Coming off the GAPS Diet

Coming off the GAPS Diet

This is my long overdue post on coming off the GAPS Diet.  We haven’t actually been on the GAPS Diet for some months now.  Unfortunately we had an onslaught of illness that took out 4 out of 5 members of my family, and it was an enormous burden to manage, let alone having to continue making stocks and doing all the various food prep. The illness lasted months, and the children’s bodies are still continuing to heal even now, 6 months later.  Vitamin C was a life saver, quite literally.  But we survived it, and one day they will be glad that their immune systems got such a working-out!

How we came off GAPS

The recommendation in Dr Natasha’s book is 1 ½ to 2 years on the Diet, and following it strictly without compromise.  When coming off the Diet, she recommends introducing fermented millet, buckwheat and quinoa, and potatoes first.  Because of our circumstances, we didn’t manage to do it this way.

The way we came off GAPS was to re-introduce fermented sour dough bread, sweet potatoes, and then white potatoes and other starches such as chick peas.  The kids were started with having just one slice of bread per day.

I think perhaps because we weren’t on the GAPS Diet for more than 6 months, we didn’t notice any reaction to coming off the Diet, and in fact I found I had more energy with the introduction of extra carbs that I’d missed through not having grains.

What I Learned

I found that I’ve become much more sensitive to how my body responds to particular foods.  I discovered that too much meat makes me feel sluggish and tired, and I craved raw food over all the stews and meat dishes.

I noticed that too many nuts, such as the large amounts of nut flours in many GAPS recipes, adversely affected my digestion, as does coconut flour (too fibrous).  Small amounts of coconut flour fare better for me than gluten flour, but really I’m better off without too much of it.  Unsoaked nuts I also found much better, so I suspect that it is the phytic acid that is the issue.

I also noticed that taking HCl was a beneficial supplement, and were it not for all the other supplements that leap ahead of the budgetary queue, it would be one I’d continue to take.

One observation I’ve made in myself, and also amongst the various food communities that I’ve engaged with online, is that many that are attempting changes in their diet are still holding onto their old habits as they go into a new way of eating.  Changes in diet should not just be about re-arranging the furniture, as such.   For instance, if you eat too many sweet things when you are eating the less-than-healthy varieties, coming onto GAPS or any other diet, and indulging in too many sweet things, is not going to improve your health overall to the extent it would if you just follow common sense and get the balance of those healthy foods right.  Changes to our diet often involve a complete overhaul of the thinking behind our eating.

That said, I’ve discovered that my tendency was/is to grab whatever I can food-wise to supplement my low energy from lack of sleep and just plain ‘Mummy’ exhaustion.  Unfortunately that has meant that although I’m eating healthy food, the balance hasn’t been quite right.  Toast and butter is not the answer to my waning energy levels!  I really do just need to eat more fresh and raw vegetables, and find creative ways to enjoy these more with the limited organic varieties that our local store has, and with managing my time on a daily basis much better.  My children’s leftovers are not adequate to meet my nutritional needs, and I really do need to make the time to prepare fresh raw food for myself.

I felt I was never eating enough alkaline foods due to the increase in meat and dairy and cooked foods, and as a result the acidic load on my body increased.  This has affected my teeth, where now I have another problem to sort out.  The ‘Cure Tooth Decay’ protocol is currently something I’ve had to turn to.  My dentist told me I have acidic saliva, and a ph test confirmed this.  This has been a little frustrating to say the least, and although the problems with my teeth have occurred previously, too much acidic food appears to be part of the problem.

Would I do it again?

Admittedly, it wasn’t the cure-all I was hoping for.  I was extremely optimistic that it would iron out the issues that GAPS Diet had been known to deal with.  It didn’t for us.  Perhaps this was largely due to the fact that we weren’t on it for long enough.  It might also be that I didn’t have the balance of foods quite right.  Some sort of results early on would have been motivating but I didn’t see any noticeable changes in any of us. 🙂

What it did show me is where I do have some dietary changes to make that I hadn’t noticed, in terms of ‘healthy’ foods I’d just downed with no thought that I could be one of those people who shouldn’t have it (eg. coconut flour).  It also was a tremendous educational experience in terms of monitoring and managing mine and my children’s reactions to food.  I learned that my eldest child is better off without gluten, my middle child is better off with limited starchy foods, and my youngest is better off with limited cheese.  I should not eat gluten, but I more or less knew that already.  Now I know for certain.

