Monday, April 18, 2011

Weighty Matters (and Day 8 of GAPS Intro)

I am pondering weighty matters.

In the last few days, between Intro and the tummy bug we all had, I have lost weight. Perhaps more weight than is good for me. In fact, the Captain noted "you look so skinny"--a statement of concern, not a compliment. Don't get me wrong, I am not at all emaciated. But a few pounds less on my curvy body makes me look and feel a bit odd. Too many more will make me look ill.

No-one really likes to talk about weight. And I know that talking about unplanned weight loss negatively, in some circles, will make enemies. Somehow, it's become culturally acceptable to bemoan weight gain (and I've been there, believe me), but not weight loss.

We need to come to a place where we can talk about weight as another physical sign, like stools, skin health and mood.  Where we can figure out what is healthy for each of us, not from a table, not in a doctor's opinion, but in how we feel, how it affects our energy and overall well-being.

I struggled with this especially leading up to beginning my thyroid treatment. I have used weight as a measure of how my metabolism is functioning. It's not the only measure, but it's a useful one.  I don't want to dwell on thinness as some sort of Holy Grail, the same as I don't want to demonize extra weight.

I have read some of the "Fat Positive" or "Health At Any Size" blogs and books, and while there are things that I find absolutely right on in their philosophy. I am concerned that they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, we should stop discriminating against people because of their size. Yes, we need to love who we are, not what size we are. Yes, health, not size should be our goal. But no, I don't think being obese is healthy, just as I don't believe that being overly thin is healthy. These are signs that something is out of whack in our bodies.

The attitude that we should just accept obesity and concentrate on being healthy is just as jarring as those parents, who have kids on the autism spectrum, who just want to celebrate their kids and will not use the tools available to help them live healthier lives.

Yes. there are people who want us to ignore the tantrums, the illness, the inability to cope. They want the kids to be accepted as differently-abled, not disabled.  OK, if the situation were irreversable, I would buy that. I hate labels, and I don't want any kid, any person, to feel they are lesser because of their health condition. But there are very effective things to be done, things that improve these kids' lives and health--why would anyone reject that? I am still trying to figure that one out.

The GAPS  (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet is one of those tools. Most of you already know that, but I thought I'd state it clearly for any newcomers. I am not doing GAPS because I am on the spectrum, but for health. But you know what? It's all the same! We do it for our kids' health too--physical and mental. That's the beauty of GAPS.

And the weight? Well, I know GAPS to be very balancing. In the end, after I have reintroduced foods and am on full GAPS, I trust I will be at a healthy weight for me. Weight gain, for me is a sign that I am eating the wrong foods, just as this weight loss is a sign that I am in a restricted stage right now.

Today, Day 8 of the Intro diet, I am up to eating fermented fish (ooh, my gravlax and brine-cured salmon both came out so well) and stew-y/ casserole-y things. So I had a solid food lunch! That's progress: two boiled eggs with gravlax. How elegant.  And did I ever love it!

For dinner, I made a more stew-like version of Dr. Natasha's recipe "liver in a clay pot", which is actually a liver and heart dish. I had to change a couple of ingredients (I used goose fat where she recommends butter, skipped the prunes, added some stock), but it came out well, if a bit bland. The meat was tender, and there was lots of yummy sauce to go over the cauliflower puree I made. Boy, I feel like a toddler who graduated out of mushy food (but don't worry, there are more soups in the offing and a huge pot of stock simmering on the stove.)

I have stopped measuring spoonsful of kvass (my probiotic liquid of choice) and started adding a tiny bit of very soft sauerkraut (you could say it's a "failed" batch, but it tastes great and is soft enough not to offend with too much fiber, so it works for me.) That's another great step, because I love my kraut!

If it seems I am moving swiftly, remember that I have done Intro twice before, and have been on full GAPS or SCD for over five years. I am doing this as a tune-up of sorts, because I had made enough exceptions that I had kind of lost the thread of what had been working. I had a few symptoms I wanted to clear up, but I do already have a pretty good idea of which things I am sensitive to (dairy, sadly) and which things my body loves (Kraut! Kombucha!)  This program is to be totally individualized for each person, going at the pace that works for them and using supplements, baths, etc, that are personally effective--as it should be.

I am looking forward to adding more food to my diet over the next few weeks, and even, then, to adding a few pounds!  Your ideal weight will be different from mine, as indeed mine is different at almost 50 from when I was younger (ideally, a menopausal woman will gain 10 pounds over 10 years, producing weak estrogen from the extra fat, which helps in the transition and protects the heart). My goals are my own, and my sense of what is healthy is my own, it's what works for me.

So here's what I propose: we talk about weight openly, but take away the stigma. No one looks at me cross-eyed if I mention that my skin is oily or dry. That's just me. The changes mean something to me, and me only. And that is the way I see it with weight. Let's use the ups and downs as one more piece of information, and get back to taking care of our health. Because that's a really weighty matter.


