Compiled by Medinform Publishing
Most expectant parents look forward to raising a healthy child, never imagining any serious problems; they picture a happy family life and a child who eats well, grows normally, meets his milestones, and brings surprise and delight to his parents. Sadly, more and more frequently these days this happy dream is blighted by the kinds of problems our children suffer coming from several generations of poor diets, sterile food and a vaccination policy gone mad. Severe pickiness, crying from colic (sometimes eighteen hours per day), vomiting on eating, cessation of growth, severe constipation, lack of verbal development, hyperactivity, obsessive-compulsive behavior, tics, severe anxiety, anger, screaming, seizures, self-destructive behaviors, difficulty sleeping and night terrors—all these and more wreak havoc on family life, creating a living hell for parents and siblings, one that cannot be imagined unless you have lived it yourself.
These are the kinds of stories told in GAPS Stories, and all of these stories have a happy ending, thanks to the GAPS diet developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The diet eliminates hard-to-digest disaccharide sugars found in grains, potatoes and unfermented dairy products, and helps restore health to the gut with bone broths, meat and organ meats, cod liver oil, probiotic supplements and lacto-fermented foods.
The hardest part of the transition to a new diet comes in the beginning phase, as parents withhold the high-carbohydrate foods their child is addicted to, and try to introduce nourishing soups, meats and fats, foods to which their picky eaters have an aversion. Consider, for example, the story of the incredibly picky Alex, addicted to only a few high-carb foods. Getting food into Alex was a daily nightmare. He would insist on cutting an avocado into seventy-two bites, for example, gagging frequently and often complaining that he was full when he had in fact eaten very little. When his favorite foods were removed, he first became angry, then listless, refusing his nourishing soup. . . this went on for ten days. “I just wanted so badly to feed him waffles, and pancakes and fruit, and everything his body was craving, the way heroin addicts long for their fix,” said his mother. On the tenth night of the ordeal, Alex came round. When offered the bowl of soup he said, “I’ll try it.” “My husband and I sat there, spoon-feeding him, and crying. He ate two full bowls before falling asleep.”
Getting a child to eat fermented foods is often a turning point. Matthew’s behavior followed a pattern, degenerating every six weeks. “His aggressive tactics destroyed plates and bowls of food, which he swept to the floor. Worse, he was skilled in using projectile vomiting against family members and their dinners. . . One evening. . . he suddenly leaped up, stood on his chair, and delivered a full-scale scream into my left ear. Matthew inhaled readying himself to deliver another sonic blast. Instinctively, I grabbed a large pickled cucumber from a serving plate, and inserted it into his cavernous mouth. Silence!. . . Through tears, I watched as Matthew’s contorted, rage-bloated face relaxed. He grabbed the pickle, inspected it, and took a huge bite. His face softened, his smile angelic—this was the face of a stranger, a sweet child previously unknown to us. I sat down at the table with my exhausted family, our dinners forgotten, as we watched Matthew cherishing each and every bite of the traditional half-sour cucumber. He turned to me, and asked for more, even using the word, ‘Please!’”
The switch to the GAPS diet often turns out to be a blessing for the whole family. One mother surmises that she might have ended up in jail, given her tendency to “snap and lose it.” She foresaw a future in which her children were institutionalized, and her husband debilitated by surgery for his diseased bowel. All resolved by replacing high-carb junk food with homemade soups, fresh meats, good fats and other nourishing whole foods, in the specific order called for in the GAPS protocol.
These are inspiring stories, stories that bring to life the suffering and subsequent relief of anguished parents. “I cried. . . such tears of sadness for my boy, because darkness was overshadowing his future” says one mother. “Now, barely a day goes by when I don’t still cry, but these tears are of such intense gratitude.”
This book should be read for inspiration by any parent embarking on the GAPS diet, and also by those who remain scornful of this scientific and holistic method. No one can read GAPS Stories and remain unmoved.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2013.