Does the GAPS Diet Make You More Sensitive?
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Does the GAPS Diet Make You More Sensitive?

Does the GAPS Diet Make You More Sensitive?

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 It is full of GAPS friendly recipes that I am sure many of you will find yummy. Please come check it out!

Does the GAPS Diet Make You More Sensitive?

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.

Does the GAPS Diet Make You More Sensitive?

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!

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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.

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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 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 🙂

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~Stay Gutsy, Caroline

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  1. Wow. Reading this made me really appreciate the fact that I’m NOT sensitive! Part of my mind wants to say “this is crazy!” and “maybe there’s something else going on with her than meets the eye”, but then I remember that we were all created differently and the Lord has given us different struggles to deal with. I’m glad the young woman in this post is bright enough to do her own research and can help herself through her reactions in a healthy way. It also is a good reminder to those of us who don’t have those kind of reactions that our bodies are still coming in contact with harmful chemicals, we just don’t have the physical evidence of it. Thank you for reminding us all, sensitive or not, to watch out for the things in our environment that can be toxic.

    1. Emily,

      Yeah I know, I am very unusually sensitive. It is so frustrating, but I am glad that I made you feel better! (that is my goal in life, to help others). I always ask myself and doctors if there is something I am missing, though I have been sensitive my whole life, GAPS just make things more prominent while I am healing right now. My mom always says that my body tells the real truth. I am the barometer, and I am lucky that my body can figure out so much. 🙂

  2. Wow, I can relate so much to your story!! I’m just so happy for you that you have been able to make such good changes to your life at such a young age. I also do the same things in your regimen for healing. But something else that I do that I didn’t read is coffee enemas they are soo detoxing to the body! I really feel they would help you greatly when you are going through one of your tough times! Also when I go to the link for the mattress it takes me to the site that sells the saunas I need to get a mattress so I would like to see which one you recommend! Thanks

    1. Nancy, I had to change and research or else I would be totally useless! Oh yep, I forgot to mention I do black tea enemas (coffee gives me a buzz!) when I really need to deep detox. It really helps..Thanks for reminding me! Not enough people do enemas! Sorry about the link. I bought mine at moss envy! Thanks for catching this 🙂

  3. This has been my experience as well. While in the long run, when my health overall is up I can “tolerate” more. Starting diet changes and GAPS gives my body the tools that it needs so it can better “speak” to me. It has been both enlightening and frustrating.

    I sometimes think that some people don’t have any obvious reactions because their body cannot speak to the toxicity of things, but then they develop cancer or chronic problems and can’t understand where they came from. The threshhold was hit. Best to be wary and cautious from the start!

    1. Hi Jen!

      Thanks for sharing this with me, if makes me feel like I am not so alone 🙂 I completely understand the part about learning to speak for myself….I am still learning. I seem to react immediately to everything while my sister does not, but I am worried that she will in the future (so I do everything to show her that health matters NOW, even if she doesn’t feel sick now). Thanks for giving me the strength to keep going!

  4. I agree, Emily. It does remind us that we all come into contact with things that are unhealthy for us every day, though we may not have an immediate reaction to it. Thank you for your post, Caroline.

    1. I feel like immediate factions save me from having a really bad delayed reaction. At least I know what is bothering me then instead of waiting and them having no idea what hit me.

  5. Princess in the Pea Syndrome? She married the Prince!!! Thank you for your posts, and your discoveries. Do you find that you are also “sensitive” to other people’s thoughts and feelings to the point of discomfort at times? At present, I work in other people’s homes for 8-12 hours at a time. I can be fine at my home, but after several hours in homes with infrequently vacuumed carpets and drapes, shoes worn in the home (not usually in mine), thick dust, infrequently changed air filters, my sinuses begin to clog up and I have to breathe through my mouth, making my mouth dry….then I drink more water and have to use the restroom more often….vicious cycle….my sinuses do not calm down until I leave the home, then I am totally exhausted from having to work so hard to breathe….no fun!!! I cannot take allergy meds as they make me too sleepy, even hungover the next day, then I can’t do my job. Oh my!!!!

