I’ve talked about the GAPS diet on this blog previously, and I know that there are many of you that have been or are currently on the diet. Today we’re privileged to have Caroline share with us. I was blown away to read the blog of this very spunky, knowledgable and passionate 18 year old, and today she has graciously shared some of her own GAPS story with us.

Meet Caroline

Hi, I’m Caroline! I am 18 years old and I have a passion for nutrition and the human body. I LOVE to research and experiment in the kitchen. I have had to learn very fast about my body and how to listen to it.

My GAPS story

Every since I was little I have always had extreme sensitivity to the world. Light, touch, food, smells, and surroundings all seem to bombard my body in ways that are hard to explain. I knew something was different at an early age, so I started to experiment with food.

After years and years of struggling, I found the GAPS diet. Good thing the GAPS diet exists; otherwise I don’t know what physical state I would be in today.

Gutsy was born!

Since the GAPS diet is helping, I decided to write a blog about it. Come visit me at www.mygutsy.com. It is full of GAPS friendly recipes that I am sure many of you will find yummy. Please come check it out!

GAPS lemon bars 

Above and beyond the GAPS diet

Even though I promote good food all the time on my blog, I have really never gotten into the other aspects of the GAPS diet. The GAPS diet goes way beyond food. Yes, the food is very important to heal your gut, but environment plays a big role too.

Food only can do so much. Think about if you ate bone broth and veggies all day but you were sleeping on a toxic mattress or breathing in fumes from a new dress you got the other day. Everyday it seems like I learn something new, and usually it is a hard lesson.

My dress was toxic!

Just a few days ago, I received a new dress in the mail. I know I am sensitive, so I try to stay away from malls so I can and avoid all the trial and error of trying on clothes. I just hope that I will like the clothes when I order them online!

The dress straps came too big, so I decided I was going to sew them up so they fit my size. Well, I tried on the dress 1, 2, ,3 ,4…many times to get the right fit. I would pin and sew and try it on again. I think I tried it on 10 times total. Bad idea! By the end of the hour, I started to feel light headed. I went down to my kitchen to get some water and realized that I was not dehydrated, but my body was toxic!

Another slip…

Well the first thing I thought was, NOT AGAIN! This just happened a few days ago when I opened up some spices (I have a bad cross contamination reaction to spices that were made in the same facility as corn/potato/or gluten. I don’t know if I am celiac but my body acts like it). I just got over that reaction with days of being dizzy, swollen and bad headache. It made me frustrated but I always try to make something good come out of a bad situation.

Me sewing my (toxic) clothes!

Lesson learned

Now I know ALWAYS to wash my clothes many times before trying them on. I was also inspired to write this exact post about sensitivities. So I guess it’s a good thing I had that reaction, right?

Does the GAPS diet make you more sensitive?

Many people on the GAPS diet are doing it because they have a leaky gut. It seems like the GAPS diet makes people progressively sensitive, because they are more in tune with their body as they start to clear out all the old toxins. It is confusing… why would someone be worse after starting the GAPS diet?

This question has bothered me for a long time, but I finally realized that once your body is clear of all the old gunk from the past, it works like a new machine! Your senses will be heightened for better or for worse. Your mental clarify will increase and maybe even your reflexes. Everyone is different.

Life is a challenge

Every day is a new challenge for me. Some of you reading this might have no clue what I am talking about, but others who are very sensitive know exactly what I mean! For me, environment plays such a huge role in my healing. I cannot go around shopping or walking on chemically-fertilized park grass and heal at the same time. It is so deceiving, though.

I mean, you see a hamburger from the gas station and most of you think….well, of course this is unhealthy, why would I put that in my body? It is not so obvious when your nice summer dress comes home from the dry cleaners all nice and pretty… does that seem unhealthy? Most people wouldn’t think so, but remember that there are lots of toxins that go into dry cleaning detergents. Uhh!

Toxic vs. healthy?

How do you distinguish between toxic and healthy? For me, every thing I do, I have to question whether this is healthy for my body or mind? This just comes with practice I guess. Some days I wish I was not so sensitive, but on other days I am appreciative because it has taught me so much about my body. I then can share all of this information with you all. Learning from each other and sharing stories is a blessing.

