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

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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?

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!

my first (natural) period with PCOS!

Wow, this stuff works!

As you know, I have been following a low-carb version of the Paleo diet (combined with the GAPS diet) for a while now. Actually, I started low-carbing in 2010, then went completely grain-free at the beginning of 2011, roughly 1 year ago. Then I implemented the GAPS Nutritional Protocol to heal my gut, SIBO and fructose malabsorption issues on September 1st.

… and now, after having amenorrhea due to PCOS for almost 14 months, I got my first natural period! =) I have never been so happy to get my period!

I don’t know what did it exactly, but what I have been doing has finally been working. I will never know whether my body just needed more time to get my hormones back on track, whether the detox suggested by my naturopathic doctor did the trick or whether both of these things worked together to balance my hormones… but what matters is that I now know that my body is healing… finally!

I know I probably have other battles ahead of me. Will my cycle be regular? Am I ovulating at all? Will I experience fertility issues? But there is one thing I know for sure and it is that I will continue to follow a low-carb Paleo diet because I strongly believe it is the best approach for most women in my situation.

To all of you women with PCOS, don’t give up. You can beat it!

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

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:

The Health Baby Code – promote natural fertility, pregnancy and lifelong health for your baby.

As a dietitian, I believe that a low-carb Paleo diet is best for managing the underlying insulin resistance present in so many women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and it is the approach I follow myself to manage my PCOS.

Avoiding grains, especially gluten-containing grains, legumes (beans, lentils, soy and peanut), dairy (for most people, although some people can tolerate high-fat, raw dairy), sugar and processed ingredients can help you keep you healthy.

Grains, legumes and dairy contains anti-nutrients and hard-to-digest protein that can promote a leaky gut, while the high carb content and glycemic load of flour and sugar can lead to blood sugar fluctuations and high insulin levels, which are often associated with PCOS.

These high insulin levels are often responsible for the other hormonal imbalances that result in weight gain, high testosterone levels (and the accompanying symptoms of acne, hirsutism, alopecia…), menstrual irregularities or amenorrhea and infertility.

The Paleo principles not only recommend avoiding these problematic food groups, they also emphasize the importance of opting for the most nutrient-rich and health-promoting foods. I base my diet on:

  • healthy, nutrient-rich and slowly digested carbohydrates from non-starchy vegetables
  • satiating high-quality protein from eggs, meat, fish and poultry and 
  • delicious energizing fats from ghee, coconut oil and avocado that help keep my blood sugar and insulin levels stable.

I think that this way of eating is optimal for most women with PCOS. Stress management, sleep and avoiding hormone disrupters (compounds like pesticides and BPAs) are other a big part of the puzzle.

I recently found The Healthy Baby Code, created by Chris Kresser, a practitioner of integrative medicine. I have been following his work for almost a year and totally trust his expertise. His program teaches everything there is to know about healthy eating to promote natural fertility, pregnancy and lifelong health for your future baby. I strongly recommend this program if you have PCOS, whether you are trying to conceive or not. This approach can help you balance your hormones naturally to improve your health, achieve a healthy weight and make it easier to conceive whenever you are ready for it.

The program includes video lessons, quick reference charts, meal plans, recipes, a resource guide and a relaxation audio program and covers 6 important modules: 1) Foundations; 2) Macronutrients; 3) Micronutrients; 4) Food toxins; 5) Breastfeeding & first foods and 6) Putting it all together.

If you want to better understand the link between healthy eating and optimal health, which is key to balance your hormones with PCOS and ultimately enhance your fertility, give it a try! It is really worth it. =)

If you are interested and feel ready to purchase The Healthy Baby Code please click on one of the banners on my blog. Doing so will help me support the work and the time I invest in putting valuable information accessible to you by sending a few dollars my way. Thank you!


Learn more about the Personal Paleo Code


PCOS: salivary hormones and blood sugar levels

I am back in Canada for a few weeks to visit my family and decided to take advantage of this time to try to get healthier… as always!

I had my first visit to a naturopathic doctor last month and I am quite happy at how holistic their approach is. It is so good to have every part of your body looked at and every organ considered to help you reach your optimal health.

