Have you ever read something on the internet and thought "Wow. It would have been really nice to have known that a year ago?" Well the last few weeks have been that, over and over again for me. I am still on the GAPS diet, plugging away but I have been making some BIG changes. After 12 months on the GAPS diet I figured that I would be feeling pretty great and that I would be well on my way to recovery. The problem was, however, that I felt terrible. I felt worse. How was this even possible with all the work that I had been doing. So I kept plugging along at it, never understanding why my symptoms never got better and others appeared in their place.
The candida infection never left. It would get worse and then get better but it never totally went away, no matter how low carb I went. I felt tired all the time; depression would creep in at every little disturbance especially foster parenting stress would put me into a tailspin; my appetite disappeared both for food and sex; I got terrible PMS symptoms of incredibly tender breasts, acne and spotting a week before my period; my cycles were irregular; and I started to put on a lot of weight even though I wasn't eating any more calories. What was going on?
I have been following the Cheeseslave blog for a few years and while I don't always agree with her, I think that I was absolutely meant to read the posts she has been writing recently about what being low carb did to her and it was like reading my own story. I had NO idea that being low carb for too long could be dangerous. Everything I had read, like on Mark's Daily Apple, said that if you stayed between 100-150 carb grams per day, you were golden for life! I was afraid of adding too many carbs for fear of my candida beast and the possible effect on my insulin resistance. It was just easier to restrict my carbs since I had been doing it for so long so I usually stayed somewhere between 50-100 net carbs a day.
Now it is like EVERYBODY, even Paleo/Primal bloggers are coming out with these studies about how being low carb for too long with stress your adrenals. Matt Stone was writing about this long ago but his style can be so abrasive that I generally ignored him. Now, however, I am paying more attention and what he has been saying has been backed up so many times that I think I can say that he knows what he is talking about.
So now what is my game plan 15 months into the GAPS diet and feeling no better than when I started? Well, number one, I started eating more carbohydrates and more often. To repair adrenals it is best to eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, but it is really hard for me to do that on GAPS without spending my life in the kitchen. To boost my carbohydrate intake, in the last two weeks I have added some GAPS legal legumes (split peas and lentils) and I have also been eating more fruit and honey. While the extra carbs do aggravate the candida, it wasn't going away anyway and it doesn't seem to be getting worse so I will press on. I am supplementing with Adrenal Stress End which is a blend of adrenal cortex and some herbs that was recommended by another GAPS blogger in a similar situation. I do not like that it containes Betaine however since it gives me heartburn. I am also supplementing with Magnesium oil, Magnesium Citrate, B-Complex, Vitamin C and Zinc Piccolinate, all of which are supposed to support the adrenals. In addition I started to brew my own Rooibos Kombucha which helps with detoxification and should help with the candida.
Matt Stone recommends overfeeding and a lot of R&R to repair stressed adrenals, but unfortunately for me as a mom and especially as a foster parent I just don't have that luxury. I have been going to bed earlier; a bedtime between 9-10 pm is recommended as well as naps throughout the day (again, that really wouldn't work for me). Stress reduction is a HUGE but the only way I would see that happening is if our foster baby went home, which would make me sad.
So that is what I am doing and where I am at. So far I am feeling better and I am no longer constipated which is what always happens whenever I get stressed. I have been waking up less groggy and without arthritic-like pain in my joints. Those are good signs so far and I am hoping for even greater improvements in the next few weeks.