Hi, there! My name is Tara and my claim to fame is being the winner of I HAVE UC’s 2011 Writing Contest! I wrote about my experience of being on the GAPS Diet and shared that it was working for me. At the time I had been on it 11 months and was anticipating my first “cheat” on my 1 year anniversary- pizza! I recently revisited the post and I was pleasantly surprised to see that comments were still coming in from people who wanted to know how the cheat went and if my success had lasted. I’m happy to oblige- you can consider this post, Part 2!
More about me:
I’m 34 years old and live in sunny California. I’m passionate about health, personal growth and my loved ones. I have a boyfriend I’m crazy about, an adorable Maltese named Roxie and a huge family. I love music, singing, travel and I’m a die hard San Francisco Giants fan. I’m absolutely filled with gratitude for the healing I’ve experienced.
Currently no symptoms. I do still sometimes struggle with fatigue and am watchful to take care of myself. Before I found the GAPS diet I suffered from severe Crohn’s/UC (I was diagnosed with both) and my symptoms were chronic diarrhea, serious bleeding, weight loss, extreme daily pain, etc. At my worst I was in the bathroom 18-20 times a day. I failed every conventional drug including Remicade and was facing surgery right before I found GAPS. You can read more about that portion of my journey in my original post on the site.
I Did the GAPS Diet to Treat My Crohn’s/UC and IT WORKED!
In the fall of 2009 I was in extremely bad shape. I had been in a 3-year flare and could not even leave the house much of the time. It was like a nightmare that never ended. Nothing was working and I had finally relented to a course of Remicade (which I had been terrified of), I was so desperate.
When I also failed the Remicade I was devastated by the reality of my situation: there were no more IBD drugs and the next option was the knife.
During this time I had also been searching exhaustively for alternative treatments. I tried acupuncture, different diets, herbs, supplements, elemental shakes, everything. I knew how damaging the drugs were and I hated taking them, especially since they weren’t even working! I kept thinking that the most logical way to heal my dis-ease had to be through a holistic approach that addressed the root of the problem. Despite my best efforts I kept coming up short.
Until I found the GAPS diet.
My GAPS Protocol
I started the diet in February of 2010 and a did a very slow introduction diet and a simultaneous 8-week dairy fast. (6-weeks is actually the recommended time for the dairy fast but I was a little overly-cautious.) Initially, I had a pretty big “die-off” reaction that lasted about 3 weeks or more. I wasn’t sure it was working, but since I had no other options and I believed in the concept, I stuck with it.
I’m SO thankful I did! After 7 months, I was symptom-free, and in 10 months I was completely off my medication and I’ve never been back on it since.
My protocol included lots of probiotic rich foods like homemade sauerkraut and homemade raw milk kefir (this one made all the difference!) I ate healthy fats, lots of broth, and clean animal protein to rebuild my body. I juiced daily to cleanse my body of toxins. I also did many detox baths as recommended in the GAPS Book to further aid the healing process.
Since this was my last chance for healing, I was absolutely committed to making it work so I decided I would not let any non-GAPS food pass my lips for at least one year. On my one-year anniversary I was feeling amazing and people would comment that I looked like I was glowing. It was time to test the waters… and I wanted pizza!
How did my “Pizza Cheat” go?
I really didn’t know what to expect with the pizza cheat. I was feeling very healthy and strong but still- pizza was a very “illegal” food. I hadn’t had a stomach ache in months. What if I ended up in pain and in the bathroom that night? I knew I would be pretty upset.
My boyfriend and I made a special trip to my absolute favorite pizza place, Zachary’s Pizza in Oakland. The place is famous. Seriously, it’s phenomenal.
We ordered our pizza and I figured I’d really put this whole thing to the test- so I ordered a soda, too!
From the first bite I was in FOOD BLISS!!! In fact, we captured the whole experience on video which you can check out here:
I had no stomach ache that night and the next day my digestion was fine. I hadn’t skipped a beat.
So, what is my diet like now?
After my pizza cheat, I went right back on the GAPS diet. My pizza experience was fun and extremely encouraging but I had originally wanted to do the diet for a year and a half to two years. What my experiment told me was that I was truly healing on the inside. Over the next few months I wasn’t as strict as I was in the past and allowed myself to eat somewhat normally on social occasions, family gatherings or on dinners out.
