Mainstream Dietitian Vs. GAPS Diet

Our daughter is tiny. Over and over again, we’ve heard people say how their kids are so super small, only to find out their kids are 3 years younger than our daughter and bigger than she is! Other than being small, she seems happy, coordinated, and active. She never had abnormal test results of any kind. She was just small.

Kodiak with kids her age and younger

Kodiak with kids her age and younger. This was a couple years ago - the difference is even more pronounced now.

Around the time we decided to change our diet, we started to see a pediatric endocrinologist. Kodiak was tested for celiac disease (which was negative for both blood & genetics). She was also screened for Turner’s Syndrome, and had her bone age, growth hormone levels, and thyroid checked. On top of that, she had a comprehensive metabolic panel done.

Her bone age was a couple years delayed, which meant that she still had time to grow. The doctor took a watch and wait approach.

With our dietary changes, Kodiak went from being an extremely picky eater to a kid with the typical tween appetite. She eats more than I do sometimes! We watched. We waited… and we were shocked that a year later she’d gained less than 2 pounds and less than an inch. Now she wasn’t just hovering far below the growth curve… Even when adjusted for bone age her growth curve would have been crossing percentiles if there had been any down there to cross.

So, another round of bloodwork was performed, and it came back normal. The endocrinologist suggested we consult with the dietitian. She was nice about it, but when you have made feeding your family a vocation, the idea that you aren’t feeding your kid properly and that’s why she hasn’t grown kind of smarts.

Since we’re doing the GAPS diet which cuts out all those “healthy whole grains,” I was a bit concerned that we’d get a knee jerk reaction and be told this was the reason she hadn’t grown enough.

Most people assumed that there would be some kind of push back against GAPS. Friends asked me why I was even going, when I already know so much about nutrition. The truth is, I wanted another person’s perspective. Just because I know how to do GAPS, doesn’t mean I know everything about how food is working for my daughter. So we just kept eating our normal full-GAPS diet, and I prepared myself for the attack.

I brought our food journal, the blog entry about Kodiak’s former picky eating, and the GAPS book with us to our appointment.

The dietitian was a very thoughtful, sweet, funny woman. She had already looked at Kodiak’s chart, and she read my blog entry and the food journal before she saw us. She looked over the food log and said, “Can I come eat at your house?”

Calories, carbs, protein, and fat all looked balanced to her. She told us that the full fat sources of food we were using were excellent. She said that normally she’d worry if someone had restricted all grains, but in our case we had clearly researched it and Kodiak was getting plenty of carbs and nutrition from other foods.

She asked me for my questions. I pressed on the carb issue, saying I knew it was easy to slip into too low carb of a diet. She said, nope, she’s eating plenty of carbs! I asked about calories, and she said Kodiak was actually eating more than is required of a person her height to sustain growth.

In fact, Kodiak had actually gained another pound in 2 months since our January visit! She’d only gained 1.9 pounds in the entire previous year. For a 12-13 year old girl, that’s not much. Typical girls her age gain around 18 pounds per year.

We have a growth hormone stimulation test coming up, and are considering more testing. We still don’t have our answers. Maybe something is wrong, maybe she was stunted by her 8 years as a vegetarian with pickier and pickier tastes, or maybe she’s just got her own time-table for growth.

Either way, the mainstream medical world has given its stamp of approval to our diet, crazy as it may seem to some.

This post is part of Sunday School, Made From Scratch Monday, Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesdays, Fresh Bites Friday, Freaky Friday.

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17 comments to Mainstream Dietitian Vs. GAPS Diet

  • Oh I’m so pleased to hear that went well! There really are some great dietitians out there, in spite of the ADA. Oops — I mean, the “ACADEMY of Nutrition and Dietetics” *eyeroll….!!*

    I hope Kodiak is able to continue gaining, but I’m curious to see what the other tests show as far as her growth hormones. According to Matt Stone (180degreehealth.com), a high-functioning thyroid is responsible for ensuring growth hormone production, and a low metabolism (not high like many would assume) is often a contributor to underdevelopment. Have you been taking her temperature? Maybe try taking her basal temp, under the arm (supposed to be more accurate than oral) for a while and see if that might be too low?

    • Joy

      That’s an interesting thought. I haven’t tried taking her temperature regularly, but like me, she tends to run low. I’ll try it just to find out. The kids are always interested to know their temperature so it’s an easy thing to do.

      If I remember right, her thyroid levels, while not high, were also not at the bottom of the ranges, either. We do eat some goitrogens on a regular basis, but we cook them thoroughly.

      I’m having a hard time getting our stim test scheduled. She had planned on having more hormone levels tested first but this is the clear next step and will be needed anyhow seeing as seemingly everything else has been ruled out. I don’t want to send K in for more blood draws if the result is the same (sitting in a hospital room for hours with a hep lock), but we may not be able to get the test ordered otherwise. This pisses me off, as I had been very careful (and made 2 extra doctor visits) to try and get all pre-stim test blood work done at once.

