Mexico, she experienced zero stomach discomfort. And she was eating foods that aren’t part of her approved healthy protocol. Her insight: that her stomach discomfort is mostly a result of subconscious stress.
I frequently feel frustrated that I eat so healthy (restricted) and still suffer from chronic inflammation, skin flare-ups (eczema and acne), and stomach discomfort. But never have I focused wholeheartedly on the spiritual (subconscious) work at the same time as I’ve been doing the physical work.
I’m starting to think that (sub)conscious awareness is even more important than a nutrient dense diet. Not that one doesn’t support the other. They absolutely do. One of my favorite things about the GAPS Diet is the focus on the body-mind connection. They are intricately intertwined.
This gut-healing protocol/spiritual awakening is coming at the perfect time in my life. I am in a physical and mental space where I am able to fully commit. I live alone, my social network in a new city is just blossoming (AKA I spend many nights at home solo), and I have recently come out of transformative move that has heightened my desire to improve my health and overall well-being.
For the first time in as long as I can remember, I am truly paying attention. I am taking the time to sit down and enjoy my food. To think consciously about the nutrients that I am putting in my body. To chew every bite slowly and deliberately, and to give thanks for the life processes that took place to bring me nourishment and healing. At the same time, I am trusting my instincts more. I am intentional about asking my gut and heart first instead of my brain when it comes to finding the answers to my questions.
True healing doesn’t happen overnight. I am learning to be patient. The bigger challenge for me now isn’t sticking to a restricted diet under the GAPS Introduction Diet program (although I must admit that boiled meat and steamed vegetable are getting kind of old). No. The hardest part is honoring my commitment to myself to do the hard work. To face my demons and get down with myself in the depths of my subconscious. What’s amazing (and motivating) is that things have started to open up for me that I never thought were possible. And this is only just the beginning.
My word for 2014 is authenticity. My goal is to foster honest, wholehearted connections with everyone I welcome into my life this year. But in order to do this, I first need to get really authentic with myself.
I have a feeling things are about to get crunchy weird, and probably a little heavy at times. Bring it on!
Day 17 Foods:
Probiotic, bone broth, steamed butternut squash, chicken soup, avocado, sauerkraut, cabbage and wild boar marrow stew, sprouted walnut butter, GAPS pancakes, green veggie juice with carrots and ginger, more cabbage and wild boar marrow stew
Day 17 Symptoms:
- Woke up feeling heavy and lethargic, difficulty getting out of bed
- Bloated and constipated
- Feelings of sadness from 8:30-10:30 a.m. and 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Feeling frustrated, impatient, irritable and tense from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Sore throat @ 12:15 p.m.
- Lack of focus from 1-2 p.m.
- Intense hunger from 3-5 p.m.
- Cravings for sugars and fats from 4-6 pm.
- Oily skin and clogged pores
- Itchy scalp
- Indigestion and sleepiness from 5:30-6:30 p.m. after eating sprouted walnut butter (I don’t want to admit to myself that maybe I should try limiting my nut consumption)
- Renewed energy after exercising from 8:30-9:30 p.m.
- Overall feeling of exhaustion
Day 18 Foods:
Probiotic, bone broth, cabbage and wild boar marrow stew, avocado, chicken soup, sauerkraut, sprouted walnuts, GAPS pancakes, roasted vegetables (onions, carrots, acorn squash and Brussels sprouts with coconut oil and sage)
Day 18 Symptoms:
- Anxious, manic dreams
- Heavy sleep
- Woke up feeling energized
- Mild headache at 9:30 a.m. after drinking bone broth
- Slightly reddening of face throughout the day
- Achy face
- Sinus congestion
- Feeling impatient and agitated beginning at 12 p.m.
- Sleepy and fatigued from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
- Sore throat and headache in early afternoon-evening
- Intense hunger at 3 p.m.
- Rapid hair growth around eyebrows
- Minor acne breakout around t-zone and on upper back/shoulders (I shouldn’t eat almonds or almond flour)
- Physical exhaustion and lack of balance at yoga from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
- Bloated after eating cabbage stew at 8:30 p.m.
Day 19 Foods
Probiotic, bone broth, green juice (kale, cucumber, carrot, parsley and lime), 2 soft boiled eggs, boiled chicken, avocado, cabbage and wild boar marrow stew, roasted macadamia nuts, baked chicken wings (poor quality meat and questionably vinegar and gluten-laced hot sauce), GAPS pancakes, ginger tea with raw honey
Day 19 Symptoms
- Not enough sleep (only 5 hours), restless
- Woke up feeling heavy, lethargic and constipated
- Angry, negative thoughts from 5:30-7 a.m.
- Dry mouth and skin, skin feels tense
- Boosted mood at 7:30 a.m. after cleansing beach walk and bone broth
- Headache and sore face
- Cold hands
- Improved productivity and focus throughout the morning
- Congestion in ear canals
- Strong-smelling urine
- Increased sex drive
- Oily, itchy and flaky scalp, oily and itchy skin all over
- Desire to socialize from 7:00-8:30 p.m.
- Sugar and fat cravings from 7:30-9 p.m.
- Exhaustion beginning at 9:30 p.m.
Day 20 Foods
Probiotic, bone broth, boiled chicken, organic green juice (kale, parsley, carrot, cucumber and lime), Ayurvedic herbal tea, organic dried mango, sauerkraut, avocado with extra virgin olive oil, chicken soup
Day 20 Symptoms
- Heavy sleep with vivid, cathartic dreams
- Slow to get out of bed, relaxed
- Bloated and constipated
- Sore muscles but feeling strong and grateful at yoga class
- Improved skin
- Off-balance (easily dropping things)
- Above average focus, but with some fuzzy thinking
- Mild headache
- Physical exhaustion
- Intense hunger and sleepy after surfing at 2:00 p.m.
- Feeling tender-hearted and immense gratitude at 3:30
- Hot flashes at 3:30
- Energetic and happy from 4-6 p.m.
- Feeling social at 6:30 p.m.