Our GAPS Journey: Testimonial of healing (Laura)

This is our family’s testimony of how GAPS has helped us heal.

I would like to start by saying GAPS has been one of the most trying, exhausting, exhilarating, rewarding, growth promoting, emotional journeys of our lives. We simply can’t give enough praise to our practitioner Christina Mathewson…for being there relentlessly for us. For answering our random questions, for walking alongside us through the ups and downs that this whole journey brings. There have been so many health-related things along the way, that we simply wouldn’t have been able to find the answers for, or known what path to take next. Christina’s knowledge and expertise in this area of healing the gut and naturopathic health care are incredible, and we are so thankful we had her to help us along the way.

We have three children, Eamon (5), Amity (3) and Vera (2).

At 1 year old, our son’s behaviour changed. He suddenly became hard to handle, emotionally unstable, temper tantrums that no matter what he did we just couldn’t pull him out off, obsessive, crazy, running into doors and not even realising he had hurt himself, hard to soothe or speak sense too. One day he just stopped eating real food. He wouldn’t touch meat, he wouldn’t touch vegetables. As the months progressed his eating got worse, he dropped fruit, he dropped rice, and he wouldn’t touch any meals I made. We tried forcing him to eat, disciplining him by giving him a timeout. He self-limited his food so much that in the end, he was only eating white bread with vegemite, cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks or cereal. He would scream uncontrollably if we tried to feed him, vomit, dribble and throw himself around. It would be the same thing every meal time for the next 3 years. It was exhausting. It was really having an impact on our family, on my mental health, and on our marriage. He started getting sick all the time. Runny noses constantly, infections in his penis, ears, throat, bronchiolitis requiring a puffer. We felt like we had lost our beautiful happy little boy, and lost the joy of parenting. Every day was hard, and every day we just wished we could have a normal child again that would eat food.

“He is just a picky eater. He will grow out of it eventually”

We started taking him to doctors to try and find some answers. My doctor told me “It’s just picky eating. He will grow out of it eventually. But I will send you to a dietician anyway” So we went to the dietician. She told us to “Keep feeding him sugar because that’s what’s keeping him alive right now. Just try and give him things that are fortified with minerals, such as vegemite, milo, and cereals.” He got put on the drink Pediasure to try and up his minerals and vitamins seeing he wasn’t getting any from his food. He continued to get worse, and nothing and no one could help us or give us answers. Eventually, we were sent to St Giles, an organisation that supports children and adults with developmental delays or disabilities. They told us he definitely had a tongue tie. We went to the dentist to get this checked. He didn’t have a tongue tie. So they tried to give us methods of helping him to feel not so scared of food. Such as making a bowl of two-minute noodles and just playing with them together. He wouldn’t touch them, and like usual just screamed, dribbled and threw himself around. We were at the end of ourselves. His hair had lost all its life and was dry and brittle, he was pale, sickly and very thin.

Eventually, we took him to a doctor that ran blood tests. We found out he was anaemic, with high levels of copper and Pyroluria disorder. He got on some zinc and other vitamins, which seemed to help even him out a bit more, and helped him think a bit more clearly. But we still couldn’t get those foods into him.

“A friend mentioned to me the GAPS diet”

It was around that time a friend mentioned to me the GAPS diet and how they had got rid of their children’s eczema, allergies and autistic tendencies. It was like I had just been provided with this shining beacon of hope! We were at the point we were willing to try ANYTHING! So we started full gaps in the following days. By this time we had 2 other children, who were suffering from eczema. My husband was always battling with IBS, allergies and severe eczema. I also was struggling with anxiety and depression. So we all decided to jump in and do GAPS with Eamon as our driving force.

(This was going to be a hard task because Eamon wouldn’t eat anything nourishing… ESPECIALLY not a bowl of soup)

We started working with Christina and she advised us to start on full GAPS to start getting some of those healing foods in slowly (This was going to be a hard task because Eamon wouldn’t eat anything nourishing… ESPECIALLY not a bowl of soup) I started by swapping out wheat for coconut flour muffins, bread etc. I made them sweet with honey to get him to eat them. The day after we removed bread from his diet (which he was eating up to 3 meals a day) He woke up in the morning.. came out and said “mum, I feel sick” He looked tired, pale and was running a temperature. So I put him back to bed and he went to sleep for another 4 hours! (This was a child that was HYPER active, and would never ever have daytime sleeps) I realised later this was pathogenic die off. He was literally like a little drug addict, coming down from his high. We started making a constant supply of broth and applied Behaviour Analysis Strategies (ABA) found in the GAPS book. It was VERY slow progress, and we had to work extremely hard as a family to put in place strategies that were going to work. I was putting the broth into ice poles, into smoothies, into ANYTHING I could to get him having some of this healing food. He was also eating Kefir yoghurt daily. We were still having a lot of trouble getting straight broth into him in a soup form. So one day I thought, maybe putting a DVD on whilst I fed him may help. It did! He didn’t get to watch TV often, so to him, it was a reward. If he stopped opening his mouth, the TV show would go off. So open his mouth he would! We finally found a way to get this soup into him. Even though it was painful having to sit there every meal and feed him the soup, it was something we were willing to do to finally see our child get some healing food into his body. Eventually, his body wanted the broth and he would eat it himself, with no help and no TV!

