This thought came to my mind the other day while preparing my staple food for the week. Is the GAPS Diet (or other similar diets like the SCD Diet or Paleo-ish type diets) too restrictive for someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Let’s put this into perspective first.
Here are just a few of the symptoms that I no longer suffer from after incorporating a version (my personalized version based on food sensitivities and other factors) of the GAPS Diet:
- Indigestion so bad I could not lay down for hours at night or the symptoms would be so intense I would be up anyway fighting them. Instead I tried to sleep on 4-5 pillows to prop me up into a position that was almost upright! In the end, I still couldn’t sleep like this so I missed hours and hours of rest for this reason.
- Food sensitivities so bad I would feel as if I would pass out and drop into a coma (brain inflammation). I would get dizzy, have severe fast heart rate, my eyes would feel like they would roll back into their sockets, bloated stomach for hours into the night, and then multiple bathroom trips while the toxins worked themselves out of my system. There were more than a handful of nights I was unsure if I would wake up in the morning after many hours of severe symptoms. All this happened sometimes HOURS after eating the culprits so the connection wasn’t always very easy to figure out.
- Severe weight gain while eating just one meal a day most of the time.
- Eye pain so bad my husband had to gently push on my eyes with the palm of his hand to help relieve the pain and pressure. This came at the same time as brain inflammation where it seemed there was little blood flow to the left side of my brain (one doctor had confirmed this through testing). Now I understand this is a common symptom of gluten sensitivity and inflammation in the brain. Let’s take a short break from my list to see this phenomenon as described by Dr. Thomas O’Bryan:
- Blood sugar imbalances causing irritability before meals and then relief after. Also, my days were filled with roller-coaster highs and lows and erratic body temperature.
- Severe cognitive problems – short-term memory problems and fogginess, depression, inability to think through and speak sentences on a regular basis, etc.
- Digestion problems that seemed to be part of my every meal’s outcome. Palpitations, stomach bloating, sluggishness, and just overall not feeling like the food has nourished me at all, sometimes felt like it was “sitting” in my digestive tract for more than 24 hours.
- Days upon days of dysfunction – not being able to commit to a single activity in advance because I would “never know how I would feel” when that day arrived. Most of the time, I had to forego pre-planned events because I was unable to function well enough to go.
- Thyroid antibodies well over 9,000.
- Missed opportunities and severed relationships – I could not take advantage of life’s opportunities or keep up to date with old friends or treasured close friends. I was so absorbed with feeling awful, I became unable to connect with the world around me.
- Plus so many more – I can’t possibly write them all down.
You can see some of my before and after symptoms in this post too but they are somewhat the same as I’ve written above.
Okay, compare the above list to the list of the perceived “inconveniences” of The GAPS Diet:
- Cook my own food (our grandparents would get a kick out of that statement I think!)
- Avoid gluten at all costs! (See my “Let’s Go Gluten Free Series” for how to be sure you are 100% gluten-free)
- Find organic, fresh and local produce through Farmer’s Markets or grocery store options that give me the best nutrition possible and the least amount of toxins.
- Plan ahead for the week (another statement our grandparents might laugh at).
- Plan to eat at home or bring food with me when I travel – restaurant eating is very difficult when avoiding the common allergens and sensitivities. I have actually found that I thoroughly enjoy sitting at the tables in front of stores like Whole Foods or small restaurants with others (at first I felt left out) that have paid for their food there. I savor my superior food now and love that I feel much better than those around me after eating. It used to be quite the opposite!
- Learn to sleep on a schedule – healing happens rapidly with a good sleeping pattern. A night or two of sleepless or restless nights can bring some of the symptoms back, but not the worst ones.
- Reduce stress – simplify life. Minimize stress by not over-committing or making unrealistic expectations of myself. I try to accept current circumstances with the decision to do what I can to change things but accept the things I cannot change. This is sometimes easier said that done but the motivation to do this now is worth the health benefits it brings.
- Use other lifestyle interventions to enhance healing as outlined in books like Izabella Wentz’ book on Hashimoto’s (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause also in eBook form here.) This book is a HUGE help in where to start and how to get immediate help through interventions other than a pill and often much more effective!
One road was moving me into utter devastation. The other is moving me into better health and a much better quality of life!
Would you rather spend some extra time in the kitchen while feeling good or spend time in bed, or worse, feeling bad? I think you can understand why I am very happy with the EASE of The GAPS Diet compared to the utter MISERY of my prior lifestyle!
So, do you think The GAPS Diet is too restrictive? I suppose it is a matter of perspective.
Important note: If you are considering The GAPS Diet, I highly recommend you review my post here for things to think about before embarking on this healing journey.
Disclaimer: All posts are describing my personal journey through health issues and are in no way meant to guide anyone towards any method in particular. I am not a medical practitioner or have a dietary or medical license, and this blog is not intended to be taken as authoritative advice. Please see your doctor, or health professional before making any drastic diet changes! Also, occasionally I find others to partner with whom I have had tremendous help from and therefore, there may be paid advertisements and links to support them and help me financially run this website.