1 year on the GAPS diet!

Today marks my 1-year anniversary on the GAPS diet. I started eating this way to control my SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). It’s been quite a ride but I couldn’t be happier with my results:

  • no more bloating
  • no more abdominal pain
  • no more problems with my bowel movements
  • no more skin rash
  • no more headaches
  • better mood (no more depression)
  • more energy
  • better sleep
  • better concentration (no brain fog)
  • improved PCOS (regular menstrual cycle, less PMS and other PCOS symptoms)
  • better blood sugar regulation

I still can’t eat dairy (besides butter and ghee) and still have to be careful with fruits and some vegetables, but I can tolerate a bit of chocolate, nuts and honey once in a while. A year ago, I was feeling so bad every day. I knew there was a connection between the foods and I ate and the way I felt but couldn’t figure it out. My dream was to have a list of safe foods to eat and a clear list of foods to avoid. I now have that. It took a few months, but the GAPS diet protocol helped me figure out what my body wants and what it doesn’t like.

I don’t really consider myself on the GAPS diet or any kind of diet anymore. It’s just the way I eat now!

Here’s what I eat on a daily basis:

  • non-starchy vegetables (all kinds, including most high-FODMAPs!)
  • butter, ghee, coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil
  • homemade bone broth (1-2 cups daily)
  • animal protein
  • unrefined salt and other seasonings
  • green tea
  • fermented foods (raw sauerkraut)

and once in a while:

  • raw vegetables (cucumber, cherry tomatoes, lettuce)
  • dark chocolate (85%)
  • a few slices of prosciutto (just a little since too much nitrates trigger headaches for me)
  • coconut butter, coconut chips, almond butter, a bit of honey or maple syrup

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

leptin reset experiment – PCOS , weight and craving control while keeping my gut healthy

Although I have been having very good success with my low-carb / Paleo / GAPS diet to improve my PCOS and control my weight, I think that it is time for me to switch things up.

My weight went up during winter (without any changes to my diet / exercise of course, thanks to PCOS!) and I managed to lose part of it without doing anything special and just eating my same usual diet.

However, I have been stuck at a higher weight than I would like to. About 10-15 lbs or so. I don’t know for sure since I don’t have a scale anymore, but I have some of my old smaller size jeans that I used to fit in last year, albeit for a short period of time, that I would like to fit in again.

The other problem I have is that I am almost always constantly hungry and craving foods. I manage to control myself and fill me up with low-carb Paleo & GAPS-friendly foods, especially zucchini, eggs, ghee and mashed carrots with coconut oil and cinnamon, but I am just tired of having to restrict myself so much. I often feel like I could eat all day!!! Even with such a restricted, limited and boring diet, I can’t seem to get enough. Of course, I have tried increasing my fat intake and it works to some level… but it makes me gain weight!

Obviously, there is still something wrong with my hormones. I decided to do an experiment and give the leptin reset protocol elaborated by neurosurgeon Dr. Jack Kruse a try. Here is what I will do, starting tomorrow:

  • Eat within 30 minutes of rising
    • Make sure breakfast is little to no carbs (less that 50 grams)
    • LOTS of protein (50-75 grams)
    • Overweight: limit carbs to 25 grams
    • Fit: less than 30 carbs
    • DO NOT count calories
  • How to eat/use your fuel (most important)
    • NO SNACKING! Snacking destroys timing and circadian clocks that work in unison with Leptin
    • Most will notice a change in cravings within 4-6 weeks
    • Eat 3 meals a day initially (as your hunger and cravings fade you can adapt to 2 a day)
  • Other DOs and DON’Ts
    • Do not work out before or after breakfast (if you must work out do it after 5pm)
    • Do allow 4-5 hours between dinner and bedtime
    • Trouble sleeping? Do 3-5 minutes of body weight exercises (i.e. pushups or squats)

I usually have breakfast later in the morning and it is usually my most light meal of the day so getting 50 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up will probably be a challenge in the first few days, but I am definitely curious to see whether it helps me keep my mind off food for the rest of the day…

I had also been spreading my food into 4-5 times a day in an attempt to keep cravings at bay, but it is obviously not working. I will basically be eating the same thing and same amount of food, but the timing will be very different. Let’s see if it is the missing ingredient for me!

