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Tara Rosas is a blogger and health coach who has been through the GAPS diet and healed from Crohn’s Disease. As with my other guests we connected through the internet. I was impressed with her story and asked if she would share here. She has a great blog as well and I encourage you to check that out after you read her story.
1. How long have you been on the GAPS diet?
I’m an old veteran. I was one of the first adopters of the diet four years ago (working out of the older version of “Gut & Psychology Syndrome!”) I began in early 2010 and was on the GAPS protocol for about a year and a half.
2. What was going on that made you decide to pursue the diet?
I was deep into a six-year battle with severe Crohn’s disease. My illness was completely out of control and not being helped in the slightest by any of the traditional medications. I had even failed the “miracle drug” Remicade and 6 weeks of TPN treatment (IV feeding only).
I was experiencing daily diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and urgency. Sometimes I was going to the bathroom 18-20 times a day; on those occasions I couldn’t even leave the house for fear of having an accident. It seemed that everything I put in my mouth would send me running to the bathroom.
Concurrently, I was trying many holistic treatments and diets but kept coming up short. I was far down a rabbit hole of supplements, powders, shakes, herbs, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic therapy, energy healing and more.
I knew in my heart that there had to be a way to treat this naturally and bring my body back into balance but the right combination of alternative treatments eluded me as my body continued to deteriorate.
The time came when my gastroenterologist told me that she was very sorry but that she had nothing left to offer me except surgery. I felt devastated and backed into a corner. Unable to come to terms with this reality and still hanging onto hope, I stalled…
And thank God I did because two months later, a holistic doctor led me to the GAPS nutritional protocol.
3. Did you start with Full GAPS or Intro first? How long have you been on each?
I started with the GAPS Intro diet and I did it with an initial 6-week dairy fast. I was so sick and that I went very cautiously and slowly (possibly too slowly) through the stages. I probably took me about six months to get to full GAPS, including dairy reintroduction.
As far as the entire length of time I was on the diet, I did it for one year completely strict; non-GAPS food never touched my lips. Then I stayed on it about another half a year, but was a little more lenient at times, sometimes having a “cheat” here and there or eating out. It may not have been the best idea but I seemed to do just fine with this.
4. What kind of progress or healing have you seen?
I have been able to completely reverse my Crohn’s disease! I consider myself to be 100% healed as I’ve been off my medications and in remission since 2010.
5. What other strategies have you implemented along with GAPS? Why?
This is a great question because while nutrition can be a miraculous healing tool when it comes to treating dis-ease it’s not the end all or be all. What I mean by that is that I see many people address their nutrition impeccably, rigidly even, but they fail to see that there are serious emotional and spiritual imbalances in their life that are greatly hindering their healing.
So, in addition to my GAPS nutritional protocol I have been diligent in doing the “inner work” as I call it to deal with patterns in my life that do not serve me or others. Over the years I’ve learned to create boundaries, let go of what others think, pay more attention to self-care and structuring my life in a way that allows maximum health and happiness.
I’ve always been a spiritual person but I’ve continued to dive even deeper to nurture my relationship with God so that I am living a life full of magic, purpose, and passion!
6. Are you off the GAPs diet?
Yes, I am off the GAPS diet and am now able to enjoy a variety of foods according to what my body needs. People always ask me if I can eat “normal” now and the answer is yes, I can!
I choose to follow a 90/10 principle. Ninety percent of the time I eat as healthy as I can and the other ten percent of the time I allow myself to eat whatever I’d like. This works well for me and reminds me not to take things too seriously.
7. Are there areas where you have not seen healing so far?
As far as Crohn’s disease, the answer would be no. But long after I came off the GAPS protocol I found out quite by accident that I was dealing with two other factors that I had no clue about during my time spent on the diet. In 2012, I found out I was dealing with an H.Pylori infection combined with a parasitic infection (giardiasis). In addition, in 2013 I discovered that I carry the MTHFR mutation (homozygous C677T).
Both of these realizations were quite profound as I realized that these factors could have very much been the missing pieces of the puzzle when it came to all of the issues I experienced with Crohn’s.
Considering that I had this going on underneath the surface I think it’s particularly remarkable that the GAPS protocol was able to make me so well and helped me achieve remission despite these underlying factors.
That said, these conditions could not go ignored so I went under treatment for the gut infections for several months and was able to clear both infections. As for the MTHFR mutation, I work with a methylation doctor who has helped me design a supplementation protocol to aid my body in doing the things it’s supposed to when it comes to detoxification.
8. What has been the hardest thing about following the GAPS diet?
Hands down the hardest thing about following the GAPS diet for me was feeling isolated in having to eat something different from everyone else the majority of the time. Oh and, having to bring my food everywhere.
Traditionally throughout culture, food is meant to be shared and the act of breaking bread is important for the psyche for bonding, connection, community and well-being. So being on the GAPS diet can cause one to feel a little out of sync in relation to others.
