Our Eczema Story, Part 3: How We Completely Reversed Our 30+ Food Sensitivities

Heal Leaky Gut
If you haven’t already, please take a moment to read Part 1 and Part 2  of Our Eczema Story.
Otherwise, welcome to our happy homestead ending!
 Today I’ll fill you in on what we did to reverse our 30+ food sensitivities and how you too can enjoy your favorite foods again!

30+ Food Sensitivities

Let me quickly bring you up to speed in case you’re just joining us.  By this point we had already healed our severe eczema by identifying and eliminating the foods that were causing inflammation.  Naturally, after years of suffering we were thrilled to be eczema free!  But while we had solved one problem, we had created another… 

We were SO HUNGRY!  In order to remain eczema-free, we were avoiding approximately 50 foods between the five of us!  Obviously, we were extremely limited in what we could eat and with four tiny kids who needed to eat 3+ times EVERY DAY – I knew this was not a sustainable solution.

By this time I was already aware that leaky gut was the underlying cause of our food sensitivities.  I also knew, from reading Natasha Campbell-MacBride’s book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, that it could be healed.  However, I was hesitant to try the GAPS diet a second time.  While I do believe that it is a worthwhile diet (IF you have already identified your food sensitivities) I knew that our most severe sensitivities included central foods on the GAPS diet (eggs, nuts, and dairy).  I was pretty sure that if we tried GAPS again without those foods… we’d starve.  Now don’t get me wrong, this family loves squash, but at some point you’ve had about as much as you can stand.

I began researching how we might be able to heal leaky gut on our own, but quickly became overwhelmed by the vast number of diet and supplement recommendations and discouraged by their lack of effectiveness.  We were trying everything, spending so much money on this or that supplement, and while they were no doubt beneficial, we were not seeing any results – just an increasingly empty wallet.

The Digestion Sessions

One day I came across The Digestion Sessions by Underground Wellness.  This is a series of interviews with 19 of the top functional medical professionals, naturopaths, and holistic-nutritionists who specialize in gut health.  It was available to watch for free for one week only (and still is from time to time – maybe annually?)  I parked myself in front of the computer for a week and soaked up as much of their genius as I could.  It was amazing!

By the time the week was out, I had collected an enormous amount information, practical ideas and a much better understanding of how the digestive system functions.  I finally had some hope! –  yet also this sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t going to be able to put this mess of a puzzle together by myself.  I knew I was in over my head.

Thankfully, after the sessions were over, Christa Orecchio set up a live Q&A with the digestion session participants to hear our concerns, answer questions, and introduce an online gut-healing group program she was almost ready to launch.  Friends, she’s the real deal.  She actually listened and carefully answered our questions (as in – every possible gut-related question) FOR HOURS!  My husband and I were blown away by her kindness, compassion, and crazy-on-the-spot knowledge. We sensed that this was someone who might actually be able to get us out of this mess.

So, we took a big step of faith and decided to sign up for the ‘Gut Thrive in Five’ program.. and friends, it wasn’t cheap! But considering how very much money we were spending already – to no end- we decided we were willing to make one last big investment before giving up our dream of ever being able to eat food again.

I only wish now that we had found this program first!  {like if we could just go back in time and skip Our Eczema Story, Part 1 and 2… that would be great.}  We would have saved thousands of dollars and years of frustration!

But our God is good and His plan for us is perfect.  He doesn’t lead us into valleys without purpose.  He held us together.

Never even once did we go hungry…

Well okay, we were always hungry.  But we didn’t starve!

Whenever I’d stand at the kitchen counter on the edge of a break down because all these little people wanted to eat AGAIN… He was there.  He’d say to my frantic heart, “Sweet potatoes dear.  There are sweet potatoes in the pantry.” and I’d cry, and I’d thank Him, and I’d muster the courage to peel just a few more sweet potatoes.

He is faithful.

So we’ll praise Him for those dark days too.

Maybe they were meant as God’s gift to you.

Maybe He’ll use our story as a hand of rescue to your family?


Our Experience with ‘Gut Thrive in Five’

The ‘Gut Thrive in Five’ program is a gut-healing protocol developed by Christa Orecchio and Dr. Jack Tips (a genius and a very kind man) that is meant to address the very many conditions associated with leaky gut.  These may be conditions such as, but not limited to: IBS, SIBO, and other digestive concerns, depression/anxiety/ADHD, autoimmune disorders, eczema/psoriasis, migraines, and chronic fatigue.   