So we won’t be doing GAPS again, but there are many things about it that I feel drawn to.  We continue to eat a traditional diet, along with fermented foods and homemade stocks, but for our particular family we have learned that we are much better off eating larger amounts of raw plant-based foods.

I found these two posts good to read about coming off the GAPS Diet:

This is also a helpful post on the GAPS Diet at Body Ecology Diet.

Here are my other posts on the GAPS Diet that you might be interested in.

{This post was shared at Healing with Food Friday, and Wellness Wednesday}

11 thoughts on “Coming off the GAPS Diet

  1. thehomeschoolingdoctor

    I’m like you. I feel some of my lessons learned have been more valuable than “The Diet.” For me, identifying food intolerances and switching to whole foods has made a huge difference. I will carry on for 1 and 1/2 to 2 years and regroup. I’d really like to know if GAPS “heals” the gut so I can tolerate dairy and eggs. Thank you.

  2. mwfinchwren

    Thanks for sharing your story and your experiences, Victoria! Our family is kind of at the other end of the nutritional-needs spectrum: we don’t have any gluten issues but, due to a couple of lifesaving yet pretty horrific surgeries in the past year, we have really ramped up our fruit and veggie intake. My body still requires the meat protein, so we do have that once a day, but we’ve really enjoyed having more colors in our meals. And, we are waiting with bated breath for the first produce from our garden…..I found green cherry and beefsteak tomatoes yesterday!

    Anyway, I want to applaud your efforts. So many ways to bless our families, yet it seems like sometimes we have so little time to explore those! Good for you and congratulations on the discoveries you’ve found!

    1. homemakingwithheart

      Hooray for home-grown produce! Have you read my posts on the ‘Back to Eden’ film? Take a look and see if you can adopt some of the principles for growing your own garden. It will blow you away! – Victoria

  3. Lisa C

    It’s too bad not everyone gets results from GAPS. I think you were wise to quit when you weren’t getting positive results. It does work pretty well for finding food sensitivities, though, doesn’t it?? I feel like I learned a lot about what I should and shouldn’t be eating, but I still have yet to learn.

  4. leah

    Hi there .., so glad you all made it through Gaps … I wanted to point you to a book that has been helping me eat more of the whole foods I like … It is called Trim healthy mama .. And even though I do not follow all the recipes in such … The key of the diet is to eat 5 times a day spread out into every three hours and to eat fats separate from carbs and carbs and sugar with little to no fats … This reall works and you can make it as real food based as you want…. They use stevia instead of honey to sweeten things … That is if you need to lose any extra weight … After thing has been archived you balance by following the above statement of no fat to little fat with starchy or grain based meal s and lots of fat with grain free low starch and sugar meals… This way of eating really works well for moms with low energy …. I recommend getting the book or e- book and adding your style of recipes … They have lots of recipes , but not all are my personal style . Hope this helps .

  5. homemakingwithheart

    Great idea for a link up Dawn! And thanks for dropping by. I think I said it somewhere above, but the GAPS Diet taught me how to monitor my body’s response to different foods and know what to cut out or change – and that alone has been well worth it.

  6. Meaghan

    I’m curious about something: before GAPS my body would use starch and sugars for energy and it would store fat. After coming off of GAPS, does your body continue to burn fats for energy, or does it go back to it’s old ways?

    1. Victoria Post author

      It really just depends on if you go back to old eating habits. I don’t know your situation so can’t advise you specifically, but I know that for myself I’ve found that a low carb high fat diet is more sustainable than any other diet when it comes to training your body to use fat stores and not energy from carbs and starches. I am better off when I keep starches to a minimum (and sugar mostly out completely, and sweet treats are fresh fruit and the odd treat like dates and honey. Healthy fats I would consider avocado’s, coconut oil, and other plant-based sources, plus some grass feed butter and meat and eggs. I personally have to stay away from milk, although I was previously having some raw milk, and most other dairy too besides kefir. One thing I’ve done that has been effective with weight loss and weight management is intermittent fasting, which you can find about on Dr Mercola’s website. There are a number of ways to do this but one way is eating inside a 6 hour period and effectively fasting for 18 hours. If you don’t eat until 12pm and finish by 6pm, you do your exercise in the morning and your body is using fat stores. Because of my ever-increasing age(!), I find this the best thing to do to manage insulin resistance. My worse enemy with eating is when I fall into the habit of grazing all day, and sometimes eating wonderful healthy food and not heaps of calories. But my insulin levels stay elevated which means weight loss is not possible.
      Hope that gives you some ideas to look into more! – Victoria


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