Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Diet Update and Results from Diet Recovery Program

I've been getting quite a few questions lately about how my transition off GAPS is going, and whether or not I've tried Matt Stone's Diet Recovery program.  It has been interesting so far, and not quite as smooth as I would have liked.

Month 1
In January, I came off GAPS by going straight into Matt Stone's RRARF program which focuses on eating lots and resting lots.  The idea here is to flood your body with what it needs to repair itself.  I started eating a lot more (specifically focusing on starches, such as potatoes, corn, and rice, in addition to my normal nutrient-dense GAPS diet), made myself start taking a nap every day, and stopped exercising.

Good changes
  • My biggest complaint during GAPS was that I had energy problems. My energy levels were much better once I started RRARF.
  • My menstrual cycle became more normal; previously the number of days for my whole cycle was fairly short (once it was only 20 days!), and I had tended to have many days of spotting rather than any real flow.  After one month on RRARF, my cycle was 29 days and I had a more normal period (although still a bit scanty).  
  • During my first pregnancy back in 2006, I developed the linea negra, which is a dark brown line going down my tummy (this is caused by hormones released by the placenta, and you can see the line in this old tummy picture).  This line faded a little bit after pregnancy, but never really went away (and of course it came back again in my second pregnancy).  I was surprised to notice that the line had totally faded away during my first month on RRARF.
Not-so-good changes
  • Sadly, I started getting some joint pain back towards the end of the month (joint pain was the main reason I started GAPS in the first place). And yes, this could absolutely be a result of the fact that I didn't follow Dr. NCM's recommendations for the proper way to come off GAPS (with a VERY slow reintroduction of non-GAPS foods). But I had a hard time holding back when my energy levels seemed so much better with the addition of starches.
  • I gained about 5 pounds during the first month.  I did not need to gain any, as my weight was already up a few pounds over my norm (since my weight had creeped up a few pounds during the last year on GAPS). 
  • My waking temperatures didn't budge during the first month.  Waking temperature is a good indicator of metabolic health, and my temperatures have been low for many years (I've charted my waking temps as a natural birth control method since 2005, and my temps have been abnormally low the whole time). Matt Stone recommends tracking waking temperatures as a way to see when the metabolism is restored to it's optimal level.
Month 2
In February, I stopped eating starches (except once/week at my mom's house), to get my joint pain to abate once again. So I've pretty much gone back to GAPS for now. But now it is GAPS with lots of homemade ice cream...

I wrote to Matt about my results after one month on RRARF. He said that since I am nursing, it could take a bit longer than the 30 days he described in the book for my temps to get normalized.  Matt recommended ice cream for breakfast as a way to keep the weight gain down while really boosting the metabolism. Ice cream is a super food for boosting the metabolism. 

I also started trying to incorporate a little bit of exercise back into my routine in February.  Since exercise can have a detrimental effect on the metabolism (especially with my symptoms of adrenal fatigue), I am trying to take this very slowly. So I've been doing one session of high-intensity intervals each week.  

Good changes
  • Eating ice cream for breakfast has given me wonderful energy levels. I almost feel normal now, on days when I make sure to eat ice cream at breakfast and once more in the afternoon.  On days when I don't eat it, I'm right back to feeling very tired and low energy.
  • My waking temperatures started to make some serious improvements (I even had a few in the normal range, which is a huge deal for me)!  But then I overdid the exercise one week, and my temps plummeted (apparently high-intensity intervals of burpees are a little too hard-core for me right now).  
  • My menstrual cycle was pretty much normal once again.  28 days and without the extensive days of spotting I was having pre-RRARF. 

Not-so-good changes
  • I still gained a few pounds in February, but that was better than the 5 pounds I gained in January.  It seems that eating ice cream early in the day instead of after dinner works much better for me and slows down the weight gain somewhat. Matt Stone pointed out that the weight gain during this month could very well be "increased water and glycogen typical of adding in a high intensity exercise regime".
  • I am still having a small amount of joint pain, so 95% GAPS may not be good enough for me at this point. 
  • I have occasionally had small amounts of back pain.  I think this is due to the weight gain, and the only other time I've ever had back pain was when I was pregnant.
Reflections on RRARF
It is so strange to be eating so much ice cream after years of trying to reduce sugar consumption, but my energy levels are SO much better with the ice cream! My temperatures really started coming up once I started eating more ice cream, but I still have more to do to get my temps up all the way to where they should be.

My only complaint with the program so far is weight gain. From what I understand, some people gain weight on the program and some do not. I have maxxed out my jeans (and now have a little muffin top), and am really hoping to not gain any more. It is hard to decide it is okay to gain weight, even if it does mean that my body gets healthier over-time. From what I can tell, many people get their temps up after just a couple weeks on RRARF; mine are taking longer because I am nursing (which is a huge drain on the metabolic system). It is a bit frustrating, but I am very glad to have such an easy measure of my progress through checking my temps.  

What's next?
For now, I'm going to keep trying to focus on rest and making sure I eat plenty (especially early in the day).  Hopefully the weight gain will continue to slow down, and I'll have to keep in mind that I may have to gain a bit to heal my adrenals before I focus in being at my ideal weight. I may have to completely cut out any non-GAPS foods to get the joint pain to completely abate, but we'll see. 

You can read the follow-on post where I talk about the next couple of months here. 

Have you tried any of Matt Stone's recommendations? Do you plan to make any changes in your diet and exercise routine?


maria said...

Dear Sarah, I am new to the grain free, starch free eating plan. I am a diabetic with rheumatoid arthritis, so I knew that it was imperative that I become GFSF right away. I could not move when I kept eating all those grains.

Like you, I have a great deal of energy fluctuation. The mornings are my toughest. For lunch, I drink a green smoothie, and this seems to take care of the sluggish problem.

I miss the grains, I have to be honest. And I pray that as my body adjusts itself to this way of eating, I'll begin to feel better. Working out in the mornings is not working. I have no energy for it at all. So I walk in the afternoons, and this seems to help. I also do Yoga in the mornings, and this has truly kept me joint free and with enough energy to move about my day.

