The Stage 2 Slump

GAPS 2 isn’t much better than GAPS 1.

We spent four days in Stage 1, sticking to broth, boiled meats and boiled vegetables. Everyone was getting more and more sick of the same three meals repeated; so, even though I couldn’t really tell based on behavior or physical evidence that Logan’s body was healing (i.e., stools), we moved into Stage 2.

“A junk food egg!” Logan exclaimed, seeing his eggs cooked in ghee rather than poached in stock.  He was beside himself with glee.

But other than ghee, there really wasn’t much difference between the stages. Fresh herbs could be added, but I’m such a bad cook that those don’t help me much; I don’t know what to do with them. I think our only other Stage 2 addition was fish, instead of just boiled beef and chicken, and Logan ate about five fillets of tilapia in one sitting.

Still, he and I were both losing weight. Logan’s lunch and snack boxes came back from daycare and school completely full–he wasn’t even taking a bite of food. We could coax him into eating at home, but only with enormous patience, threats of no books before bed, and promises of “root beer” (fizzy mineral water with two stevia drops) if he cleaned his plate.  Then we added yogurt. Finally, something kids define as a “snack,” and something he would eat at daycare.

But despite additions in our diet–or maybe because the additions were so few–GAPS suddenly became harder.  I felt tired and sick of food.  The thought of chicken made me reel.  I was more tempted than ever before to cheat; the pride I felt from sticking to a spartan meal plan began to wane.  

Logan seemed to echo these thoughts.  His behavior at daycare changed sharply, with more aggression each day and more screaming outbursts.  Picking him up each afternoon became more and more draining each day–listening to Miss Amy recap his day seemed to just zap what little energy I had left. 

And his eyes were so baggy.  Even though he slept fine — in fact, it could be argued he is sleeping better on GAPS because now he falls asleep right away rather than lying awake for two hours — he acted tired.  I decided to give him another apple, thinking he might just need the extra sugar, but it didn’t seem to affect anything.  And on top of his sluggishness, the little scratch that had been under his nose seemed to be growing into a net of red bumps circling his mouth.

Thank you to everyone who supported our walk for autism! Together, we raised $1,500!

Logan at our fundraising walk for autism. We are so grateful to everyone who supported us! Together, we raised $1,500 for charity!

The GAPS book makes it seem like anyone can try to reintroduce dairy, our MAPS doctor told us, but in her experience, she’s seen very few be successful with it. The rash, the aggression, the lack of energy–Logan was going to have to give up dairy (again).  So much for our one snack.

Like ending Stage 1, we might just have to rush out of Stage 2 simply because we can’t take it anymore.  So, onto Stage 3.  With a sigh.

Feeling: Lethargic

Our best Stage 2 meal:

Zucchini casserole from Cara at Health Home Happy (this website was a lifesaver for us in Stage 1!).

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 4 zucchinis
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Cube the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Slice the zucchini into 1/2 inch rounds. Place chicken and stock into the bottom of a loaf pan, sprinkle with salt, and top with zucchini.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is soft.

Surprisingly, even though it involved touching raw chicken (I’m slowly getting over that), this was incredibly easy to make.  And Logan actually ate every bite!  

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Surviving Stage One

“Hey,” my husband mumbled in a low voice, casting a sideways glance at me.  The kids were at the kitchen island, as they usually are when we arrive home from daycare, chattering and vying for my attention.  “There are cookies in the cupboard for you.”

“Nope!” I smiled.  “I’m doing the diet.”

“You haven’t cheated?”

I shook my head, then admitted I had taken one bite of an apple during Logan’s class field trip to the apple orchard.  He’d begged and begged to have one of the ones he’d picked, and it broke my heart to say no.  He devoured it like it was the most delicious treat known to man–I was worried for a second he was even going to eat the seeds and stem.  But other than that, we haven’t strayed from GAPS Stage 1-legal food.  (I even made it through my Thursday coffee shop run with a coworker without ordering anything other than herbal decaf tea.)

I couldn't say no to an apple during a class field trip.

I couldn’t say no to an apple during a class field trip.

We are now on Day 5, and things are looking up.  All week Logan has had fabulous, focused days at school, earning a “rock star” badge every day.  He had the best night he’s ever had in karate class, following the instructor the entire time without getting distracted and wiggly.  

Of course, meals are still another story.  Every time it’s time to eat, Logan approaches the table with apprehension.  Most of the time he refuses to eat during the day.  Snack times are the worst, ranging from all-out meltdown for a half an hour to a quivering lip for a few seconds.  He hates all broth and will sit at the table for two hours rather than taking one sip.  Even the “Shredder” chicken, which is shredded chicken simmered in broth and named after Logan’s favorite Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles character, doesn’t appeal to him.   (I devour it.)

Our world right now is basically turned upside down.  We’re installing hardwood floors, so all the furniture from two rooms is piled in the kitchen.  This obviously makes things harder, but at the same time, I feel like GAPS has simplified things, too.  Now when I open our fridge, I don’t have to wonder to cook, because all I see are five 1-quart mason jars filled with broth, vegetables, and meat.  And even I can pour broth into a large saucepan and add veggies and meat to simmer.  I kind of like it, actually.

