GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It’s the title of a book written by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. She explains how she was helping children and adult overcome issues like autism, depression, dyslexia, and ADHD. The book establishes the link between the food we eat and problems related to brain dysfunction and inflammation. Moreover, the GAPS diet is all about healing the gut because of the gut-brain connection. In this post, I will explain what the GAPS diet is. You will learn everything you need know to decide if you should implement it. You will also learn about my favorite GAPS resources because I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed!
A Brief History of the GAPS Diet
The GAPS diet derived from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) created by Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas. Again, the purpose of the SCD is to heal the gut to treat inflammatory conditions. Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride adjusted the protocol to fit the needs of her patients.
How is the GAPS Diet Different Than the SCD?
There are many subtle differences between the GAPS diet and the SCD. Here’s a brief summary:
- The SCD doesn’t require only soups in the first stages.
- The SCD includes fruits in the early stages.
- The SCD doesn’t require freshly pressed juices.
- The SCD introduces various vegetables slowly as opposed to the wide array of cooked vegetables included in Stage One of the GAPS diet.
- The SCD doesn’t include fermented vegetables in the early stages.
Dietary Recommendations on the GAPS Diet
We cannot talk about what is the GAPS diet without mentioning its six Introduction stages. The full GAPS diet (or maintenance phase) eliminates grains, pasteurized dairy, starchy vegetables, and refined carbs. The Introduction stages are a lot more restrictive to give your body a better chance at healing itself. Leaky gut causes many common food sensitivities, and going through the process stage by stage allows you to determine if you have acquired some of these sensitivities. You start with stage one for a few days and keep progressing through the stages unless you feel some symptoms returning. In which case, you revert to the previous stage until you can keep moving on.
The Six Stages
Stage one is mostly just about eating some meat and vegetables in bone broth. Bone broth is one of the most healing foods for the gut. It contains essential nutrients and minerals that help reduce inflammation and health the gut. Furthermore, stage one includes some fermented vegetables and herbal teas with raw honey.
In stage two, you start adding one organic raw egg yolk a day to your soups. When you tolerate them, you can add the whole soft boiled egg to your diet. Casseroles made of meat and veggies may also become part of your diet (it’s no longer necessary to eat only soups).
In stage three, you add avocado, GAPS pancakes, and a probiotic supplement to your diet.
In stage four, add roasted and grilled meat to your meals. Introduce olive oil and freshly pressed juices. You will test nuts, and you can make bread with almond flour. That’s right! You have hit the jackpot!
When you tolerate all the foods in stage four, start eating cooked apples and some raw vegetables. We recommend introducing lettuce and peeled cucumbers first.
You made it! Stage six is the last Introduction Stage, and you can move on to full GAPS! In this stage, you can add raw apples, fruits, and more raw honey.
Should You Implement the GAPS Diet for your Family?
Now that you have a better understanding of what the GAPS diet is, let me share some information to help you decide if it is the right healing protocol for you and your family.
Who Can Benefit
If you suffer from any condition related to leaky gut, you can benefit from the GAPS diet. For this reason, pretty much anyone can benefit from it. However, the GAPS diet is no small undertaking. It is highly restrictive and requires a long-term commitment. So, the real question is: Do you need to go on the GAPS diet to achieve your health goals? For most people, the answer will be no.
How You Can Heal Your Gut Without Going on the GAPS Diet
Depending on the severity of your issues, you may not need to follow a strict protocol like the GAPS diet. Following a Paleo Diet, focusing on nutrient-dense food and nutrient absorption may be enough to give your body a chance to heal. Furthermore, you can try the autoimmune protocol. The autoimmune protocol is a more restrictive version of the Paleo Diet, but it is easier to follow than the GAPS diet.
How You Can Implement the GAPS Diet in your Family
If you or someone in your family are struggling with a debilitating autoimmune disease like arthritis, autism, depression, anxiety or any chronic health condition that hasn’t improved following the Paleo diet or the autoimmune protocol, you may want to consider the GAPS diet.
How Long You Should Commit to the GAPS Diet
It is usually recommended that one remains on the full GAPS diet (after having gone through all the six stages of the GAPS Introduction diet) for 2 years. After which point, you can start reintroducing foods to your diet gradually. This post is a good starting point to give you an idea of how you can begin reintroducing less inflammatory foods first after a gut healing protocol.
Resources that Will Help You Succeed with the GAPS diet
After reading this post, if you decide that the GAPS diet is right for you, you may feel a bit overwhelmed about the thought of getting started. No need to worry! Let me share the best resources that I have found about the GAPS diet over the years.
GAPS Support and Information
- The Website gapsdiet.com includes tons of useful information, resources, and even a list of GAPS practitioners if you would like some one-on-one help.
- For a GAPS online course, coaching and more resources, look up Honest Body.
- The Website Health, Home and Happiness is the first site I ever discovered about the GAPS diet 8 years ago! It includes recipes, resources, and even some GAPS cooking classes.
GAPS Meal Planning and Recipes
Getting used to a new way of cooking can feel overwhelming. Let me share the best resources I have found to help you simplify implementing the GAPS diet in your family.
- 30 Day on the GAPS Diet Introduction: This ebook tells you exactly what to eat each day as you move through each of the stages of the Introduction of the GAPS diet.
- Once a Month Meals (affiliate link): Nothing will simplify your life more than cooking in bulk. You will save money and time. Once a Month Meals includes meal plans for the GAPS diet, even the Intro Stages.
- The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: My all-time favorite GAPS cookbook. I still use it years later, even though I am not on the GAPS diet.
What do you think? Should you start the GAPS diet? Comment below if you need more help and guidance.