Thank you so much for sharing your journey.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah. I did GAPS only for about a month because I realized that not only did I not feel better, I was gaining weight that I totally couldn't afford to gain and it was just too expensive. I found Matt Stone just about at that time. What he says can be really hard to hear if you're part of the GAPS/WAPF mindset, but intuitively it feels right to me. I have gained about 5 pounds in the last month from RRARFing, which sucks but if it's not permanent then I'm not going to stress too much. I want SO much to see something close to 99 on my thermometer, but so far it just hasn't happened. Though my BBT is now up to 98 pre-ovulation and 98.5 after, it has been there for awhile and just isn't budging. *Sigh* I think my thyroid is really quite damaged, and I"m also nursing my son about twice a day and that may be slowing things down. We can do this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. It is very confusing lately knowing what to believe. I have met several people who've healed on a low carb version of GAPS or SCD but then to worry that this way of eating could destroy one's metabolism is scary. I guess we don't know what works for us unless we try. Thank you for sharing your experience.

This is just a thought - but has anyone asked what resulted in NCM's crash a couple of years ago? Was that adrenal? She does recommend that one keep the fruit honey nut consumption to only 15% of one's calories which is not much and I have also heard her quoted as saying she eats GAPS most of the time for preventative reasons so presumably doesn't eat many carbs? I don't know what to think. Some people I know have done low carb many years and it works well for them. Maybe the metabolic typing theory is accurate and we all have different needs as individuals?

ps Is the homemade ice cream GAPS legal ie made with honey and fermented cream?

Sarah Smith said...

Hey, your temps actually might be right where they need to be. Broda Barnes developed the method of checking BBT, and his definition of normal was 97.8-98.2 first thing in the morning in the armpit.

Sarah Smith said...

I'm not familiar with what you are referring to "NCM's crash". What is this?

There are some very carby things allowed on GAPS, like lentils and white navy beans. So even if someone is 100% GAPS, they may not be low-carb (even if they're not eating many nuts or baked goods).

It definitely seems like low-carb can work for some people, but not for others. I personally don't know anyone who has done it for an extended period of time without feeling ill effects. To each his own.

And yes, when made with honey and fermented cream, ice cream is absolutely GAPS-legal!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know that! I take my temp orally though...does that make a difference?

Sarah Smith said...

Here is the lowdown on temps from different body areas:
An oral temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) lower than a rectal or ear (tympanic) temperature.
An ear (tympanic) temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than an oral temperature.
An armpit (axillary) temperature is usually 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) lower than an oral temperature.

So it sounds like the "normal" range for oral temps would be something like 98.2-98.7 or so (or maybe even 98.8-99.2). I take my temps in the ear, so I should be aiming for something like 98.8-99.2 (or maybe just in the 99's). I'm still getting some in the 97's, but some in the 98's at least.

I hope this helps!

summer said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Sarah! I am a nursing mom on gaps and am starting to feel some negative symptoms popping up. And my temps are really low. I have been looking into RRARF a bit, but naturally feel hesitant if not afraid to try a new regimen!

Anonymous said...

I've been increasing my GAPS-legal carbs for abt 3 weeks as well as eating beyond appetite. My BBT is gradually going up. :) (97.59 today)
Oh, and my previously too-loose jeans are starting to fit better. ;-P


Kendahl @ Our Nourishing Roots said...

I've been RRARFing and my only negative side effect is weight gain as well. But I am heartened by the 180 Degree folks saying "hurry and gain the weight so you can lose it!" Since your metabolism will get better, the pounds should melt off you after a while. I'll be pretty happy when I finally get there.

Also, I have been writing about GAPS/low carb/RRARF as well. Must be in the air.

Alison said...

I came off GAPS to RRARFing in Jan. as well. My hair was falling out, low temps, libido, and old symptoms returning. Oh, and I'm nursing too. I went all out rrarfing and didn't care about the weight gain, I was down to my lowest ever and my jeans were falling off. My temps started making a real jump when i focused on more grains and less fruit: buckwheat pancakes for breakfast and when i get cold feed some olive oil potato chips instead of ice cream or dates. But I ate a lot of icecream for about a month. Like almost a pint a day. I've gained probably 8 lbs and its not good weight, its fat in all my old places, but I feel soo soo much better. I don't think we'll be going back to GAPS. Matt's talked about resistant starches and how they create a good environment for bugs to colonize, which is why i think i've been seeing continued improvement on my daughter's allergies that weren't budging on GAPS. We're still eating plenty of fermented foods, but concentrating on the starches has helped and I've noticed I"m not hungry all the time anymore. I'm even GASP letting my daughter eat boxed cereal because she eats a lot of it and HER temps are coming up too.....I'm really convinced of the benefits of RRARFing....thanks for sharing your journey!

Alana Sugar said...

I started Matt Stone's RRARF program shortly after meeting him in November of 2011. Prior to this I was suffering from near constant acid reflux and the inability to eat grains without it getting worse. I was also battling energy and blood sugar problems which seemed to get worse with the lowering of carbs in my diet. I did the GAPS diet for 3 months at which point my blood sugar was a mess, waking up in the middle of the night with uncontrollable muscle twitching and spasms. NCM told me it was because there were toxins on my nerves, and I believed her. Other doctors kept encouraging me to go lower in carbs because my fasting blood sugar levels were too high. This was a mistery to me as my carb count was low. It was Matt Stone who made the most sense to me, and consequently, changed my life... litterally giving it back to me! There were NO toxins on my nerves! My blood sugar was crashing!! I decided not to focus on weight but to focus on getting my adrenals/blood sugar in a good place. After just a few days of (good quality, homemade) white bread, cereal, desserts such as cookies, banana bread, etc. every day along with potatoes, white rice, corn, etc, the acid reflux went away! Gradually, I began to stop this internal shaking and trembling that had been with me for a long time. My weight began to climb (this was not a welcomed event) and my temps began to climb... now I am averaging about 98.3 during the day... much better than my previous 97.4! I am warm now! I love it and it feels like my body can gradually start losing the excess weight now. Matt Stone is on to something very powerful! It may be that there are some foods he recommends that we can't handle. No matter what, for me, dairy products (other than butter) don't work. I get a terrible sinus headache from them, especially during damp weather. Sometimes they are OK, but often I must avoid. Some folks may not be able to eat certain grains, but it seems to me the best way to know is to do what you can to get your temps to normal then let your body naturally show you what you can and can't do. Thanks for sharing your personal journey!

