I have to admit, I’ve spent most of the year thinking about going on the GAPS Diet but haven’t been able to take the plunge until recently. Aside from all the prep that it needs, mentally I needed the time to think how on earth I was going to manage taking on another ‘thing’ on top of homeschooling, managing three young children and a home, balancing a tight budget while trying to eat healthy, already spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and all the rest of life’s busyness in the mix. Taking the time has been worth it though, as the Diet is fairly cemented in my head now and I don’t have to think too hard on whether a food is GAPS-friendly or not.
Dr Campbell-McBride recommends starting with the Intro Diet. But if you’re nursing a baby, have a physical job, don’t have a GAPS-related condition, or if you some other needs that would make it either near impossible or not a wise decision, you might chose to go on the Full GAPS Diet straight away.
For getting started on either the Intro Diet or the Full GAPS diet, here are some tips that may help you before you begin. Preparation is the key to getting that much-needed momentum at the start!
- Source organic vegetables, or at the very least, spray-free and locally grown. Find out where the Farmers Markets are held. For the Intro Diet specifically, the best ones to have are cauliflower, carrots, onions, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, and cabbage.
- Source organic (or grass-fed) meat, free range eggs, kefir grains, and raw milk if you can get hold of it (for making yoghurt and kefir). Unsalted organic butter is better than salted.
- Bulk buy foods such as meat bones (joint bones are the best), pumpkins (butternut is a good option), and apples, and peal and freeze meal-size portions.
- Also bulk buy juicing vegetables, especially carrots as these are the first juice you will introduce if you start on the Intro Diet.
Dr Natasha notes that if you simply can’t do organic, then doing the GAPS Diet over not doing it is still beneficial. But personally, I would say if you can find a way to purchase organic foods then this is a far more superior way of nourishing your body than the nutrient-depleted produce that you can get on supermarket shelves. At the very least, find local produce that is spray-free and grown responsibly.
Preparation is the key, as you don’t want to be spending bucket-loads of time in the kitchen everyday. Give yourself a couple of weeks to prepare food and refrigerate/freeze, which will spread out the time involved as well as the possible cost to the budget.
The main staples are stocks, fermented vegetables (and fermented dairy if you pass the sensitivity test), butter (and ghee), and grass-fed, preferably organic meats.
Essential food preparation:
- Make stocks every day in your slow cooker, and freeze in batches;
- Ferment vegetables (eg. carrots and cabbage);
- Stew extra portions of apples and freeze them;
Non-essential prep, but will help to have on-hand:
- Make extra portions of stews and casseroles and freeze them;
- Make basic meatballs and freeze;
- Roast and slice beef and/or lamb roasts and freeze;
The essential supplements on GAPS are:
- An effective therapeutic strength probiotic (Dr Campbell-McBride recommends BioKult, which in New Zealand is under the Lifestream brand);
- Essential fatty acids;
- Cod liver oil (for Vitamins A and D).
For certain cases, it is recommended to take digestive enzymes as well. Read the relevant sections of the GAPS book on supplements.
No other supplements are needed, as the diet is the main form of nutrition, and many supplements contain other ingredients that irritate the gut lining.
Resources and Recipes
Familiarise yourself with some of the fantastic recipes and information online. Here are some links to get you started:
Food list – Intro Diet, Full GAPS Diet and foods allowed and foods to avoid:
Questions not covered in the book (very helpful)
The Nourishing Gourmet – traditional/wholefood diet plus GAPS Diet recipes
Our Nourishing Roots – traditional/wholefood diet plus GAPS Diet recipes
The Healthy Home Economist – recipes, and Sarah’s site is great for heaps of other things
Health, Home and Happiness – Cara has done an Intro Diet e-book available for purchase
Please note, I’m not a qualified expert on all this – I’m offering our family’s experience in the hope that it might help others. So anything you’re not sure about, please consult with a GAPS Practitioner as well as getting informed as much as you can through your own research. If you have specific health issues, such as medication you’re on, that is something you’ll need to discuss with the relevant health professionals. See my health disclaimer here.