Reading Caroline’s story will be a delight! She’s a spunky 18-year old blogging at GUTSY. After a young-lifetime of health hurdles and complications, she took her health into her own hands and is seeing healing through God’s goodness and the GAPS diet. Keep reading all the way to the end for the delicious cookie recipe! –Wardee
Hello, GNOWFGLINS readers! My name is Caroline Lunger. This is my first guest post, so I am really excited about being here. I am also very thankful that Wardee allowed me this opportunity! The GAPS diet is a journey and we can all learn from each other, and I really like her new GAPS series.
I’m going to tell you my story, and then please stick around because at the end of this post, I’m going to share a fantastic GAPS cookie recipe!
Who am I?
I am a creative, spunky 18-year old on the GAPS diet. I live in Minnesota with my two sisters, a brother, mom, dad, cat, and dog. I started the GAPS Diet in October 2011. My healthy journey is a long and complicated one, but I have learned so much from my struggles. I would not be here writing about my journey if it was easy. Actually, my health problems forced me to become the researcher/health nut/person I am today! I really think that the GAPS diet can do a lot for people who have any health issues. Now, you can read about my journey and how I found the GAPS diet and why it was such a perfect match.
My mom tells me that since birth, I have always been super sensitive. She tells me stories of how I didn’t like to wear snow suits because they were too constrictive and it just “didn’t feel right”. Actually, I didn’t like any clothes because of their texture or feel on my skin, and most of my baby pictures confirm that. I got terrible ear infections and eczema as a baby, too. By age two, I had already been to many doctors because I was such an uneven tempered child. My parents knew something was not right. If you are wondering what my mom ate or did while she was pregnant with me, then you will be surprised to hear that she ate very healthy. She prepared whole foods and used only natural materials. I was even born at home, all naturally.
Me without clothes because the texture bothered me.
A Complicated Health Story
My health story just gets more complicated. By age five doctors thought I had OCD. I had a difficult time being away from my mom, and I had some obsessive quirks, like carrying her old hairbrush around. I wore only fuve simple jumper dresses that my mom made because they were lightweight — even in the winter. I would have random temper tantrums for no reason, and then at other times I could be a super sweet little girl. My sisters and brother and I would only be allowed three sweets a week, otherwise we had to eat healthy. When I say healthy, I mean: whole wheat bread, organic fruit and veggies, and organic cheese and meats. We shopped at our local food co-op for most of our food. When my mom started to get sick with a mental disorder, my temper started to rise. I now know that I am an empath and that her extreme emotions really affected me.
I have since discovered that my uncontrollable emotions and symptoms are related to an unhealthy gut, thus creating unhealthy brain signals. My parents had an inkling that it was food-related, so they tried to put me on an elimination diet when I was about seven years old. Unfortunately they tried it when we were on vacation and I was the only one who had to do it, so I didn’t have much support.
In fourth grade I started getting interested in healthy food. I began cooking and experimenting in the kitchen more. I would look at recipes for inspiration and then create something original. One year later I went the same route as Wardee and started allergy medicine because I was just so miserable. I was allergic to almost everything they tested. I started the prescription medicine right away and it made me feel better, so that was good enough …right?
Wrong! I think that medicine did a lot of harm in the long run. One year later I started getting severe stomach pains and I lost weight. I am already a small person, and I couldn’t afford to be any smaller. Everything I ate made my stomach hurt. I was able to tolerate some chicken, fish, cooked vegetables, and lots of fruit. My mom grew up eating almost no fat so I grew up under the impression that saturated fat is bad! Who knew six years later I would be eating it by the spoonful.
This cycle of eating left me very weak and I think all of the sugars in the fruit created some candida in my body. I was turning into one of those kids who are allergic to everything. I felt like a nuisance to my family because they were always concerned about me. By this time I couldn’t go to movies because they were too loud. I didn’t like perfume or lotion because I got migraines and daily activities became exhausting. We decided to go to the Allergy Associates of Lacrosse in Wisconsin. I received extensive allergy testing and again came back with a huge list of environmental and food allergies to be treated with sublingual drops. What else was left for me to eat? I wish I had found the GAPS diet at this time, but I did not find it until years later.
High School Hardships
I started high school and things got worse! The school was under construction, and I didn’t know until later that the new materials made me sick almost every other week of the whole school year. I was always healthy in the summers and I felt so good! In the summer I could run 5 to 13 miles a day and swim easily for an hour. Once school started, I got very sick again. I would get eczema really badly on my face. It was so bad that I was embarrassed to go out in public. Stress from school and friends only made my situation worse. I started to do some online classes, which allowed me more time to concentrate on my health.
Taking Control of My Health
At this point I was determined to heal myself. I started to read and read and read. I dove into the natural medicine field and found an auricular medicine doctor, who examines the ear to “see” inside your body. He told me that my organs were functioning like those of a 50-year old! I went to a naturopath, too, who started me on a several different supplements. To an extent, these helped a lot. She helped me get off my allergy medications as she switched me to natural supplements.