Gut Thrive in Five includes not only a strategic diet and botanical supplement protocol for healing the gut lining, but also an in-depth education on the gut microbiome and how we can achieve wellness by providing it proper nutrition and support.

Dr. Tips and Christa liken the gut microbiome to a garden.  In order to restore health to a garden, one would need to:

Step 1 – pull weeds and clear away debris

Step 2 – till the soil

Step 3 – nourish the soil with healthy organic matter

Step 4 – plant seeds and provide them with nourishment

Step 5 – wait for the seedlings to take root and grow

heal leaky gut

It turns out that the same is true for our gut!

Gut Thrive in 5 Breakdown

The Digestive Assessment

Gut Thrive begins with a simple digestive assessment.  It is a questionnaire designed to identify the root cause of your symptoms.  This helps the Gut Thrive team to more accurately customize your diet and supplement protocol.  You may receive plan “F” for Fungus, plan “S” for SIBO, etc..  All of the protocols provide comprehensive gut healing.  There is no need to fear an incorrect result.  These specialized plans simply tailor some of the protocol components to your specific needs. ~ We found this assessment to be quite accurate and enlightening.

The Diet

The Gut Thrive diet is not unlike many other gut-healing diets ~ GAPS, SDC, Paleo.  If anything, it’s somewhat more lenient, depending on your assessment results.  What puts Gut Thrive far and above the others is the overwhelming amount of support you will receive from Christa.  Gut Thrive is not just a healing program, it’s an education!  Christa provides so much of the WHY behind everything from bone broth to Maitake mushrooms.  She even takes you shopping, explaining everything from specific vegetable varieties to recipes and preparation tips.  Really, she is all together lovely and ever so helpful.  If you are completely new to eating real food, Christa will be with you every step of the way.  If you are not at all new to real food, you’re certain to love learning how to use food as medicine.

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The Pathogen Purge

If Christa is knowledgeable, Dr. Tips is an absolute genius.  His role in Gut Thrive is to provide the botanicals (powerful herbal supplements) along side the diet to change the pathology of the body.  THIS is what we believe got us past the tipping point to actually healing our food sensitivities.  This phase of the program is two-fold:

The 4 Day Bone Broth Fast

Yep.  You read it right.  4 DAYS of ONLY BONE BROTH!  (Do you even know what bone broth is?  Are you freaking out right now?  It’s okay.  Really.  Basically, it’s chicken broth simmered for a super long time to release minerals and collagen from the bones.)

This fast is intense and I hope I never have to do it again, but it was totally worth it and I have a feeling it has a huge part to do with making this program successful.  Christa provides lots of tips on how to make it through the four days successfully, addressing issues that may come up (like die-off and constipation). *Also, Dr. Tips instructed us to give little bits of chicken and avocado along with the broth to our kids so that they could make it through without any complications.*

The purpose of the fast is to starve the sugar-eating bacteria in your gut.  This sufficiently weakens their forces making them more susceptible to the botanical supplements that are coming up next.

heal leaky gut

The Pathogen Purge

After the bone broth fast, you’ll begin the powerful regimen of supplements specific to your plan as you ease back into your specified diet.  It may be a rough week or two as the pathogens in your body begin to die-off, most likely creating some troublesome (flu-like) symptoms as they do.  Christa and Dr. Tips will provide you with lots of detox measures to help minimize these die-off reactions.

Again, this phase is not pleasant.  I’m not gonna lie.

I praise the Lord that we were able to do this.  I also pray we’ll never have to do it again.  Amen.

Thankfully, you’ll be learning all about the gut microbiome from Dr. Tips.  This is priceless!  I’m telling you, the man’s a genius!

heal leaky gut

Before gut-thrive, we had already identified our food sensitivities.  We had eliminated those foods and were following a paleo diet.  We were even taking lots of gut-healing supplements and probiotics, but we couldn’t seem to ever make any real steps toward healing.  Now we know why.  We hadn’t done anything to specifically purge the pathogens in our bodies first.

The pathogen purge is unpleasant, but crucial.  Don’t cheat yourself!  Dive in and get it over with.  You’ll be glad you did!

Also – forget about chocolate cravings… after the bone broth fast you’ll be over-the-moon excited just to have a few cashews!!

