Friday, April 4, 2014

Radically Natural POV: A GAPS Testimony

My family's GAPS journey has been very educational, quite beneficial and certainly enlightening. We are currently phasing out of GAPS and testing appropriately prepared grains (a la the NT methods). I will write soon about those experiences.

Until then, I want to share the personal testimony of a good friend (kind of like a daughter to me) who decided last summer to pursue the GAPS protocol...for both she and her husband. The following is her story (yes, I'm the pushy wife she mentions, LOL):

I was raised on genetically modified food (GMOs), industrial food, and pesticide-laden "food," including but not limited to: box cereal, skim milk, Kid Cuisine frozen dinners, Easy Mac, hot dogs, nachos, McDonald's Happy Meals, and Pepsi and Dr Pepper. Growing up with a single mom, I was often left with no other choice, as she could not afford any other food...granted, she didn't KNOW there were other options.

In contrast, how many of us know of the dangers around us, disguising itself as "food," yet choose to turn our head the other way? What have we come to?

I would like to think ignorance is bliss, but unfortunately, I am becoming more convinced that we are willingly killing ourselves slowly in the name of "convenience." What is the message our culture believes? That there is nothing more convenient than driving your car up to a window and ordering packaged meals to feed the whole family for less than $20. We've convinced ourselves that we don't have time to actually prepare and cook food these days. Most people don't do it, so most people don't know how much time it takes to prepare a home-cooked, nutritious, Real Food meal. I would venture to say it is twice, if not three times, as long to prepare one meal compared with a drive-thru window.

But why would we willingly put something into our mouths...and worse, feed it to our children...if we are completely blind as to what the ingredients are? Do we trust our government and the food industry so much that we are willing to let them dictate what we can and cannot place inside our bodies? Apparently so, myself included.

This is my story. I already spoke of what I was raised eating, so fast forward to college. Broke college students can't afford Real Food, right? Right. The stereotypical "ramen noodle" college student didn't apply to me, but pasteurized cheese, Saltines, sandwich meat, white bread, pasteurized cottage cheese, corn chips and salsa, and box cereal/oatmeal did. Fried chicken and fries when going out to eat with friends, or gallons of coffee for pulling all-nighters. Birth control pills, NSAIDs, Sonic Happy Hour every day (medium cherry vanilla Dr Pepper!), and NyQuil. Stress and class deadlines. Those were my typical inputs.

And the effects on my body? Sore throats, mucus drainage every morning, flu every year, and tonsillitis. I simply believed it was the "norm" for a college student to never get enough sleep, to always be sick, and to drink coffee. Little did I know, I was killing myself slowly (trying not be TOO dramatic). Sure, I'm still alive, but not in optimum health and am diligently working to undo all of the damage I have done the last 25 years of my life - some self-inflicted, some not. Sure, I would exercise, and try to pay attention to how much food I was eating, but fundamentally, I was malnourished. I was trying to compensate for my malnourishment by exercise, while paying little attention to WHAT I put into my body. I was focused on the "how much," not the "what."

Fast forward to marriage as my husband and I were confused about nutrition and eating habits, but also wanted to save money. We ate lots and lots of tofu, and ate out a lot when it was cheap (99 cent tacos and burritos!). Four months into our marriage, a positive pregnancy test ended in a "late period" four days later. This would be our first miscarriage, but we had no thought of what we might be able to do to change anything. Two months later, we met a couple who was serious about the GAPS protocol and suggested that if we did GAPS, it could help my fertility problems.

We kept that in the back of our minds, and learned and read about it, but we were so addicted to our sugar, our convenience, and our industrial food dependence that it took us nine more months before we committed to GAPS. We slowly started weaning ourselves off soda first of all, by replacing it with Kombucha. We then stopped eating out, and I started learning to cook at home. Within a whirlwind of Nourishing Traditions, GAPS, this couple pushing us to wean ourselves from our dependence of detrimental substances, and developing a relationship with the wife who would ultimately push us off of the cliff into GAPS land, we jumped in.

We started GAPS Intro for the first time 7 months ago. I experienced die off, suffering terrible dry mouth and bouts of brain fog. My mucus production decreased significantly, and my husband's eczema flared up and cleared (in a continuous flare up pattern). For the first time in my life, I was aware of my body and what I was placing into my mouth.

I recently heard this saying: "Everything you put in your body is helping you fight disease or giving you disease." In all my 25 years of life, I had never once given thought to that concept. Now I do. I now think, what will this do to my body if I eat it? Is this meant to be inside of me? Will this nourish me? Will this make me sick?

Two weeks into GAPS Intro, a positive pregnancy test led to another miscarriage eight weeks later. This would be our second miscarriage in almost 2 years of marriage. But it was my first pregnancy in more than a year, and I take that as a positive sign.

I do not tell you about my two miscarriages for sympathy, but to explain that my carelessness in what I have fed myself (and what I was fed growing up) led me to these fertility difficulties. I have suffered two miscarriages, low thyroid, mucus drainage, adrenal fatigue, infertility, highly abnormal cycles, and who knows what else...

On the bright side, I have lost 20 pounds, and my husband has now lost 60 pounds, by simply transitioning into GAPS Intro and Full GAPS en route to a traditional nourishing diet lifestyle. We feel ourselves detoxifying. And I have learned so much! I never knew that nightshades make my nose run and my husband's eczema flare up, that beans are NOT supposed to make you gassy, that you ARE supposed to have a daily bowel movement, and that it does matter what your stools look like! I never knew that gluten could cause sinus infections, or that sugar could make my tonsils swell and mucus drain. I never knew that what I was eating and drinking, all along, was actually hindering my future to bear and raise children.

I never knew that it actually mattered what you put into your body; I just thought it was how much you put in (caloric intake). I never knew macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates, protein) were not what nourishes you, but that whole Real Foods do. And that it is saturated fat (coconut oil, palm oil, nuts, olive oil, animal fats) that nourishes your hormones, cells, brain, heart, and all bodily systems.

I never knew that it wasn't normal to be sick. I never knew that God wanted me to be healthy and well. Most of all, I never knew that I was shaving time off my lifespan, simply by being ignorant (willfully or not) of what I chose to place into my mouth.

My challenge to you is this: pay attention to what you eat. Sacrifice for yourself, your family, and your home. Desire that everyone in your family be well! Think for yourself. Learn. Read. And do what is best for your body, your loved ones, and yours and their future health. You will learn and grow more than you can ever imagine.

I don't know if I will bear children in the future, but I do know that this journey I am on is not a mistake. I will diligently pursue this course until my body is healed, and I have undone all the self-inflicted damage I can.