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Life After Ketchup {GAPS Update}

Affiliate Disclosure | in Recipes | by | with 53 Comments

Yesterday Katie pulled a half empty bottle of ketchup from the fridge and asked what it was. One of her favorite games – and my least – is to ask questions she already knows the answer to, so I gave a quick sideways glance to check her expression. Yup, the girl has completely forgotten about ketchup.***

Now, if your child -who happens to have been a ketchup enthusiast – can no longer name the condiment of tomatoey goodness, it means one of three things:

A) This is not your child. Go back to the last place you were . . . grocery store, park, craft store, wherever. A parent whose child is undoubtedly wearing the exact. same. outfit. as yours will inevitably wave you down. Exchange.

B) An interstellar worm has wriggled it’s way into your child’s brain. It’s only food is the cellular memory of ketchup, which makes for a very short lifespan. In other words, your child was infected with an alien parasite for about three minutes.

C) Your child is on GAPS

Fortunately, in my situation the answer is C . It’s been six months since we became a GAPS family and three months since I told you about my bucket list and confessed that my husband has no pants (and as we discovered on vacation, no swim trunks either). Which means . . . it’s time for an update!

Mommy, Can I Watch The Adult Movie, Too?

Oy, of all the things Katie’s said, that one max’s out on the heebie jeebie scale. Fortunately, the only “education” she is getting around here is a little – okay, A LOT – of extra flirting between mommy and daddy.The movie she wanted to watch was What About Bob, which we have emphatically explained is a “Grown-Up Movie”.

I’m serious about the flirting, though. Daddypotamus feels better, and for some reason that compels him to buy me wine and flowers. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE that wine is GAPS legal??

Alright, getting off track here. In a nutshell, the hubba hubba hubs is 45+ pounds lighter . . .

. . . and that’s good! As the spontaneous clearing of his weird, crusty, flaky scalp condition (that he had for YEARS) proves, his internal ecosystem is shifting. Unfortunately, focusing at work is still a semi-epic battle, so we’re in the process of adding supplements to support cognitive function -L-tyrosine, Ginkgo biloba, Brahmi (an Ayurvedic herb), or Gotu Kola – I’ll let you know how it goes. But for now, let’s move on to Katie!

Katie Is On GAPS Because . . .

Silly me! Katie is on GAPS because we are – it’s purely by default. So why, after four months on a gut healing diet, did my HEALTHY daughter decide to begin displaying symptoms of digestive distress???

This no-good, very bad, horrible rash appeared on her face . . . and stayed, and stayed, and STAYED.  I did everything I would tell another mama to do (and then some), but the darn thing unpacked it’s suitcase and started collecting takeout menu’s from neighborhood restaurants. Evicting this thing was not going to be easy . . .

I thought it might be eczema, which as we all know is related to gut dysbiosis. But because it’s hard to be objective in circumstances like this – and because I have a tendency to royally freak out – I consulted Katja. She reminded me that microbes are like tiny, invisible gunslingers with a penchant for gun blazing, symptom flaring last stands. In other words, though Katie had no symptoms, chances are that a pathogenic yeast was taking hold in her gut before we started GAPS (I had no idea about establishing good gut microbes when Katie was born). So when it started losing it’s grip it got kind of , er, ticked and went all Billy the Kid on my daughter’s face.

We treated the yeast with a topical calendula tincture and held our ground with the diet, and by our vacation two months later she looked like this.

When symptoms return (or get WORSE) on a healing diet it can be really discouraging. But sometimes, just when we think we have utterly failed, it turns out we are actually winning! (Note: I’m declaring victory against Billy the Rogue Yeast just yet. He may have a last stand or two left.)

Did this yeasty revolt surprise me? Absolutely. Katie is not a typical GAPS kid, and yet this diet is clearly having a positive impact on her health. I’m more committed than ever! Now for a quick little story about . . .

Fried Eggs And Mustard

Did you know that mustard contains iron? Late one night when my body screamed “Steak! Steak! STEAK!” at me for over an hour, I politely informed it that the steak was in the freezer. “Fried eggs and mustard then, please,” it replied – and then I knew.