I started to change foods because I knew all that fruit was not good for me, especially since it was cross-reacting with my seasonal allergies. I started to eat more low mercury fish and vegetables. One day I picked up the Body Ecology book and felt that I needed to do just that. This seemed to help a lot, though I was definitely not eating enough fat. So again, I lost more weight. I started to get self conscious about my body and I didn’t like the boney girl I would see in the mirror. It made me sad to think that I could have so much energy and life, but I was stuck inside a sick body.
My stomach would burn every day and my stomach looked bloated every time I put any food in my mouth. My naturopath was worried I was on my way to IBS or something like that. This scared me so much so I started to research even more. I would go to the library and check out a dozen 3-inch books about healthy food and the human body.
How I Found GAPS
One special day I came across a blog post (I don’t remember which one) that explained the GAPS diet. Hmm…I thought, “This is it! This is what is going to heal me!” I knew it from the bottom of my heart and I am blessed that I was led to this information. The very next day I went to my farmers market, picked up a bag of turkey legs and boiled them with some veggies. My mom watched me as I started to eat the soft cartilage and skin off the turkey leg. My mom will eat almost anything, but she did not want to try turkey cartilage or skin (she was taught that saturated fat was suppose to be bad for you).
In no time, I got into beef hearts and pureed soups. I ate loads of coconut oil and beef fat. To my family’s surprise and mine, I started to get better. Within a few days my family stared to comment on how I had my glow back. I was not fuzzy headed any more and I had enough energy to even take a run or a swim in the lake. My life was improving and I thank God and the GAPS diet for that.
I have to admit, it was difficult being the only one in my family who was on the GAPS diet. Though, a few months after I started, I asked my mom if she wanted to go to a GAPS class at a local chiropractor with me. She came, immediately started to ask questions, and decided that she should do it, too. See, my mom has struggled with bipolar most of her life. She got pretty bad after having my youngest brother and was told by her doctors that she would need to be on strong medicine the rest of her life. I guess they were wrong, because today she is medicine-free and feeling better than she has in her whole life! I am so thankful that God led my family and me to the GAPS diet. Our journey is still continuing and I am learning new things every day.
Right now I am helping the rest of my family eat traditional food. Slowly in the last five months we have switched to real food (fermented veggies, bone broth, fresh milk, etc.), although they still like their treats once in a while. My mom and I are currently on the GAPS diet and we are helping my sister with the GAPS diet while she is home from college. I think she is improving a lot, too. It is so much easier when the GAPS diet is a family thing, because support is part of what makes it manageable.
I am having a little trouble — even with some GAPS foods — because my sensitivities are still very high, but I am not giving up. The GAPS diet gives your body a clean slate, so even if you did not react to something before, you might not on the GAPS diet because your body’s signals are much more clear. It can get frustrating at times. But at the end of the day, if your health is not well enough where you can enjoy life, then you need a change. The GAPS diet can heal your body in ways that only nourishing foods have the power to do; that is why God made food the way He did.
I started my blog GUTSY several months ago (and I am still very new to the whole blogging thing). My passion is to help people become more aware of their health and eating traditional foods, which is why I started blogging at GUTSY. I call it that because the GAPS diet focuses on healing the gut, but also because — if you think about it — traditional food is very different and even “gutsy” at times. Think about all the chicken feet, liver, kombucha, and raw egg yolks you eat!
Because I am still not well enough to live in a college dorm, and I don’t want to learn conventional nutrition, this coming September I am starting NTA courses. I have already read and researched beyond the required reading (more than 20 books!) and my brain is just bursting with information!
Please follow mine and my family’s journey on the GAPS/traditional food diet at GUTSY. I love to experiment in the kitchen and create new recipes that are GAPS legal but very yummy!
And now, I will leave you with a GAPS legal recipe for GAPsters or anyone who wants to try something new and delicious! Thanks again, Wardee, for this amazing opportunity and to all GNOWFGLINS readers who took time to read my journey! Enjoy and stay gutsy!
GAPS Date Cookies
- by Caroline Lunger
- 1/2 cup room temperature coconut oil or ghee or butter
- 1-1/2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Few shakes of cinnamon
- 1 egg or (1 tablespoon flax seed meal + 3 tablespoons hot water — let sit for 10 min. to gel)
- 10 pureed dates
- (optional) 1/2 cup GAPS chocolate drops or raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat mat or coat well with coconut oil. De-pit dates and puree in a Cuisinart until smooth.
Add egg, coconut oil/butter and vanilla and blend until smooth. In a separate bowl mix almond flour, salt, and cinnamon. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and blend until all incorporated. Mix in GAPS chocolate drops or raisins with a spoon (optional). Form 1″ balls with your hands and spread out on prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 min. Don’t overcook, as you want them soft! Let cool for 10 minutes before taking off the cookie sheet. Eat and enjoy! (At my house, we like to eat these for a quick breakfast.)
Thanks, Caroline! Everyone — be sure to tell Caroline hi and thanks in the comments.