January 15, 2014

One year since my rock bottom: GAPS update and a summary of my healing

Today marks 365 days since I was as sickest I had ever been in my life. This time last year I was not functioning at all. I was literally in bed (after my pointless visit to the ER that day), able to do nothing and almost without hope. My face was swollen beyond recognition, red, burning and itchy. My arms were covered in itchy, bloody scabs. I had lymph nodes popping out all over the place, some of which were the size of eggs. They were very tender and painful. I had been diagnosed with Mono (EBV Virus) and was also dealing with adrenal fatigue, low progesterone and the autoimmune condition I had had essentially untreated for six years - Hypothyroidism with Hashimotos. There were a lot more symptoms too. To see more of an extensive list you can scroll down to the blue card with bullet points of all my symptoms and diagnosis before GAPS. That list isn't exhaustive either.

I was reading through my GAPS posts and it brought back so many not so distant memories of where I was at and how I was feeling. It also made me grateful for where I am now just one year later. Praise God!

If you want to read about my journey click on the following links:

60 Days on the GAPS Diet: Reflections including a progress report
90 Day GAPS Summary: A piece to the puzzle (part one of three)
90 Day GAPS Summary: A piece to the puzzle (part two of three)
90 Day GAPS Summary: A piece to the puzzle (part three of three)

I found and implemented the GAPS diet about a week after I hit the bottom. I ended up having to stick with GAPS very strictly for 7 months. I had to stay on the intro (stage 1-2) GAPS for almost 3 months! Hard is an understatement. I kept searching the web and seeing people only on intro for a couple of weeks. My body was just not handling that. It was frustrating. I got through it though and have seen amazing healing. I have also learned SO much over the past year. I have probably learned more about our bodies, health and nutrition this past year than I have my entire life combined.

Since this post is a look forward, let me tell you where I am at now. I am grateful, in hindsight, that I only had to be on GAPS for 7 months. Some people have to do it for years. My goal was to finish out GAPS and transition to eating Paleo or AI (Autoimmune) Paleo. Within 7 months of GAPS I was able to start transitioning to eating more Paleo foods. I eat full Paleo now and weave in some GAPS basics like 24 hour fermented raw milk yogurt and bone broths everyday. I am able to tolerate more of a variety of foods and it is such a wonderful feeling. I went from being so sensitive to any foods and not being able to eat things like onions or garlic because of the sulphur content, antioxidants and detox affects to being able to bake with coconut flour and eat all vegetables - even sweet potatoes! It is truly glorious. That transition didn't happen overnight though. I still had to trial each food to make sure I didn't react. Sometimes I was more diligent than others about only doing one thing at a time so I could pinpoint where the reaction came from. That was one of the hardest parts though. Cheating was not really an option ever for me because it would cause such sever symptoms that would affect my entire family because I couldn't function again. I would feel like I was on my death bed again. I really didn't cheat. Now I do occasionally have too much honey or Paleo treats and regret that but my symptoms are nothing like they used to be.

Even though GAPS allows lentils, I still have never had those. They would be too hard on my digestion because I am still not fully healed. I also do not eat nuts. Through trial I realized that nuts were certainly a food that caused my immune system to attack itself. I would get cracked, bloody and itchy knuckles. I pray this is temporary because I do hope to enjoy some nut butter again someday. The Paleo Mom has a good article about nuts and the components that can be good and bad for autoimmune conditions. To read it click here. I can eat 24 fermented GAPS Raw Milk Yogurt and seem to tolerate that well. It is not something I can have everyday though or I start to get symptoms. Once in a while I have a piece of Raw Milk cheese but it doesn't sit well with me so it is not something that I would continue to eat. I have been able to have two small cups (total) of organic decaf coffee in the past two months. I use coconut milk and honey in it and it satisfies me. I would like to try a little ghee in it since having it with coffee is beneficial in certain ways.

Since I have been able to transition into full Paleo now it has been freeing. When I feel symptoms rising up a bit I get a bit more strict and eat the Autoimmune Protocol for Paleo and I still do not incorporate tapioca starch in my diet because of it's gut irritability. I do love to eat this way though. I feel satiated and healthy. I don't feel deprived at all. I did have to go back on intro GAPS for two weeks around the holidays. I thought I was going to be back in the same boat as last year at that time because some wacky symptoms were coming back but it turns out I was having a reaction to Cod Liver Oil after reintroducing it for four days. My body rejects it and I cannot have it. I have tried Blue Ice Fermented, Carlson and other brands and it doesn't work for me.