A quick consult from Google and everything added up: Eggs (protein) + mustard (iron) = steak. Only, they don’t actually, so I rummaged around and found my whole food based iron supplements from way back when and set the steak out to thaw before bed.

And then, puke fest. Puke puke puke puke puke. Did I mention the puking? Seriously, this is turning out to be quite a bucket list. So there I am heaving into the toilet (in the dark, which I don’t recommend) and wondering WHY, when this passage comes rushing back:

Most people with abnormal gut flora have various stages of anemia. It is not surprising. They not only can’t absorb essential-for-blood vitamins and minerals from food, but their own production of these vitamins is damaged. On top of that, people with abnormal gut flora often have a particular group of pathogenic bacteria growing in their gut, which are iron-loving bacteria (Actinomyces spp., Mycobacteriam spp., pathogenic strains of E.coli, Corynebacterium spp., and many others). They consume whatever iron the person gets from the diet, leaving that person deficient in iron. Unfortunately, supplementing iron makes these bacteria grow stronger and does not remedy anemia.”

Gut & Psychology Syndrome, p. 24

So uh, apparently, I have improved my gut flora and therefore my ability to absorb iron (I have always been borderline anemic), and now half of my normal dose of iron supplements raises the DEFCON 5 alert. Good to know.

So that’s us, six months in! If you’re interested in starting GAPS, stay tuned. I have a giveaway just for YOU!!!

*** If you’re working up the nerve to start GAPS and can’t live without ketchup, don’t worry. It’s allowed, you just have to make it yourself. I tried a couple recipes and they were just meh, so we stick with rockstar condiments like homemade mayo and pickled jalapenos (a lot of storebought mustard’s are GAPS legal, too). I’m sure you’ll find one that works for you.

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53 Responses to Life After Ketchup {GAPS Update}

  1. Julie Charbonnet Whetstine via FB says:

    congrats to daddypotamous! (and the whole healthy family!)

  2. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Thanks Julie! It’s amazing to see how much has changed in my kitchen habits, too. At first I was completely overwhelmed, but cooking GAPS style is actually easier than what I was doing before!

  3. Kati says:

    Oh, don’t you love the whole mystery of your body on the GAPS diet??? Don’t you wish there was a secret decoder ring? LOL! So glad to hear it is going well for you, your hubby, and your daughter!

    One thing we have found to be very helpful for yeast (in case this helps anyone else you are talking to) is a high dose of biotin. My girls are taking about 10mg / day and it has made all the difference in the world for them.

  4. Emily Brown says:

    Way to go, Daddypotamus!!! I had noticed in your vacation pictures how good he was looking, but couldn’t figure out how to say so without sounding…..flirty. 😀 Great story too about Katie….I see this time and time again (reactions AFTER going clean/gaps/etc.)

  5. Abbey Byrd via FB says:

    Mommypotamus, I love love love reading your posts they’re so encouraging. Ive slowly but so surely been swapping out processed for whole and it’s amazing the difference I feel from those little changes alone.

    I have a question I think you’d know the answer to. Is chunk light tuna safe during pregnancy? I’ve probably consumed 4 cans worth (we cans, I know) this entire pregnancy and now I’m being told the mercury can cause retardation. This is going to be our first baby so I’m in “first-time-mom-paranoia” stage. I’ve cut out tuna to be safe. What do you think?

    • Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Coupons says:

      I actually did a project on mercury as a teratogen (birth-defect-inducing organism) in my embryology class in college. How far along are you? Tuna in small portions is usually fine, as it also supplies some good protein and omega 3s. There are other types of fish (shark, for example) that are very high in mercury and should be avoided, but a bit of tuna won’t hurt. In fact, I’m pretty sure the source I read (this was 4years ago, so I don’t have it handy anymore) that said once or twice a week won’t hurt. A quick google search on fish choices for pregnancy should provide some guidelines as well.
      Congratulations on your baby!

  6. Tiffany says:

    Really really thinking about jumping in to this (I have crohns along with some serious headache issues)- but I have a question. Thoughts/recommendations for someone who lives in an area where organic, grass fed meat is really really hard to come by, and unpasteurized dairy products are non-existent? Can I do this with run of the mill stuff from Kroger?

