After 2-1/2 years on the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet my 5-1/2 year old is finally done! It was a wild amazing journey and I’m so thankful I had the support of internet communities, and the book by Dr. Natasha! It took us a few rounds through intro, and trials of removing other foods (dairy, nuts, eggs, fruit, carbs) to see what was needed to get the most healing, but I think we’re finally done!
What does ‘Done’ mean?
To me, being done with GAPS is when I don’t see changes being on it vs being off. If she’s not showing that she needs to be on GAPS, I’m assuming her gut is healed and we have other things to work on now.
For the past 6 months, since she had been on GAPS for 2 years I had been trying to introduce more foods- non GAPS foods. She did okay with occasional potatoes, popcorn, commercial dairy, but I couldn’t get her to stop reacting to fruit, honey, and grains. She also continued to obsessively crave these items, by 2 years in she knew what she could and could not eat, but I could tell she still craved fruits, sweetners, and breads. Part of the transition of her being done with GAPS is she no longer seems to have these cravings- she still enjoys sweets (who doesn’t?) but it’s the same way that I do now, rather than an obsessive I’m-going-to-do-anything-possible-to-get-that-banana-that’s-on-top-of-the-fridge thing.
Because I felt we were just stuck in our progress on GAPS after 2 years I kept her on the foods she was okay with, and started exploring other options. KST Chiropractic helped with her balance, emotions, and mood, but it was really a fantastic traditional Chinese medicine practioner who was able to help her body continue healing to where what she eats now does not show any physical or emotional changes.
As far as autism goes, I think that most of her autism ‘symptoms’ are gone (the obsessiveness on certain objects, being unable to focus, not wanting to interact with peers, inability to learn, sensory issues, night wakings) but what is left is still a pretty significant developmental delay- her brain was so *busy* with the toxins and sensory input that she has spent most of the previous 5-1/2 years not learning typically, and so she is behind- developmentally around 2-3 I’d estimate in most areas. So my next task is to focus even more on helping her catch up :) Chinese medicine is going to continue helping us in this area I hope.
What does that mean for our family?
Our life just got a lot simpler :) We visited family last week and I didn’t have to worry that someone was offering her a slice of zucchini bread. We could eat out without quizzing the restaurant on every ingredient in each dish.
There are some things I picked up from serving GAPS foods that I love- I’m going to continue keeping the focus on protein and veggies at each meal, and it’s easy to do that since we don’t really crave starches or sweets any more. (seriously, I’m still really enjoying this whole ‘off GAPS’ thing and bought my kids each one of those single serving Haagen Daz ice creams— they each took a couple bites and then forgot about them, they don’t crave sweets!). I’m looking forward to the help grains will have on my grocery bill- GAPS is expensive.
I took a picture of the lunch I packed for my kids today- a big portion of cooked chicken, snow peas, mushoroms, and garlic; a ‘cookie’ made of dried apricots, cooked buckwheat, maple syrup, and oats; and a side of jasmine rice cooked with 1/2 coconut milk and 1/2 water (just replace half the water in the directions with coconut milk)
Other than occasional sourdough and pizza night, and whatever when we eat out, I think at this point I am going to continue keeping our house mostly gluten free. It’s easy enough to do for me, and since gluten is still fairly controversial I’ll error on the side of caution for right now.
What does that mean for Health, Home, and Happiness?
Because we found so much help with the GAPS diet (seriously. Before GAPS my life was so overwhelming. She and I didn’t sleep in more than 2 hour stretches and my little one’s world was so frustrating to her- life with a special needs little one is HARD) I do want to keep the focus here on GAPS and healing the gut, at least until I feel like I’ve covered everything I can so you all have all the references you need :)
I may post recipes occasionally if I come up with something amazing that isn’t’ GAPS, but for the most part I’d like to still be an encouragement to those who are eating grain free for whatever reason.
I’m still working on the GAPS freezer cooking e-book that will be done by August (you can order it pre-sale here at a discounted price), and I’d like to add on to the Best of the Grain Free Meal Plans Cookbook with other favorites.
Also, I’m going to continue with the natural health posts, and am going to try to start a series on stress reduction and other happy lifestyle articles.
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Yay! That is such good news, Cara! Thank you for all you’ve given to the GAPS community, and blessings to you and your family as you journey on!
That is wonderful to hear! It gives much hope to those of us still on GAPS. Thank you for being a wonderful resource to the grain free community.
I am so happy for your family! After only 6 months on GAPS I got that feeling too, and found out that it was time for me to move on. Now, I am learning how to manage the “middle way” between extremes: GAPS and the SAD. I’m calling it “grain-light” for now, but I have LOVED eating potatoes again. :)
I also have benefited greatly from Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’m curious to know if she is doing acupuncture and what your experience with it is if so.
Thanks for being such a great resource!
Hi Sarah, he’s just doing pressure points with her, and breathing exercises and qi gong. So glad you’ve found help!
