This is my kitchen. Has that sink ever been clean? Nausea and fatigue have been my constant companions for days and I can’t keep up. The state of the house is driving me crazy. Isn’t the point of GAPS to make me NOT crazy?!!! When I’m not feeling well, David is a champion dishwasher, but he cut his thumb while redoing our floors upstairs and has had to forgo all watery activities until it is fully healed.

GAPS is not for the faint of heart. If your condition is as serious as mine, if you have a disease as powerful as autoimmunity, cancer or bipolar, you will feel far worse before you feel better. Becoming well will become your full time job.

You will spend the bulk of each day preparing meals, doing enemas, organizing and enacting the pickup and delivery of farm raised food and specialty supplements, asking for rides to Whole Foods because your migraines have immobilized you, in physical or emotional agony because whatever is wrong with your body is exacerbated by the healing process, drawing the poison out of the wound.

You will discipline yourself to eat only GAPS foods, even when the invaders in your gut demand cheese and chocolate and cinnamon buns, because if you cheat, you’ll be right back where you started.

You will bring your own meals, snacks and beverages to every social event and turn down everything that people offer you (except perhaps a glass of water!) You will miss many social events entirely because you are killing off pathogens and detoxifying you liver and the temporary release of parasites and toxins as they’re drawn out of your body lays you flat on the couch, screaming with anger and sobbing uncontrollably.

If you’re like me, if your illness is severe and life-altering, you will do all this for months and months and months. You didn’t get this sick overnight, and you won’t recover from it that fast either.

GAPS is not for the faint of heart. Some days, yesterday for example, you will swear to your husband that you absolutely positively cannot do this anymore, it’s too hard, how can anyone do this, and get you a McDonald’s cheeseburger, dammit. But in your heart of hearts, the tiniest and truest part of you will dig in your heels and cling to the fact that though GAPS is hard, it works, and it’s absolutely worth it. You’re getting better, and in time, you will reap increased health, mobility and vitality.

The other truth is this: help comes to those that ask it. Others have been there, and they will help keep you going. My naturopath just reposted the story of her son’s dramatic transformation; it will break your heart and fire your soul.

Another helpful resource for beginners is The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett. These mommas did GAPS to heal ailments and significant illness in themselves and their families. Their recipes follow the progressive process of GAPS, which is flexible and tailored to an individual’s unique needs and pace. As you heal and your body gets stronger, you add more variety into your diet, maybe even ones that you used be allergic too! (This happened to me with dairy.) Boynton and Brackett have put together step-by-step photos for early stage recipes and a wealth of beautiful, mouth-watering recipes for the later stages. I have found their short stories and explanation of how GAPS works to be a good starting point for people who want to learn more but aren’t ready for the density of Dr. Natasha’s book. As an added bonus, the American spin on Dr. Natasha’s British recipes are much more palatable to my taste!

If it hadn’t been for friends who did this crazy GAPS thing and got well, I never would have believed that an illness like my bipolar could heal. After trying it myself and seeing the benefit, I came across a deeper reason why it’s so effective for so many problems, and how a dentist in the 1930s became “the Isaac Newton of nutrition”. More to come!