Reseeding and Gut-Healing

True healing cannot happen until the pathogens have been defeated.  Once these bad guys are gone, it’s time to start building up your healthy gut flora.  Dr. Tips provides some powerful, targeted probiotics and related supplements to build up gut flora, as well as sooth and promote healing of the gut lining.

This is when you’ll begin feeling like your old self again!

Wait, no!

You’ll begin feeling like your brand-new self!!  Woohoo!  🙂  The diet begins to feel like business as usual.  Cravings are gone.  Energy is back and better than ever before.  Good times!

Transition and 80/20 Maintenance

As you transition off of the Gut Thrive diet into real life, Christa walks you through how to incorporate all of this great real food knowledge into your every day routine.

For us, this doesn’t mean eating a Standard American Diet 20% of the time and eating real food 80% of the time.  You see, we have walked a long hard road and we do not hope to ever do it again.. also, another bone broth fast might actually kill me.  So for our family, we eat 100% real food all the time.  Our 20% goes toward real food treats and splurges like spicy popcorn, home-made chocolate, and ice cream.

You’ll have to decide what makes the most sense for your family.  Maybe you’d rather have a little more freedom and plan to repeat the program every now and then.  Once you’ve paid for Gut Thrive, you will always have access to the protocol… though, the supplements if you choose to use them, would need to be purchased again.


This is one of the greatest aspects of the Gut Thrive Program.  You will be added to a private forum full of other Gut-Thrivers from all over the world.  It’s a place where you can learn from each other, share tips and recipes, ask questions, commiserate.  This is very, very helpful.

Solidarity.  It’s a powerful thing.


My Recommendations:

  • For sure – have your sensitivities tested prior to doing any kind of healing diet, unless you are absolutely certain that you know what they are.
  • Remove all foods that cause inflammation for your body.
  • Choose a gut-healing diet and be serious about sticking to it. (Including your own personal sensitivities, whether they are allowed on the diet or not – For example, the diet allowed for walnuts, but we were still sensitive to walnuts so we did not eat them until our leaky gut was fully healed.)
  • Get herbal support.  If you choose not to go with Gut Thrive, I strongly recommend that you seek out a knowledgeable naturopath who can guide you in the use of strong botanicals… though honestly, Dr. Tips formulated these supplements in such a strategic way (the timing, the doses, and sequence).  He’s amazing and I credit him with our ability to make it over the tipping point and ACTUALLY heal leaky gut.  Removing the symptoms of your food sensitivities (or asthma, or fibro, or autism, or whatever) is fantastic, but then actually getting to the point where you can EAT FOOD – that’s amazing!  You MUST identify and defeat those pathogens!
  • Whatever you choose to do, take it seriously.  You will only get out of it what you put in.  Don’t cheat on the diet.  Don’t forget to take your supplements.
  • This one is really important!  Pay attention and hear me out!  You are going to want to take a little time off of work if at all possible.  The first few days of the bone-broth fast are brutal.  You cannot expect to be functioning well on those days.  – We actually did our fast over Christmas… it wasn’t very merry, but we didn’t have to be anywhere.  All 6 of us stayed home together in our pjs and watched Christmas movies for 4 days straight… good memories.  Sort of.  Well anyway, it was bonding.
  • Starting the diet over Christmas break is pretty good advice, except for one thing.  ORGANIC VEGETABLES ARE CRAZY EXPENSIVE IN JANUARY!!!  So.. maybe just take a week off and start the program in July?  You’ll seriously be buying a lot of vegetables, especially if you are doing this as a family like we did.  My husband would literally empty the produce section at Earth Fare every THREE DAYS!  (Now before you freak out about -another- additional cost, remember that this is temporary.  We’re talking 6-10 weeks.  You don’t have to empty that produce section forever, though after Gut Thrive you’ll be stocking up on ginger root and fennel more often than you ever thought possible!

Send me your questions, I’d love to answer them as best I can!  We’ve been down this road, looking everywhere for answers and finding so few.  Let me point you in the right direction!


Need more info about Gut Thrive in 5??

Heal Leaky Gut

Click here to watch A Day in the Life of a Gut-Thriver video.


Many blessings to you!  I pray that God will lead you to much-needed physical healing for your family as He did for ours.


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Food Sensitivities


And as always friends, please remember that I’ve got kids sledding down the stairs on Costco boxes as I write to you…

So, if you think I’ve forgotten something important, have any questions or comments, or simply a bit of encouragement to share, please use the comments below, send me an email, or find us on Facebook.

I’d love to hear from you.


