Monday, March 30, 2015


This is part of a series of posts about Penny's eczema story.  To start at the beginning, go here.

When Penny was about a year old, I came across a group on about eczema and learned how to do a soak and seal bath and select good moisturizers like Vanicream.  Like so many things, these helped a little, but the relentless itch never disappeared.

I heard that some people were getting results for all sorts of ailments with the GAPS diet—autism, eczema, allergies, and many other ailments improved.  Some people said their allergies even disappeared!  The diet restricts a lot of foods and takes a lot of time in the kitchen, but anything that could cure Penny's eczema or reverse her food allergies seemed like it would be worth it. 

GAPS includes removing as many toxins as possible from one’s life, so we started buying filtered water and grass fed meat. 

I was told that since Vanicream is petroleum based, it was putting toxins in her body that would have to be detoxed.  I should use coconut oil or lard instead. 

Topical steroids were even worse. 

I was told that eczema is the body trying to detox through the skin.  If it got worse on GAPS, that meant the diet was working. 
Well, her skin did get worse.  A lot worse. 

I realized there were no clear answers to how I was supposed to know if this was really detox or a reaction.  How long do you let your child get worse waiting for the promised improvement?

It turned out that some of the staples of the diet (sauerkraut and bone broth) are usually super high in histamines and gave her a crazy itchy rash anywhere they touched her skin.  Lard as lotion made her itch like crazy.  We went through several weeks of eating ghee (clarified butter which is supposed to contain very little dairy protein), only to realize her face was turning red when she ate it.

As I read more and more, it seemed that while some people's ailments were truly helped by the diet, and they could eventually eat more foods, others were continually eliminating more foods trying to find the problem.  FODMAPS?  Oxalates?  Histamines? Salicylates? Nightshades? 

We didn’t gain any new foods.  Not being able to eat eggs, dairy, and nuts on GAPS eliminates so many of the recipes (especially for treats).  I became underweight with all the restrictions.  (Since I was breastfeeding, I had to follow the diet with Penny.) 

Even worse, I grew depressed, I think from not eating enough and the stress of constantly cooking and restricting my children's diets.  After I broke down sobbing over a spill in the kitchen, I quit.

I still make delicious, low-histamine bone broth though.

Just to be clear, I am very happy for every person the GAPS diet has helped.  With any treatment, I think it's important to "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." In my experience, GAPS followers are very dedicated to "holding 'em."  I believe our story is just as important as the successes for anyone trying to decide for themselves what to do.

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