I always did well on these occasions.
Eventually, my body really began to crave more complex carbs so at that point I introduced gluten-free grains and continued to do well. The GAPS Diet is meant to be a temporary healing protocol and it is encouraged that once healing is achieved, that safe grains are reintroduced.
These days, I eat primarily whole foods and my diet changes according to my mood, the season and my own intuition about what it is that my body truly wants. I limit wheat flour and mostly stick to gluten-free grains but if I do eat wheat here and there, I don’t have adverse reactions. I seem to feel best with a Weston A. Price dietary approach and still include probiotic-rich foods in my diet on a regular basis.
I can eat “normally” and some junk food here and there and be okay but if I overindulge for consecutive days I can tell that my body becomes unhappy and imbalanced. I consider myself in “durable remission” meaning that I don’t really have Crohn’s or UC anymore but if I don’t take proper care of myself, I know that I will be vulnerable to digestive woes because I have an inherent weakness there.
I liken it to having an injury. If I’ve healed from a bad knee injury and then go on to live a normal life, it’s probably business as usual. But if I start an exercise regimen that has me jump roping on a daily basis and pounding that knee, well, it’s obvious that that’s not going to work out very well in the long run because that knee will always be weak.
The bottom line is that the GAPS diet works. It’s true that it may not work for everyone but in my experience the GAPS/SCD dietary approach has a very strong track record for success in IBDers. It’s completely worth the try. I truly believe if you give it a fair shake and do the protocol as it’s written, you stand a substantial chance for success.
I know that many are intimidated by the GAPS diet. Understandably, so- I was really intimidated and scared about it, too. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to go without grains. The key is that you don’t have to do it overnight. Take your time and take baby steps toward the goal. If you’re eating a Standard American Diet, the GAPS diet is probably too big of a jump for you. You might want to work on cleaning up your diet first, then maybe getting gluten-free next, and so forth from there.
Also, it really helps to be in connection with others who are also changing their diet and lifestyle. Find a buddy or a group of buddies online so you can support one another through the process. It will greatly increase your chances of success.
Stay encouraged and keep the faith! If you want to learn more about what I’m doing, feel free to visit my webpage at: www.CrohnsBabe.com
With Love & Light,
Probiotics, Vitamin D3
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s/UC in May of 2004. After several years I ended up failing all conventional drugs and treatments (including TPN and Remicade) and was facing surgery in 2009. Thank God I found the GAPS Diet! It saved my life and restored me to health. I’ve been living in durable remission since 2010 and am medication-free.
Hey Tara! Your story is very inspiring!! I went back and read your original story, and it’s super informative for someone like me who is reading about SCD and GAPS diets for the first time. Sounds like you’ve found a great balance between self discipline and giving yourself a break :)
Congrats on your long journey of healing and thank you for sharing your story with us!!
Thanks so much, Debbie! I’m so happy to hear that my story inspired you. :)
Some unsolicited advice: If you do SCD/GAPS really do it full force. Get entirely educated before you start and give it a good 6 months STRICT before you really decide if it’s working or not for you or not. The biggest mistake I see is that people give up too quickly or don’t adhere stricly enough.
Know that you will likely get a worse before you get better as your body detoxes. It’s to be expected. This is where I see people freak out, conclude the diet isn’t working and then quit. It happened with me; I had a few weeks there where I got really sick and didn’t think it was working but really, my body was finally getting rid of all the junk. It took a few months for me to really notice a difference.
Also, I’ve seen people get better results with GAPS because it’s an entire protocol that includes diet, detox and supplementation. Instead of just removing the offending foods, it really pushes the healing and therapeutic foods like broth, homemade kefir and sauerkraut. I know that SCD does chicken soup and the yogurt but GAPS takes it further with some heavy hitting foods that really pack a therapeutic punch.
I always tell people that if you decide to start with SCD and not GAPS that’s fine- as it is a bit less daunting but it’s a good idea to also add in a few of those therapeutic foods from GAPS like the bone broth, homemade kefir and sauerkraut. Makes a big difference and I see people have greater durability when they use a hybrid apporach rather than straight SCD.
