In 2012, I decided my son needed to go on the GAPS Diet. I had learned about GAPS nearly two years prior to this decision and had even read the book thinking I was going to do it. But it seemed sooooo overwhelming. No starches? No grains? Broth? Ferments? I seriously thought the author, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, was delusional to think that parents of kids on the spectrum and with food issues could implement this diet. But she wasn’t delusion because she also had a child on the spectrum and that daughter had recovered with the GAPS Diet.
So, I put it off because I let fear get the best of me. And then my son started to get pickier and pickier again about what he would eat. It was difficult if not impossible to get him to eat protein so I decided I needed to read the book again. And I knew with all my being we needed to make this dramatic shift.
We had been gluten and casein free (and soy and artificial colors and preservative free) for many years so implementing dietary changes was nothing new to me but this was a pretty dramatic shift because my son has preferences for crunchy and dry foods and GAPS is pretty much the opposite of crunchy and dry.
I was feeling very overwhelmed so I turned to other people for support – – on Facebook of course! There are lots of groups dedicated to singular topics and there are plenty of GAPS Diet groups to choose from. My first step was to learn about how others had implemented the diet for their kids and learn about which foods were “legal”. After I did as much reading as I could, I started to ask questions. Then I formulated a plan. Then I set a date for implementing.
And then I chickened out.
For whatever reason, I still did not feel prepared to begin this diet so I allowed myself to check, double-check and triple-check everything we were going to do. And one thing I made sure to do was to include my son this time. I made a new start date and I showed him on the calendar the last day he would be able to eat French fries. His response – “you will eat them again some day” and I said “of course – you will eat them again someday” which became the mantra. And with that we took the leap and the only regret I had after starting was that I didn’t do this two years earlier when I first learned about the diet. His gut health improved so much and as a result, he had significant behavioral and cognitive gains. We stayed on the GAPS diet for 18 months and then transitioned back into a clean diet that included some grains and starches. And yes, french fries were the first thing he got eat upon transition! I really do regret not starting this healing diet sooner but I try not to dwell on that regret. Instead, I use this lesson to check my fear when exploring new options and possible treatments.
Fear can be a powerful motivator but it can also lead to a sort of paralysis. Having an exceptional child means that fear is in my life daily. I avoid fear paralysis by simply acknowledging what I’m feeling and keeping myself grounded in my intentions.