GAPS Stage 3

My personal musings on Stage 3 of the GAPS diet…

Not sure what GAPS is? Read my first post here for all the details.

Day 11
I’m painfully bloated today. It feels different than any bloating symptoms I’ve experienced before. Maybe it’s from reintroducing new foods? (avocado, bananas, nuts?). Maybe it’s the intense probiotics I’m taking (50 billion 2x day)? Jury’s still out.
Today was tough. I felt gross, I worked 9-5 and then headed to night school. I felt sorry for myself. I decided to leave school early and go to Whole Foods to find something delicious to make myself feel better. Confession – I totally had a “cheat” meal this night. It consisted of:

  • Baked Zucchini
  • Baked Asparagus
  • Marinated Artichokes
  • Raw Shredded Beets
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Chicken Breast
  • Tahini Sauce

The irony is that this is one hell of a healthy meal!! Yet I felt like a rebel eating it. Technically it’s the raw beets and chicken that are “cheating”. I was craving meat so badly that I listened to my body and went for it. This was a reflective evening for me. I had to be sooo cautious to not associate this “cheat” meal with feelings of guilt.

Day 12
Shit’s getting real. This is hard. I’m feeling major physical and emotional detox symptoms today. Oh, and I’ve spent $60 on almonds the past few days. How is that even possible?! Raw. Organic. Whole Foods. That’s how…

Day 13
Much like Day 12. Except I don’t buy more almonds – thank god.

Day 14
I wake up today (Sunday) and feel really proud of myself! I have successfully made it through the weekend which included a housewarming party (my own) and two birthday parties! I learnt a lot about my own self-justification tendencies. At one party, I almost convinced myself that (alcoholic) apple cider is just like an apple kombucha; they both have apples, they’re both fermented, what’s wrong if I have just ONE tiny little drink, right? No, I will not have a drink, I will not have a drink. I made it through with zero alcohol and no cheat eating – BOOYA! Lesson learned: using your willpower is exhausting.

Day 15/16/17
These days sort of blur together. This way of eating is starting to feel normal. It’s not requiring so much thought and preparation any more. I feel like I have loads of energy and a clear mind. I’m really looking forward to Stage 4 tomorrow – I have a green juice all ready to go for breakfast! Bring it on.

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GAPS Stage 2

My personal musings on Stage 2 of the GAPS diet…

Not sure what GAPS is? Read my first post here for all the details.

Day 6
Now that I’m in Stage 2 of GAPS I can include baked vegetables, coconut oil, and fermented foods like kimchee and sauerkraut. Vegetables!! Sweet, glorious vegetables. I discover that I love roasted eggplant, and that I can’t stomach roasted yams – they are way.too.sweet. Yuck. I used to love yams so this is a bit of a shocker to me! Oh and I feel reallllllyyyyyy tired today. Zzzzzz

Day 7
I decide to go see a movie (Deadpool) with Matt and have tea and roasted potatoes, my take on pop and chips ;). I’m feeling okay today but I’m still breaking out a lot. Ohh the joys of detoxing continue… yet again.

Day 8
I’m fucking tired. And my sugar cravings are intense. And my face is breaking out even more. Today is hard

Day 9
I wake up feeling energized! My sugar cravings are still crazy intense. I somehow justify to myself that I can have a nut milk (technically I can in 2 more sleeps) so I indulge and have a walnut/hemp seed milk with cinnamon and honey. I’m temporarily transported to heaven…
For the first time in days I feel really FULL and my cravings subside for hours.

Day 10
I decide to cut Stage 2 down to 4 days and jump into Stage 3 a day early. This means that I can now include avocado, nut butter, nut mylk, very ripe bananas (brown spots are a must!), and GAPS homemade pancakes. PANCAKES!! Glorious, glorious pancakes. Fun tip: when making pancakes with nut meal, you do NOT want a “fluffy” batter. Fluffy batter pancakes run and burn. Instead aim for a thick batter that you can mold into pucks and flatten them in the pan.

GAPS Stage 1

My personal musings on Stage 1 of the GAPS diet…

Not sure what GAPS is? Read my first post here for all the details.

