April 14, 2011

[I am most appreciative for the chance to post this essay, which is written by a dedicated GAPS mama. To protect his privacy, Frank is not his real name.]

There are six of us on the GAPS diet and each one of us has our own story. This is Frank's Story.

Frank is our fourth child. Before he was conceived, we changed our diet.

[I was eating foods that were stage 1 Feingold and gluten free. Gluten free means that I avoided all food containing gluten, including wheat, rye, barley, oats and more. The Feingold diet advocates avoiding any food containing preservatives or artificial flavors or colors. Stage 1 Feingold means that we also avoided foods that are high in salycilates (apples, oranges, grapes, berries, nuts, and more).]

My pregnancy with this child was relatively uneventful compared with the previous three. I was not placed on bed rest, transferred to a neonatal specialist, or put on meds to control contractions. I did have a lot of contractions, but they were managed by removing any food or chemical that induced too many. This was eye-opening. Frank was born full-term at 37 weeks. He was our biggest baby at 7 pounds 7 ounces. He had a very sturdy and healthy look about him.

We agreed to the hep B vaccine administered at the hospital. In retrospect, I would not do it again and we did not give the hep B vaccine to our fifth child.

His bilirubin levels kept going up so they kept him in the NICU for several days under lights. This was a stressful time for us given all of the scary stuff we were told by the hospital staff. In the end, they called it exaggerated breastfed jaundice. He remained jaundiced for some time, but we just fed him regularly and gave him lots of time in the sun.

Frank had some food sensitivities that were largely resolved by my giving up dairy and chocolate. He was an excellent sleeper from the start and remained so for two years. He was very easy-going and we called him our "happy and healthy" child.

Because our older three children and I had so many issues, we stopped giving vaccines at around six months. I had some research to do.

After our fifth child was born, we had to decide what we were going to do about vaccines. We decided to do them one at a time, spread out, and only if no symptoms of illness were present. A few months after Frank's second birthday, we took him in for a "well-baby" visit. The doctor talked me into two shots in one. I agreed. Brain dead, I signed off on the vaccine which was a two in one combo of DTaP/hepB and Polio. This is actually five in one. He has never been the same.

He began to wake nightly and cry for 30-45 minutes. He screamed in pain and was greatly distressed. We could do nothing but hold him and speak soothingly to him. He would eventually fall back asleep and sleep restlessly until morning. He woke up grumpy and rigid in the mornings. He started napping again and would wake up grumpy. He resisted bedtimes and took forever to fall asleep.

He became rigid about everything. He would only wear certain clothes. He would scream if his fork was not placed on his napkin just so or if it was the wrong fork. He limited his diet to cookies and lemonade and would scream when offered anything else.

His eye-contact slipped and his words became slurred and blended together so that "fall off" became "floff". He stopped bringing us books and refused to look at them when we tried to read with him. He stopped naming and labeling things. He stopped playing with toys and puzzles and started to scatter them in distress.

He lost his coordination. He stopped feeding himself with a spoon. Suddenly he was eating with his fingers. He started wearing his food and he dropped food, utensils, bowls, and everything on the floor. Meals became very stressful.

He started to fall a lot. He would jerk and grab at his eyes and lose his balance. He grabbed at his eyes, opened his mouth, and made a clicking sound while shaking his head. More and more, he started to grab at one of his eyes and cry in pain. All of this got progressively worse over two to three months.

After he ran a fever, lost eye-contact completely, and started to fall regularly, we started him on the GAPS diet. He began to improve immediately. By the time we got him to the pediatric neurologist, he was greatly improved. The doctor read my timeline and description of Frank's regression and entered the examination room expecting to meet a profoundly autistic child. However, Frank's words were clearer. He responded to his name. He named animals we saw on the wallpaper. He we not rigid and throwing tantrums. I had video, but the doctor believed me. We did a few tests, but did not pursue anything beyond that.

We started the GAPS intro diet after three weeks and continued to see improvements. It has been an up and down road, as Frank would react to most new food we tried to introduce. Adding egg yolks caused immediate regression and a return of all of the scary symptoms that had faded away. It took about a year to get them in and we went very slow, dipping the tip of a spoon into the egg yolk and stirring it into his broth.

Now, 19 months since we started GAPS, we celebrated Frank's 4th birthday and he is the most normal and intelligent little boy. He's happy, easy-going, fun-loving, and cute, cute, cute! He likes to help his older siblings with chores. He's a great kid. He is still a little quirky, but aren't we all? So, he's not yet healed, but he is fully recovered. He still has to eat GAPS food and it is still 100% GF/CF and limited, but he is growing, learning, and developing as he should.

We recently did something like NAET to treat his food sensitivities and this has increased his variety of diet somewhat. His rashes have all faded away and he can eat a little honey or fruit without becoming a sensory seeking wild child. Before the treatment, fruit and honey were an absolute "No Go"!

We are continuing with the GAPS diet and look forward to complete healing in his future. This is Frank's Story. You can read about our GAPS journey at to learn more about what following the GAPS protocol looks like for our GAPS family.