The answer is:
When I say JUST KEEP EATING, of course I mean to keep eating those GAPS Intro legal foods relevant to the stage that you are undertaking. So, what are the questions that I'm asked, or symptoms that present, for which the answer (Just Keep Eating) is relevant:
1. Light-headed, Shaky, Grumpiness or Moody
This is usually a sign that your blood glucose levels are low and you will notice symptoms such as these mostly in the first 2 weeks. It can also be a detox or die-off symptom too. The first 2 weeks is the time during which your body is switching from burning mainly carbohydrates (like sugar) for fuel to burning mainly fats for fuel. It's sometimes referred to as the Low Carb Flu and although it's not contagious, it can feel every bit like a flu. Aching joints, burning eyes, sinus congestion, headaches, exhaustion and a need to sleep, and low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) that leaves you lightheaded and maybe feeling like you have the shakes.
The rapid shift of bodily fuel sources (carbohydrate-based diet to a fat-based diet) happens quickly and the body needs time to adapt. But don't worry, the pain of the Low Carb Flu will be a valuable asset for your long term health as blood sugar highs and lows (and their accompanying highs and energy crashes) will become a thing of the past. More stable blood glucose levels means more stable energy, more stable insulin levels and much less likely chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future. As your body begins to adapt you will notice that you will require less snacking between meals but in the meantime, JUST KEEP EATING.
I often have parents in shock at the amount of food that their previously "fussy eater of small meals" is now consuming. In the beginning stages of GAPS Intro, the body is hungry. It's hungry for all of the nutrients it has been lacking either due to diet or the inability to digest the pre-GAPS diet and/or absorb the nutrients. Not only that, but that changeover of fuel sources (mentioned above) also means that your body, or your child's body, needs way more food for healing and repair and until they've adapted. This is a great sign, and although your bank account may not agree, it's largely temporary. And if the body needs food ....JUST KEEP EATING.
4. Energy crashes, Exhaustion, Needing to Nap
Here we go again talking about the Low Carb Flu. Yes, it really does happen. And the best way to avoid (if you're lucky) or ameliorate the symptoms of low energy and exhaustion is to ....JUST KEEP EATING. Keep giving your body the fuel it needs. More food means more available nutrients for making energy. Of course, if you're feeling fuller than a stuffed pig, maybe you should just listen to your body and take that nap. Body knows best and doing GAPS Introduction Diet really gives you far greater insight into your body's needs than you ever thought possible. This is a time of great change, of detoxifying, of experiencing die-off symptoms as your bowel's microbial environment goes through changes, as your body repairs and heals. At times you will feel tired. Listen to what your body needs and rest if it's asking you to.
5. Cravings - for sweet, for carbohydrates, for salt, for fried foods
Cravings are really common during this period. Cravings for previously coveted foods that are no longer allowable and sometimes even cravings for foods that you have never craved before. It's your body's way of telling you that there are some pretty major changes going on inside. Your blood glucose level drops and your body desperately wants to bring it back up. Your body will tell you that in order to bring up the blood glucose levels, it needs sugar (chocolate, lollies) or carbohydrates (bread, cakes, biscuits) or soft drink. Whatever your chosen poison was before starting GAPS, that is generally what you crave. It's not your body's fault as it's just going by history/habit. At this time, your body's cravings can't be trusted but in the months to come, when you have created new, healthy habits and better ways of stabilising and maintaining your blood glucose levels, you will begin to be able to trust those bodily instincts.
Another reason for cravings can simply be that your body truly needs 'something' from the food that it is craving. For example, there are suggestions that if you crave chocolate, there's a possibility you may be low in Magnesium. Craving chalk may be a sign that your low in calcium and craving salt can be a sign that your adrenals are a little fatigued. if you suspect that your body is craving a nutrient, I highly recommend that you talk to your practitioner so they can help you to decipher your craving and manage it with either a supplement or GAPS friendly food choices.
In most circumstances, these cravings can be managed by following our mantra ....JUST KEEP EATING. No, they don't immediately alleviate that feeling of 'needing' that food but it definitely helps.
And you know what? Sometimes you just crave a particular food because you know you can't have it. You know that feeling of suddenly wanting to go to the toilet purely because you are in a situation where you can't?
6. Feeling unsatisfied after a meal
This partially comes back to cravings again. You finish your meal (usually the night time one) and about 30 minutes later, you're looking for something sweet to finish your night. Sometimes it's habit, sometimes it's a sign that you are producing a lot of excess insulin after your meal (hyperinsulinaemia) and sometimes it's a sign that you're not getting enough of something. The good news is that within 2-4 weeks, all of the nutritious GAPS food you have been eating will help to stabilise your insulin levels, curb sweet habits and improve the nutrient status of your body. In the meantime ....JUST KEEP EATING. Especially your healthy fats. The GAPS Introduction Diet is very low in carbohydrates which means that your body's main fuel source has been greatly reduced and it needs to be replaced. Protein unfortunately is not a very efficient source of energy but fat is! Just keep eating those beautiful soups and stews, leaving all of the fat in them. If you feel as though you need more fat and depending on what stage of GAPS Intro you are in, you can add some of the following extra fats to your diet:
- Add more ghee to your meal or cook up some eggs and mash them with lots of ghee.
- Snack on some fatty meats like lamb shanks and necks or pork belly
- Have some home-made creme fraiche or snack on some nut butter
- Make GAPS Pancakes and cook them in lots of ghee or pan drippings and load them up with avocado
- Eat an avocado
- Have a GAPS milkshake.
Remember ....fat is NOT stored in the body as fat! Only sugar is stored in the body as fat. Healthy dietary fats are burned for energy and combined into the structure of our cell membranes.
7. Weight loss
Weight loss isn't always a bad thing. Many people are very happy to report that they have lost weight. But some people are already underweight due to the body's long term inability to absorb and utilise the nutrients from food. These people really can't afford to lose more weight and the prospect of weight loss can be daunting. In addition to this, many people who are already underweight often experience low appetite and find it difficult to ....JUST KEEP EATING. In these circumstances, it is a good idea to eat little and often. Three square meals per day is unlikely to prevent the unwelcome weight loss. How many meals per day? Well that depends on the individual and the food sources in those meals may also depend on the individual. This is where a Certified GAPS Practitioner will be indispensable for tailoring the GAPS Diet to your specific needs. Maybe you need to JUST KEEP EATING but maybe you need to be eating more fats or more carbohydrates. Your practitioner will work with you to help you identify your specific needs when it comes to maintaining your body weight during the GAPS Introduction Diet.
Are you in need of some guidance or support? Need some help deciphering your body's unique messages?