What is the GAPS Diet?
If you haven’t heard of the GAPS Diet yet, it’s a diet that concentrates on healing and sealing the lining of the gut, in conjunction with restoring healthy gut flora balance. GAPS, or Gut and Psychology Syndrome, links certain neurological and psychiatric problems such as dyslexia, autism, ADD, ADHD, to damage in the gut.
The doctor who has developed the diet for healing the gut, Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, has written this book for both the expert and the novice, and has also put a lot of information online which I encourage you to read when you can. Dr Campbell-McBride offers the perspective of a medical doctor who has treated many others, and also as a parent who has healed her own autistic child.
The Diet itself is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Elaine Gottschall with a few differences such as the daily consumption of homemade stock which the GAPS Diet advises.
Do you have problems in your gut?
The symptoms of underlying gut problems can be seen in a whole host of different conditions including various digestive issues (including food intolerances), autism, ADD/ADHD, inflammation, depression, dyslexia, dyspraxia, extreme weight loss or weigh gain, leaky gut, insomnia, acne, eczema and headaches, just to name a few.
If you’ve ever taken antibiotics, received vaccinations, been on the Pill, been formula-fed, drunk chlorinated water, or even eaten non-organic chicken (OK that pretty much covers everyone), then chances are you could benefit from giving the GAPS Diet a go.
Changes and Challenges
The GAPS Diet removes foods that worsen certain conditions and adds in foods that heal and seal the gut lining and restores healthy balance to gut flora. When done correctly, the process can take anything from a few months to a number of years.
The Diet needs to be approached in such a way that it is a change in lifestyle for as long as it needs to be in place, not as a quick fix. Often the damage that has occurred to a person’s gut has occurred over a lifetime. So expect that it will take time to reverse this damage.
Initially, the Intro Diet (strongly recommended but many just start with the Full GAPS Diet) is very restrictive as a person progresses through the 6 stages, slowly re-introducing foods. But once on the Full GAPS Diet, you will enjoy a range of food choices, and the positive changes to your health (albeit, often slow before they’re evident) will continue to motivate you to change.
The challenge may not be so much the initial dietary restrictions, but staying on top of traditional food preparation (eg. fermenting vegetables), negotiating potlucks and kids parties, preparing dishes from scratch, and doing so in a modern world where the majority are not living according to natural and sustainable practices, and where the best quality food costs more than conventional food.
But with some planning and reordering of priorities, you’ll be able to eliminate most of the challenges and set a goal of long term health for you and your family.