      I can’t seem to find anything indicating the potential risks of the stim test, and of course worry a bit about it. Part of me is on the fence about it. They inject arginine to stimulate growth hormone production, and then measure growth hormone levels at half-hour intervals to see if a typical amount was produced.

  • I can totally relate!! My 1 yr old wasn’t even 18 pounds at his 1 yr appt and while he eat tons, just doesn’t gain like his older brother did…make me nervous. We’ve also been doing GAPS but he gets a lot of carbs too…it’s nice to hear you experience and know we’re not alone!

    • Joy

      Kodiak was less than 18 at her 1 year, too! I had trouble deciding whether to turn her car seat around – it was ages before she hit that 20 lb mark! PS, I just went and checked out your site and oh, my goodness, your kids are so adorable!!!

  • What an incredible journey Kodiak and your family have been on. It will be interesting to keep up with how things go over the next couple of years. It has to be difficult to go through so much, and see such little results as far a weight and growth. Your family is in my prayers _/\_

    • Joy

      Thank you for your prayers! Even though things are not always easy, I feel blessed that our problems are not more severe, and that we have the good fortune to be able to eat good food and investigate the potential causes of our issues with the help of modern medicine.

  • Amanda

    I have a friend whose daughter sounds EXACTLY like yours. She’s only about three, three and a half, but she’s TINY. The doctor was concerned, went through all the testing just like you’ve gone through. They’ve just finally come to the conclusion that she is just small and will just be small. She’s healthy, nothing wrong with her. She’s just small.

    You know, God makes people in all sizes. :)

  • Christina S.

    I was also very small until I was 13 and a half, then I shot up. At 12, I was 60 pounds and 4’6” tall. At 14 I was 110 pounds and 5’5”. I hit a major growth spurt between 13 and 14, despite having a horrible diet at the time (I developed my eating disorder during that year). So I think if it’s not genetic that Kodiak is just small in stature, she may very well still have some major growing to do! :)

  • My children were much younger but with both of them they had huge growth when I removed all fruit from their diet. My older dd was 2 and gained 1lb and 1 inch in a month. Then I removed dairy from her diet (we had been on SCD for 8 months at the time) and she gained another 1lb and 1 inch in a week! My younger dd had equally dramatic weight gain when we started GAPS with her and eliminated all fruit and starchy veggies from her diet (she hasn’t ever eaten grains. She was nearly 2 when we started GAPS). I am always struck by how solid and strong my older dd is compared to her peers. She isn’t a waif and she isn’t overweight (it is difficult to find clothes for her body type!) She is solid and strong with very little fat on her. My younger dd still has some issues but we assume it is because of a parasite we know she has. She no longer has super skinny arms and legs but her belly still gets bloated. She is clearly absorbing so much more nutrition from what she eats these days.
    I’m so glad the nutritionist was so supportive of all of your efforts. I have had that experience when I expected a big fight over something and it just didn’t materialize (and I have also been blindsided from health care professionals that I assumed would be open and knowledgeable). What a relief!

  • Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! I wish you luck with the stim test! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
    http://realfoodforager.com/fat-tuesday-march-13-2012/

  • [...] Mainstream Dietician vs. The GAPS Diet from The Liberated Kitchen. This post is the story of a personal journey with their daughter. Thanks for sharing. [...]

  • Jen

    Joy, I was happy to hear that your dietitian was pleased with your diet plans. I was apprehensive as I read expecting the worst as you were. BRAVO for being fearless in getting that opinion. :) There are some good dietitians out there and I am so glad you found one of them.

    • Joy

      Yeah. I think it’s important to go to mainstream physicians and dietitians with an open mind. It’s the first step to establishing a good working relationship. While she could have had different opinions, that would have been interesting, too.

      Yesterday Kodiak had her growth hormone stim test at the hospital. The nurses there were super sweet, bright, kind ladies (who were snacking on candy and packaged cookies that were “healthy” because of fortification). I mentioned we had a special diet because they offered to go get my daughter something to eat and of course I had to refuse. It turns out one had been considering food allergy testing for a family member, and the other had been considering trying a gluten-free diet. I shared just the tip of the iceberg of our experience. I also mentioned our son’s arthritis disappearing with our dietary changes. They said they see a lot of children with arthritis.

      Imagine what will happen if these two nurses learn about the diet and arthritis connection, then mention that as a possibility to some of their patients? Some of them may have the same issues as our son, and might benefit. Then they’ll tell more people…

      But if I’d gone in there all holier than thou, or with an attitude that they wouldn’t care about or respect our experience, I’d have come off as someone who is not only rude, but also off her rocker. Assuming that others have our best interests at heart makes for a much more open discussion and exchange of ideas :)

  • Good post! I second the thyroid testing – has she been tested for Hashi’s by any chance? Glad to hear she is thriving with GAPS – it’s so good you found it when you did!

    • Joy

      Hi Lydia,
      I don’t believe she’s been tested for Hashimoto’s, but her thyroid numbers have always been well within normal ranges. (I realize there is controversy about what should be considered “normal.”)

  • JEANMARIE

    Joy, I am new to your blog and can’t stop reading it! What a wonderful experience with the dietitian. I hope things work out for Kodiak.

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