I’ve found the best remedy for this is to find ways to engage in and focus on activities that do cultivate the bonding, connection and community that we normally gain from sharing food.
And also, remember that the GAPS diet is meant to be a temporary healing protocol. Whatever negativity you might feel while on the diet, you can handle it – it won’t be forever.
9. What has been the best thing about following the GAPS diet?
Without a doubt, the best thing about following the GAPS diet is having my life back! I kid you not, the GAPS dietary protocol restored my life and you have no idea what that means to me.
I’m able to do things I could have never done before, go places I could never have before and engage with others in the way I always wanted. The world is my oyster and I’m no longer held in the prison that is Crohn’s.
10. Do you have any advice for a person considering going on the GAPS diet?
YES! In fact, I have a whole blog post with a wonderfully informative audio interview where I answer this very question in detail. It’s called “Getting On Board With the GAPS Diet” and if you are considering going on GAPS I highly encourage you to check out this interview I did first. It will tell you how to prepare, what to expect and how to succeed:
But if you’d like the Cliff’s Notes version it is this:
1) Get educated!
Before you start this diet make sure you know it inside and out. I can’t tell you how many people that I talk to that think they’re doing GAPS but they do not understand the protocol.
I hate to phrase it this way, but the fact is that they’re doing it plain wrong. And I don’t like to label things as “right” or “wrong” but GAPS is a highly strategic, methodical method and if you are not fully educated of what happens, when it happens and how, you could be wasting a lot of time, money and effort and not achieve the kind of results you desire.
I see this more often than not and it breaks my heart. People think they are doing GAPS or say they have done GAPS but in actuality they are doing some subpar version. They then conclude that GAPS is not working for them when really, they are unknowingly misguided and uneducated on how to do the diet properly.
2) Get help!
See #1. GAPS can be overwhelming. The best advice I can give someone is to get some help from someone with experience with the ailment they are trying to treat. A health coach or a GAPS certified practitioner can save you a lot of heartache.
Now, I’m not just saying this because I am a health coach. I say this because it can be highly instrumental in your success. I understand it may seem counterintuitive to pay someone to help you with GAPS when you’re already spending a good amount of money on the protocol but having someone there to guide, support and shortcut the education process for you can save you such burden and frustration in trying to figure it out for yourself. And the last thing you want to feel when trying to heal is more burdened or frustrated.
Most people will just need a handful sessions with a practitioner to start them out on the right foot and then periodic check-ins throughout their healing journey. When GAPS gets hard (and it will) you will have someone to help you make tweaks, changes and adjustments as necessary. This can be crucial to your success.
And if hiring someone is completely out of the question, and I understand that that may be the case, then I highly encourage you to utilize one of the many online GAPS communities, forums and support groups. They are everywhere these days and this is how I had to do it because back in early 2010, no one even knew what GAPS was! Had I to do it all over now in 2014 and knowing how involved the protocol is, I would choose to hire someone to help as it was a lot more work and effort to be practically living on that one forum that did exist during that time.
Still, I see new blogs and Facebook pages popping up everyday where people can support one another, share their experience and seek guidance so do seek out this option if it’s the right fit for you.
3) Healing takes time (don’t give up too soon!)
You didn’t become ill overnight and therefore you cannot expect to reverse years of damage instantaneously. I believe that there is a misconception that once you get on the GAPS protocol that your symptoms will clear up sooner than later. When the truth is, it may take some time.
I didn’t notice any earth-shattering results at first. In fact, I got a whole lot sicker for a few weeks before I got better. But eventually, I noticed that overall my tummy felt calmer and at least I wasn’t any worse.
After a few months of my body sort of adjusting I really did start to get the feeling that I was truly healing. It was subtle but promising. And when I finally got to reintroduce dairy and start drinking kefir, then I knew I was healing because I did start to see some miraculous results.
So, it’s really important to get through all of the intro diet and introduce as many as the foods as possible (especially the highly therapeutic foods like kefir and sauerkraut) before making a decision as to whether or not GAPS is working for you.
I tell people to spend at least six months giving GAPS their best AND to be to sure get to “Full GAPS” before giving up.
11. Is there any you would like to add to the above comments?
There is. I understand how scary, overwhelming and daunting this protocol may seem. I know because I felt that way, too.
But I want to tell you that if you feel in your heart that this could be the answer you’ve been waiting for, take the leap and go for it. Despite the challenges, more and more people are embarking on the GAPS protocol each day: individuals, groups and entire families. There are many of us now and we’d be so happy to have you join the ranks.
And most importantly, know that you’ve got what it takes to make it happen. You can do it!
Tara blogs at Crohn’s Babe. Her healing story was also published in Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride’s book GAPS Healing Stories, published in 2012.