I’ll keep you posted….! =)

Have you tried the leptin reset? Did it work for you?

travelling on a GAPS / Paleo / low-carb diet – Prague, Czech Republic

For Easter, my husband and I went to beautiful Prague, Czech Republic and loved it! Travelling with food intolerances or just trying to follow the Paleo diet is not necessarily easy but it is doable!

I don’t usually do intermittent fasting (restricting your eating within a short window of time), but I use travelling to do it. Some studies have shown it can be beneficial to decrease inflammation, prevent cancer and weight loss in some people. I wouldn’t recommend doing intermittent fasting if you are underweight though.

Since I currently can’t eat any dairy at all (with the exception of ghee) nor nuts, chocolate or processed/cured meat (deli meat and sausages), I stocked up on canned fish (mainly sardines and tuna BPA-free tins, in olive oil). I also brought my own ghee (which was not a problem since I was not flying, but I don’t know if they would consider it to be a liquid or not….). I’ll be trying it in June and will let you know!

my survival foods: BPA-free canned tuna in olive oil + Kerrygold butter ghee

my survival foods: BPA-free canned tuna in olive oil + Kerrygold butter ghee

To complete my small meals, I also bought some jarred olives and would have bought pickles if I couldn’t have read the ingredient lists (which was in czech of course!) The ingredient list of the olives was short enough that it was easy to figure out, but the pickles had a long ingredient list and I just didn’t want to take any chance.

For the 3 days I was travelling, that is basically all I ate. Sure I was hungry from time to time, but because my body is used to burning fat because of my lower carb intake, it didn’t affect me too much.

My husband also eats Paleo but doesn’t have as many dietary restrictions as I do. He also brought German sausages that can be kept at room temperature, nuts, a stick of butter and dark chocolate. ;) He bought fresh cherry tomatoes and freshly made Czech potato chips that were, according to him, the best he even eaten in his whole life! ;)

Not only did I felt safer eating my own foods,                                                                 but we also save quite a bit of time and money too!

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

On our last day, we indulged and ate out at a 100% gluten-free restaurant called Na Zlaté křižovatce (just by Florenc bus/metro station).

100% gluten-free restaurant in Prague, Czech Republic

I was so excited to find this restaurant, because even though you sometimes try to explain what you can and cannot eat to the server, it is not always easy and the language barrier makes it even harder.

love their explanation of gluten-free diets: gluten-free is NOT taste-free!!! unlike many gluten-free restaurants, they used very little gluten-free products and relied mainly on potato as their carbohydrate option.

I had the rumpsteak with grilled vegetables and my husband had the special Easter dinner with the stuffed rabbit with French mustard sauce and roasted potatoes, along with a Czech gluten-free draft beer called Celia (again, the best gluten-free beer he ever had, but that is not a surprise considering Czech have the world’s highest beer consumption!). I definitely highly recommend this restaurant if ever you visit Prague!

my dinner! it was my first time eating nightshades in a few months and I am glad to say that I tolerated them fine!!! =)

Now, I am really looking forward to eating eggs and vegetables again! I will only appreciate my favorite foods even more after not having them for 3 days and am soooo happy to have had a beautiful symptom-free time in Prague.

What do YOU do to stick to your diet and avoid being sick when travelling?

SIBO and the Paleo diet

Learn more about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and my approach to getting under control with a combination of the Paleo / SCD / GAPS diet with my latest article on my new website paleo-dietitian.com. Click here to read it.

My article also includes a free PDF food list that you can download to help you determine what should and shouldn’t eat in addition to lots of important tips to manage SIBO.

update: 6 months on the GAPS/SCD/Paleo diet

I just realized that the beginning of March not only marked the 1-year anniversary of my blog, but that it also marks the completion of my 6th month on the GAPS/SCD/Paleo combo diet. Time sure flies!