Although my past blood analysis showed normal hormone levels, my naturopathic doctor wanted to check my salivary hormones. She also wanted to check what my fatigue was due to by checking my ferritin levels (to check for anemia), thyroid hormones (not only TSH, but also T3 and T4) and adrenal gland (by checking cortisol in am and at bedtime).

My ferritin was at 99! Higher than ever! I used to suffer from anemia and had 11-12 in the past while on eating whole grains, soy and legumes a la “regular” dietitian’s advice, up to 16 after many months of supplementing with high doses of iron! I am probably eating less iron in total than when eating fortified whole grains and taking iron supplements, but the iron is my food is more bio-available. I believe my improved ferritin levels because I eat more animal food and have decreased my phytate intake (anti-nutrient that inhibits iron absorption, among other things) by avoiding soy, grains and legumes.

All my thyroid hormones (TSH, T3 and T4) were within range.

However, my extremely low salivary cortisol levels at night (as you can see below) show that I might have adrenal fatigue.

My salivary hormones also show high testosterone and borderline low estrogen, which is pretty much typical for PCOS… I am glad I am not dealing with the symptoms associated with high testosterone levels(abnormal hair growth or hirsutism, acne, etc), but I attribute this to the fact that I am eating a clean, low-carb Paleo diet. I believe I might not be as fortunate should I have still been eating my former high-carb, high-grain diet after stopping taking the birth control pill (now almost 14 months ago… no cycle since)…

my salivary hormones (Dec 2011)

To see whether insulin resistance was involved for me (and it is for many women with PCOS), I decided to experiment with testing my blood sugar levels (see the results below).

my blood sugar levels (Jan 2012)

This is not good news… Some of my results are in the prediabetes and even diabetes range… I definitely don’t want to be following the Canadian or American Diabetes Association’s guidelines, which are definitely not strict enough if you want to stay healthy. Instead, I am comparing with what Chris Kresser recommends as optimal targets.

blood sugar target (www.chriskresser.com)

Fortunately, I can see that by keeping my carbs very low (probably around no more than 10 g per meal), I can normalize my blood sugar levels. (If you have diabetes, prediabetes or blood sugar issues, do not lower your carb intake without first talking to a doctor or dietitian specialized in low-carb diets, especially if taking medications).

My experiment clearly indicate, in my own opinion anyway, that I have serious insulin resistance problems. This probably explains why I put on weight so easily and need to be very careful about every bite I eat… During the holidays, after over 6 months of following a very restrictive diet (to control my post-infectious IBS, fructose malabsorption and SIBO), I took advantage of my increased tolerance by enjoying a bit more GAPS- and Paleo-friendly treats (cake, cookies and muffins made with coconut flour and honey, nuts and nut butter, fruits and butternut squash fries!) Although my GI system seemed to be fine with this, my high insulin levels helped my fat cells stored every one of these delicious bites…. Result: 6 lbs. weight gain in about 2 weeks. Needless to say, I have stopped coconut flour, honey, nut, fruits and higher-carb vegetables (squash, beets)…. but the weight doesn’t want to come off that easily it seems…

My plan:

  • My naturopathic doctor has recommended a detox plan for me, which I have been following for the last month and will last a few more weeks.
  • I was doing IF (intermittent fasting) to help with my weight/insulin resistance, but because of my adrenal fatigue, she prefers that I spread my food intake throughout the day.
  • To control my blood sugar levels, which will help me keep my insulin levels down and hopefully lower my testosterone levels as well, I will stick to a very-low-carb diet (around 20-30 g of carbs/day).
  • I want to start exercising every other day (something light like walking, snowshoeing and light resistance training). I have been too tired lately (probably bc of the adrenal fatigue), but I am feeling like I have a bit more energy since having started the detox. Exercising is great for improving insulin resistance, which appears to be the root cause of many cases of PCOS.
  • I will also continue doing my best to lose at least the weight that I gained during the holidays, and maybe more. Weight loss, if needed, is also a good way to improve insulin resistance.
  • Continue to aim for at least 8-9 hours of sleep (which I already do, except for when I have insomnia… like now!, which happens 1-2/week)…
  • Avoid stress or take more time to relax, play and enjoy life!

Any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated!





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