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10 comments on “Our Eczema Story, Part 3: How We Completely Reversed Our 30+ Food Sensitivities

  1. Hi Ashley,
    I found you through this post because I have been considering trying the Gut Thive program and wanted to hear about other people’s experiences. Your family’s results have been very inspiring to me! I just got the results back from my food sensitivity test (also inspired by you!) and I’m sensitive to over 50 foods, plus there are several on the ok list that I know my still-breastfeeding daughter reacts to – she is not old enough yet for her own testing. Chamomile is one of my top offenders – and I drink chamomile tea almost daily! I’m a little overwhelmed, but anxious to start Gut Thrive now and hopefully have as much success as you did!

    I was wondering, after you completed the program, did you retest your sensitivities, or just reintroduce foods? Are your great results still holding as time goes on?

    Thank you for sharing your family’s story!

    • Ashley on said:

      Honestly, the day I got our food sensitivity testing results back, I nearly had a panic attack! It is such an overwhelming feeling! I think especially because most of the foods that show up as sensitivities are foods that a person eats often, that’s the nature of leaky gut. I’ll be praying for your endurance through to get through the program, for healing, and for your sweet baby girl! We did not retest after the program. We will not likely retest unless we someday feel that we need to repeat the process. Our over-all health since gut-thrive is very much improved and our food sensitivity symptoms are completely gone as long as we are eating at home (whole foods, soured grains, raw dairy, organic veggies, etc..) However, when we very occasionally eat out or purchase packaged foods (even an organic granola or something snacky that seems like it should be fine) we sometimes experience symptoms again. I might get a sore in my mouth or a headache, the kids will break out in a tiny patch of eczema. I can’t really explain it. There must be something on or in those foods or packages that we are still sensitive to.. maybe a chemical? When this happens I put a drop of Young Living Lavender Essential Oil on the patch of eczema a few times/ day for a few days and it clears up completely – provided that we’ve gone back to eating from home as usual. For us though, as long as we are able to eat lots of good foods from home, we are happy. We’d rather be restricted to eating soured grains and raw dairy than to have to go without grains and dairy forever! We are about two and half years out from when we did Gut Thrive and these are still our results. If ever we slip back into a situation where we feel we are battling leaky gut again, we would probably choose to do the program again. We would not have to pay again for the program, only the supplements. Blessings to you friend! <3 Feel free to comment with more questions, or you can always get a hold of me quickly by sending me a message on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/wildflowerwood

    • Ashley on said:

      Oops.. also forgot to mention that as we transitioned off of Gut Thrive we simply reintroduced foods one at a time (slowly) waiting to reintroduce our highest sensitivities until last. We still haven’t eaten any walnuts. I don’t know why, I just have a bad feeling about it. Our sensitivity to walnuts was crazy high and it’s pretty easy to live without them, so I just haven’t bothered to try.

      • Thanks for answering my questions and for praying for us! I would also be happy to eat only soured grains and raw dairy if it meant actually having grains and dairy again, and to only have to recover from a mild reaction after occasionally eating out. I’m so glad to hear that you are all still doing well so long after completing the program. I will let you know how we’re doing once we’ve gone through it!

  2. Hello Ashley,

    I discovered your beautiful and inspiring blog through some searches on Leaky Gut and food sensitivities; I just learned that I (likely) am dealing with these problems, although my family have suggested I get a second opinion. I found that I have 40+ foods to which I have anywhere from a moderate to high intolerance. (Although, I am grateful that my symptoms haven’t been any more severe than chronic fatigue, brain fog, and the occasional bloating/nausea.) Still, emotionally processing everything has been exhausting in its own way. Like you, I can’t follow GAPS or AIP because I apparently have a high intolerance to some foods that are central parts of these diets, mainly almonds, coconut and eggs. And garlic.

    Your story gives me so much hope, though. Especially your strength and trust in The Lord. Perhaps this is a trial He can lead me through to draw closer to Him through prayer. If I do go through a protocol, it might heal me spiritually as well as physically, and that eases my soul when I think about it that way. Just trying to trust in Our Father, and trusting that He will provide a way for me to heal and to thrive — something I still continue to fight for every day of my life — brings tears to my eyes.

    Do you have any general advice on how to get through a gut healing protocol emotionally? What did you do on those days when you were just so overwhelmed by everything?

