Struggle and Success Saturday: Getting Ready for GAPS

Well, my progress of trying new recipes from Nourishing Traditions came at a standstill last fall, as I just go so busy. Fortunately, busy did not mean falling into old habits. We still have eaten very well, and I’ve been slowly moving my son and myself closer to a GAPS diet, which diet I realize I still haven’t really explained.

In a nutshell, the GAPS diet is essentially the Selective Carbohydrate Diet, but with a few variations. All food on the diet is easily digested, especially during the intro phase (it’s actually more of a protocol than a diet, with several stages during the intro, then the full version which is to be followed for about a year after the last symptom goes away, as well as a few supplements, and detoxification). The diet allows monosaccharide carbohydrates because they are easily absorbed by the intestine. Complex carbohydrates are not broken down completely by those with gut disorders, and pathogenic bacteria feed on the undigested food, so they are not allowed. Dairy is restricted in the beginning (or indefinitely for some individuals) due to the lactose and casein (low-lactose dairy such as kefir and cheese allowed later). In order to reestablish good gut flora, probiotic foods are added as well as quality probiotic supplements. Animal fats and meat, and gelatin from homemade bone broths are considered healing to the gut. Vegetables and small amounts of fruit are allowed, as well as nuts, seeds, lentils, and small amounts of honey. Freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices are recommended for detoxification.

I finally ordered Gut and Psychology Syndrome and I also found out about GAPS Guide, so I bought that, too. I wanted to make this as easy as possible. I feel like I’ve been preparing for this diet for a year and a half, because a year and a half ago I started making baby steps toward the “Candida diet” and then last summer I changed my mind about the Candida diet and decided GAPS would be better, and continued inching along. About six weeks ago I read Gut and Psychology Syndrome  and have been doing some more specific preparations. While reading GAPS Guide I find I am making a long shopping list, so maybe I’m not as prepared as I thought. The first “phase” of the protocol is actually just to prepare for doing it.

The author of GAPS Guide was once what she calls “marginal.” She was suicidal at one point. She had hallucinations. At one point she describes herself as being weaker than a toddler. She lost her job. Then she lost her welfare and her home. Her diet, of course, was horrendous. She saw a bunch of doctors that didn’t help her. She saw a few that helped a lot but not all the way. Then she read GAPS, implemented the diet, and became cured. She also has a son, who was on the autism spectrum and was very unhealthy, who healed on GAPS, too. Reading her story made me cry, because even though my son and I have never been as sick as she and her son, it hit home with me. Some very bad memories of how messed up I used to be came back to me. Her story bolstered my willingness to commit to this diet.

There are some silly things that have been bugging me, such as How will I handle my chocolate cravings? and What am I going to do with all the food we can’t eat anymore? I’ve just decided I don’t need to worry about those.

The first stages of the intro diet make me think of a detox diet, especially the first stage, because it’s so restricted. The cool thing, though, is she says you don’t get cravings on it. It is so nourishing that your body will be happy with what it’s getting. You have to eat very frequently, though. It’s mostly cooked vegetables, meat stock, and boiled meat (the stock has all the fat in it). In stage 2, you get to add egg yolks, fermented fish, homemade ghee. Stage 3 adds avocado, nut butter, scrambled eggs, olive oil. It goes through eight stages before you can move into the full diet. It actually reminds me of feeding a baby its first solids. Start with the most digestible food, give a little, wait, then add something else, wait, all the while looking for reactions. It’s kind of like a complete elimination diet, only this one actually heals the gut so that one would hopefully be able to add in offending foods later on without problem. I was actually reading through the protocol thinking how exciting it is going to be to eat avocado and nut-butter pancakes, and roast my meat instead of boiling it when we get to stage three!

Found a GAPS-legal cookie recipe today...and then I went and put chocolate chips in it, ha. Trying to believe I can really kick the habit...

I’m super thankful I already have tried loads of GAPS-friendly recipes that are really good, and other recipes I use can be tweaked easily into GAPS. This is the result of my looooong preparation. We are already grain-free, and except for a little dark chocolate (and my fudge indulgence a week ago, ahem), we are free of no-no sugars (we use honey and fruit to sweeten). I’m used to making bone broth thanks to Nourishing Traditions and that book also has various recipes for fermented veggies that I can use. Getting rid of my raw milk temporarily feels challenging to me, more so because I am not sure how to arrange a suspension of my supply and be able to get it back when I want (because my milk farmer will likely find someone else to buy it). However, replacing the milk should be simple enough. I rarely eat cheese anymore, we have never been big on potatoes or other starchy vegetables, so those will be easy to live without. The GAPS Guide author actually says you won’t miss anything on it because it all tastes really good and is very balanced. I believe her, as I’ve already eliminated so many foods from my diet that I used to think I couldn’t live without. And I don’t miss them. I’m a little worried about my little boy refusing to eat some of the food (he seems to be on a broth strike right now) but she says that children become very unpicky on this diet, so I will try to have faith.

Anyway, I guess I am going to go through the preparation part of the guide to make sure I am really set. There are 24 steps. I have no idea how quickly I’ll go through them, and I’ll probably do them out of order. I love how she recommends not diving right in (you can if you want to, of course) because I am very much not a dive right in kind of person. In fact, both the author of GAPS Guide (Baden Lashkov) and the author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (Natasha Campbell-McBride) recommend a gentle course, which I very much appreciate.

One of the things on the list is to make fermented vegetables, which is something I’ve been meaning to do since last summer. I’m excited that I will be able to check off another recipe from Nourishing Traditions, and I will be sure to blog about it!

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4 thoughts on “Struggle and Success Saturday: Getting Ready for GAPS

  1. My daughter has been on full GAPS for a week and while she won’t drink the broth she is a machine with everything else! She is eating much better now that she was before and requesting the healthy foods over the non-GAPS foods. Her tantrums are much less frequent and she is sleeping better and longer (no more 5 AM YAY!).

    The best way to get broth into my daughter is to make a really creamy soup like butternut squash or really just puree any veggie (cauliflower and zucchini make really creamy soups). She really likes these but isn’t a big fan of soups with chunky veggies in it. I have heard the same from other GAPS parents.

    1. YAY about the success with your daughter! GAPS just amazes me. The way food affects people amazes me. I bet you are breathing a sigh of relief!

      I read that in the GAPS Guide about creaming soups. Unfortunately, my son is the opposite. 9 times out of 10 he won’t eat creamed soup, no matter how good it is. Maybe it’s some weird texture thing with him? He doesn’t like mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower either. I’ve seen polish off chunky soups a number of times, so I don’t know what his deal is. Hopefully he gets over it. :/

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