This is so encouraging to me. I’ve been on GAPS for a year now for severe digestive issues and am still on Stage 4 of Intro with no indication that I’m going to be able to move forward for quite some time.
I initially did a lot of reading on the Yahoo GAPS groups, but found that most of the people (like me) posted there when they had a problem that needed sorting out. It was rare to read about someone who was successfully finishing the diet and transitioning off of it.
Thanks for sharing this good news. I needed to be reminded that I won’t be on GAPS for the rest of my life.
You should be incredibly proud of yourself and your family for sticking with it for so long in order to heal your daughter. Not many people out there are willing to make such a commitment! May God bless your daughter and help her grow even faster now that you’ve done such a great job laying a wonderful foundation for her.
Best of luck!
I’m doing a little happy dance for you! This is so great. I love that it has helped your family so much, and that you are such a great resource because of all the hard work you have done. Healing the body is one of the most amazing things on this planet, I think :)
Thanks so much for helping my family. I’m really encouraged by your persistence, commitment and success.
I’m sooooo excited to read your post!!! Congratulations to you and your family!! :)
Congrat! Your cook books been a huge help to me thanks. I did the almost the same thing but backwards from you. I have a 10 year old with autism use Chinese med to gt him far venture to say 75% plus including essential oils and mud packing ( ancient mud place to detox trauma area ie vaccines scares… To release blocked maridians) based on Chinese med usually done by a QRA health practitioner. HUGE HELP.Also try BRAIN GYM as part of your OT if there our no practitioners in your area buy a book do yourself or go to
Workshop. Amazing for opening the brain. Then last year started a Gaps like diet and finally a few months ago started the real GAPS diet to see how far we can go. I don’t ever want to go back to surgar and not a big fan of gluten when you see what it does in your colon:/ yikes. Thanks for including about the cravings that’s great advice. I wish you the best on your continued journey. Just thought I’d throw my 2 cents in Incase it can be helpful. Yours has been. Many blessing to you hardworking mama
Thanks Christy, I actually was just looking into OT that I can do at home, so I just bought Brain Gym :)
CONGRATULATIONS strong mama! What an exciting bit of news. Your 2.5 years gives us hope.
That is great! We have been on GAPS for 2.5 years as well and I think this summer we will begin to transition off of it but I really don’t know what that will look like yet. One confounding factor is our continuing to need a low oxalate diet for me and one child and potatoes, buckwheat, quinoa and beans are very high oxalate. I also do not know for certain if my other daughter has celiac and I wonder about testing for the gene. So much to figure out but none of it till after our travel (despite the fact that our travel would be easier off of GAPS). My point is that I am happy to hear of someone successfully “finishing” GAPS and moving on to new things.
Hi Patty, I remember us both starting at the same time :) I hope your transition off is good!
just curious….how did you know you needed a low oxylate diet?
I have just been reading lately about oxylates.
That’s awesome! We have been on GAPS twice & both times after finishing, my son seems fine for 3-4 weeks and then his rage returns. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Hi Mandi, I’m not sure, and I’ll admit it hasn’t been 3-4 weeks for us, I started giving her gluten on 6/14 so we’ll see if it continues.
I am so stinkin’ excited for you!!!!! Congrats!!!!
Thanks Jodi :)
Yayayayayay! I love that you are so real about where Hannah is developmentally. So many parents probably think that GAPS or another protocol is “not working” because there continue to be delays, but the way you explained things makes so much sense. I am in awe of your determination to do what’s best for Hannah, and I can’t wait to meet you at Wise Traditions this year!
This is so encouraging! We are going on 6 weeks of doing GAPS with my 19 month old. He has had a lot of digestive issues since birth, but no psychological symptoms. When he was a baby he had the strongest yeast smelling stools. I wish I knew then what I know now!
After 6 weeks on GAPS (we jumped into full GAPS for an easier transition), his diarrhea is completely gone! He was having diarrhea almost exclusively 10 times a day for months. Every time we’d find a food he was allergic/intolerant to, the diarrhea would go away for a week then come back with a different food. I’m so happy with the results we are seeing! Planning to increase stock and probiotics this next week.
I’m hoping we won’t have to do a full 2 years, since he doesn’t have any psychological symptoms. But, I’m highly encouraged with the results we’re seeing, and hearing testimonies from people like you are equally encouraging!
He might not need it long, I’m not sure, it’s awesome you’re starting so early! My son and I both did a really quick run through of intro (6 weeks or less) and it cleared up some chronic health problems (dairy allergy for me, eczema for him). So shorter works for many people too!
Cara, Thank you so much for all your help. My question: Did you do GAPS all yourself through self education or did you take your daughter go a GAPS doctor? My daughter and I are on GAPS since November and not sure we are progressing. It is hard to do it right. Your website has been valuable to us.