“We continued on our full GAPS journey for 8 months”

We continued on our full GAPS journey for 8 months, each week learning more through our calls with Christina, and preparing for intro when the time was right. At about the 8th-month mark of FULL gaps, we decided with Christina it was time to take the plunge into the INTRO phase of the diet. We felt like we had achieved quite a lot on full GAPS. Eamon was now eating broth, certain types of meat (GAPS sausages, GAPS bacon) but he still wouldn’t sit down and eat a normal meal, and he wouldn’t touch a roast meat or a chicken drumstick. He still wouldn’t eat a lot of vegetables. It was time for Intro.

The first week of intro was an interesting event for our family. Eamon refused to eat for the first few days at all. Everyone was tired and grumpy as the pathogens began to die off. After the first couple of days of Eamon completely refusing food, things started to change. Eamon had always hated chicken. It would make him scream, vomit and run if we tried to give him even the tiniest bit. I had some boiled chicken wings and we were sitting eating them for lunch. He sat watching us, and you could see something different in his eyes.. an interest, like his brain was thinking “ I know I don’t like this food, I think it’s dangerous… but it looks ok…maybe if I try it I might like it, maybe it won’t be so bad” I offered him a wing. He said “no mum, no” but still took it from my hand. He looked at it, and hesitated, then slowly lifted it to his mouth and took a little nibble. I said “do you like it Eamon?” he said “no” as he lifted to his mouth again for another bite!!! After that second mouthful… he couldn’t stop. He started to eat and eat and eat!!!!! I simply broke down in tears! My son was EATING! My husband and I celebrated and cried and hugged and rejoiced! After this event, he simply wouldn’t stop eating. Broth, meat, vegetables. He just couldn’t get enough. It was like my boy was trying to make up for lost time!

“My son was EATING!!!”

As we continued on the Intro diet, we ran into some troubles. Our children were struggling with histamines, especially our daughter Amity. Up until this point, I had been making long cooked broths (24 hr) now can I just say here…this is where we found Christina just invaluable!! Our children had rashes all round their mouths, and I simply wouldn’t have been able to work out what was causing this without the help of Christina. So we changed our broths to short cooked and lowered any high histamine foods. This made a huge difference. We then ran into more trouble. None of us were able to add in foods. We were continually gassy and had reactions each time we tried to add something in. I told Christina about the fact that I was struggling with severe night sweats and bad dreams. My husband’s eczema and my children’s were not clearing. It was at this point she suggested we do a parasite cleanse. Wow, this was a game changer for us all. We worked alongside Christina through this, and a few weeks after the cleanse, my night sweats disappeared, my husband’s eczema started to clear, and we started to be able to add in FOODS! We obviously had a severe parasite problem and we were so thankful for Christina’s guidance during this time.

Sam’s eczema before starting GAPS and now. 

My husband also has struggled with a severe candida overgrowth and I struggled with H. Pylori. Christina has worked tirelessly with us to help us heal the gut and clear these bad guys out! Supplementation, Herbal formulas and particular foods to help eradicate! We are pleased to say that both conditions are close to being completely healed! My husband’s eczema is completely gone, his IBS is a distant memory. He has energy and a drive for life that he was lacking before GAPS. I have not even a trace of anxiety, nor depression. My children are healthy, thriving, and we have noticed a huge improvement in our immune system function! We have been on the intro diet for a year now, and there have been many hiccups and learning curves along the way. But the measure of healing and health changes we have seen have simply been remarkable.

If you are contemplating whether investing in Christina is worth it, I can say with full confidence it’s worth EVERY penny you spend. This money invested now is for your health long term. Look to the future, and go forward knowing that you are doing the BEST thing for your family and their health.

written by Laura de Ruiter 

*** If you have found it this interesting and are considering working with me (Christina) you can check out my 8 week GAPS package here, and you can sign up for free 30 min call to see if I’m the right practitioner for you. ***