My Experience with the GAPS Intro Diet: Week 3
Jeez. I did not keep a proper daily report the last couple weeks. To tell you the truth I felt like a total garbage can for most of it and was less than inspired to write about it. Basically my skin went nuts and broke out all over the place, I’ve been tired but anxious and really wanting to work out but really not having the energy, I’ve been so bloated and uncomfortable and my digestion has NOT been doing as well as my first few weeks on GAPS intro. And why? Well for one thing, lady time arrived and basically shit hit the fan.
For anyone dealing with IBS/dysbiosis/whatever we’re calling it, periods can come with a lot more than the regular symptoms. There is obviously a lot going on with the body already but also, our microbiomes have a lot to do with how we metabolise estrogen and other hormones. A lack of the good guys can make the whole experience way more unpleasant than it ever needs to be.
For example on this occasion, for a few days leading up to the main event, digestion was so weeeird. Then the day arrived and I got cramps so bad I felt like I was going to puke and die at the same time. Then you know, normal period days until it was over but THEN the aftermath. This has happened to me before but I didn’t know if it was a real thing. My intestines basically shut down for the week following. It is hard to explain but it feels like digestion has been turned off and anything I eat is just trying to make it through but it’s a slow, painful and uncomfortable process.
And in this case, I have a few theories about what has happened to me over the last few weeks. From doing some research into what exactly hormones are doing at this time, it seems as though estrogen is rising to its highest point in the cycle for about a week after menstruation. Something about this seems to have a major effect on my digestion. Not always, but a few times that I can recall.
I believe what might also have been happening this time is a lower level of progesterone than normal, amplifying the effects of the heightened estrogen. You see here, I’ve been going along doing GAPS diet and feeling pretty good but also starting to feel the effects of low carbness. I’m aware that this type of diet doesn’t work for me but it can sort of sneak up on you if you aren’t careful to include enough carbs. For me one of the most apparent effects is feeling anxious and developing a clenchy jaw. In some people (like me), low carb diets can actually spike cortisol levels. The lack of carbohydrates actually stresses the body out enough to cause an increase in cortisol as it were stressed from some sort of stressful life event.
And I don’t know about you, but stress + my intestines is not a good combo. On top of all of this, did you know that cortisol actually robs your body of the building blocks to make progesterone? Causing even more hormonal imbalance than what is going on already? Damn. It’s all connected.
A few lessons learned here. Obviously I need to be more careful about slipping into a low carb wasteland. Not a fun place to be. Also, this has all been just another reminder of how important it is to minimize stress and take good care of the good ol’ adrenal glands. Everything is SO connected and high levels of stress affect everything from hormonal balance to digestive function.
So where does that leave the GAPS Intro diet? Well who knows. I fell way off the wagon through all of this. Trying so hard and eating nothing but soup but feeling so terrible anyway left me so confused and frustrated. I mean what is the happy balance here? I started adding some applesauce in as a source of carbs at first and now I’m dabbling with my regular grain-free baked goods. I’m actually currently snacking on a bowl of sliced banana, blueberries, cashew yogurt and nut granola. More of a Full GAPS type of snack. But omg so good.
Anyway, this whole experience has taught me so much. One, soups are heavenly and something that I have not included regularly enough in my regular diet. So nourishing, so easily digested, SO delicious. The other thing is having cultured beverages with every meal. Heck yes. This is an amazing habit to get into and something that I think had a hugely positive effect on my first few weeks of the diet.
I guess for me, this week is sort of where the Intro Diet ends or maybe just pauses for now. Or maybe even just modifies to meet my specific needs at this time. Intro Diet 2.0. Right now I feel the need to relax about my foods, carb up a little, and unclench the jaw. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes, and maybe I will come up with the perfect version of the Intro Diet suited to me. Because salad by summerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!