GAPS Diet & Nutrition,  Real Food

Our nutrition history


We’re on the GAPS diet, which is a big jump for a lot of people! We didn’t start here.

My husband grew up on a lot of packaged and boxed, processed foods. I grew up on a lot of homemade dinners, but SAD ones (Standard American Diet, including Rice A Roni, Cream of Mushroom Soup and Prego), lots of eating out, and lots of candy, Hostess treats, chips, fruit roll ups, etc., in our pantry.

In high school, I spent most of my lunch money on chocolate milkshakes, giant chocolate chip cookies, pink lemonade Snapple and dark green Tic Tacs. I spent the rest on 50 cent salads (they were weighed–yes, this was all I got!) or soft tacos at Taco Bell. Healthy. 😉

In college, I always had a case of Snapple under my bed and considered wall papering my dorm room with the labels. (I knew a girl who did this. It was pretty. :)) I munched on boxes of Trix while I wrote my college papers, and drank raspberry iced tea at every meal in the cafeteria. My husband was a manager at McDonalds in college, and ate there A LOT. When he got an internship at a software company, he enjoyed the free pop every day.

Early in our marriage, I tried cooking recipes from an American Heart Association cookbook. 4 oz of meat per day and lots of pasta. Then I looked up the AHA’s sponsor list, and found that it included General Mills and Campbell’s Soups. I began to doubt that way of eating.

Not long ago, was a couponer. I even had a blog about it. We ate junk. I felt sick. They don’t make coupons for produce, farm fresh meat, eggs with dark orange yolks or raw cow’s milk. They just don’t. In the summer, I was having weekly picnics with my kids that included whatever we found for a good deal that week. This usually included packaged lunch meat and chocolate milks. Yuck. 😉 

I didn’t feel well. I went to doctors who didn’t help me. They showed me test results that were alarming, but they didn’t explain all of my symptoms, and they certainly didn’t give me any answers. Steroids for auto immune symptoms? No thank you. More Advil for migraines? I knew that there must be better ways of doing things…

I saw naturopaths who put me on up to 50 pills per day of supplements but never talked to me about my diet. A lot of wasted money, and no real healing.

I remembered from college that protein is the building block of human life. I believed that protein was really healthy (I’d never be a vegetarian ;)). 

I started reading. Some of my favorite titles have included:

Nourishing Traditions

The Schwarzbein Principle

Maker’S Diet

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

The Gluten Connection

The Whole Soy Story


We tried the Makers Diet. That helped a bit. We went gluten free for a year. That helped a bit more, but not completely….

Then I read:

Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet and

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

It was what I believed "healthy eating" was all along, I just wasn’t living it out. The new knowledge (the scientific explanations to go along with what I already believed) and the symptoms I was facing gave me plenty of motivation to change the way we ate. My husband was taking off too much work to help me with the kids because I was always sick. I felt weak a lot of the time. I would get random stomach aches, muscle spasms, itchiness all over, migraines, and I felt arthritic. It’s hard being a mom and a wife when you feel like garbage.

It’s hard to make that big of a change. I think everything I’d read, and everything we’d experienced was all that we needed to make the jump. It is different for everyone. Maybe you won’t end up where we are at. That’s ok. I found an article today about how to make some changes towards healthy eating, and I thought I’d share it. It’s called What Are the First Steps?, and it’s from Nourishing Our Children. I agree with everything it says except for about the sweetners. Sucanat and rapudura are still sugar. They’re not refined or processed like white cane sugar or beet sugar, but they still impact the body negatively. I don’t recommend them. in our family, we only use honey. This has to be your decision, though. Do some research and see what you believe is the healthiest way to eat! Don’t be "educated" by billboards, commercials or even sponsored organizations like the American Heart Association. Really. 

This post was shared at Real Food Wednesday


  • Danielle @ Analytical Mom

    Love this post! It is good to hear your story and what brought you to GAPS. I’m so glad you and your family were able to turn around your eating, and you are feeling so much better. I finally conquered migraines, too, after 10 years of them, by cutting out aspartame and MSG (which no doctors had even ever suggested as triggers), and eradicated my lifelong asthma by ditching pasteurized dairy (among other changes). You are right, though, couponing doesn’t really work with real foods! 🙂

  • Bobbie

    May I ask what your opinion is of pure organic maple syrup, and in what way does sucanat negatively affect the body? We get BAD headaches when we eat refined sugar but have never felt bad at all when eating sucanat.

    • brenda

      Hi Bobbie,
      Thanks for the questions! We don’t use organic maple syrup, either. Mainly because of the blood sugar response and the fact that it’s a disaccharide (double sugar) and makes the body work harder. Sucanat is also a disaccharide. It has negligible nutritional value, so it’s not a GOOD food. Honey has enzymes and nutrients and has been shown in studies to heal a sore throat and cough better than any medicines, etc. Sucanat is less BAD than refined, white sugar, but it isn’t GOOD. I can’t find studies about it. I should have been more careful in my words. I should have said, my GUESS is that it probably has many of the same effects as refined sugar. For certain, it effects the blood sugar (maybe not quite as severely, but it still does), has no real nutritional value, is processed (heated, extracted) and not in its natural state (with the fiber of the sugar cane), and would not be something I would ever be able to eat in my area if it were not flown or shipped in. (how’s that for a run-on sentence? :)) I stick with tried-and-true, historically (and Biblically) reliable honey (which we currently have bees producing on our property! Yay!). And we limit that as well (we don’t want too much of a good thing, right? :)).
      I hope this helps! 🙂

  • Heather Anderson

    I was blessed to have learned about “real food” before I ever got married almost twenty years ago. Otherwise I believe I would have been down a similar road health wise. There are answers out there for good health, good relationships, good finances. It is sometimes like seeking for treasure though. We just can’t give up. Thanks for sharing your story of finding healing.

    • brenda

      Heather, yes, it’s a treasure hunt, isn’t it!?! 🙂 Your family is blessed that you found out about real food early on! Thanks for leaving a comment!

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