Although I am still unable to be on the full GAPS/SCD diet, which includes nuts, squashes, fruits and dairy, I am quite happy with the variety of my current diet.

I can’t believe that at one point before embarking on the GAPS/SCD/Paleo diet, I had so many symptoms from eating any type of carbs, even vegetables, that I spent 2 weeks eating a meat and fat only diet…. It was not easy but gave me hope since I finally managed to find my flat stomach again and improve my bowel movements.

Here are the foods I haven’t been eating for over a year:

  • All grains!
  • All sources of hidden gluten!
  • All soy-products!
  • Peanuts and peanut butter!
  • All legumes (beans & lentils)!
  • Processed vegetable oils (canola, peanut, cottonseed, soybean…)
  • Processed refined sugar
Here are the foods I would like to eat at some point but don’t tolerate for now:
(either because it causes me IBS symptoms or exaggerated weight gain, probably due to the insulin resistance associated with my PCOS or gut inflammation)
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Unsweetened dried coconut, coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut butter
  • Honey, maple syrup and coconut nectar
  • Fruits
  • Squashes
  • Avocado 
  • Green tea (I need to avoid all caffeine for now to allow my adrenals to recover)
  • Dark chocolate (I also avoid it for now because caffeine affects me and my adrenals…)
  • Wine (I still prefer to avoid all alcohol for now)
  • Butter, cheese, cream and yogurt…? maybe I don’t tolerate cow’s casein but would like to eventually try other type of dairy (goat, etc)
  • Nitrate-free sausages and bacon (although the ones I tried were free of nitrates/nitrites and free of gluten, I still reacted to them)

Here is the list of food I currently eat:

  • Meat, poultry, eggs and fish, preferably from gass-fed, free-range or wild-caught sources, uncured and unprocessed
  • All non-starchy vegetables, including high-FODMAP ones like onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts (as long as I don’t overdo it…! I can usually tolerate about 2 cups of vegetables per meal, but not more than 1 cup for Brussel sprouts though)
  • Healthy fats, such as coconut oil (although I have yet to find an affordable source here in Europe/Germany), ghee, extra-virgin olive oil, homemade mayonnaise (made with an egg yolk, light olive oil and/or macadamia oil)
  • Seasonings. My favorite are pink salt from the Murray River in Australia (Himalayan salt is nice too), aged balsamic vinegar, basil, homemade pesto made with just basil and olive oil… for some reasons, I have come to prefer the pure taste of natural foods and natural mineral salt and don’t like to cover it up with many other seasonings. 
  • Drinks: mostly water and rooibos tea

In the last couple of months, I have also started including liver as part of my weekly routine. I had grass-fed bison liver while in Canada and will now try to source another type of liver here in Germany in the near future. If you have any hints, let me know!

my multivitamin: bison liver!

I love having my liver with a bit of aged balsamic vinegar and caramelized onions. I used to not being able to handle onions at all because of their FODMAPs (mainly fructans), but can now enjoy them (without overdoing them of course!).

I recently had to finally resign myself to the fact that I can’t do dairy at all. I didn’t use to have dairy very often in the last 2-3 months. One time I had a small amount of cream and had very bad abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Another time I had a tiny tiny slice of aged cheese (which is totally lactose-free) and had a rash on my tights for about a week. I believe I don’t tolerate casein at all at the moment. I was still eating butter and realized that on the day I would have it, I would have a slightly bloated stomach in the evening while it would stay flat all day on the days I wouldn’t have it….

The solution: Ghee! And ghee is so delicious that I don’t even miss butter (not too much anyway), especially if it is made from butter made from the milk of grass-fed, free-range, happy Irish cows!

homemade ghee made with butter from grass-fed, happy Irish cows!

Don’t forget to visit my new website! I will start offering online nutrition consultations on March 19! Check out my services here.