Hi Terri, I did GAPS with the book and a lot of internet research. I’m glad I can be helpful for you! A lot of the time we were on GAPS I didn’t feel like we were progressing, but if I tried to introduce foods it got worse… so it was still needed. If that helps at all..
Cara, that is SO awesome! What a great mom you are, sticking to GAPS (which is hard, and like you said, expensive!) long enough to heal your daughter! I am so glad for your family that you can move on and eat other things without negative consequences now! Yay GAPS! Yay strong Mommy! :)
Thanks Brenda :)
I’m so happy for you! I am also encouraged. My daughter hasn’t been on the diet more than 9 months, but we have seen such wonderful improvements. I let her have some potatoes last month, because she had more mild symptoms than full autism, but she’s definitely not ready to move on. I promised her that she can try some thing new again on her birthday which will be 12 months on GAPS, but I’m not too hopeful that it will be tolerated. I want to be done with GAPS so badly, it’s so very hard for me to do this level of cooking with five kids 9 and under (this fall it will be 5 kids 6 and under, plus a 9 year old!). One of the younger ones is the one with special needs, and boy howdy we still pay big time if she gets a really bad food, like preservatives or food dye.
I am going to do the Intro with her again soon, as soon as I can swing it. I hope that will help her again. She still doesn’t get enough probiotics… I try so hard, but I can’t stick to the details of the diet well.
I’m so glad to hear of your results. I am also grateful to know of the developmental delays, I hadn’t thought of that, and I will be on the look out with our daughter. Thanks for the heads up.
Can’t wait to get the new book, I’m so tired of our same ole same ole foods, and we never get around to things like crackers, which I see you have on there… I’m very excited to use the mass cooking instructions to put up foods for when baby 6 comes along in the fall. Especially since we will have just moved to a new town, and won’t know anyone who will be able to cook GAPS style most likely.
congratulations! i’m so very interested in the Chinese Medicine part of your daughter’s treatment. can you elaborate on that?
Wow! Please keep us posted on your little girls progress. What an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing your life and struggle and success with all of us!
Congratulations, Cara! I admire your determination and discipline–and just pre-ordered your freezer cookbook. We’re planning to start GAPS for our family this summer (soon!) and just returned from a seminar at the Family Hope Ctr in PA to learn how to rehabilitate our son who has dyslexia symptoms. The Family Hope Ctr might be a great option for your “next steps” with Hannah! I thought you might want to check it out. We were really encouraged and excited by our time there.
Hey Cara! So excited to hear about your daughters progress! How did you go about finding a good practitioner for the Chinese medicine?
You’re a good mom Cara . . . your children are blessed. Lots of love your way . . .
yay for progress and healing! i admire you’re strength. really curious about the chinese medicine, I’ll be staying tuned to see how that works for you all. we are healing allergies/asthma and thankfully have no neuro learning issues. i have noticed that my rage is better tamed when i’m faithful to kefir smoothies.
I’d love to hear more about your experience with chinese medicine. It’s definitely something I’ve been very skeptical about, but have been hearing more and more about it. I think because it’s relatively newer to the American culture I have a natural caution about it I’m beginning to think, however, that I could benefit from it… just would like to hear more from someone I feel I can trust. Thanks for the info, and congratulations!
Hi Amanda, I know, Eastern medicine is so different, isn’t it? I see Martin at Green Mantis Kung Fu in Mesa, AZ. I really don’t have a clue how to go about picking a practitioner, but I know I can recommend this one. When we move, we’ll be traveling back to see him as needed, he’s that good.
How long did the acupressure treatments take before it helped?
So great for your family!
I wanted to write a quick comment to say I’ve loved your blog and specifically your GAPS ideas and encouragement. Your intro e-book was super helpful for me when I did intro with my kids. Thank you for being a really great resource!
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With the help of your blog and recipes we’re just starting to ease onto GAPS. Meanwhile I was looking into my 2.5yo’s constant finger/hand biting/sucking. Though it could be normal for the age, she’s been doing it as long as I can remember and I’m learning that it may be some tactile sensory issue. Will GAPS help with that?
My 3 year old is on GAPS also for autism. As long as he follows the diet he pretty much has no behaviors. However if he has gluten, corn, or rice they come back (being extremely hyper, sensitive, crying, hitting himself). How do you know when it is time to come off GAPS?
How do you know when your kids had reactions to a food. Did you keep an extensive diary for the whole family? Keeping track of what we eat is my downfall. It puts me over the edge with my to-do list. Also, once the gut becomes balanced how do we know it won’t become unbalanced again? (I’m thinking of the long term effects of gluten here).
I kept a big desk calendar on my wall and noted anything we were adding or taking out when we did GAPS. For keeping the gut balanced, I do notice if we eat out too much my daughter starts getting undereye circles and rough skin as her first ‘symptom’ so I clean up our diet and up the probiotics for a while and it seems to even out :)
How has the GAPS diet helped your child?