Janice said...

I find that we sometimes need to look at the root causes of endocrine problems. I have been working with a TBM practitioner who can do energetic testing and treatment.. Yesterday I felt a little tired, depressed and not my usual self. My temps have been low. She previously found toxins to be the cause of my problems. This can cause poor absorption and nutrient deficiencies. Yesterday she treated me,to help my detox and also treated my endocrine system, and recommended kelp (iodine for the thyroid) and Standard Process Parotid PMG to help my body absorb the thyroid. She said I also need Copper Liver Chelate every two days for a while for my adrenals. Today I feel terrific, energized in both body and mind, excited about life again. As far as diet, I try to eat all food groups and only nutrient dense local farm food.

Jen said...

My temps improved wonderfully on GAPS. I think the biggest challenge for me is the practical not-eating-out and with family, or getting enough carbs when out. I never did a low-carb version of GAPS, and never excluded raw milk because it did me so much good. With pregnancy, I've not been able to follow GAPS at all (especially as some life-stressors and events required us to do only partial GAPS prior to pregnancy) as bread and starches have been more calming to my digestive tract. There are theories about excess bile during pregnancy and starches helping to soak them up. I'm not sure. I'm just trying to follow my body's instincts and needs!

It is not just Matt stone who talks about gaining weight before losing it as the process of healing goes along. This is discussed on the GAPS yahoo list too. Several people have had success with the leptin reset for radically improving other hormones and improving weight.

On a funny note - Burpees are hilarious to watch. I didn't know that was what they are called.

Oh - and I've had no back pain with this pregnancy because I've worked on the transverse muscle the entire time and worn tight tummy bands. Maybe that could help you?

Gwen said...

I would be curious to know more about the approximate (I know, different for everyone...) time frame of the whole gain it to lose it thing. I think I'm fearful of the gain so I'm not going 100% IN to the RRARFing thing. Eating more, but not OVERfeeding.

Have you heard? Just think if I knew to expect it to be higher for 3-4 mo. & then it starts to melt, I'd be feeling better about it. Obviously the thought that I want to be in a swimsuit in about 2 mo. has me more than a little flustered... :)

PS -- For the record, want to lose about 15 lb. to get to my target weight.

Dawn said...

Weight gain around the waist can be caused by high cortisol, the "longer term" stress hormone (as opposed to "immediate" adrenaline). Going to bed by 10 p.m. is really helpful to the adrenals as is taking sea salt in water. More at Dr. Bruce Rind has a protocol for taking temps three times a day, averaging and charting them to track adrenal status. He sells a good thermometer on his site. I believe I've read that ear thermometers are not very accurate.

It's possible you are mildly hypothyroid, and this cannot always be fixed by diet. Many women develop antibodies (TPO and/or TGab) to their thyroids after pregnancy. Chris Kresser has great info on thyroid function on his blog. His wife has Hashimoto's.

You might consider supplementing with iodine & selenium. When I first discovered I was low thyroid and had adrenal fatigue, I started iodine. It immediately raised my temps. This is an article discussing how iodine and selenium can safely be supplemented, even in Hashimoto's -- but always together. (part one of two)

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I've enjoyed many of your recipes.

Lori said...

Is it the cream in the ice cream or the sugar that is helping you? I'm asking because I don't make ice cream (no ice cream maker) but I do sometimes whip up some fresh cream and eat it with a banana and a little honey.

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Campbell-McBride took a medical leave for a few mos. I think it started in the summer of 2009? Baden replaced her at the WAPF Conf that year because she was too sick to attend. My understanding was that it was exhaustion and she seems to be fine now.
Do you know Millie from the GAPS Yahoo list? She used to be a mod there. Her son was autistic so the whole family went on no honey no fruit no legumes version of GAPS several years ago and he healed and they are still eating that way - maybe 5 y now with only good effects. Also this woman: has eaten low carb GAPS with exception of adding raw milk after 2 y. She cannot add grains or legumes without symptoms returning. She had epilepsy, asthma, OA, and some other conditions. She still has to keep it low carb or she does not feel well. I also noted that Baden tried going off GAPS after a few years and she started to get sick again so has gone back to GAPS. Not sure if she does low carb or not. But the two points I am trying to make here are: 1. It seems some people do well low carb indefinitely and others do not
2. The idea that GAPS heals so that one can go back to properly prepared grains is seeming less of a reality for people with serious health conditions. Elaine Gottschall, founder of SCD - from which GAPS evolved - said that children can heal but that most adults have too much gut damage to heal completely and need to stay on the diet to maintain wellness. For many that seems to be true. I wish it was not the case but that is what I am seeing.

Sarah Smith said...

Thanks for sharing this. I hope that things can be healed to the point where I don't have to worry so much about what I am eating. I do know that, after 17 months on GAPS, I was able to eat TONS of starches for several weeks before any old symptoms returned. So at the very least, maybe I can tolerate a small amount of starches with no problem.

Sarah Smith said...

Kendahl, I saw your great post6 about GAPS and carbs. Funny since I wrote something similar a couple months back:

Sarah Smith said...

Gwen, I think the majority of people are able to get their temps up in only one month if they go all-out RRARF. It is taking me longer since I am nursing. And then, once your metabolism gets restored, it should actually become rather difficult to gain any more weight at all.

Sarah Smith said...