    1. Beverly!! LOVE this analogy, I will remember this forever! I am VERY sensitive to others thoughts and the point of making myself sick. I have learned to be less empathetic and I feel like ti has helped my health as well. Haha your never ending cycle is exactly like mine. I always feel like taking a hot bather sauna in epson salts helps clear everything out. I have my mom clean my dusty parts of my room and I make her dinner. Maybe wearing a mask could help you..I always wear my VOGMASK

      You can talk easily and breath through it very well and people can understand you through it. I hope you find something that helps! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Ugh, we JUST bought a new mattress two weeks ago and plunked down a good amount of money for it, too………never even thought of it being toxic!

    Thank you, Caroline, for opening my eyes to what some people are going through in this world. I love your positive attitude!

    1. Holly, don’t panic. Just take a detox bath or two and be sure to eat very clean the next few weeks to help your body climate any toxins. Epson salt baths are good too. If you can, just de-gass your mattress in the garage for a few weeks. Thanks for reading 🙂

    1. I bought one from Moss envy in minneapolis. They have a website too. It was pricy, but I was fine with my old old mattress. Maybe look at second hand stores or keep your ears open if friends are giving their old mattress away. I feel like it is worth it if I destroys your health!

  7. Hi Caroline,
    Not sure if anyone might of mentioned this in the comments section but about your dress being toxic. Manufacturers often spray clothes with a chemical to protect them from getting ruined by bugs (not sure if it’s still formaldehyde) for this reason whether I purchase my clothes online or at the store, I always wash them before I wear them 🙂

    Hope this tip helps, from one fellow sensitive Caroline to another 🙂

    1. Caroline! LOve the name 🙂 Thanks for informing me on that! I never knew thought about the bug problem, either way it is toxic to our bodies. I know now to wash clothes before i even touch them! Love the tip! We are suppose to help each other 🙂

      1. Hi Caroline,
        LOL!! Why thank you. It is a pretty wonderful name isn’t it?
        By the way, totally thought of you today. Are you familiar with Mommypotamus’s blog? Coincidentally she happen to write about How to Buy a Non-Toxic Mattress today. She’s another amazing fellow researcher whose information I find valuable ( I hope it’s okay that I share the link to her site. She has a Q & A in there and one of the questions were ‘Why do Lambskins Contain Arsenic, Antimony and Phosphorus?’

        By the way, checked out your blog and am totally going to try that salmon jerky recipe – yum.

        1. I know! I saw that! Heather from mommypotamus and I did not even plan this together! What a coincidence! She has a great site for alternative 🙂 Of course it is ok to share this link! Thanks. Ohhh thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you like the salmon jerky…I ate like 1/2 the batch today..oops 🙂 Its zoo yummy!

  8. I’m the same way and have heard from multiple naturopaths that being sensitive to chemicals a “good” sign and not something that you want to go completely away! Your body is protecting itself!

    BTW, my favorite thing to do with new clothes (in fact, I’m doing this to a new sweater right now), is to hang them on a hanger outside for a day, or 2, and THEN try them on. I can do that while leaving the tags on and everything and makes things easier to try on at home. (And it cuts out time in the store if you don’t have to try stuff on! Fewer chemicals!!)

    I take clay when I need to too, but would love to know how you do a clay bath?!!

    1. Caroline may have a specific answer for this, but I give myself and my kids clay baths. We simply dump a bunch of clay (it could be as little as 1/4 cup up to 1-2 cups) into a hot bath, and soak in it. You can rinse off after if you find that you can still feel the clay on your skin (with smaller amounts we don’t notice it, but with larger amounts sometimes we do).

    2. Amy, GREAT Idea! I bought my dress 1 months ago and I only just wore it today, I washed it, oh 20 times! I realized that was probably good enough. I am scared to even go inside stores with lots of cloths in them too long because of the fumes.

      I love that you look on the bright side of things 🙂 thanks , I agree.

      I use 1 cup of powdered clay for my bath. I use the NOW brand, I mix it in a little cup first to stir in the clumps all the way and then I pour the thick liquid of clay into the tub and swish swish swish! I sit in the hot bath for 20 minutes and then I take a shower while the tub is draining out (This helps the clay go down better).

      Hope that helps 🙂 thanks for the support!

