Monday, July 16, 2012

Setting out with a Leaky Gut

We decided to meet with Emily, the Health Coach I had run into at the grocery store, to see what exactly a health coach did. After a few email exchanges to provide some health history and negotiate a time and place, we met back up at the same grocery store where we had our first encounter, this time in the little eating and sitting area in the back corner of the store. I introduced Emily to Laurel and we dove in, the two of them sharing stories of decades of pain and suffering--Emily from Crohn's disease and Laurel from Celiac and Graves. As twisted as it sounds, I think they both loved meeting someone who had suffered as much as they had. Someone who understood.

Then we talked about the diet. I told Emily about discovering the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) through blogs and recipes, and that I had recently ordered and read the book. She asked if I had heard of the GAPS Diet. Like SCD, I had run across references to GAPS on several occasions, usually breezing past, thinking this strange and scientific scientific diet must be for people who are really sick. Recently I had run across it again and ended up perusing the website, because from my research on SCD, it seemed the two diets were quite similar, and recipe authors tended to use the terms interchangeably.

When I finally visited the website, I was put off when I realized that GAPS stood for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. I was trying to heal Laurel's guts- what did this have to do with psychology? Emily informed me that though GAPS talked a lot about mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression, the diet was essentially an evolved version of the SCD. A British MD, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, had come along and picked up the diet where Elaine Gottschall had left off, improving it by adding fermented vegetables and krauts, and refining the legal/illegal food list. Additionally, she expanded the introduction phase of the diet to a very structured eating plan involving bone broths and cultured dairy products, meant to seal up leaky guts in preparation for healing.

As Laurel had been told by several different health care practitioners that she most likely had a leaky gut (very common in Celiac patients) I was all about this gut sealing business. What terrified me a little bit were the meat broths, sauerkrauts, and severely limited food choices. I told Emily that what we could most use her help with was one little hurdle. Laurel was mostly vegetarian.

A reformed vegetarian myself, I had been working on Laurel for the past two years to incorporate more meat into her diet in the name of her health. When I met her she was eating a lot of processed gluten free breads and crackers and dairy- none of which were making her feel very good. We had made baby steps over the years, now I could get her to eat five bites of fried and breaded fish, or a handful of homemade chicken nuggets. The key to my success had always been disguise--if I could grind it up small enough, cover it in a sauce, and fill her plate with enough other things to rotate bites with, I could usually get her to eat it. Now we were faced with the prospect of stripping all the usual cover ups out of our diet and eating plain, simple foods in as close to their natural form as possible. Though Laurel said she was committed, how in the world were we going to do this?

We talked some more about how Emily could work with us, and decided to meet back up again in August, when we were ready to dive all the way in to this new way of eating. She gave us each some assignments for the next meeting. Laurel was supposed to work up to eating different kinds of meat at least four times a week and I was supposed to get myself a yogurt maker, figure out how to use it, purge the kitchen cabinets, and read about the GAPS diet. We were on our way.


  1. It sounds like you're facing some interesting challenges. Best wishes.

  2. I am definitely a challenge! :) It will be difficult but I am committed. Even to the bone broth.

  3. You go! I'm enjoying reading this and applaud your commitment. Having a coach is a great idea - I've used one for different kinds of life changes and always found it helpful.