Thank you all for sharing your experiences! We've got a great little community here. I feel encouraged to stick with RRARFing and get the most I can out of it.

Sarah Smith said...

I think it is the combination of sugar and cream. Have you seen this, showing how amazingly the composition of ice cream mirrors breastmilk?

In both of my ice cream recipes, I give a link for how to make ice cream WITHOUT a maker. I'm sure a smoothie with the same ingredients is equally beneficial.

Sarah Smith said...

Thanks for the info. I've been looking through Chris Kresser's stuff for awhile, and the Perfect Health Diet is on my list to get from the library. I'm not much into taking supplements, but I do try to eat a fair amount of seaweed (which has both iodine and selenium). Maybe I should try to eat even more, though.

Anonymous said...

My personal opinion is that everyone can have fun swimming, and if we keep feeding the "have-to-be-skinny-to-wear-a swimsuit" myth, then we are perpetuating the eating disorders, mental disorders, etc. that are already way too prevalent in our society. It seems more logical & helpful to focus on restoring your health, and to buy a bigger swimsuit if you don't have one that fits when it's time to go swimming. :) Love yourself!

Rebecca said...

I started RRARF a couple years ago after a 3 week try at low carbing (it had worked for me before, but two pregnancies later it left me feeling terrible AND I gained 5 lbs). I quickly had better energy than I'd had since before my first pregnancy and my morning temps were up from 96's to 98's, even 99's post ovulation. Over the course of about 3 months I lost 10 of the 30 lbs I needed to lose too, totally effortlessly and without exercise... My weight stabilized there and I was at the point where I could eat anything and my weight didn't fluctuate much at all, so even though still a little overweight it seemed like a great trade-off for guilt free eating. Then I got pregnant again. Fast forward to when baby was born, I gained the least of any pregnancy and was only about 10 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight, eating anything I wanted and not gaining (breastfeeding had always made me gain before)... but then I found out that my daughter is sensitive to milk, soy, and nuts (peanuts and tree nuts) so I cut those out of my diet and now I'm having a hard time getting enough calories during the day. I was eating bread w/ lots of butter + milk for a snack (600 calorie snack) or things like cheese and crackers, but I've replaced that with things like chips+salsa, hummus and pita, cookies, crackers... now I've gained about 5 lbs in the last 5 weeks. I read your post and think, I wish I could eat ice cream! I miss cheese and milk and butter so much! If anybody has any great high calorie (preferably healthy) easy snack ideas, I'm all ears.

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Rebecca,
Thanks for sharing your experience.

As for high-calorie snacks, are you able to have coconut milk? (I think coconuts are actually not nuts, but rather a drupaceous fruit?) If so, you could try making ice cream with coconut milk instead of dairy. I know that works well in this recipe:

And I bet it would work well with this recipe too:

Have you tried milk kefir to see if it also upsets your daughter? Just curious as it is supposed to be much easier to digest since the lactose is consumed by the kefir grains. I think I've also heard of people making kefir with coconut milk. Matt Stone would probably recommend waffles with lots of syrup :)

I hope this helps a bit...

Rachel M said...

Is store bought ice cream beneficial or does it need to be homemade? Also - if I make a kefir smoothie with syrup will I get the same effects? Or would I need to make it with cream?

Rebecca said...

Coconut milk ice cream is a great idea. I've actually had some before from Trader Joe's but they didn't have it when I looked recently. I'll give those recipes a try. I don't get much time to make stuff in the kitchen with a 2 month old around, but I need to start somewhere =)

Waffles would be great if I could have butter, but I don't feel great about eating a lot of "buttery spread" made with canola oil...

It's the protein in the milk that bothers her, so I don't think kefir would be any different. I was hoping I could get away with butter since it doesn't have much protein in it, but that still bothered her.

Sarah Smith said...

That stinks that you can't do butter. Have you tried ghee? My understanding is that lots of people who can't do butter can still eat ghee since all the milk solids are removed. Just a thought. And yes, it is hard to do anything with a 2month old around!

I think I understand that when babies react lots to what mom is eating, it could also. Here to do with the mom's gut. My son's eczema, bad diaper rash (even with frequently changed pocket cloth diapers) and extremely sensitive skin all improved once I got a few months into GAPS. Anyhow, just thinking out loud. I hope you find some good, easy to make foods to eat!!

Sarah Smith said...

Storebought ice cream is generally loaded with undesirables, like guar gum and even propylene glycol (which is antifreeze, and they don't even have to list that on the label). The only storebought ice cream I would eat would be Haagen Daz, and only the simple favors as the fancy flavors start to include things like corn syrup.

The kefir smoothie would be a start, just make sure to add plenty of sweetener. I think the cream also helps, so you could even add some sour cream (or kefir cream) to the smoothie.

Rachel M said...

I was thinking more along the lines of organic/ natural store bought... I don't tolerate goat's milk but our local natural food store carries goat ice cream and coconut milk ice cream. I would make my own but cannot find goat cream! Any thoughts on if one type of sweetener is better than another for this? Obviously corn syrup, etc is bad, but will I get the same positive results with maple syrup as organic sugar? Thanks!

Sarah Smith said...

Even the organic ice creams I have seen are loaded with additives, but maybe you have access to something different where you live. Perhaps you could try making your own using coconut milk? I use honey in my homemade ice cream, as honey is the only sweetener that is GAPS-legal. But syrup would be fine too (I used half maple syrup and half honey pre-GAPS, and that gave the best flavor.

KBcooks said...