Baden said...

Cool post, Justine!

I'm a funny one: I weigh more than most people would guess me to. I apparently "look" 20-25 pounds lighter than I actually am. Even doctors will weigh me twice in their confusion between what they see on me and what they see on the scale.

This is the weight at which I feel strong and healthy, happy and energetic. When I've weighed less, I felt anxious, depressed, and agitated. At this weight, even on my short size, I look curvy yet compact. (I'm naturally muscular.)

I'll refer to my weight matter-of-factly, and people take it as self-deprecation. That drives me batty! Why indeed can we not talk about weight freely, just as any other aspect of our physical selves??



Justine Raphael said...

I am so glad that you really "got" what I was saying! I don't want to offend anyone, but sometimes I have to be outspoken.

By the way, it sounds like we are built similarly. I weigh well over what people think I do, and the number is way high on any chart for my height. But I look well-proportioned, because I am muscular (I grew up dancing...) Maybe a shared ancestry? My family is all Russian and Hungarian Jewish.

Thanks for your perceptions!

Lola said...

Hi, I just found your blog while looking for GAPS blogs. We're just about to start. I really loved this post a lot and it's an issue that I've pondered as we venture into the GAPS diet. I know I'll lose quite a bit of weight to begin with and fear the looks of disapproval from others as they wonder what kinda "crazy diet" I'm on.

Justine Raphael said...

Welcome Lola!

I hope that I can offer some support as you start your journey. You can ead back through the posts from this week if you want to get oriented to my take on the Intro progression.

You may lose weight, and you may gain it later, but it all seems to reach an equilibrium. There's nothing like giving up "trigger foods" to make us rebalance!

And, don't give the naysayers a second thought. They have no idea what you need! Only you do...

Sierra said...

I love this post, but I particularly wanted to thank you for this part:
"The attitude that we should just accept obesity and concentrate on being healthy is just as jarring as those parents, who have kids on the autism spectrum, who just want to celebrate their kids and will not use the tools available to help them live healthier lives."

My son is mostly recovered from autism (due in part to GAPS, which we've been on for over 2 years) and too often I find myself "defending" his recovery. It seems absurd to me that being as healthy as possible should have such a stigma- definitely throwing the baby out with the bathwater! So, thank you :)

Justine Raphael said...

Sierra, thank you for taking the time to share that. I was concerned that someone might take that part wrong, but I feel strongly about it, so am thrilled that you--who are living the situation--understand and affirm what I see.

Welcome to the blog!

Michael & Sue said...

Hi! I've always had the issue of keeping weight on due to my digestive issues and when I go through any cleansing diet i get comments such as "you're so skinny - are you ok? You need to eat more or you need to get weight!". I even had one woman say to me that I looked gaunt! In my mind that is so offensive! I can honestly say I'm not looking forward to the cleansing (intro) part of the GAPS die as I know I'll lose weight... But alas, I know I have to go through it to get on the other side so-here goes!

I have a question on the Intro diet Stage ONE, her instructions are a little confusing on this... Do I add the boiled meat into the chicken stock or just the broth? For Stage two she says (this was taken from web site on Intro diet)..."keep giving your patient the soups with the bone marrow, boiled meats..." Etc. Also do we eat the soups w blended veggies in stage one? Might just be my muddled brain right now but appreciate some clarification - thanks!

Baden said...

Sierra: Me too! I've actually had one person ask me outright why I would want to heal my son instead of just celebrate him. I gave my goriest example: "Because when he bashed his head so hard on the floor that it bled, I worried it might get infected." As if autism is fun for the person experiencing it, argh!

Justine: Yes, you and I are of the same tribe! My (immediate) ancestry is primarily Eastern Europan (Romanian/Ukranian/Russian), with Jewish on the other side. Yep, sounds like we have the same build! I'm naturally muscular and LOVE to dance. I actually thought of you while I prepared to make my borscht, quite sure this was going to be yet another point of connection with you!

Justine Raphael said...

Hi Sue,

Yes, you eat the meats and the vegetables from the soup in stage 1.

How you do it is up to you: you can have a chunky soup, you can have a blended soup, you can eat the meat and veggies (or just the meat or just the veggies) on a plate and have your broth in a mug with the meal.

It all comes to the same point: you are eating broth daily, with the meat and vegetables simmered till soft in that broth.

I hope that helps! And I hope the cleansing part is not too hard on you--you can control that my going slowly, not prompting die-off with probiotics too soon (and/or too much).

Keep reading for more tips!


Justine Raphael said...

Baden--I just found your comment languishing in odd! I could tell we are from the same stock from the way you described things. And I feel silly for saying "Russian" when I meant Ukranian--can you tell I grew up during the Cold War? So Hungarian and Ukranian, that's what I meant. From Odessa and Szeged to be exact. And a few unaccounted for family members who claimed to be French ("only by way of stopping off on the way from Russia" my other bubbe would say)


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