At the end of the day, SCD is a great start but I’m a GAPS girl for obvious reasons. ;)
I love your story and your site! I was diagnosed with severe pancolitis in January – and after a tough bout with prednisone to jump start some inflammation control, I have had success with a paleo diet (plus lots of probiotic foods), a maintenance dosage of Apriso (which I hope to ditch next year!), a bunch of anti-inflammatory supplements, VSL #3 and L-glutamine. I am so grateful to be healing and I love hearing stories like yours – thank you for sharing it and I wish you all of the best. It is so important for all of us, in remission and out, to hear success stories and know that it can get better.
Awesome, Caroline, thank you so much! I absolutely LOVE how you are taking charge and being so proactive with your health! Sounds like you are well on the road to success. And I’m so happy to hear that my story helps shine the light for you and others. This is my aim and purpose.
Keep up the fabulous work, I’m confident you will do WELL! :)
How great is this?? I just love hearing these success stories.
UC can be managed, but we have to do it ourselves!!
I found what works naturally for me, too. We just have to trust in ourselves and get down to business. We can heal ourselves…we have to, because the medical community sure can’t.
Cheers, and thank you. We all need to hear these ‘cures’ and realize that we have to help ourselves.
You’re welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed my story. And I LOVE that you’ve found what works for you, too! What specific things are working best for you?
What you said about trusting ourselves is so true. I’m a health coach now and I teach my clients to tune into their intuition and learn to heed that inner voice that will tell you which direction to go. It’s amazing how much inner knowledge we have to guide us if we will only take the time to tune in and learn to pick up the frequency. I find this to be one of the biggest keys to success on the journey of self-healing.
Thanks so much for the kudos. It means a lot. Continue to be well and blaze the trail. ;)
It’s the 50 billion RENEWLIFE ULTIMATE FLORA CRITICAL CARE probiotic and fermented L-glutamine powder that are doing the trick for me. I really can’t believe they are working so well. I only wish I had have tried them 15 years ago! Instead I took a lot of useless meds because I thought doctors knew how to treat UC.
Oh well, I can’t go back and change anything now. I have vowed, however, to never take meds for UC again. I’m hoping the synthetic yet natural fecal enemas/transplants may be coming down the pipes soon. I’d definitely do those!!
Awesome, Bev! Thanks so much for sharing this info. I’m always wanting to know what’s working for people so I can share. I’ve seen the probiotic you mention but I’ve never tried it. I use GutPro.
I tried L-glutamine a LONG time ago, before GAPS and I didn’t see much difference but I was very sick. I’d be curious to try it again and I’d be REALLY curious to try the fermented L-Glutamine. Which brand of fermented L-Glutamine do you use?
It’s unflavored fermented powdered L- glutamine by North Coast Naturals. Apparently, it’s vegan…made with fermented beets, of all things!
Dear Tara, could you tell me how much of the GutPro you use? Thanks!
Hi, Amy! I’m not taking GutPro at present (I change things up quite a bit). When I did take GutPro I used the little measuring spoons you can purchase from them and worked my way up. I think I was up to a “Pinch” or a “Dash” daily but didn’t feel the need to go furtehr than that.
When it comes to probiotics like GutPro, it’s best to start slow and dose based on how your body responds. Some people are SUPER sensitive, others, not so much. It’s highly individualized so I would encourage you to test and find what feels good to you.
Hope that helps!
What an incredible story Tara! Thank you for sharing it with us.. The medical community has fallen VERY short in it’s acknowledgement of diet and it’s link to digestive conditions. Since most research is funded and conducted by drug companies, there isn’t any monetary incentive in diet and life-style related cures and protocols. Pioneers like yourself are paving the way to real individual solutions. As we learn more about what works for certain individuals and gene types, we’ll be better able to ascertain cumulative data and apply it this information on a much grander level. Thank you Tara for your story!
Hi Tara –
On week two of GAPS and seeing suttle changes but still blood and diarrhea/loose stools. How long did it take for you to see change? Suttle changes are not having to run to the bathroom after two bites of food and more urination before GAPS not able to separate if you know what I mean and a little better urgency in the sense that I have a little time to get myself situated in the bathroom before I go! I still have the loose stools and blood which is making it hard to function, very tired and anemic.