Wow, I'm glad I found this. I too started RRARFing/PEATing around Dec, but mainly RRARF in Feb. Though I think there is too much emphasis on weight gain, it is a reality in our society. I did gain 15 lbs, but minding that the low carbing had me in a starvation state, the starting weight (115 lbs) is not a realistic one to compare with. Also, the weight includes a lot of lean tissue. When I squeeze my thigh, it is not dimply at all. I did reach temps 98.9+ during the day, but when my period started it went down to 97.8's. Still good according to garden of fertility. The pinching of my upper arm (myxedema) is looking more normal, and there is no anxiety in between meals, even if it goes 5 hours or so. Trade off though, is I'm not as interested in food as before. Even eating a stackful of homemade pancakes with butter and maple syrup, I feel I'm just going through the motions. To deal with the weight gain psychologically, I bought lots of nice clothes in my new size mainly so that I'm not in a rush to lose it. Looking forward to a pedicure and nice new spring shoes to get comfortable. But yes, I expect my weight to come off on its own. REMEMBER, Ancel Keys starvation study showed that the men returned to their normal weight after about ONE YEAR.

My problem is that something started the hair thinning again. I think the high temps made me feel bold enough to include straight dairy and gluten. That will stop now, and I'll see if it slows it down. Oh, pimples like crazy (neck, temples, scalp), libido a little better, BP still high (not chronically though), sleep tons better, and way calm.
Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca said...

I should definitely try ghee. She's had a cold, so I haven't been testing things lately, thinking I might not be able to tell her reactions. The food allergies seem to be genetic from my husband. He and all 3 kids have them to varying degrees. He didn't even realize that he had them until we figured it out with my son, but getting foods he's sensitive to out of his diet helped with chronic inflammation and totally got rid of an autoimmune disorder. So I could have a leaky gut, but I don't have any food issues like the rest of the family. I'd looked into GAPS for my family to help get rid of the allergies, but I never tried it. My son is the pickiest eater ever and trying to take away some of the few things he'll eat and make him eat things he's always refused (any kind of soup) just seemed crazy. But trying to make meals while avoiding all the things someone in the family is sensitive to is also crazy (no dairy, eggs, wheat/gluten, tomatoes, nuts, peanuts, soy).

I'm just glad I figured out her issues (with the help of a kinesiologist), because as soon as I cut out dairy and soy, her eczema and colic/reflux totally went away, she's a much easier baby so it's worth it to give those up for now.

Anonymous said...

I am new to GAPS (been on it 2 months) and don't know anything about RRARFING, but I am interested! I am 100% sure that I don't do well with grains- I get bloated, heartburn, unstable blood sugar levels that leave me feeling famished, joint pain, etc. At the same time my morning temps are a little down- is there a correlation between GAPS and a slowing of the metabolism? There are lots of people who lose a lot of weight on GAPS, I have probably lost 20 in two months- but I needed to! I still need to lose 25 or so, am nursing a 14 month old and have Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I am thinking all these years of taking thyroid may have done a number on my adrenals. I don't really know how to help my adrenals- some natural practitioners recommend herbs- dr ncm would say those herbs are hard on the stomach, says you have to treat the adrenal fatigue before treating the thyroid- etc. Anyways- just wanted to say thank you for fabulous blog and recipes! They are delicious!

Anonymous said...

also I have been either pregnant or nursing for the past 8 years- why is nursing such a strain on the metabolism? When I quit nursing if I am not pregnant will that really help things? Why do some women lose weight while nursing? I do have a serious muffin top- I lose weight from my lower body and feel like I have no bottom! Before I had children I had a nice hourglass shape!

Sarah Smith said...

I think GAPS can adversely affect the metabolism because you may end up depriving yourself of the things the body needs. In my case, I have to be very careful to make sure I'm eating enough carbs while on GAPS. There is a post about that here:

I think GAPS can also have an adverse effect on the metabolism if you are not eating enough in general. I sometimes found it "easy" to just eat a little early in the day and coast on until dinner when I'd have a big meal. This is not good if you already have adrenal problems since the body treats all stresses (like not enough food, stress, and exercise) essentially the same and starts to release cortisol.

I also lost weight in the early months of GAPS (and got down to weighing less than I had since before my first pregnancy in 2007). But then the weight started creeping back after the first 6 months on GAPS (not a whole lot, but about 7 pounds). In turn, I started restricting my eating a little, and that made my adrenal problems even worse.

Sarah Smith said...

Ditto! I've also been pregnant or nursing for a long time (6 years). I'm not exactly sure why nursing is such a strain on the metabolism, perhaps just because the body has to do so much extra work to convert all of that food into milk calories. My understanding is that curing the metabolism (and adrenals, for that matter) will definitely be easier when I'm not nursing. But alas, I don't plan to cut off my son any time soon, so I bet I'll easily nurse another year. I only seem to lose weight while nursing for the first year or so; after that things stabilize or even start to creep up (especially if I don't pay attention to how much I'm eating as my child starts to slow down on nursing).

Dawn said...

One of the cautions in that last article I linked to is that seaweed/kelp is often contaminated with heavy metals. :( I'm not recommending the Perfect Health Diet, just the article which is written by a guest, not Paul Jaminet.

Sarah Smith said...

Oh, thanks for clarifying that for me! And that stinks, as we love seasnax!

ts said...

This is very interesting. I started to have energy problems after doing GAPS for five months, and during those five months my joint pain never fully went away. I went on a trip and indulged in sushi, potatoes, pizza...and weirdly enough had no joint pain. Since then I've been carbing it up and have felt significantly less fatigued. I'm doing some research on how to incporate carbs back into my diet without gaining weight, since my hypothyroid weight isn't even close to gone yet. Looking forward to more updates!

Sara Sears said...

The main message I have taken away from Diet Recovery is to be more balanced and not have such an "eating disorder" mentality about food. However, after reading the book and the 180degreehealth website, I really feel people must use caution and listen to their own body. I started to RRARF and was trying to use whole nourishing foods, yet letting myself enjoy other things like pizza etc... Well I have definitely gained weight, but I also feel WORSE. Including the juices and boxed cereal like he talks about on his website, just make me feel awful, and moody. I decided the main takeaway for me is, I want to eat REAL food and nourish my body with as much nutrition as possible, but I think it’s easy for people to use it as a cop out to eat a bunch of junk food if they are not careful! (Although I guess that is not what he recommends, it can just come across that way sometimes. It can be very confusing)

Sarah Smith said...