  7. Abbey Byrd via FB says:

    I meant to say EW cans… My iPhone likes to replace words for me without permission sometimes. Lol

  8. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Abbey – Mercury is bad, and seafood does contain mercury. However, it also contains tons of vital nutrients to support pregnancy/breastfeeding. I wish we could have one without the other, but given the choice I’d eat the seafood. HOWEVER, it needs to be good stuff. Most canned seafood’s contain BPA, which can cause reproductive problems in babies. Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics sells a tuna that is BPA-free and is also processed at low temps to prevent the omega 3’s from being damaged. They only harvest very small tuna to reduce mercury exposure. It’s pricey stuff, but I love having some on hand for those days I just can’t pull it together in the kitchen. Don’t worry about what you’ve eaten, and keep eating seafood. Wild caught salmon, sea scallops and chopped clams are all low in mercury.

  9. Abbey Byrd via FB says:

    Thanks a million! I appreciate any excuse to enjoy some grilled salmon 😉

  10. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Good! Just make sure it is not farmed – that stuff is toxic!

  11. Stacy says:

    I din’t remember how I stumbled onto your blog but I’m glad I did. I WILL do GAPS someday because I KNOW it will help my family. I’m expecting, so maybe in a couple years. I should wait until after breastfeeding too, right? I would love to see my hubby drop that much weight and to not have sick kids. I’m looking forward to hearing about the giveaway!! Where do you get tallow? I’d like to start trying some of the recipes so I don’t get so much resistance when it does come time to start.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Stacy! GAPS is recommended for breastfeeding mamas (you can read about it here: I started GAPS when my son was 6 months old (and exclusively breastfeeding) with no problems. So don’t let that stop you whenever you’re ready to start!

      About tallow, when we make beef broth and put it in the fridge the tallow rises to the top and hardens. We just scoop it off and put it in a jar in the freezer for later use.

      • Erika says:

        I would love to start the GAPS diet with my family but I have a 2 and a 4 year old. How do you get them to go along with the dramatic change in diet?

  12. Margo Snider via FB says:

    I have read all your posts about gaps, dp I read somewhere that there is such a thing as modified GAPS? Also, what book would you recommend about GAPS. THANKS

  13. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    Other diets, like the primal diet, are modified versions of GAPS but they don’t necessarily have the same intensive healing focus. I’m not sure what else would qualify as modified GAPS. The #1 book to read on the subject is Gut & Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. It’s for sale at – the rest are mostly cookbooks :)

  14. Margo Snider via FB says:

    Ok thanks.

  15. lisa says:

    oh my god, you’re so awesome. i can’t wait to read more.
    i started on a ‘somewhat’ gaps diet, and although my body began showing signs of die off, along with mental clarity(!), i freaked out and stopped because i loss my sense of taste and started loosing my hair! turns out my broken gut went from not absorbing minerals well to not absorbing minerals at all. so glad you stuck with it. very cool.
    (now, with zinc supplement in hand, i’m back to it.)

    • Heather says:

      I would freak out, too! We started on full GAPS to detox slowly before going on intro because – as I’m sure you well know – detoxing too quickly is too hard on the body. Best wishes for a very gentle progression!

  16. Martha says:

    I’m on GAPS and I enjoy lacto fermented salsa in place of ketchup.

  17. Amanda says:

    I was introduced to your blog by a friend who used your recipes to make her own toothpaste. Then a second friend recommended GAPS and hey, you’re doing that too!

    I’ve FINALLY convinced my husband to give it a try and we’re starting it in January. Here’s hoping I can actually figure out how to do it by then!

    Btw, I’ve been making bone broth, but it’s not turning gelatinous when it’s cooled. My first batch did, but second and third didn’t and looks like fourth won’t either. I’ve tried with and without the apple cider vinegar (raw, organic), but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Any suggestions?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Amanda! Unfortunately, I can’t really give you any ideas on the broth. It may just need to be in the fridge longer – I’ve never timed how long mine takes but I’m pretty sure it’s quite awhile. Definitely keep using the ACV, though, because it increases the acidity of the water and draws out minerals. Oh, and I’m hosting a GAPS giveaway tomorrow that is perfect for you. Hope you stop by!