Day 1
I got this. I’m going into this ready. My mind is focused on the end goal… pizza. Just kidding, although eating pizza without a reaction is absolutely something I hope to gain from this. I’m feeling pretty good on day one until about 1:00pm. Matt and I are over at Oma and Opa’s; suddenly Oma declares it’s lunch time and makes a sandwich. I decide to have one too, and then I remember that I can’t (cue sad song). Later that day I try black coffee and find that I love it! I never have before, this is exciting. A massive headache takes over my life around 4:00pm. I try yoga, deep breathing, essential oils, water, basically every natural remedy I can think of through the throbbing pain in my head. Nothing works so I decide to go to bed. Ohhh the joys of detoxing. I wake up around 9:00pm and my head feels like it’s 3 times the normal size – there is no way this pain is bearable… I take an Advil and slowly drift into sleep. I wake up again around 10:20pm and “miraculously” my headache has subsided… whew. I got this. and I vow to not take Advil again while on GAPS.

Day 2
I am feeling fine today – I’ve totally got this! I almost forget to defrost my broth- shit! – crisis averted. Oh and I’m peeing like a race horse. Seriously, like 100 times a day. I guess this is what happens on a liquid diet.

Day 3
I’m dragging my feet today. Why did I decide to do this again? Oh right, pizza. As I’m throwing my own silent pity party my boss comes into the office and tells us about his recent trip to Guatemala. “I was talking to my colleagues today, telling them how hungry I was feeling. My boss then came in and started telling us about his recent trip to Guatemala where  had the privilege to rescue malnourished children and literally save them from the brink of death. They went around to towns and mothers offered up their babies to be taken away (for up to 3 months) to allow the children time at the help centre to recover from malnutrition. WOW. Talk about putting things into perspective. Having the option to undertake the GAPS diet is a HUGE privilege!!” Cue gratitude overload for this amazing opportunity to heal my body.

On another note, my face is breaking out – ohhh the joys of detoxing continue.

Day 4 
I finally poop!! Hallelujah!!

Day 5
I feel like I have an overload of energy today! I’m also really ridiculously excited because in one more sleep I can eat vegetables again!

My teeth feel really dirty – I figure out it’s from the bone broth. I up my brushing a flossing game.

 

How to prepare for the GAPS diet

Hello lovely readers! I have just embarked on the GAPS diet and I want to share with you some tips to prepare for the MASSIVE undertaking that is GAPS. Okay, I may be over-exaggerating, it’s not that hard, but I have only eaten kombucha and bone broth for the past 72 hours so please bare with me. 🙂

What is the GAPS diet?
www.gapsdiet.com is a wonderful resource that will give you the full rundown. Here’s a section from their site: “The GAPS diet was derived from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) created by Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas to naturally treat chronic inflammatory conditions in the digestive tract as a result of a damaged gut lining.  SCD gained great popularity after a mother, Elaine Gottschall, healed her own child of Ulcerative Colitis and became an advocate for SCD.  Through years of research and clinical experience, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride adjusted her protocol to fit the individual healthcare needs of her patients suffering from a variety of intestinal and neurological conditions as a result of an imbalanced bacterial ecosystem within the GI tract.  The GAPS Diet focuses on removing foods that are difficult to digest and damaging to gut flora and replacing them with nutrient-dense foods to give the intestinal lining a chance to heal and seal.”

There are 6 stages to the GAPS diet. The following is the GAPS protocol I’m following. I worked with my amazing N.D. to customize it as I currently have food sensitivities (IgG reactions) to dairy (cheese, milk, cream, etc), eggs, soy and corn. You can check out the original GAPS diet on the above website. The main focus is on bone broth and pre/probiotic food sources. You want to try to include these at every meal. I’m also taking a probiotic and L-Glutamine to support my GI tract.

Stage 1 (5 days)
Bone and veggie broth (primarily bone broth), kombucha, juice from fermented foods like kimchee and sauerkraut, ginger tea, herbal tea, lots of water, and dried seaweed (If I’m dying for something to chew on).

Stage 2 (5 days)
All of the above PLUS baked vegetables, cooked vegetables in my broth, coconut oil, and fermented foods like kimchee and sauerkraut.

Stage 3 (7 days)
All of the above PLUS avocado, nut butter, nut mylk, very ripe bananas (brown spots are a must!), and GAPS homemade pancakes which consist of very ripe bananas (mashed), nut butter, flax seed egg and coconut oil.

Stage 4 (7 days)
All of the above PLUS roasted or grilled meat, cold pressed olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetable juice (hallelujah!!) and GAPS homemade bread which consists of nut flour, flax seed egg, roasted squash, coconut oil and salt.

Stage 5 (14 days)
All of the above PLUS cooked apple as a apple puree and raw vegetables.

