The best way to learn is by doing something! Here are five of our biggest mistakes and how we are trying to fix them. And five other things we are doing differently that have helped us.
On to our big mistakes:
- Too much meat. Not enough broth and vegetables. Last year I had a hard time getting my children to eat the broth and vegetables, and they just ate a LOT of meat. This year to make the broth more enjoyable I bought each child a new mug and serve it with that. Drinking broth is easier for children than trying to spoon it out of their plate. Some of my children have texture issues and the broth drunk from the mug made them gag a bit until I learned to add in fermented veggy juice or kefir. It seems to change the texture just a bit and they usually like the taste better as well. We usually start the meal with broth. When they finish their broth then they can go on to the rest of the meal. Even though broth is still not their favorite, they know that it has to come first. To make sure they get enough vegetables I just make sure that I give them an appropriate amount of meat and then they know that if they are still hungry they can eat as many vegetables as they want. Changing these two things has made a big difference on how full we feel and how long we go between meals.
- Not enough fermented foods. Last time we had 24 hour yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. We tried to eat them at least once a day, but even though I knew it was really important it was easy to forget because we simply weren’t used to eating them. While listening to talks about the GAPS diet, someone said (I can’t remember who or I would thank them!) that a simple way to get enough probiotics is to just make sure that every time you eat, you eat some fermented foods first! I started in this time with that goal and found that getting in that habit has made a big difference. I’ve also made a lot of different kinds of ferments and this time we have the ones we got used to last time plus kefir, kombucha, beet kvass and various other fermented vegetables. I try to give a different probiotic food at each meal so we get a wider variety. Yes, at first they caused a lot of die off, but it seemed that at the same time we actually felt better the more probiotics we ate.
- Not enough fats. Even though we never were a low fat family, it still is hard to get used to eating more fats. An easy way to get more is to eat them with your vegetables. Butter on your carrots, oven baked squash fries with duck fat, a little coconut oil drizzled over your broccoli. Any way you want to mix it up, if you season your vegetables well and dress them with a little fat they are so much tastier and much more likely to be a success with your children. I think that this is a big key to having happier children. It seems the more fat I give them the more cheerful they are and the longer they go before they want food. I also made some coconut oil/butter mints with a half and half mixture of coconut oil and butter along with honey and peppermint oil to taste. I keep them in the freezer and If they start to get grouchy and I suspect their blood sugar needs some stabilizing I give them one of these. That also keeps me from heading for the peanuts and raisins!
- Not enough tea. We enjoy tea of all kinds, but in the busyness of everything else I didn’t keep that tea pot filled. This time around, while trying to figure out how to help Miss A to have more stomach healing I read up on which medicinal teas are soothing to the stomach and determined to use them more. It helps that Miss R is big enough now to take on tea making as one of her jobs. We also found some nifty little filters at the grocery store that make loose leaf tea and grated ginger a lot easier to deal with. Our medicinal mix for the day is usually ginger, licorice root, marshmallow root, cranberry, dandelion, and nettle. and along with that we usually put either mint, chamomile, or fennel. Sometimes we mix it up and add in raspberry or elderberry flowers. Maybe milk thistle or calendula, though these are not taste favorites. The way I make sure that everyone is getting their tea is to keep it ready and between meals, if someone says they are hungry I give them a mug of tea, and they discover that a lot of times they thought they were hungry, they were actually thirsty instead and feel better just drinking something.
- Not enough fish oil. Last year when I tried introducing fish oil, one of my little ones had a severe allergic reaction. The others gagged over it (I used a spoonable liquid) and they all seemed extra hyper after a dose of fish oil. This time around I waited longer to introduce it. I wanted to give their guts a bit more time to heal. When we brought it in we watched Miss A pretty close for reactions and when she had none we upped the dose. She is now on a high dose of fish oil and doing so well. Not a bit of reaction! Another thing that helped is that the same brand we had last year is now in capsule form. Yes, I know some people say that is not as good. But it is the best quality brand we can find here in Romania and if giving it to my children in gelcap form gets it into them. . . I’m all for it.
And here are some things we are doing differently. They weren’t mistakes, but changing these five things has made a big difference in how well we feel.
- We are juicing. Once a day, usually first thing in the morning but sometimes in the afternoon, I give the girls a glass of juice. At this point the most common mixture is a green juice that they really enjoy, (find the recipe here!) but sometimes it is a mixture of carrot juice with pomegranate juice or apple juice with a spoonful of beet kvass stirred in. I don’t like using our juicer very much. It seems to waste so much. So softer things like fruit, kale, spinach, etc. I do in the blender and usually only use the juicer for the carrots because we prefer a smoother carrot juice and I can use that pulp for other things.
- We are using more vitamins and herbal supplements. We suspect Miss A has zinc deficiency and some of the rest of us function better with magnesium and other vitamins so I found some brands that are pretty safe with little or no filler ingredients and we are going ahead and using them. For us the benefits have been huge.
- We aren’t cheating. It helps that for about a year, my pantry has been pretty cleaned out and I’ve tried not to bring things in that aren’t good for us. Even while we weren’t on GAPS this summer we ate mostly gluten free and only had potatoes or other grains once or twice a week. Last year, when I still had other foods in the pantry or freezer it was tempting to occasionally cheat. This year, we determined not to do that and the cleaned out pantry and freezer and better habits have helped us make that possible. So we aren’t cheating off the diet, but at the same time. . .
- I’m not stressing over slips. The first week we were on our modified introduction we had to go to town. I knew the children would be hungry so I planned ahead and had a couple bottles of tea and a nice big container of cooked carrots and shredded chicken meat that would be easy on the run. When we got to our first errand, I realized I had FORGOTTEN it all at home. It was too late to go home again and so I determined not to be stressed about it and picked up a few things at the store that were GAPS safe even though we were not yet eating them in this stage of the diet. You know what? It didn’t hurt anyone as badly as going hungry or stressing out would have.
- We are waiting longer to bring in allergens. With the exception of high fat butter and kefir which are well tolerated, we are waiting to bring in dairy. And this time around we aren’t even thinking about eggs till we get further along. Same with nuts. We know for sure that three of us are highly intolerant of nuts and so it’s better just to leave them out long term. Another thing we have done is to leave out all the nightshade vegetables. Just watching out for these has made all of us feel better and Little Miss A is one happy girl. She is not breaking out all over with itchy rashes and her tummy feels a lot better.
If you tried GAPS and you felt like it didn’t work for you, perhaps our family’s mistakes will help you identify some of yours. We all have our imperfections and hopefully being real about these can help us all go on from good to better!