"(The) GAPS introduction diet requires patience and perseverance."
~Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, WAPF 2012 Annual Conference
There are lots of reasons for this. The transition to GAPS usually means a transition to a whole new world of information, and in reality, this sometimes leaves even the best of us sticking our fingers in our ears and yelling "I CAN'T HEAR YOU" at the top of our lungs. Ignorance didn't involve all this learning. In fact, sometimes I think my brain is actually smoking from this learning curve hike.
GAPS is hard. The learning curve is hard. All of the newness is just plain hard.
One of the absolute biggest changes occurs in how we relate in the doctor's office. I mean, let's face it - most of us are not already visiting naturopaths or holistic physicians. If we were then our kiddos probably would have stood a better chance at not needing GAPS in the first place. And asking your pediatrician for nutritional advice is not usually the best thing. Or your gastroenterologist for that matter. That's why they all send us to nutritionists for dietary help. Remember that the Standard American Diet includes low salt, low fat, low animal protein, and high fiber recommendations. The reason for this is a whole other post, but it does not exactly follow the food-as-medicine principles. As a result we are left explaining (and often defending) why we have chosen a holistic approach in order to heal our child. This can be difficult and scary.
Another hard adjustment that comes with 'going GAPS' is the social implications. Everywhere I go someone is trying to feed my children. Lollipops, candy, granola bars, and maybe even fruit. I am not of the innocent. I have done it. My classroom days were spent bribing good attention with the toss of a Jolly Rancher. Unfortunately we are producing sick and allergic kids much faster than the general public can switch to a 'don't feed the children' mentality. The result is the parent running interference between child and food anytime they leave the house. This is hard enough with a severely allergic child. Throw in a bottle of broth that looks like you are feeding your infant hot steaming coffee, and you are certain to catch some unwanted attention. Hard.
Once in the land of broth, kraut, and kefir, it is now not so easy to leave the house. Family schedules, routines, outings, and extra-curricular activities all must be re-evaluated for the ability to bring food, as well as the ability to make it. A quick jaunt through the closest drive-through is not an option. Not packing enough might mean hungry children and a feeling of mommy failure. This one has personally caused me a lot of anxiety.
And let's not forget the mountains of broth pots, blenders, juicers, and greasy kitchen tools that need to be washed all.day.long.
Hard. These things are all very hard. They require making adjustments that are not for the weak of heart. And most people know that.
"That must be so hard". "I don't know how you do it." "You must never sleep." "How do you get all that done?" I have heard it all from commiserating friends and well-meaning strangers. And they are right. It's HARD. I don't sleep much. And I really don't know how we do it. We certainly don't get everything done. Ever.
I slept an average of 3 hours for two years. I still get up multiple times every night. I rarely shop at the actual grocery store. Our 'convenience' food is frozen vegetables. We raised special chickens on a suburban lot. We sold the house and moved. We have gone to living on one income. We are incredibly financially stressed. And it is all.so.very.hard.
But wait. It is not that I am just looking to complain. And I most certainly am not encouraging you to NOT do GAPS. It is just that in the last month or so I have begun to reflect on the differences between the hard that we choose, and the hard that we don't.
We did not choose FPIES. We absolutely did not choose the hard that started us on this path.
But most of the hard that we are now living is by choice.
There is something that changed when we made the leap to GAPS. Without even really realizing it, we went from running from doctor to doctor looking for answers, from researching and reading and waiting for someone else to tell us what to do, from feeling like every food I fed Ellie was a sick game of Russian Roulette, from begging insurance companies to pay for her crappy MSG laden chemical food, from tracking down every ingredient or sourced chemical in everything from canned baby food to laundry detergent, from all of that and more...to hope.
When we started GAPS a transformation took place. It was not that we had a mapped out plan. We still had to do a lot of figuring out within the protocols of the diet. But we were given permission to be the ones who know best for our daughter. We were given the information, and the medical studies, and the case studies, and saw the proof right in our own home, that there is hope and a plan for healing. From the unknown and the scary suddenly came hope, direction and a chance to watch God reveal some of the amazing ways He designed our bodies. And we were empowered once more to do what we feel is right for our children - to keep them safe, and to keep them healthy.
THAT is the hard we have chosen, and with great privilege.
Everyone chooses their hard. GAPS is the hard we have chosen. And it is indeed a hard choice. But the alternative? That is harder. SO much harder.
Can you choose hope?