Stage 6 (3 months +)
The GAPS diet “allowed” food list

Why I decided to go on the GAPS diet
As mentioned above, I currently have food sensitivities (IgG reactions) to dairy, eggs, soy and corn. My immune system is over stimulated and is having inflammatory reactions to proteins that it shouldn’t react with. As a result I’m suffering from IBS (bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation), acne, and eczema. After working with my N.D. for a full year, trying to ease my symptoms through diet, nutraceuticals, and herbal medicine I decided that I needed to try something more extreme and heal my intestinal wall lining to prevent these uncomfortable symptoms.

How to prepare for the GAPS diet

  • Buy kombucha in bulk
    I bought mine from SPUD. Save $20 off your first order of $50+ with the code:
    CRVAN-HEEKEL
  • Buy bone broth in bulk
    I bought mine from Home on the Range Organics Ltd. I was a vegetarian for many years and just recently started to introduce meat back into my diet. I knew that I personally wouldn’t be able to prepare my own bone broth as I just can’t stomach it. If you can prepare it yourself, go for it! 
  • Prepare even more broth!
    I made a vegetable broth using leeks, swiss chard, ginger, carrots, celery, sage, cilantro, lemon grass and a little salt, pepper and cayenne. Bone broth is preferable, I chose to make a vegetable broth as I wasn’t sure that I could stomach bone broth all day. 
  • Stock your home and office with all that broth and kombucha.
  • Make a GAPS calendar where you can check off your progress – See this template: February GAPS
  • Meditate
    Talk to your body and tell it that it’s time to heal. Picture your GI tract healing and sealing any leaks. Tell yourself that your receiving all the nourishment you need to heal. 
  • Have Gratitude
    I was talking to my colleagues today, telling them how hungry I was feeling. My boss then came in and started telling us about his recent trip to Guatemala where  had the privilege to rescue malnourished children and literally save them from the brink of death. They went around to towns and mothers offered up their babies to be taken away (for up to 3 months) to allow the children time at the help centre to recover from malnutrition. WOW. Talk about putting things into perspective. Having the option to undertake the GAPS diet is a HUGE privilege!! I am so grateful to be able to purchase food and have the opportunity to heal my body. 
  • Make Time For You
    Your body is healing itself from years of damage; that’s no easy job! Allow time for you to focus on you. Go to bed early, take a bath, take a leisurely walk, meditate, practice yoga, read a book, etc. 
  • Avoid Watching the Food Network
    I wanted to lick my TV screen. Seriously – do. not. watch. the. food. network. Unless you have just done a serious meditation on gratitude, or maybe you just have more willpower than me 🙂 
  • Savour Your Meals
    Within 24 hours my sense of smell and taste were WAY heightened. Take the time to smell your broth, taste the different flavours on your tongue, feel the warmth as it enters your belly. 
  • Remember that you’re experimenting on yourself!
    This may not resonate with you, but I LOVE the idea that I’m practicing a full blown experiment on my body. This thought alone motivates me more than anything else. Let’s be pretend scientists together 🙂 

Daily Affirmation: “My body is capable of magical things” 

Sweet Potato Chilli

As we get deeper into these cold months my body is craving rich, warming foods. I decided this was the perfect time to make a big batch of chilli. This one was super easy to make as I threw it all into the slow cooker and let it sit on high for 5 hours. Easy, healthy, and delicious! That’s my kind of chilli.

Sweet Potato Chilli

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 red thai chillies (seeds removed)
  • 1 19oz can of black beans
  • 2 x 19oz cans of kidney beans
  • 2 x 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of your favourite broth
  • 1.5 tbsp smoked paprika powder (regular paprika is cool too)
  • 1.5 tbsp cumin powder
  • 3 tbsp chilli powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. Kick back with a great book and your favourite Christmas tunes!

Top with your choice of:

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Enjoy!

Daily Affirmation: “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light” 

How To Embrace Stress

All through nutrition school one of the most prevalent therapies is reduce stress, reduce stress, reduce stress. As adults we learn many ways to live a stress-free life. Should we be running from stress? I know that stress can trigger the fight or flight syndrome. It causes our bodies to shunt parasympathic pathways (rest and digest) and amps up the sympathetic system (fight or flight). Stress increases the stress hormone cortisol. Is stress bad? Or are our perceived ideas about stress bad?

I’m currently reading Kelly McGonigal’s The Upside of Stress and it has me asking a lot of new questions. I love a book that makes me question what I know, that challenges me to see a perceived concept in a new light. Do I want to embrace stress? Yes. In fact a lot of the health & wellness practices that I’ve implemented into my life the past few years have trained me to do just that… embrace stress. And here I thought I was trying to reduce it.