Any tips or encouraging words? On stage 1 to 4, doing the detox baths and no cheating.
Hi, i was just wondering how long you had to stay on the introduction diet for, before you could move onto the full gaps diet?
I moved very slowly through the intro and I believe it took me about 4 or 5 months to get to Full GAPS where I could eat fruit and some salads and such. But I would say that my diet was pretty varied and around stages 4-5 by about 3 months in. Best approach is to use your own intuition to know when to progress and don’t get hung up TOO long on one stage. Sometimes it’s helpful to push through a little. Hope that helps and best to you.
UPDATE: I’m just seeing that I’ve missed some questions directed to me on here. My apologies! if you’d like to hear more about my healing journey and find out how I’m doing now you can check out this interview I did with the Cure IBD Foundation. It was filmed in the fall of 2014.
Hi Tara i m from Turkey.My cousin is crohn too forgive me for my lenguage but i can find gaps book in my country but ı still have questions first of all ı cant belave to its really works is it true and did you find your healt fully after 10 mounts and six mounts after symptoms was gone right ? ı will be so happy if you can help us
And ı forgat to ask did you countiune take your pills when you in GAPS diet
Thanks so much for sharing your experience!
I have been healed from a severe Ulcerative Colitis for a year (my calprotectine went from 1000 of the last April to just 4 on November 2018) following the SCD and I went to complete remission.
I didn’t follow a really strict protocol, I simply removed all the grains, sugars (also natural sugars like honey), eggs, dairy and allowed sweet potatoes as carbs (in moderation), carrots, pumpkin and vegetables. I ate fermented food, bone broth, took probiotics and supplements (vitamin B12, L-Glutamine, collagen, vitamin D, natural vitamin C and quercitin) and ate all kind of meats and fruit with a low glycemic index such as berries. Of course everything that I ate was organic.
I was so happy to have achieved my goal, going to remission so fast that even doctors couldn’t believe my healing. I didn’t take off my medications, I was looking forward to do it.
But… the diet is so HARD. After the first three months I didn’t cheat at all, then I started to cheat once a month and then once a week and I relaxed way TOO MUCH.
I have been really stressed and anxios for work in the past two months and all of this combined with a not strict diet ended up with a terrible flare up that I’m having at the moment.
I’m feeling horrible and tremendously upset. I know that the diet worked but at the moment I don’t know what to do.
I have been on GAPS in the last three days, starting with the introduction diet at stage 1 but I didn’t see any big improvements, I still have blood and mucus in the feces (luckily I don’t have diarrea, I evacuate once or two per day but still the blood gets my really upset).
I read in your previous reply that people quit too quickly and we need to have more patience to get the results that we want. I was wondering: after how many days/months did you start NOT TO SEE any more blood in the stools following the GAPS diet?
I ask you this question because when I started the SCD the last year, I had a dramatically change and after only two days I didn’t have any more blood. For this reason at the moment I am really worried, the blood is not stopping.
Also, have you taken bone broth or meat stock as there’s a big difference between them. I’m taking both, but I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing.
Finally, my last question regards the raw milk and eggs. Before having started the GAPS, have you been sensitive to lactose and eggs? In case you did, how did you realize that they were not hurting you anymore?
I have always been sensitive to both of them and I would like to give them a try, but I’m really scared, overall about raw eggs (I read that for people with IBD it’s really dangerous eating raw eggs).
I thank you in advance for your help and I look forward to hearing from you :)
I am a 59 year old women with Crohns, I am in remission but I am on a drug called Azaothiprine. It has caused the size of my red blood cells to increase. I want to stop taking the drug but I am afraid it will cause me to have an attack. I can’t find a doctor that will advise me on a more holistic approach. I am hoping that you can give me some advice and point me in the direction of more information.
Thank you so much for sharing your story! My husband has Crohn and he’s already had a surgery many years ago and it helped but he still needs to be on heavy medication. He has been on a few medications and they stopped working one after the other, the one he is one now doesn’t work very well and gives him nasty side-effects. I stumbled upon the GAP diet and am amazed to read about it all. But my question is, how long did you do the introduction diet for? It sounds like you stayed on the intro diet and to be honest I don’t think me or my husband would be able to live like that. Would really appreciate if you could explain when you started introducing more foods! Thank you