  9. This was such a refreshing read! I have been pondering the reasons for heightened sensitivity on the GAPS diet for some time now. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Becoming more sensitive is not a downside of GAPS, we become more sensitive because that is how our bodies are suppose to be (to some extent) GAPS cleans us out. The rest of the world just needs to stop straying chemicals and wear toxins so they too can understand.

  10. My husband today called me “The canary in the coal mine” because I am SO sensitive to chemicals, especially petroleum based chemicals. They sprayed the apartment complex today and we had to evacuate before I ended up in the hospital. The kids seemed ok, just a little cough, but I was seriously worried about my ability to take care of them. So we went to the park, then the mall where there were a bunch of perfume and candle scents (all petroleum based) and I wanted to curl in a ball and cry. It is so frustrating! I was like this before GAPS but it has definitely become more pronounced.

    The light at the end of the tunnel is my body tells me when to avoid something very strongly and leaves me no room to expose my self to toxins for too long. This helps me reduce my toxic load in the long run.

    Also, I love your detox plan! I never really thought of it but now I am going to have to come up with something. I usually just hop in an Epsom salt bath with chamomile and frankincense to soothe and fight inflammation.

    1. Oh my that is an eye opening story! This is why I love blogging because we learn from each other! I cannot go in malls because of the nasty perfume. I don’t know about you but I get so lightheaded when I put gas in my car, usually I ask my sister to help me. I know the “I want to curl up in a ball feeling” Though, I feel like taking a deep breather in a clean park or at a lake brings wonders to my mind and body. I am so glad that you have a small plan, it is never to late to add on things that can help your body! Thanks for sharing too 🙂

      1. allison of branch basics taught me this. it is called being unmasked. now that we’ve healed a little our body is capable of throwing us a headache, nausea, skin reaction to toxins, telling us, get out, move away, don’t get sick again. perhaps after greater healing we can be around some of these toxins again without getting sick. i don’t know.

        i had a mini meltdown last week because of this very topic. how do we heal in such a toxic environment? even when we’re very careful other people’s choices can set us off.

  11. I’ve always been sensitive too, but not as much as you. Its frustrating though even to the degree that I am. I have found that I have become less so as I have done things to help myself, but I am still too sensitive. The one that bothers me the most is other people’s laundry products. I find it permeates their homes. I don’t think they realize how much their homes smell like dryer sheets or fabric softener etc. I come home and smell like it and it makes me feel sick. If other people hold my children, my children then smell and it makes me sick (even the children’s hair smells). I go on a walk, and people are using their dryer vent, and it makes me sick. Sometimes I can’t have the windows open if the neighbours are doing laundry. I find that if people come over, they sit on the couch, then the couch makes me sick when I sit on it. 🙁 Its really hard. My husband had to switch deodorant because hugging him made me sick. (Tom’s of Maine is the only one that works for him and me, even though its still not the best at least it works for him since he can’t smell sweaty at work!)

    SOmetimes I just have to put up with the sick feeling, as I can’t hide and never have people over and go over to other’s homes.

    I use all Nature Clean products. I use their “pet spray and odour remover” on my furniture when others leave and if they sit on the wood chairs I wipe them down with soap and water many times. Sometimes it also has to have time before I can sit there again without feeling sick.

    New clothes aren’t as bad for me as second hand ones, but thats usually all we can afford. I wash them 5-8 times in baking soda and vinegar, and then sometimes I can’t use them even after that, but not usually.

    1. Oh I wanted to mention something else I never thought of. Sometimes I forget I have to think about things. We got out van oil undercoated and I couldn’t drive it for many months. Every day we aired it out but still it took many months. I even had to think through my daughter having her hair done so she could be a flower girl at my SIL’s wedding. I bought special hair spray so she can go to the hair appt with it so that I don’t react to her! I can’t avoid everything but if I can I do. Its little things that all add up.

