Wednesday, January 11, 2012

GAPS through the mouth of an Italian Grandmother

The GAPS program is an honest look at what we have been feeding our bodies for so long. I find the Program fascinating, restrictive, difficult, monotonous and stressful. With that said, do I think it is effective? Yes, yes, yes! As a grandmother who likes to cook and create meal events (mostly involving refined carbs), retrofitting GAPS into my passion for Italian cooking traditions and social gatherings (of which food is a MAJOR part) has been challenging but doable. I realized a mindset adjustment was required.

My Italian cooking has always been more about nourishing the soul and keeping souls together (family gatherings)rather than stuffing their little tummies with treats that may cause long-term ill health. I can now approach any modified recipe with my previous passion. I am making this for my grand children and they will take delight in it. The end result is sound nutrition. I can have my cake and eat it too, figuratively speaking of course! I continue to perfect my “Nonnie” culinary instincts and provide the grandkids with so much more in the long run. We all win.

I use the anti-smoking campaign to help me understand the changes which will eventually have to occur in our society. In the 70’s, we all knew smoking had a negative impact on our health yet many of us continued to do so. Campaign after campaign, testimonials from people who suffered the afflictions from smoking, repeated surgeon general warning, etc. were presented to us on a daily basis. It took a very long time for that information to assimilate and for people to change. GAPS is on the forefront of change for how we eat, heal and nourish our children.

A GAPS family has to dedicate themselves to food preparation and food consumption in our crazy busy world dependent upon quick processed meals. Children will become responsible for food preparation, admittedly, according to their developmental ages. They will understand where the food comes from, how it is prepared and what the food can provide for their bodies. They can and will learn healthy habits from the get-go. Daddies must be on board (granddads too) to make this lifestyle change a success for the entire family.

The most difficult time for me understanding/accepting GAPS was during the initial stage (Intro) where I witnessed the “die-off” phenomena first hand with my young grandchildren. One child vomited and become listless. My first instinct was to give her something “sweet” to jolt her into feeling better. The second child refused to eat and looked frighteningly thin. These episodes were brief and eventually quieted down, But it broke my heart to see my grandkids so sick. It was hard for me to stay silent and supportive during the initial stages of the program. I probably misspoke on one or two occasions with suggestions like “What are we doing to these kids??” or “ Give her a popsicle or lollipop, please!!” My daughter’s confidence, calmness and resolute brought me back to earth, but I was emotionally exhausted when I returned home. My daughter’s commitment has brought us 7 months into the GAPS program. Yes, it is easier and calmer in some respects. We’ve soldiered through Halloween, Thanksgiving, birthday parties, movies, friends’ visits and of course, Christmas. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon in a month or two and presents no problem to us. Bring it on. We are ready. We are prepared. And the children are thriving. I have already thought of a food alternative rather than a chocolate piece of candy tucked into a Valentine.

I’m on board. I’m a GAPS Italian grandmother who uses coconut flour instead of white flour, ghee instead of margarine, raw honey instead of white sugar and make the most delicious baked mini donuts for my grandkids. Once I give them a catchy Italian name like my now extinct Cucidadi or Pignoli cookies, I will be happy. I’ve also learned to make the richest beef marrow stock! I grew up on bone marrow so this was not a stretch for me. And it is oh so good! No, I’m not making traditional Italian cuisine with tons of pasta anymore but the essence of Italian cooking remains. This is clean food made from scratch and with handfuls of love and shared together. I will continue this journey. I have so much to learn.

GAPS is not for sissies but I challenge any grandparent to come on board. You can create new traditions for the sake of the long range health of your family. You can do it. I cannot think of a better legacy to leave my wonderful Ryan, Mary Katharine and Ethan. But not so fast, I intend to follow GAPS for myself and the grandfather too. We want the best chance at a front row seat for our grandchildren’s future growth and development.


Anna aka "Nonnie"
P.S. The mini donuts will now be referred to as “zeppole”
(donut in Italian…) and of course, I am happy!


  1. Nonnie - This is such a wonderful testimony to your love of family. I know your daughter knows she is lucky (especially when you are delivering your delicious stock) and I hope you know how jealous the rest of us feel! :)

    I would imagine some of your speech therapy patients are going to reap benefits from your family's journey as well. Your support will help more than just Ryan, Mary Katherine, and Ethan. This is a grass-roots movement and you are a planter of seeds.

    Salute to you!!!

  2. This is a beautiful story!! Thank you! Are you willing to share your zeppole recipe? :)

  3. See the next post titled "The donuts the saved Christmas" for the recipe link!!

  4. I am so impressed with people like you who can accept and learn new things especially when it comes to something integrated since birth, your culture and in what your own mother and father and what they taught you. The fact that you can turn around and learn something from your daughter and embrace it like you have is a testiment to the kind of woman, mother and grandmother you are. I am so impressed and your children, husband and grandkids are so lucky to have you. I run a Gaps household as well and I am so lucky to have a mother and mother-in-law that respect and help us in our health journey. Thanks to the wonderful Gaps Grandparents! You are amazing!
    Steph, a proud Gaps Mama!