Sara, you are absolutely right! I know that real foods are the way to go, so I use the diet recovery principles to help me make sure I'm not obsessing too much about food, but I don't want to reintroduce junk food when it is already very easy for me to avoid it.

Mrs.Momof6 said...

What sort of tight tummy bands? I worked my transverse for the last year, since my last baby left me with a 5+ finger Diastasis Recti... it's now down to 1 finger, but the abdominal muscles still seem bowed to the front, like the long ab muscles are too long...

I think during this PG I'd like to wear some sort of support, so I was wondering what you wore. THanks!

Mary Voogt said...

Hi Sarah,

I was wondering how things are going right now? Are you still eating lots of ice cream for breakfast? Has your weight gain slowed/stopped? I'm still trying to figure things out for myself. As someone else that tried going "off" GAPS and nursing I was wondering if you have found a balance that seems to work for you...that helps your temps, doesn't cause constipation and doesn't lead to major weight gain?

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Mary,
Right now, I'm still about 95% GAPS. My joint pain that came back when I ate tons of starches for a month on RRARF is still here (it is relatively minor, just a bit of tenderness/soreness in one wrist). It would probably go away if I went back to strict GAPS, but I'm not planning to right now. I'm eating potatoes once or thrice a week, and occasionally enjoying some homemade popcorn. Yum!

While eating ice cream twice a day was great for my energy levels, the weight just kept coming. Now I'm eating ice cream a few times a week. My energy levels are definitely more variable now, but I feel like I have to find a balance between good energy and not gaining 5 pounds every month. I am still making sure to eat plenty of carbs, and really letting my body lead me on that (so I've also been eating GAPS-legal cookies lately). My temps are creeping up, but then they still get easily knocked back down by exercise. I seem to be able to handle a small amount of walking or some moderate yoga, but anything more makes my temps plummet (they'll drop almost a whole degree overnight, and then take a couple weeks to recover again). And I definitely feel very tired the day after working out (the most recent time was only a 15-minute strength workout, so nothing too crazy, but it still made my temps drop).

So I don't feel like I have found the right balance yet. And I vowed not to even step on the scale until the end of April because it is too discouraging (especially since I've never had weight gain problems before). How about you?

Mary Voogt said...

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for sharing. I'm trying to figure things out too. I've always been fairly thin...and I'm still not big, but I don't want the weight gain to continue at this pace. I too hate stepping on the scale when my weight is up about a pound every week! I go back and forth about GAPS. I'm anxious for Matt's next post on GAPS to see what his thoughts are. I am still having wheat in my diet right now. As far as I can tell I tolerate it better than potatoes or rice. But I can easily go overboard. I have to be careful that I get plenty of veggies as my carb source. I just made a new sourdough starter, so we'll see how I do with sourdough bread.

My temps have been very low, especially in the morning. Like 94/95 in the morning. Then I do a small amount of exercise (10-15 min.)...and my temps are 92/93! They rise later in the day...usually 97s. Today after eating a huge piece of sourdough bread w/ butter and lots of salt for lunch my temp is 98.3!! The highest I've seen in a long time. So maybe the bread is helping me? Although now I feel so stuffed and gross. Do I base things on my body temp or on how I feel? It's hard to say. I ate ice cream with breakfast both yesterday and today...and I've actually had a lot more energy and have been in a much better mood. But again, is it going to pack on the pounds even more? Hard to say. I wish it wasn't so hard to figure out.

I'm like you...for the first few weeks after GAPS/after adding carbs, etc. I felt great! I could eat whatever. My digestion was great. Then it got really bad again. I think I went a bit too crazy with just eating what I wanted. Now I'm back to eating fermented foods daily and taking biokult again. After a couple weeks of pretty bad die off I think I'm getting back on track. But still not there totally.

It sounds so simple when you read Diet Recovery...just eat, eat, eat and rest and your temps will go up and you'll feel great. But it hasn't been like that. I'm sure the nursing has a big impact. And not being able to get enough sleep is a big issue too. My son usually gets up once a night to nurse yet and is an early riser too. 6 hours is a GOOD night for me. I don't expect to fully recover until after I'm done having kids/nursing. But I would still like to find a good balance for now. Some days I think I'm getting there. Other days I feel lost. I just try to tell myself to keep trying. I have to figure out what works for me, as tough as that seems to be. I'm trying to focus on nourishing foods, with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats with moderate protein. And I'm really trying to take note of how I feel when I eat things like sugar/sweets and wheat.

We'll see how the sourdough sits :P Maybe that will be my new go-to carb/temp long as I don't eat too much of it at one time :\

Thanks again for sharing.

Sarah Smith said...

Thanks for sharing! Like you, I don't think I will be able to fully recover until I'm done nursing and can get more sleep. My son has sleep problems (we're working with a homeopath on that); he slept 4 hours ONCE, but his usual is 1-2 hours at a time. And then he wakes up and needs to nurse back to sleep. Although I don't believe in letting kids cry it out, I would probably give it a try with him if I thought it would work, but he doesn't even wake up and start crying. He wakes up and tries to get up and get out of bed (no crying, just ready to be up). He has had a hard time with sleep ever since he was born, and nursing is the one thing that can consistently get him to go to sleep, so I don't have any plans to try to wean him anytime soon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the homeopath will find the right cure. (I've also had insomnia myself since about halfway through my pregnancy with my son, and I definitely think the two are related somehow. I am awake for several hours in the middle of the night on most nights. So even though I spend 10 hours in bed each night, I'm usually lucky to get 6 hours of broken sleep, and sometimes more like 4-5.

I agree that reading Diet Recovery made it sound so easy. And I think that it probably would work well if I wasn't nursing and was able to get more rest. But where my life is right now, it doesn't seem like there is any quick fix, and I'll have to keep trying my best to be as well as I can until I can really focus on it and sleep well someday. My temps are much better than they were before my first pregnancy (back then, I sometimes had some 93's, and was typically in the 95's, but I didn't know anything about temp and metabolism). Now they run more like 97 (or 98 with my ear thermometer). I can definitely tell that my mood and energy seem better when my temps are up.