Toxic mattress!

So when I mentioned the toxic mattress earlier, I actually had a toxic mattress exposure. My old mattress was passed down from my grandparents, and who knows how long they had them for! It was getting squeaky, so my parents decided to take me to get new mattress. I bounced around the store lying on the bed (I cringe remembering this!!), trying to decide which one to choose. I brought one home that night and I slept on it for 1 week. That was another lesson learned!

My reaction

About a week later I was driving home from a GAPS group class, and my vision started to get blurry. I kept telling myself….just focus on the lights….only 2 more minutes until you get home. (Next time I would definitely pull over and call my mom to pick me up! Thankfully I did not have an accident).

I crashed that night onto my unknown toxic mattress feeling very sick. The next morning I was so nauseous. I didn’t know what kind of bug hit me. I was just starting the GAPS diet so I thought it was die off or something like that.

For some odd reason, right when I woke up, I remembered an article I read moths ago about natural mattresses and the formaldehyde on regular ones (Ha. I defiantly am a researcher!) I knew deep down that that was the cause.

I walked (or swayed, I was so dizzy!) down stairs crying and blabbing to my mom about how I think my new mattress is toxic. My mom or dad had never heard of such a thing. I felt so bad too, because we just spent a lot of money on a new mattress.

Detox mode!

I was still new to the GAPS diet, but I knew enough to immediately gulp down a few spoonful’s of clay and sit in a clay bath. The days went on and I woke up, drank clay, sat in my clay bath, ate as much as I could stomach (which was a few bites), drove 40 min away to the sauna and then crash on the floor (my new bed) until the next day. Sadly this went on for 2 weeks.

Mattress toxins messed with my brain!

I had bazar neurological symptoms as well. My pupils were dilated or 2 weeks straight. Occasionally words would not come out right, but instead all jumbled. My balance was terrible and I would get high fevers on and off.

For 2 weeks GAPS food went out the window! Bone broth would make me gag and any cooked or fermented vegetables would be left on my plate. All I wanted was water and protein (fish, chicken, beef, liver). I guess this was my body’s way of healing.

Lesson learned and my sauna

This was the hardest lesson to learn yet; I just hope that nothing this bad happens again. Now I have an emergency plan just in case something like this happens again.

I did end up buying a natural mattress that I can sleep on without worry. I decided to go and buy a sauna as well (check out my blog to see which one I use). I used money that I have been saving up from birthdays, Christmas, and babysitting. Not my money for college though 🙂 School is still important to me! I think it was the best thing I have ever bought.

I keep it in my garage and use it everyday. Some days I will be in there for 2 hours after I have had a reaction, so I can just sweat it all out! I am not saying you have to get a sauna, but detoxing through the skin is very helpful! Epson salt baths, clay baths, or even just swimming in a lake or ocean is detoxing to the body.

My favorite hypoallergenic sauna!

Detox reaction plan

Whenever I get extra sensitive, even when it is not a full-blown reaction (like a little dust in my nose after cleaning) I will do my detox plan. I drink a lot of water, take some enzymes, turmeric (anti-inflammatory), netti pot, use magnesium oil on my body, take a walk or swim (earthling), and of course my sauna.

This is my plan remember, and it will help to create your own that is helpful to you.  We are exposed to things everyday and we can’t hide from the world! Don’t ever dread how toxic the world is. It is ok to become aware so you know how to avoid it, but it is unhealthy to obsess over it, because we can’t change everything.

My gutsy advice

My personal advice (coming from a sensitive person) is to keep your house or at least 1 room chemical/dust/everything you are sensitive to free of. Just educate yourself and learn from others, like my stories. I have dips in my health all the time, but I know in the long run that these hard times are teaching me a valuable lesson that I would not have learned any other way. I never give up, and neither should you!

Questions or comments?

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at caroline.lunger (at) live (dot) com. Also, please visit my blog at www.mygutsy.com and see all the experiments happening in my kitchen. We all have our own journey, and It is helpful to learn and lean off one another for support! Keep it up GAPS friends 🙂

~Stay Gutsy, Caroline