    Hugs and prayers~

    • Sara, those days were really hard! Definitely a valley. Are you only needing to feed and heal yourself? I think that would have been quite a bit different. Most of my overwhelm came from the responsibility of trying to feed our entire family 3 times a day, every day. The bright side to that was that it was very bonding and also that I didn’t have anyone around to tempt me. We were in it together, for better or worse! For me personally, the broth fast was hardest. After that my cravings were pretty much gone. My challenge was forcing myself to eat enough of what was available to me to fill my tummy. Sometimes I had to force food down. But God really was so faithful and near to us during that time and we were just so thankful to have a path forward and the possibility of reversing our sensitivities to make it all worth it. Once you get through the first 4 days-ish sugar cravings will pretty much disappear. By the time we were finished 6 weeks later, we didn’t even want junk food anymore. You start to see food for what it really is.. or isn’t. It’s an enormous blessing to love real food, but it does take a bit of courage to get there. The one bit of practical advice I have for you is to definitely make a list of all the foods you CAN eat and various creative ways you can combine them. Keep it on your fridge and make sure to never run low on groceries. That way when you’re super hungry and stressed, you can first pray for courage and provision, and then just walk to the fridge and follow the plan. Praying for you tonight Sara!

      • Thank you so much for your kind response, and especially for your prayers! In answer to your question, yes, I am the only one who may/will undergo a gut healing programme. Having done a lot more research since my first comment, I suspect that EVERYONE in my family probably has Leaky Gut, but none of them is interested in or willing to verify that and go through a protocol when I bring it up. I can definitely see how having to provide for your entire family each day during your healing must have been extremely challenging! But, as you said, you were all in it together — and you didn’t have to struggle with food envy!

        In regards to your comments on loving real food, I most certainly do: I have already long since been eating and preparing traditional foods for my family, sourcing as much of our meat (including offal) and eggs as we possibly can from local farmers, souring and fermenting our grains for bread and porridge (and we have our own grain mill, so it’s always freshly ground), I eat minimal amounts of sugar in the form of honey and real maple syrup, etc. None of which is to say my diet is perfect. I do have my weaknesses. My biggest problem is that I lack variety, and I suspect my intolerance to healthy foods like coconut and eggs comes from ‘too much of a good thing,’ as they say.

        You say that your programme took six weeks? In browsing the Gut Thrive website, it said it could take 9 – 10 weeks. I imagine it is different for everyone depending on the severity of their symptoms? Not sure if you know the answer to this or not, but is it possible I might go through a shorter protocol as well given that my symptoms aren’t overly severe?

        Many thanks for your kindness in answering all my queries~

        • Sara, when we did Gut Thrive three years ago it was a six week program. I believe that since that time they have added a few weeks for preparing/easing off of the program. Six weeks definitely worked for us, but like you, we were already eating a traditional/real food diet. I would imagine that they found extra weeks of prep were necessary for some people to transition. The entire program is a guide. You are your own boss. So I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t just spend a week transitioning off of grains and sugar and then start with the bone broth fast. The core of the program is definitely from the bone broth fast through the end of the supplements. The extra weeks are meant to ease transition. At least that’s my understanding. I hope that helps!

  3. Heather Clark on said:

    How did you tailor the program & supplements for your children? I am looking to do this program with my entire family, but I’m not quite sure how to navigate it with young ones.

    • Ashley on said:

      Heather, I did two things.
      First, I asked Dr. Tips for age-appropriate dosing/substitutions of the supplements. You will definitely want to get in contact with him. From my experience he is extremely kind and happy to help. I believe that he actually had a children’s pack/option for supplements to purchase that was about a third of the price of the adult package, and a couple of my kids were so young that they actually split a child’s pack between the two of them. Give his office a call and he will get that set up for you. http://www.wellnesswiz.com/contact/
      Second thing we did was adapt the bone broth fast for our kids. We wanted them to experience the healing of the fast, but without any of the possible danger that could come from fasting completely. So Dr. Tips advised us to have the kids drink broth at every meal time as we did, but to add half an avocado or a half cup of cooked chicken as well. My husband and I had broth only (with the recommended additions of collagen, etc..)
      This worked really well for our family. The program fully healed our leaky gut/food sensitivity problems and was a very bonding experience. We all learned to love and appreciate good, nutritious food. My kids learned so much that they will keep with them forever, especially delayed gratification – that they actually have the power to choose to go without what they want in order to gain something greater in the end. Even though it was hard, we’d never trade it. They’re little real food prophets now! 🙂