I'm also looking forward to Matt's post about GAPS, although I don't think there are any magic bullets that will work for everyone. Part of what makes me so confused is that I was basically eating as many carbs/protein/fat as I wanted for years on a WAPF diet (which to me seems similar to the RRARFing I was doing), yet I still got joint pain and adrenal fatigue during my second pregnancy. Then going low carb (unintentionally) made me feel great for awhile, but then bad again. It seems like perhaps the body just needs different things at different times, and that there is no solution that will work forever. Certainly hundreds of years ago, peoples' diets would have been like that naturally: during the winter months, they would have eaten more grains and root veggies; during the summer months they would have eaten more fresh veggies; when it was apple season, they would have gorged on apples until the tree was picked clean and certainly not worried about making sure to get enough protein and fat with them!

Anyhow, it is nice to *talk* with someone else who is going through the same things!

Mary Voogt said...

Oh, Sarah...that stinks that your son has such bad sleep. How old is he? I'm not really a fan of crying it out either...but we had to. I just couldn't keep up with the sleeplessness. My son could be out cold in my arms, but the moment I laid him down he would scream. We tried everything we knew to make sure nothing was wrong - clean diaper, fed, teething gel, tummy drops, etc. It didn't matter. So I took a week to let him cry at nap time. Honestly, he ended up not crying for that long (the first couple days were the hardest). And within about 4 or 5 days he was settling himself in minutes. And he's been doing well since then. Just this morning I fed him at 5:45. He was asleep in my arms. I laid him down...instant crying. But I just left the room. He stopped within a minute or two and is still sleeping (it's been 45 min.). He'll be 1 in a few weeks. He's still nuring a lot, but we'll see how long it lasts. I don't have any set time frame for stopping. Likely by age 2. But we'll see how it goes. Is there a way to make a safe/conatined environment for your son so that you don't have to get up just because he's up? Allow him to play if that's what he wants to do? My daughter used to play in her pack n play for a long time. I'd put her in at "nap time" with lots of stuffed animals. And I'd leave the room. Some days she would fall asleep right away. Others she would play for an hour before going to sleep. Either way I didn't have to attend to her. She did this until she was at least 3 years old.

Yeah, I'm learning that I can't just find the "one thing" that works and stick to it forever. Our needs change over time. In high school/college I ate super low fat. So I've been eating really high fat for the last few years to compensate. But I'm wondering now if my body is ready for me to tone it down just a bit with the fat. Not low fat, just not quite so much. And obviously I'm upping carbs now after going too low in that area as well. I really don't think I ate low carb on GAPS (at least not really low carb...I still ate lots of dried fruit, honey, veggies, etc.). I just think my ratio of carbs to fat and protein was too low. I need more carbs and less protein. It wasn't about total carbs. It was more about the ratios.

I'm wondering if after 4 months of ETF my body is saying that's enough. I've gained about 11 lbs. now. And I think (I'm hoping) my body is reaching its limit. The last few days my appetite is way down. I still try to eat a good breakfast (lots of veggies and ice cream:). But even with a lunch that isn't that big I'm hardly hungry the rest of the day. Which is so not like me. Normally I'm starving by dinner time. And still eat a good size snack before bed. Lately I just have a very light dinner (mostly veggies) and then a glass of raw milk or something before bed. We'll see. I'm trying to really take note of how I feel when I eat wheat/starch. I'm not giving up on it yet since it might take time for my body to be able to handle it again/I might need the exposure. But I'm not going to just eat as much as I want if it's making me feel bad. Hopefully a year from now we can look back at this and see how beneficial it was and be at a better, healthier place. Good luck to you. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Voogt said...

Forgot to ask...what are your thoughts on the RBTI stuff? Some days I try to drink a little less. But I know nursing requires a lot of fluids. Just wondered if you've changed your water intake at all?

Sarah Smith said...

Thanks for the suggestions for my son. He is 26 months old, and part of the problem is that he is very sensitive to noises, movement, and light. He would even startle awake as a newborn, and I had to spend about an hour every night to get him to go to sleep with babywearing, walking, shushing, and patting his bottom. I was so relieved when he finally got into the habit of nursing to sleep, as it was so much easier than that whole routine.

I think that his sleep problems are deeper than just needing a behavioral nudge. They seem to be connected to the fact that I developed insomnia while pregnant with him, and that my husband has had insomnia for as long as he can remember. So I think there is something out of balance in my son that needs to be addressed.

For now, I'm not going to make any big changes until we finish with the homeopath. With homeopathy, so far, I have seen big improvements in the way he sleeps, if not the duration. He normally flails around and talks in his sleep almost constantly; this has been getting much better with the help of the homeopath. I'm interested to see how far we can go with the homeopathy, and will keep your suggestions in mind in the future.

I found this article recently, and thought it was very interesting:
It makes a whole lot of sense to me, and I've been trying to pay more attention to my body's signals and less to what I *think* I should eat nutritionally.

I haven't really been to interested in the RBTI stuff. Something about testing urine with a refractometer turns me off :) But ever since I started GAPS, I noticed that I needed much less water, and I just go with my body's signals. Some days, I only drink maybe one glass of lemon water, and the rest is milk and kefir. I used to get dehydration headaches lots before GAPS, but can't even remember the last time I had one now, so I seem to just need WAY less to drink when I'm not eating grains/starches much. I also remember reading an article about how a woman's milk production actually doesn't change much whether she is drinking lots of water or not much, so I think that gave me a little relief to not worry about forcing myself to drink more than I desired.

I also hope that a year form now we can both look back and see lots of progress from here! We'll have to keep in touch and find out what we're both doing periodically since we seem to be in such similar places!

Anonymous said...

What brand do you use for the spirulina powder in the mint ice cream recipe? Thanks so much!

Sarah Smith said...

I buy it in bulk at the local healthfood store. I think it is Frontier brand.