You can also like my new facebook page and sign up for my newsletter!

eating out and other dietary mistakes setting me back in my gut healing

I have been sticking with my GAPS diet for almost 6 months now, but things seem to have been getting worse in the last couple of months. I have been getting some of my symptoms back, including fatigue, brain fog, lack of concentration, depression, bad mood and lots of bloating, abdominal distension, abdominal discomfort and pain…

…Not as bad as they used to be before starting on the GAPS diet, but definitely annoying and interfering with my quality of life.

Fortunately, I use a detailed food journal where I keep track of everything I eat, my sleep habits, exercise and any symptoms I have. I have records for everyday starting last May! This is SO helpful to do some detective work to find the cause of your food-related symptoms. Here is what (I think) I have learned:

  • During the Holidays, I have had a few coconut flour, nuthoney and fruit-based treats. Although it was not to bad in very small amounts, even what would be considered a moderate serving caused bloating.

I only ate out three times since the Holidays, but each time, I got sick for a couple of days… I always make sure the items I order are gluten-free and free of the most offending ingredients, but it seems like there is either always something hiding in my food or cross-contamination in the kitchen.

  • The first time, we went to a sushi place and I ordered sashimis, specifying that I needed my meal to be gluten-free. They seemed to know what I was talking about… and I had brought my raw coconut aminos (a soy-free, grain-free, wheat-free, gluten-free alternative to soy/tamari sauce). Strangely, the sashimis were served on a bed of rice, but I didn’t eat any of it… that night and for at least 2 days, I experienced bloating, pain, severe fatigue, fuzzy thinking and changes in my bowel movements.
  • The second time, we went to a regular restaurant with not that many gluten-free options, but they at least had a gluten-free menu available. I got the tartare duo (beef & salmon), which was served with French fries and a salad. I asked for the French fries to be replaced by veggies or more salad, and apparently they couldn’t do it…. How can restaurants be so lame at respecting their clients’ requests??? I didn’t eat any of the French fries. Again, I was sick for at least 2 days.
  • The 3rd time, I was meeting with a high-school friend I hadn’t seen in a year and chose a restaurant in my neighborhood featuring a gluten-free menu (which is quite rare in the rural part of Canada I was in!)… well they actually had 3 items: 1) gluten-free spaghetti (out of the question, I don’t eat grains AT ALL!!!); 2) a steak (which was a bit expensive, especially that it was definitely grain-fed); and 3) a chicken salad (very depressing chicken breast served on iceberg lettuce and a couple of spinach leaves). I got option #3. Although I asked for the dressing to be served on the side (a balsamic and maple syrup-based “homemade” vinaigrette, I had a bit of it. That evening, I started to get sick again.
And then, as I was starting to get better, I ate bacon…
  • After not having had bacon for sooo long, my husband found a new product offered here in Canada: “natural” nitrate-free bacon. I knew it contained some sugar and came from non-pastured pigs.. but just wanted to enjoy a few slices. Well, it turns out it was a bad idea… Although that bacon doesn’t contain “artificial” nitrites/nitrates, it contains cultured celery extract, a “natural” source of nitrites/nitrates… (see the CBC Marketplace reports here). Chemically, it is the same stuff! I had a couple of slices here and there and didn’t really notice anything. But then I had a few slices at dinner and a few more at breakfast the following day, which was probably too much within the course of 16 hours. Was it the nitrites/nitrates? Was it the small amount of sugar? Or the high omega-6 fat content of non-pastured pork? I don’t know, but IT WASN”T WORTH IT… No more bacon for me.