In her book, McGonigal talks about the Threat Stress Response and the Challenge Stress Response. I encourage you to read it to understand the whole concept. What I took away was this:

  • The Threat Stress Response is “bad”, or maybe I should say it’s not as useful. It causes us to feel threatened and avoid connection.
  • The Challenge Stress Response is “good”, it allows us to grow and connect with others.

I use quotations around good and bad as I hate labelling things into these categories, but for simplicity’s sake, they will do. The Challenge Stress Response allows us to rise to the challenge, to overcome obstacles, and to grow as a human being. I thought about Brene Brown’s work often when learning this concept. The parallel for me is that some stressful situations [a job interview, a presentation, a sales pitch, a project, etc] make us feel vulnerable. When feeling this vulnerability and stress we can choose to (a) avoid and not participate aka fight or flight aka the Threat Stress Response or (b) step into the vulnerability and be courageous aka the Challenge Stress Response.

For me, the most interesting part about the Challenge Stress Response is that we feel better prepared for the challenge when we have more resources to depend on. This was my “aha!” moment when I connected the dots on what I’ve been practicing the last few years to reduce stress in my life has actually been adding to my arsenal of stress resources, making me more likely to use the Challenge Stress Response over the Threat Stress Response.

What are some of these resources?

  • Friends and family who have earned the right to hear my story
  • Nutrition
  • Yoga
  • Breath-work
  • Self-love and self-compassion
  • CTI coaching
  • The Daring Way Workshop
  • Exercise
  • Writing
  • Acupuncture

Is stress the enemy? No, I don’t believe so. When I think about the times in my life I’ve been the most stressed, I also view these as the times of the most growth. Be it going back to school at night while continuing to work a full time job, to overcoming a challenging project at work, to going through some really heavy family drama, to losing my best friend way too early in life. Very different situations, varying levels of stress, but all leading to extreme growth.

My challenge to you is this… what can you do this month to build your stress resources? Stress isn’t going away, and I don’t believe it’s our enemy. To me, stress represents an opportunity to grow, and that opportunity can be seized if we have the right resources available to us.

Xo

Daily affirmation: “as my perspective shifts, my life shifts” 

A Feel-Awesome Morning Routine

Hello beautiful readers,

This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, which means family, friends, turkey, alll the trimming and lots of vino! One word that sums up this year’s Thanksgiving feast is indulgent. It was also bursting with love and light, however when I woke up this morning all I felt was over-indulged. I felt sluggish, bloated, and all around inflamed. My mind was racing and I knew I could listen to the chatter or I could pull out my yoga mat and recenter. Below is my fail-safe plan to feel awesome in the morning and start your day right:

  1. Coffee: grab a cup of organic, fair trade coffee and savour the heck out of it. I prefer mine with cinnamon and almond milk. Here’s the trick though, stick with just one cup and then switch to herbal tea. I find that when I listen to my body, by the 7th or 8th sip I no longer want coffee. I can feel my cells craving a hot herbal tea. Listen to your body and find what’s right for you.
  2. Yoga: Move, stretch and breathe deeply. There is no better way to start your day. Except maybe yoga outside in nature.
  3. Gratitude: Write down what you’re grateful for. This morning I found that my mind was racing during yoga. I was over-analyzing and focusing on the negative. I sat down at my computer and typed up a gratitude list. Either set a timer or go until you run out of ideas. This had a HUGE impact on my day. I found that I was able to see the positive in little things that would normally bother me. I firmly believe that our brains are trained to find the pattern. I’m always searching for the pattern. By creating a pattern of positivity (through a gratitude list), you will begin to see positivity pop up everywhere.
  4. Play Outside: Nature, nature, nature. There is no better healer than nature. Grab your dog, bundle up in that cute new scarf and head outside for a walk among the trees. Stop and take a few deep breaths and appreciate how miraculous nature is.
  5. Read: If I’m in a really negative mind space one of the best ways to change my thought pattern is by getting lost in a good book. I’m currently listening to The Compound Effect. I turned on my audio book on my commute into work this morning and got lost in new concepts.
  6. Nourish: Fuel your body with whole foods. One sure fire way to crash is to eat processed foods high in refined sugar. Get creative in the kitchen and include a mix of fresh food with a balance of carbs/proteins/fats. This morning I opted for a vegan protein shake with fresh raspberries and flax seeds.

That’s it! My go to morning routine to feel awesome and set myself up for a successful day. And I did all this before I got to my office at 9:00AM. It’s simple and easy to implement. I challenge you to start by adding one new thing from my list above to your morning routine.

Daily Affirmation: “I choose to take care of myself” 

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