I am able to socialize and not feel left out with food now. I can have food to eat (that I bring) and I get to introduce people to new foods and ways of cooking. It is so much fun. I also get chances to indulge in Paleo treats that are nut free. There are so many wonderful recipes out there. Here is a link to my Pinterest Board for GAPS/ AI Paleo and Paleo. I will do a post sharing some other recipes in the future.

Quality, clean, whole food has literally saved my life. If you clicked on any of my "journey" links above you will know that food is only a piece to the puzzle BUT it is a very big piece.

Personal Suggestions for those looking into or starting GAPS: GAPS is a diet you have to be wholly committed to. You have to be determined to heal and have the willpower to stick it out often when it is unbearably hard. You have to be your own advocate and do your own research. First and foremost rely on God and His Power to heal you because he certainly can. He is bigger than our health issues. Be sure to form a support system of those that are knowledgeable in GAPS and will encourage you to stick with it, not cheat. God puts people in our lives for many reasons and he does not want us to be alone in the things we deal with. There are a lot of people out there going through the same thing and can relate. There is a lot of support on the net and I have many websites linked up at the right side under "GAPS/SCD and Grain Free websites." Check them out. In this endeavor you MUST be assertive NOT passive if you want to heal. The choices YOU make will either affect you positively or negatively. It is up to you.

This Friday I will have a post highlighting other things that have changed in our lives. We have literally revamped almost every area of our lives. From pots and pans to cleaners and even make-up. I will be sharing what I use and why we changed to certain products as well as all my pinterest boards with some very resourceful links.

Stay Tuned....



  1. You inspire me. You are so thankful and optimistic. I was also eating paleo...losing weight and feeling great. Then I got a massive kidney stone and all paleo food just grossed me out. I am still healing from the stone, but ready to eat paleo again. I'm so proud of you for sticking to what you learned about health and nutrition. I need to google the recipe to make bone broth :)

    1. Jenni! I am so glad you were eating Paleo and Feeling better. I am so sorry you got a horrible kidney stone. Those sound awful. Thank you for your sweet comment. Thank you for your kind words. I give all glory to God. I am not a naturally optimistic person but thankfulness has been something I have been learning. I pray for your health this year and NO MORE kidney stones.

  2. hello,

    many congratulations for all the hard work and effort you have put into your healing. i am at the start of my journey, after being vegan for 3 years and realising it made my Hashimoto worse. my antibodies tripled during this time.

    I have a question please, what were your antibodies before you embarked on the GAP diet and what are they now? also, how much thyroid hormone you were taking then and has there been a change at all in that amount?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Maria,
      Thank you, it truly was hard work and I am thankful for God's guidance and grace through it all. It is wonderful to hear you are abandoning Veganism. It will really help you heal and give your body (and thyroid) what it needs.

      My antibodies at their highest were 131 and all antibodies and my reverse T# (which was really high too) has been within the correct range now for about 6 months. Yay! Balancing my Thyroid medication with how I felt was a huge trial and error and piece to my healing puzzle. Once I got that under control it helped me in a lot of other areas too. My dosages changed about 10 times over the course of the last year. I am finally at what works for me now. That can always change though and my doctor says I can get labs anytime if I feel changes in my body (ie. hair falling out, etc.) Generally I get a full blood work up with CBC, T3, Free T3, T4, Free T4, TPO and AB anitbodies, Reverse T3 and TSH every 6 weeks to 3 months. For continued balance it is really necessary. Also, don't use Synthroid. It has dyes and Gluten which are horrible for Thyroid and Hashimotos. I get mine compounded with no dyes or fillers at a compounding pharmacy, I recommend finding one if you haven't already. I pray you are able to heal and feel better on your journey!

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For any and all health advice/suggestions and/or posts on this blog, I do not assume any liability for you. The posts and comments on this blog are not meant to be a substitute for your own practicing physician's care in your life. These posts are based on my experience and research in my own healing journey and are placed here to encourage and help those ailing with their health. We are all individuals and there is not ONE pat answer or resolution that applies to everyone across the board.