      • Amanda says:

        Hey Heather,

        It’s still liquidy even after being in the fridge for over 24 hours. It’s driving me nuts! I just hope I’m still getting benefits from it even if it’s not gelatinous. I’m starting to wonder if it has something to do with being cooked in a crockpot or roaster rather a stainless steel pot. :-/

        I’ll definitely stop by. :)

        • Rose says:

          If the bones are not broken or cut, you won’t get as much gelatin and the broth will be liquid. :) Mine does this if I make it from a chicken frame and don’t bother to break the bones.

  18. Pavil, the Uber Noob says:

    Fermenting your own mustard is a snap. Soak a batch of mustard seeds and then dry & store them. When you are ready for new mustard, grind what you need. We use a blender with a dry blade. Follow the recipe from Nourishing Traditions and in 2-3 you are good to go. Its like having your own Grey Poupon.

    Ciao, Pavil

  19. Sarah G says:

    Hi Heather, great post and well timed for us! After our wee chat I ordered the book and have started reading it. I am sure I am going to go for it some time soon – not sure I can convince the rest of the family though :0) we have slowly been going organic and non-processed recently as a gentle introduction and we are feeling the benefits of just these few changes. I don’t know whether it is becauase of this or just co-incidental but my usually quite fussy 2 year old daughter has tried a whole load of new things in the last few weeks including spinach, broccoli, and homemade soupe made with homemade stock – I am so happy!! Bring on GAPS!! best wishes to you all from Scotland x

    • Heather says:

      Yay, Sarah! I am glad you’re already seeing improvement. If have time stop by tomorrow. I’m hosting an awesome GAPS giveaway that I think you’ll love!

  20. Joy says:

    This post was very encouraging to stick with GAPS. We’ve been on it for about a month now and have seen lots of good results like my husband losing 20lbs and feeling more energetic. I’m having some issues with indigestion (I think that’s what it is anyway) which I never had much before and my daughter’s eczema is having some flare ups but I like the perspective that it’s probably because we are on the right track instead of doing something wrong! I did have a question about your husband’s weight loss. How gradual was it? My husband dropped a lot of lbs. on the intro but is now creeping along slowly. Was that your husband’s experience too?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Joy! Yes, he dropped a lot of weight on intro and then it became more gradual when we moved to full GAPS. Sometimes his body revs up and drops two pound in a week, sometimes nothing. Either way, we know we are on the right track and it’s not like we are suffering. Meat, squash fries and green beans with butter? Now that’s a diet I can handle!

  21. Kirsten says:

    I am SERIOUSLY considering doing GAPS for our family, so I can’t wait to hear about your giveaway! 😉 I need to go back and read all your posts on it again…and get that book, probably. One question on “cheating” (and if you already answered this in a different post, feel free to say so): does cheating once in a while on GAPS totally ruin it, or just pause or set you back a little. I just can’t imagine my family doing something with no cheating whatsoever, so I want to be sure it’s not a waste of all the effort. (Does that make sense?) We have been on the “Accidental GAPS” diet, thanks to all your fabulous recipes, and it’s great to know there are so many yummy things available to eat! :)

    • Heather says:

      Hi Kirsten! For people with serious health conditions cheating is not encouraged, but that doesn’t sound like where you are. Even for those that are not 100% compliant I think GAPS can be very beneficial. Personally, I have not found “cheating” necessary. I can have wine, coffee, muffins and cookies (in moderation, of course). Not to mention a key lime pie that rocks my world. Do I miss popcorn when I watch movies? Yes. But other than that I really don’t feel like I am missing anything!

      • Kirsten says:

        That’s good to know, thanks! We don’t have any particular conditions we are trying to treat, and we eat relatively similarly to GAPS already, so it probably won’t be a HUGE transition, but some transition, nonetheless. Have you noticed any “last stand” symptoms with Micah, or do you think his gut is healthier because you knew more about good flora with him? I’d love to hear in a future post what you feed him, as a GAPS baby, since I have a two-year-old and 9-month-old who will also be doing GAPS if we go forward with it. :)

        • Heather says:

          Oh oh! I am hopefully just a month away from publishing a downloadable book on feeding babies. Giveaway with launch!!!

