You’re thinking you might benefit from “healing your gut” and you’re ready to cut grains and more out of your life.
How long is this going to take?
Is it a long weekend without toast in the morning, maybe a few weeks to really cleanse, a couple months, or are we looking at “bread behind bars” for (gulp) even longer than that?
Let’s just say you and your Sunday cup of joe won’t be dipping toast anytime soon – at least not bread made with grain-based flour.
The good news is that while some people commit to gut-healing diets like GAPS for two or more years, every situation is unique.
What You Can Learn in Just a Few Days
Anyone can eat a restrictive diet for 3 days. Right?
Eating whole foods (especially a diet like gluten-free or grain-free) is hardest exponentially when you are at the mercy of others to feed you.
Restaurants won’t stick to the plan. Neither will your friends at a party.
Social temptations will be awful, and it’s way too easy to rationalize, “I just started. I haven’t invested much yet. I’ll just start again next week…”
Before you even get going, you’re off track.
But if you can get the first 3-5 days of a new diet under your belt (literally), you will:
- Learn how difficult it’s going to feel (depending on how restrictive you’re going, the first 2-3 days might be easy, and then once you’ve run out of the easy options, the next few days will be where the rubber meets the road)
- Figure out some recipes and strategies to keep the offending foods out
- Talk yourself back into doing it a number of times, helping to convince yourself it’s worth it
- And the biggie: For many people (not all), you’ll notice some sort of positive physical result within a week if the healing diet is a good fit for you
For example, my husband found relief from 2 months of chronic diarrhea after only 2 days of going grain-free, dairy-free and legume-free on an elimination diet meal plan.
Was that a big change? A lot to give up?
Was it very hard for just a few days?
In fact, just a week or two after starting our dietary experiment (which was pretty unscripted and without much informational support), I was already sharing super simple grain free meal plans that anyone could utilize. No fancy ingredients. Just normal, whole foods recipes, sans grains. You’d be surprised how easy it is for a few weeks if you keep your focus.
Seeing quick results was dramatic and had a huge impact on motivation to continue.
If you’re seeking to heal your gut because of digestive distress, skin problems, fatigue, or other symptoms, it’s possible – but not definite – that you really will see changes within a week.
The Bad News
If you don’t, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to heal your gut. It doesn’t even mean that you need to tweak the system.
It might just mean you need more time, so a quickie test is not a litmus test – but if you can see an improvement, the motivation gained is priceless. You’ll be ready to continue.
If you don’t see any change in your health or well being so quickly, don’t despair. You’re not out anything just because you didn’t learn something the first week.
Most people would recommend sticking with an elimination diet meal plan for at least a month to really know if getting rid of that food will make a difference for you.
For starters, elimination diets are really, really hard. It’s so easy to make a little mistake, to eat a food that unbeknownst to you includes an ingredient you’re trying to avoid.
Every time you have a little slip up, it can be like starting over – resetting the timer on your experiment. So you have to give yourself some time to really get it down.
For example, the gluten proteins that aggravate many guts in our time (up to 1/3, according to Dr. Tom O’Bryan in an interview I listened to years ago) stay in one’s system for 90 days. Most people who are sensitive to gluten will see positive improvements in whatever is bothering them before that – but it may take up to 3 months of perfect adherence to the elimination.
How to Know When the End is in Sight
I’m thinking that you all aren’t looking for the name of the test that goes beyond a colonoscopy into the small intestine that could physically take a peek at your villi – not exactly what you want to nail eczema or a tummy ache.
Beyond that, though, it’s really a system of guess and check, like elementary school math.
If you see improvements by eliminating foods, it makes sense to eliminate those foods, right?
Because our bodies have been exposed to these foods for years and years, it also makes sense to give the body a good long rest from them – months, not days.
If you take a solid rest for months then try to reintroduce the food, watch for your symptoms to return. Again, common sense says that if your eczema flares up, your diarrhea or stomach pain returns, you suddenly feel fatigued – it’s better for your body to continue cutting out the foods.
Some folks will find that their body never re-acclimates to certain foods. They may be “sensitive” to something like gluten whether a blood test says they are or not. It’s common sense – if a food causes you to hurt, cut it out with these elimination diet recipes.
On the other hand, other people will find that cutting out grains or dairy or both for a length of time allows their gut the healing rest it needs to be able to tolerate the offensive foods again.
You’ll know which category you fall into when you eat the banned food again.
Let me close by nodding seriously, looking you in the eye, placing my hand on your shoulder, and saying, “I know.”
I know it isn’t easy to experiment with your diet, to watch the way your body reacts, and to make decisions based on what can be very subjective data.
I know you’d rather just eat what you want.
I know it’s a lot easier to have a doctor tell you what to do rather than try to figure out good health for yourself.
And that’s an option all of us have.
But if you’d rather cut out some foods than take a pill…
If you’d rather feel better instead of hearing doc say, “Inconclusive…”
If you’d rather attempt to heal your gut instead of just keeping on the way you’re going…
Then you’ll need a little scientist’s attitude and some perseverance.
‘Cause improving your own nutrition ain’t ever easy, whether you’re simply deciding to cut processed foods for health’s sake or seeking to take a major step with a gut healing diet.
But you’re tough.
You can do this.
Take a minute to check out the first post in this duo for more info on what it means to heal your gut + some resources from my site and others to make it a little easier to handle.