      1. Nola, Ha you should like me! If my sister wears perfume (she sprays it at school) and then comes home, it is mostly gone. Though we share clothes so I can tell when she does not put her clothes in the wash (If it was a nice dress that should not be washed often). ahh I end up putting it on and start getting a headache. I take it off and put it in the wash and then go make my bed…then I find that she sat on the end of my bed and that too smells like perfume! The never ending cycles of people with sensitivities are what drive us crazy! Dryer smell is awful. I walked past an isle in target today and It send me sprinting down the isle. people thought something was wrong with me..haha no biggie right? …not! Those are TOXIC smells!! I hate to hide but sometimes if I really don’t want to be sick, I will just take a few days and not go in any stores or houses. I love to spend outside time! My family uses natural hair spray too, but It still makes me sick. Once a month or two I used to just suck it up and be sick for a day..though now I have learned that it is not worth it! Speak up, your body and mind will thank you. No person should want you in their house bad enough to make you sick., trust me! I will use baking soda next time I do the laundry for new clothes thanks 🙂

        1. i’m laughing because last week 3 times while i was waiting for appointments i would go outside, take my shoes off in the shade in the hot houston summer days and get a few minutes of grounded time in, only people would idle in the cars in the parking lot, talking on the phone, listening to the radio etc. i just want some clean air to breath while i sweat and get grounded. geez! idling your car is such a waste of gas and health. turn your cars off people, don’t be afraid to sweat!

  12. I have always been slightly sensitive to things like perfume and cleaners etc, but never had any problems with clothes or anything that I was aware of. Until we just brought new sheets and a new duvet cover, which I was too lazy to wash before putting on the bed (8 months pregnant!) and I spent the next few nights itching, thinking that I had eaten something I shouldnt have. THen I finally decided it was the sheets, and changed beds for the night and was soooo much better. Wont be doing that again!

    1. Ahh that is scary! I was itchy for weeks after my mattress, it was my body’s way of detoxing. I am so glad you caught it though! Congratulations, your baby will have one educated mama!

      1. do you ever get itchy after being exposed to chlorinated swimming pool water? my six year old got itchy after playing at a water park yesterday, wasn’t sure if it was heat (he’s heat intolerant, doesn’t sweat well) or chems in water.

        1. Jenna,
          I know your post was from a while ago, but your 6 year old most likely got itchy from the heavily chlorinated water. Chlorine is so hard on our bodies, especially when it seeps through our open pores. Unfortunately, you may want to avoid swimming pools and water parks. 🙁

  13. i am so glad you have your plan and you are healing now! now you can be sure that when (if) you decide to become a mama, you won’t have to watch your kiddos suffer the way your parents had to watch you suffer.

    i am a chemically sensitive mother to two chemically sensitive kiddos. it disturbs our joy, like when we go to disney and wear plastic coated rain ponchos that cause the worst asthma symptoms we’ve seen since we started GAPS 14 months ago.

    it is so heart wrenching to watch your kids not be able to enjoy their childhood. I am bound and determined to help them heal so we can all relax and enjoy this wonderful life.

    my oldest is having a healing reaction I think brought on by introducing branch basics cleaner used as laundry detergent, or a chemical reaction brought on by using tide HE cleaner. we have clay here, he’s been detox bathing in it, but never taken it internally, maybe we’ll try that today and see how he improves.

    have you supplemented with neurotransmitters? serotonin, gaba, dopamine? or written about it? please share if you have!

    thank you for sharing your story, and giving other people hope that they don’t have to suffer. the gain is worth the pain, so keep it up!

  14. Does anyone know? My daughter and I are just about ready to start the intro to the GAPS diet. I wanted to add bentonite clay internally and externally. My understanding is that bentonite clay needs to be taken with fiber and I thought I had read that added fiber is not a good idea early on because it may be irritating to the gut lining. Should taking it internally with added fiber be a problem?

  15. Have you ever tried using Young living oils. they are so many different plant oils , trees oil and herbs oils.It was nature’s first intended medicine or should I say Gods gift. If you haven’t used Young living essential oils, please please, look it to it(: I hope you all the best of luck on your journey throughout life. Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you dear

  16. Sounds like you are magnesium and B6 deficient. I developed increased chemical sensitivities and allergies while on GAPS also. So I dropped GAPS and started eating magnesium and B6 rich food – beans, nuts, potatoes, buckwheat, bananas, etc. Now I have no allergies or chemical sensitivities.

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