          Now, about your question: Micah has never had any “last stand” symptoms, but if we had been doing GAPS when Katie was a baby I don’t think she would have either. I think I made two mistakes that created the conditions necessary for the yeast overgrowth.

          1) I was strep B positive during both pregnancies. With Katie I allowed a wash that killed good and bad bacteria right before she passed through my birth canal. With Micah I did my research and skipped it, instead preparing my birth canal with beneficial bacteria.

          2) I began allowing Katie some grains around 24 months. She went nuts for them and I kind of had an oogey feeling about it, but I didn’t cut them out. They were all homemade and traditionally prepared, but her body simply couldn’t digest them.

  22. Roxanna says:

    Love to hear how you and family is doing! We’ve been on GAPS for 4 months and my son had the very SAME rash!!! I was so discouraged at first. I too treated it with a bit of calendula and kept at the diet (actually tried limiting fruit a bit too). Then he got sick for the first time (he will be three in Jan) and since he just weaned himself (I’m 4.5 months prego so I know that played a part too) I was really bummed. We rushed to the chiro and the virus/yeast, whatever it was flushed out in 24 hours :) I allowed him to self medicate with food, which was hard but he chose things I would have given him anyway… broth, kefir shakes, banana’s and extra FCLO! While our healing is in no way linear, I still see the positive’s of GAPS and am committed to seeing it through. Actually I’m excited to starting off baby #2 with a solid foundation of microbes and nourishing foods :) Looking forward to what you’ll be doing for the kids for Halloween… I’m big into activities so we’re planning a bunch of artsy things to do as a family :)

    • Heather says:

      Awesome that our kids had the same experience, Roxanna! They had the same “healing crisis” too! I didn’t mention this detail but Katie ran a fever on our vacation – when it broke the yeast flushed out. Her body waited until the yeast was weakened enough to kill off (about 2.5 months) Amazing!

  23. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama says:

    Just stopped in to grab a recipe but saw this post. We’ve done GAPS on and off for almost two years. Not always so fun but beneficial. My daughter once had a rash like that around her mouth (okay, for a long time) as well as eczema, diaper rash, itchy palms, speech delay, and so on. Yes, we did GAPS largely for her. It’s all gone now! She has no symptoms anymore. :)

    By the way, your daughter is beautiful!

  24. Tiffany says:

    Wow – my 2 yr old has the exact same mouth area rash and I’ve been thinking it’s a reaction to a particular food item (like nuts – we’ve been grain-free for about 2 months and our nut intake has risen). So intrigued to know it could be the yeasties losing their foothold. My 4 yr old son & I have definite candida issues and I suspected she did too, but so far appears healthy. Can you share a recipe/source for the topical calendula tincture you used?

    • Heather says:

      We bought ours premade at Whole Foods. Normally I like to make things myself but the supplies weren’t locally available and I wanted to get started.

  25. Joanna Moore says:

    what brand did you use? I noticed a few days ago that Julia has something similar going on around her mouth, and we’ve been on gaps (full menu) for 2 weeks now. I suppose it’s kind of a good sign, and it’s encouraging to know that Katie had it too (not what I mean, but there’s no other way to say it, sorry!) I’m so glad I didn’t let her have birthday cake today at a party (not even a little… go me!) because we must be starving whatever it is out!

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  27. Mali Korsten (The Korsten Chronicle) says:

    Throughout my whole childhood I had a recurring rash round my mouth, as well as eczema on my stomach, neither of which have bothered me much in adulthood (guess my body just got used to all the pathogens). But since being on GAPS intro (I’m in my 4th week) they have both come back – the eczema worse than ever before! Although the itching is driving me crazy, I see it as a very positive sign – clearly the bad guys are biting the dust and releasing all their nastiness in the process. The term, “die-off reaction” has become something of an in-joke in our house!

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  31. Jennifer says:

    Hello Heather! The pic of Katie with the red bumps is exactly how my son looks! Showed up on intro and we are fighting it with probiotics and diet but was interested in the recipe for the tincture. Could you share??


  32. Erika says:

    Hi Heather, wondering how long your family stayed on GAPS intro diet? Do you all still eat strictly GAPS diet now or off GAPS completely?

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