If GAPS is on your list, you’ll appreciate Cara’s wisdom and experience in the GAPS Starter Package she’s put together, or the grain-free meal plans for a variety of diets:
Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Health Home & Happiness and may earn commission, but we use Cara’s recipes and I’d recommend this helping hand to anyone starting GAPS – it ain’t easy to go it alone.Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.
17 thoughts on “Part Two: How the Poop Do I Know When my Gut is Healed? (i.e., Bring on the Bread!)”
I have not read this yet, but patients at my doctor’s office say it is a really good resource. Dr Perlmutter’s “Grain Brain” book.
I have been on a grain-free and dairy-free (with the rare exception of raw dairy), diet for two years. It is not easy socially, but many restaurants are beginning to give options.
Any info out there on the Gaps diet for acne? I’ve gone through eliminating various common triggers including wheat/grains/dairy/sugar, etc. with no difference in my skin. It’s just getting worse. If I did Gaps, would I just stay on intro until my skin cleared? And if it didn’t clear after x(?) amount of time, I guess I would know it’s not right for me? How long do you keep at it if you see no results? is my question. Any advice would be appreciated!
You’d want to look up info on the GAPS website or book, I’d say:
Here’s one resource for acne that I love:
Hope you figure it out!!
My name is Marie, and I have Psoriasis, dry skin, just developed adult acne and rosacea a few months ago.. I have to say what has helped me was no nightshade veggies.. just look up nightshade veggies and it will give you list to not eat them.. these actually make our skin worse for people that have these problems.. and when I cut these out of my diet, my skin was the best it has ever been. My Psoriasis went away, that has never ever happened. I have had Psoriasis since I was 12 and I’m 41. Also all my other skin problems just disappeared and I have so many compliments on how young my skin looks and my face.. I’m also gluten, dairy, egg and sugar free as well. I do have a dietician following me. She has found out that I have trouble with higher sulphur foods.. look that up as well. Everyone person is different with food intakes..
Hope this helps you:)
This looks amazing! I would love to spend so little. I watched the video & we definitely spend more than the average family. Does this plan account for buying OG pastured meats, eggs & dairy? How about organic produce, nuts, etc? We were following GAPS, but hit some road bumps. Found out my kids have sensitivities to coconut, honey certain meats & more. What I’m limited to is so expensive! This would be worth a shot at least!
I just saw some FAQs – I know Tiffany buys some organic produce and meat/dairy, but I’m not sure how much. Grocery prices of course vary across the country, but she tries to do OG when she can, especially milk and eggs I believe. So it might not be precisely $350 if you buy 100% organic, but I would bet the farm that you’d spend less than you do now. 🙂 Not that you’re not a frugal gal, but Tiffany is really a master. 🙂 Katie
I personally worked with Tiffany on this plan a bit and we do not list organic or grass fed in the ingredient lists because the goal is to make it as attainable as possible and for people to not feel like they HAVE to buy organic. So the budget does not include those sorts of pricey ingredients.
Shouldn’t these be two separate posts? The first section talks about healing your gut with a special diet, as well as the possible need for an elimination diet.
The second section is the complete meal plan whereby you can feed your family nourishing whole foods for about $350/month (that is if you are a family of 4 with 2 small children). I looked into this the other day. It includes meals with wheat, rice, beans, dairy. This is better aimed at someone who is trying to switch to a whole-foods diet or trying to get their whole-foods diet under cost-control.
Someone starting an elimination diet or the GAPS diet would be making so many changes and substitutions that they’d be better off using another meal plan.
You’re right! By the time it was Saturday, I wanted to get the gut-healing post done and didn’t want to publish twice in a day, but I should have…so the meal plans were like a “quick note to readers” but not related to the topic of the post, which wasn’t very fair…I’ll probably remove the meal plans after the promo pricing is over MOnday night, because it doesn’t make sense to leave them in. Thanks for pointing that out! 🙂 Katie
One other thing to mention with the elimination diet is the horrible detox/withdrawal symptoms you can go through. They were HORRIBLE for me. Headaches, nausea, fatigue, in general just hating life and craving foods I couldn’t have haha.
I appreciate this post – people need encouragement for maintaining an elimination diet. It really is SO hard. I am three months into mine and still struggling with tons of stuff making me sick. I’m limited to around 15 foods. It’s depressing, but I’m healing, and that makes it all worth it. 🙂
Ugh, yes Kara, that sounds awful! I forget about that part because we didn’t experience it here in our house, but you’re right, many do and get scared off…I’m so glad you can feel that it’s worth it!! Keep up the good work! 🙂 Katie
Thanks for these two posts. My goal is to work toward healing my gut this year. I have never given up dairy, so I’m nervous, but this post was really encouraging.
Does this plan use canned foods,high fats like butter , dairy , or any processed foods?
Sarah, yes to butter and dairy, no to processed foods, and unlikely to canned foods – maybe only tomatoes or something? The goal is definitely to cook from scratch. 🙂 Katie
I’ve had a personal look at the plan – this definitely doesn’t rely on canned foods, maybe tomatoes or beans on occasion, but it includes instructions for cooking beans from dried. Where butter is used there are substitutions listed such as coconut oil for those that are dairy-free.
This frugal meal plan does not include grains, right?
The meal plan does actually include grains – a commenter below pointed out that I might have been mixing up a current promo with a post that doesn’t really fit it – I didn’t want to write two posts but should have! Sorry to confuse you…I’m not really sure if there would be easy substitutions for a totally grain-free diet, but there is a 14-day money back guarantee, so you could always take a look and see what you think. Thanks – Katie