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!

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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!

SIBO update!

Sorry for not getting back to you for almost 2 months…! As soon I was diagnosed with SIBO, I started on the first intro stage of the GAPS diet. Both the GAPS and the SCD diets are potentially effective approaches, but I chose GAPS because it includes more gut-healing components (such as bone broth) and the possibility of avoiding dairy by using fermented vegetables.

During the first 2 weeks, I mostly ate chicken, lamb and beef accompanied with ghee and small amounts (1/2-2/3 cup per meal) of pureed vegetables (I started with carrots and peeled zucchini only for the first week). After a few days, I started adding other well-cooked and pureed vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, red bell pepper. I also started adding spices and herbs to season my meals. I experienced a few bad days at the start, probably die-off reactions (a worsening of my usual symptoms). I also introduced coconut oil and raw egg yolk.

After 2 weeks on the first intro stages of the GAPS diet, I started taking herbal antibiotics. I recommend that you meet with a experienced naturopathic doctor for help in this regard. I started taking garlic pill, one a day, and had some die-off reactions. I slowly increased to 2/day the following week, 3/day the 3rd week and 4/day the 4th week. Meanwhile, I also took ADP oil of oregeno, which I had left from my parasite infection, during the last 2 weeks. During these 4 weeks, I also combined these herbal antibiotics with regular cinnamon. I used at least 1-2 tsp. a day. It is very yummy mixed with pureed carrots and coconut oil. I also added a raw egg yolk to the mix for a very creamy and delicious treat! I stopped all herbal antibiotics after 4 weeks, with the exception of cinnamon, which I now only use once in a while.

I have gone through all the intro stages of the GAPS diet, but haven’t tried dairy (with the exception of butter) or honey. I tried fruits (apples and mangoes) and was fine, but after having them a few days in a row, my symptoms started to come back. I tried blanched almonds and had mild bloating and it seemed like my body couldn’t digest them properly. Pumpkin and squash seem to be too high in carbs for my body now. I decided to stay away from all of these foods for a few more months to allow my gut to heal completely. I don’t puree my vegetables anymore but cook them thoroughly.

So now, after 2 months on the GAPS diet, I believe my SIBO infection is a lot more under control! Here is what I can eat/tolerate:

Vegetables:

  • broccoli, cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, kale, asparagus, fermented vegetables, bok choy, green beans, eggplant and tomatoes (very occasionally), garlic, spinach
Protein:
  • poultry, chicken skin, lamb, pork, beef, eggs
Fats:
  • ghee, butter, olive oil, avocado, coconut oil
Seasonings:
  • pink salt (from the Murray river, Australia), all types of herbs and spices
Beverages:
  • water, green tea, bone broth
Supplements:
  • I introduced supplements slowly and gradually and at the moment, I am taking L-glutamate, fish oil, vitamin D, iodine, probiotics (multistrain & S. Boulardii) and 5-HTP. I am no longer taking digestive enzymes. I felt like I need to cut back (because of burning stools!) and actually don’t take them at all anymore!
I believe that I did react to FODMAPs, salicylates, amines, glutamates and eggs at some point as I did react to a whole lot of other foods, but healing and sealing my gut and correcting my gut dysbiosis is helping me solve the root gut of my food intolerances instead of just avoiding the foods that I can’t tolerate. It may take a bit of time, but I now have more variety than I could ever wish for and am convinced that it is only going to get better and better… with time.
My goal is to stick to this low-carb GAPS diet for a few more months / years (I will see how I feel and how quickly my body heals) and then I may try to introduce even more foods… maybe even occasional small amounts of non-GAPS foods, such as dark chocolate! 😉




Learn more about the Personal Paleo Code


SIBO – or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

In the last weeks, I have managed to somewhat controlled my symptoms following a very restrictive diet avoiding most FODMAPs and food with high food chemicals (salicylates, amines and glutamates).

I was inspired by a post from Melissa McEwen at Hunt.Gather.Love to try white rice, which is both low in FODMAP and in food chemicals. I did and suffered…! Within an hour or two, I looked pregnant and had abdominal pain… and it lasted for a couple of days. But the good thing about it is that it got me thinking! If white rice, which should be one of the safe food I should be able to eat, causes me problem, it means that maybe I haven’t completely figured out what my problem really is yet.

I had heard of SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, before and started researching it more. Bacteria thrives on carbs and it seems that any types of carbs have triggered my symptoms in the past. One of the best resources on the subject is Dr. Siebecker at siboinfo.com. I then decided to go for a hydrogen/methane breath test and just received my results: I have a SIBO infection.

I am happy to know what is contributing to my post-infectious IBS because knowing what the problem is will help me adapt my diet accordingly. Antibiotics and elemental diet formulas can be used to kill the excess of bacteria that should not be in my small intestines, although it seems that recurrence rates can be relatively high.

Another treatment option for SIBO is following either the SCD diet (specific carbohydrate diet) or GAPS diet. Both of these diets are grain-free, sugar-free and very low-carb diets that can easily be made paleo. Following one of these diets for one to two year can work at eliminating my SIBO and allow me to heal and seal my gut (SIBO causes leaky gut), diversify my diet, get rid of my newly developed food intolerances and hopefully, some day, tolerate small amounts of carbs from fruits or tubers.

I have ordered Dr. Mark Pimentel‘s book “The New IBS Solution” which discuss the role of SIBO in IBS as well as the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” from Dr. Natasha Cambell-McBride.

More info on my new dietary approach to come soon… 🙂



Learn more about the Personal Paleo Code