Photo credit: the Globe and Mail
Finally, last week I met with my naturopathic doctor again and she recommended I take some liquid vitamin B12. My last vitamin B12 test showed it was adequate but my MCH (the size of my red blood cells) was slightly high, which may indicate a suboptimal B12 level, which is quite common in people with SIBO.  Unfortunately, she was out of her B12 drops, so asked me to buy some at my local health food stores.
  • I had never bought liquid B12 and it turned out to be very difficult to find in my area. The only one I found was not in the form of drops and contained the following ingredients: purified water, vegetable glycerin, citric acid, pomegranate natural flavor, potassium sorbate, ascorbic acid. The label mentioned it was free of dairy, wheat, gluten, yeast and corn. I was a bit skeptical of this strange ingredient list but thought it would do more good than harm… it proved to be the opposite. After a bit of research, I found that vegetable glycerin = glycerol = polyol = FODMAP! Although I managed to wake up with a flat stomach on most days, every afternoon, the bloating and discomfort started, increased in the evening and even caused insomnia  a few nights. After 5 days, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong in my diet and pinpointed it down to my B12 supplement.

I know I probably shouldn’t have had some of these foods, but sometimes, the circumstances are not ideal. You may not feel like making a big fuss at the restaurants, especially if eating with people that are not aware of your condition. You may just feel like a little won’t hurt too much….

Make the best choice of the options offered to you, but don’t take chances.

 

TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.

BE EXTRA CAREFUL

WITH EVERY BITE YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH. 

Stick to your regimen… it can take a lot of time to heal . I probably set myself back in my gut healing….

 

No more eating out for me for at least a few months. No more “natural bacon” either and no more coconut flour, nuts and honey. No more supplements with doubtful ingredients. Back to the GAPS diet I was following before the Holidays that helped me control my symptoms! I want to go back to not having any bloating and pain again! I will also double my dose of homemade bone broth to try to speed the process… I just hope I can go back to having a flat stomach for more than just a few hours in a row again…

 

Have you ever taken a step forward and two steps backwards while following the GAPS diet?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Learn more about how to get started with the Paleo diet and how to optimize the Paleo diet for your own body with The Personal Paleo Code:

Learn more about the Personal Paleo Code

Learn more about Paleo eating to enhance fertility, have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a super healthy Paleo baby with the Healthy Baby Code:

my GAPS / Paleo / low-carb diet to control my GI symptoms and PCOS

Some people wonder whether potatoes, butter or honey are Paleo or not… but the ultimate objective of adopting the Paleo diet is to better understand how food make you feel so you can design your optimal diet.

In the last 1+ year, I have learned so much about how my body handles different food. I had found a while back that I feel better on a gluten-free, low-carb, soy-free diet. Then, I eliminated peanut, a food that I thought I could never live without! I did a strict 30-day Paleo challenge twice and due to numerous GI issues, I even went completely carb-free, eating only ghee, meat and eggs for 2 weeks.

Since September 1st, I have combined the GAPS diet with my Paleo/low-carb diet to control my GI symptoms and try to keep my weight and PCOS on track too. I have found that I better stay away from nuts (not for lack of trying though… I tried many times during the Holidays). Although chocolate is not part of the GAPS diet, after 3 months of strict elimination, I have started putting it back into my diet in December, on and off, and now I know that I do best without it. The caffeine content of dark chocolate seems to be seriously impacting my sleep quality and overstimulating my adrenals… :(

Let’s be positive and focus on what I CAN eat, rather than what I cannot eat.  ;) Here is a sample of what a typical day looks like for me:

typical breakfast: 1/2-1 avocado, 2-3 hard-boiled eggs, olive oil, lemon juice

typical lunch: bison burger (mixed with olives, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes) with leftover stir-fried vegetables and a pat of butter

typical dinner: zucchini “pasta” with bison tomato sauce (made from fresh tomatoes, not canned… canned tomatoes have a high BPA content and women with PCOS have higher blood BPA levels, so avoid them!)

snacks: cup of bone broth, cucumber slices with homemade chicken liver pate, leftover vegetables with butter

dessert: sugar-free, grain-free, GAPS-friendly and low-FODMAP carrot muffin served with butter (recipe = mix about 1 cup of pureed carrots with 2 eggs and plenty of cinnamon and bake!) [if I am lazy, I'll just have pureed carrot with plenty of cinnamon and a pat of butter]

* bison is the safest meat I can find here up North in Canada… so I eat lots of it! I found a farm where they raise 100% pastured, grain-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free bison… so yummy!