Boiled squash, chicken and onions.

Boiled squash, chicken and onions.

And despite still feeling drained and heavy if it’s been too long between meals since I’ve eaten, overall, I believe I have more energy.  Now when the kids go to bed, I don’t instantly collapse in my bed.  I actually have energy to go wash dishes.  And when my alarm goes off in the mornings, I don’t feel like I’m rising from the dead and stumbling downstairs to cook and wash another round of dishes (aside from meal-time meltdowns, dishes are the worst part of the diet — I now wash dishes before work and after work.)  I’ve also lost 8 pounds, though losing weight isn’t something I wanted to do.

And I think Logan is cheerier, too–again, except for meal times.  And those will get better as we move on to Stage 2, which we’ll start tomorrow.  We get to have ghee!  And we’ll try introducing yogurt, too, which we’ve held off on until now because the casein makes me hesitate a bit.  Hopefully, as we are able to introduce more foods, meals will get easier.

Stay tuned for Stage 2.

Feeling: Dedicated

My shopping list for the next five days:

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 1 big bag of carrots
  • 2 butternut squashes
  • 2 bags of onions
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • Ginger root
  • 4 pounds hamburger
  • 4 pounds roast
  • 2 whole chickens
  • Case of mineral water

Stocking up to start GAPS

The kids are at daycare.  It’s my day off, and my lovely walk with Loki is over.  I’ve bought the last of my groceries.

It’s time to start cooking.

My first attempt at making bone broth

My beef broth had been simmering all night, and as I turn it off and poured it into mason jars, I wonder why it seems a little pale — more like water with a bit of dirt than the thick, dark brown gel I’d been expecting.  And there’s so much of it — by the time I empty all of the liquid from my stock pot, I’m down to one empty mason jar left.  I’m sure I did something wrong, but I can’t figure out what.  I know I followed the directions, vague as they were.  (Fill the pot 3/4 of the way full?  Does it matter if I use a giant pot or a little pot?)

Oh, well, I decide.  Nothing I can do about it now.  So I move on to my next task of the day, making SCD/GAPS yogurt.  I pour my organic, whole-cream, grass-fed cow milk into a saucepan (only after Googling “how many ounces in a quart?” and pouring the milk into a Nalgene bottle to figure out how many ounces there were in the half-gallon container) and balance my new thermometer on the side (have I mentioned that besides hating cooking, I also hate math?).  Then I wait.  And wait.

Eventually, the milk hits 180 degrees F.  Hurrying, I plunk the saucepan into a large bowl of ice and wait for the temp to drop down to 110.  Now I have to figure out how to keep it there for the next 24 hours.  I wrap the mason jar with a beach towel and cram it into a small cooler, draping more towels over the top.  Maybe that’ll work, I think.  Probably not, but maybe.

Now it’s time for chicken stock.  I’ve posted before about how much I hate touching raw meat, and no, I haven’t gotten used to it in the past year (mostly because my husband still does most of the cooking.)  I try not to grimace as I rinse the chicken in the sink, and and try not to think about how much it feels like a naked baby.  I realize I’ve never handled a whole chicken before.  I wish I could still say that.

Is anything more disgusting than raw chicken?

Is anything more disgusting than raw chicken?

My recipe called for the neck and giblets to be added to the stock pot, but the chicken I bought hasn’t come with those.  I both scowl that I bought the wrong thing and sigh with relief that I don’t have to touch any more disgusting bits for now.  I throw the chicken in its pot, add onions, carrots, garlic, a thick slice of ginger root and water, and set it on the stove.  Go me–four hours down and three cooking goals mastered.

Flying high, I move on to putting away laundry and cleaning bathrooms.  I’ve done two loads and am on my third bathroom when Jason walks in.  He wastes no time letting me know how I messed up everything.

“Why didn’t you cut the onion up more?  That would give the stock more flavor,” he said. “Now it’ll taste like water, just like the beef stock you made.  You put way too much water in that one, and you bought the wrong type of bones.  And the yogurt probably won’t stay at a constant temperature the way you’ve done it.”

“I just need to take over,” he continued later, when it’d been proven he was right about the mistakes I’d made.  The beef broth was watery, and after he took over and finished the chicken stock, it tasted much better.  “It’d be like me trying to teach the kids grammar.  That’s your area; cooking is mine.”

Holding a scummy wash rag and bottle of ACV, I kick the bathroom door shut and start to cry.  I’d been so proud of myself, yet it turned out I’d done nothing right.  

Feeling: Devastated

 

The bone broth that turned out more like water

 

The last latte

Loki and my last latte

Today I took off work to cook in preparation for GAPS.  I need to make chicken stock, beef stock, and GAPS yogurt to have on hand when we start tomorrow.

But first, I took a lovely walk with Loki and enjoyed my last latte.

Here goes … wish me luck!

Feeling: A nagging sense of foreboding 

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