Jolene said...

Hi Sarah,
Thanks for your post. I am on about day 3 of RRARFing and am still sooo nervous about doing this and with the possibility of it not working and gaining weight for nothing. I guess it is worth a try though. Does Matt recommend going beyond a month of RRARFing if temps haven't risen? Also just to make sure I am doing this right so I don't gain weight for nothing. I bought his Diet Recovery and now he seems to be saying that RRARFing should be done with refined foods "junk food." So basically I should be loading up on high carbs from "junk food" and not working out at all the first month, is that right?

Sarah Smith said...

Matt does recommend RRARFing for longer if necessary. In my case, since I am nursing and can't get much sleep, RRARFing didn't seem like a good solution. I kept gaining weight, and my temps are barely budging (and quickly fall again if I do any exercise besides yoga or light walking). So I stopped RRARFing after 2 months (and over ten pounds), and am trying to still get my temps up by making sure to eat plenty (but not overeating like RRARF) and keeping my activity level low. It may be that, for me, I won't be able to fully recover until I stop nursing and can get better sleep (once my 2-year-old starts sleeping better).

I would have a hard time fully embracing the junk food philosophy, but it does sound like many people who've been eating whole foods do benefit from some junk food. I just made up for the lack of junk food with lots of homemade ice cream, cookies, etc.

I think whether or not you should go high-carb depends on what you've been eating previous to RRARF. If you were low carb, then high-carb is probably beneficial. But if you were eating carbs already, it seems like plenty of protein, fat, and carbs are in order. Good luck!

Mary Voogt said...

I hope the homeopathy works for your son! Just remember this won't last forever :)

I had read that article by Dr. NCM a while back. Very good. Really reminds you to listen to your body. I'm starting to wonder now if so much wheat was not a good idea for me. I'm still really struggling.

I read your post below. I came to the same conclusion as you...why amd I packing on all this weight when I can't fully commit to RRARFing right now? So I'm not overeating. I'm not undereating, but I'm not pushing myself. I know I can't get the sleep, etc. I need so why gain the weight for nothing. My weight is still going up, though. Very annoying. I'm wondering if it's the wheat. I've been doing lots of ice cream lately too. Maybe I'll have to try going back to grain free.

I was wondering if you've ever looked into fiber menace. I've dealt with constipation for a long time. Maybe fiber has been really harmful instead of helpful. It seems irritating. Now I'm dealing with a painful fissure. I had surgery 5 years ago for a rectal prolapse. I now wonder if all of the advice to keep upping fiber and drinking more water did a lot of damage. I'm considering going low fiber very temporarily to see if that helps calm things (it would be more like GAPS again). Just wonder if you've read it/have thoughts.

Also, what is your take on cod liver oil? I thought it was so healthy and have been taking it for a while. But now I see Matt Stone saying it's full of PUFAs/inflamatory. It's all so confusing.

Jolene said...

Thanks! I sure hope the gain will be worth it:)

Sarah Smith said...

I haven't read the Fiber Menace, but since I'm still about 95% GAPS, I'm probably not getting all that much fiber anyway. Sounds interesting, though. I have actually had no more problems with constipation since I started taking Protandim about 6 weeks ago. It seems to also help me have less heartburn. It is totally herbal, but rather expensive. I heard about it from someone in our local WAP group who has good results with treating adrenal problems with it. You can see more about protandim here:

I have also heard mixed things about cod liver oil. We used to take it religiously, but once it became fermented, we've had a harder time taking it every day. And since I've been hearing mixed things about it now, I've been taking it even less frequently. One thing I notice is more canker sores in my mouth when I don't take it regularly, so it definitely seems to have a beneficial effect on my immune system. But it is so gross sometimes! I had no problems making myself take it when all I heard was that it was good for you, but I've harder time being motivated to take it since I've heard some mixed things about it.

Mary Voogt said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into protandim. My colon surgeon just put me back on miralax :( I had been on it for about 5 years and finally just weaned off. But I had a major fissure and was in pain daily. So now I'm back on. I hate the idea of putting a chemical in my body day after day and being so dependant on it. But it is what it is for now. I have to let the fissure heal.

I've been scaling back the FCLO too. And now I wonder about giving it to my kids as much. So hard to know what to believe anymore. With GAPS, WAP and Matt Stone I feel like I go around in circles sometimes.

Whaleback said...

The weight gain issue rather concerns me too and not quite so much because it makes me feel flabby and uncomfortable but because NOTHING fits, which doesn't help with the uncomfortable feeling. I can't afford a new wardrobe so the gaining weight thing just isn't an option unless it's only a couple pounds for a very short period. How much weight gain are people experiencing?

Sarah Smith said...

I gained about 10-12 pounds in 3 months (and only the first 6 weeks was hardcore RRARFing). The weight gain has slowed for me (and I actually lost a pound or two last month).

Christina said...

Hi Rebecca

I am also nursing & my son is sensitive to dairy & soy. It's the protein. I have been able to do heavy cream (very calorie dense & high in MCT's) because it has almost no protein whatsoever. Also sour cream. You may want to give it a try.
Also goat milk should be safe.. the protein & fat structures are different than cow's milk. Goat milk is also higher in MCT's than cow's milk.

BTW I am super encouraged by your experience with RRARFing. I'm kind of in my 2nd month of it (mostly only at breakfast b/c of the weight gain). I've gone from the 94's to just hitting 97.0 today, but the weight is holding steady at a 15 pound weight gain. It's hard not to want to diet!

Caroline said...

Hi Sarah, Love this post. I am also quite interested in all of Matt Stone's findings. I was coming off LC/GAPS myself, and my weight gain lasted 4 months, until it started to come back down a little, while my temps are still up. So I really think there is something to it! Amazing for me to eat ice cream as a health aid after serious sugar phobia!

Lisa G said...

Hi Caroline, I just started RRARFing (day three). Can you give me more details about your experience? Did you RRARF or just do LC?GAPS? Thanks,