Many people say to me that they would love to eat more healthily, but either don't need GAPS or can't see their family being willing to do it. The good news is that you don't have to do GAPS to see big benefits. GAPs is a specifically healing diet, which if you have a condition that can be helped by it is great. But it is by no means the only route to heal the gut, and neither is healing the gut always essential, although we could all do with taking more care of our gut and so promoting better health - and again, you can do this without doing GAPS.
The answer lies in learning to cook in a more traditional manner. We often jokingly say, 'Like your Great-Great Grandma cooked,' because since the advent of the ability of man to process food, we have lost touch with REAL methods of food preparation. Most of our food now has been denatured to prolong shelf life. This destroys the natural living enzymes in food and the taste, and so manufacturers rely on man-made flavour enhancers (MSG) and the like to make it taste better and pump their food with artificial vitamins to make it sound like it will do you good. Added to this we have had various misleading health scares surrounding fats and cholesterol and the such like. The GAPS diet utilises this idea. It is merely a narrower choice of foods in order to heal the gut, but the underlying principles are based on old fashioned principles. Nothing modern, glitzy or freaky about it at all.
So what does it mean to cook in a more traditional manner? It means eating food in it's basic raw state - unprocessed. It means using natural, time-honoured techniques for preserving the goodness in the food and keeping it alive so that it properly nourishes our bodies. In a nutshell, cooking it yourself from raw ingredients (or eating it raw - like salads) and learning to preserve foods through fermentation techniques. Eat food as naturally as it occurs as possible.
There are several components to eating in a more traditional manner. Here are the main ones.
1) Use good fats, i.e. saturated animal fats
2) Cut out as much sugar as you can - especially refined sugar. Try and stick to natural sugars in small amounts - e.g. honey, maple syrup etc...
3) Don't eat processed food - i.e. anything that's been made by someone else in a packet in a supermarket - especially cakes, biscuits, ready meals, breads, crisps, sweets etc.
4) Soak your whole grains and nuts - or go grain free. Many report more energy when wheat and gluten are taken out of their diet.
5) Try to only consume raw dairy products, or eat soured versions - i.e. yoghurt/crème fraiche/sour cream etc... Always have full fat dairy and the best quality you can get - raw best, non homogenised next best. UHT - don't ever buy.
6) Make and eat bone broth regularly.
7) Try and incorporate as many fermented foods into your diet as you can.
You will see that some of these ideas go against what our doctors tell us. Not long ago I listened to everything the World told me about what and how to eat. Low fat, high carbohydrates,
little red meat, few eggs, etc. etc. etc. Until, as I said in our intro, I realised Son 1 was not very healthy, and a friend gave me a copy of 'Nourishing Traditions'. Then I realised that there was more to food than I had cared to look into. As I read, it made sense. God did not make a mistake when he created cows to produce whole milk, not pasteurised or homogenised or semi-skimmed, with all the protective organisms we need to benefit our health. Nor did he make a mistake when the cream was turned into butter - full of natural vitamins essential to good health, rather than a synthetic concoction of artificial ingredients - i.e. butter substitutes, that have zero goodness (after all, even the flies won't touch them!) in them except they supposedly do us good! So I began to think more seriously about what I put on the shelves in my food cupboard. I wanted our food to be as natural as possible.
But these ideas of low fat etc. are very ingrained in us. We've been scared off by what we have been told. We don't want high cholesterol, in case we get a heart attack, so we listen... not realising that the replacement foods are probably more likely to give us one than the so called 'healthier alternatives'.
It actually takes a lot of determination to change ones thinking. We've been told fat makes you fat. So to actually start eating a lot of butter and cream is quite a brave thing to do. We've been told we need to fill ourselves up on grains and starches (carbohydrates), so we hesitate to cut those down and switch more to protein and fat. The GAPS diet does allow fruit and honey and other carbs, but by and large it is hard to stick by the rules and over consume carbs. Conversely it is easy to over consume potatoes and all the products made from them and grains and all the products made from them. Having seen such a dramatic weight loss from cutting grains and while still eating copious amounts of fat and protein I need no further evidence that sugar is the biggest problem, not fat!
Consequently the social pressure when you go against the prevailing philosophy can be great. This is true of every area in life. We are always very challenged if someone does something contrary to what we are doing, making us think that what we are doing might be wrong - even if they don't say anything. If you do change your diet, other than counting calories (this seems socially acceptable), then be prepared for the conversation to go quiet, or for comments suggesting your children are missing out, or worries that you will make yourself ill. Many folks are very naturally concerned about you as they fear for you as you are going against this ingrained low fat, high carbs philosophy. Many will tell you that you NEED sugar, it won't do you any harm, but might be harmful to deny the children it.
So before you begin, you will need to do some homework. You need to be convinced for yourself that this is the right way to go. Be sure that you understand for yourself why you are changing what you eat. Be ready with a simple explanation of why you now think this whole food is better for you and your family. You won't learn everything overnight. It takes most of us many years to transition, often with set backs along the way. Choose an area to start with and START!
For many, the opposition is in their own family - husband and children. If you know it is right, but can't see the way forward, then a little is better than nothing. Read up and start to slowly introduce the ideas. Start having animal fats and throw out the margarine and spreads (you won't have too much opposition in your family to this as they will like the taste much better!). Buy Megan's 'Grain free and Lovin it' and start experimenting with grain free goods. Buy Wardee's sourdough cook book and wow them with sourdough pizza, our cheesy crackers (good crisp alternatives). We saw big improvements in our health the more we soaked the fewer grains we ate. Start making delicious home-made soups with bone-broth rather than stock cubes. Reduce your reliance on packeted food - try and find alternatives for boxed cereals - like eggs, salad, soup, or see GNOWFGLINS recipes. Find more wholesome treats and snacks. Try just tweaking here and there, like one breakfast a week that's not boxed cereals.
Start with yourself and the children, as they are your responsibility. You cannot change your husband by nagging or trying to force him to eat healthily as you have no control over him. You can only do your best to serve wholesome delicious foods to him. Don't fret over the things you have to eat for his sake,
that you would prefer not to eat. Just do what is in your control. Even a little is better than nothing.
You can't just take away their 'delightful' foods and not replace them with something equally as delightful. Don't expect your children to like what you are doing if you have been eating a diet full of processed foods. It will take a while to re-train their taste buds. For example chocolate might feature large for a while in your baking while you wean them onto home-made things. You may be doing a lot of baking to begin with as you change from shop -bought to home-made and then slowly reduce their consumption of baked goodies, as you fill them up on good fats and more protein. Do see it as an opportunity to teach them as you talk to them about food and why what you are feeding them is so good for them. Don't start by telling them the old food was 'bad'... it's not funny when they start telling Grandma her cake is bad for them when she has lovingly bought them something!
See it as a long term project, not a quick fix. You will be rewarded with better health and more energy.
Don't get paranoid about your weight and forget 'diets' to lose weight. Don't count calories.
Focus instead on making as many mouthfuls as possible the most nutritious you can.
I won't give you the 'science' as many more able than me have already done it. So if you want more information on these things, see these web-sites.