What is the GAPS diet?

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. The diet was developed by neurologist and nutritionist, Dr. Natasha Camp-McBride, who believes that poor gut health leads to a myriad of developmental and psychological problems like ADD, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, schizophrenia and dyspraxia, as well as other health issues such as heartburn, asthma, eczema and allergies.

Three Main Principles

The GAPS diet operates on three main principles.

Healing your digestive system. This is accomplished by only eating foods that heals and nourishes your gut, and avoiding foods that upset it.

Adding beneficial bacteria to your digestive system. There’s good bacteria, and then there’s bad bacteria. You can eliminate bad bacteria by avoiding foods that they like to feed on. Good bacteria or probiotics, in the form of supplements, is added to your diet.

Eliminating toxins. The GAPS diet employs a number of ways to eliminate toxins.

  • Eating only foods that are easily digested.
  • Consuming probiotics to strengthen your digestive system against toxins.
  • Juicing vegetables to aid the digestive system in eliminating toxins.

The GAPS Introduction Diet

Before going full-speed into the GAPS diet, Dr. Camp-McBride advises to slowly enter into the diet by completing six stages of the Introduction Diet. There is no time limit to complete these stages, so go at your own pace.

  • Stage 1. The primary food of choice is fish or meat stock made from scratch using bones. These stocks are rich in nutrients and is great for digestion. Durinng this stage, vegetables can also be consumed. Probiotics, in the form of fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir, are recommended during this stage.
  • Stage 2. You may eat all the foods in Stage 1. Added to this diet are raw and organic egg yolks, fermented fish, stews and ghee. During this stage, up your intake of probiotic foods.
  • Stage 3. You may eat all the foods in Stage 2. Added to this diet are avocadoes, pancakes made from nut butter, eggs and winter squash. You are increasing your fat and probiotic intake during this stage.
  • Stage 4. You may eat all the foods in Stage 3. Added to this diet are meat (prepared by roasting or grilling) with probiotic vegetables to aid in digestion, olive oil and pressed juices (introduced gradually).
  • Stage 5. You may eat all the foods in Stage 4. Added to this diet are apples (in puree form) and some raw vegetables.
  • Stage 6. You may eat all the foods in Stage 5. Added to this diet are raw fruits and honey (introduced gradually).

The GAPS Diet

After completion of all six stages of the Introduction Diet, you are ready to move into the GAPS diet. You may eat:

Meat. Grass-fed or pastured is preferred with a balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are great for healing the digestive system.

Vegetables. Vegetables without starch are a daily requirement for those on the GAPS diet. Easily add these to your meat roast or crockpot creation.

Fruit. These should be eaten by itself and on an empty stomach. Great for snacks in between meals!

Eggs. Ideally, you should get your eggs from pastured chicken and GMO-free feed.

Cultured Dairy. Dairy in cultured form, yogurt, kefir, aged cheese, is allowed. Bad bacteria likes non-cultured dairy, so stay away from that!

Honey. Fruit and honey are the only sweet foods allowed in the GAPS diet. Other sweeteners take a long time to break down in your body, so the nutrients aren’t readily absorbed. This will allow the bad bacteria to feed on it as it passes lower in your digestive tract unabsorbed.

Beans. Beans without starch (navy beans) are allowed in the GAPS diet. Make sure you are soaking and preparing them from scratch. Cook them in stock instead of water for added nutritional benefits.

Coconut Flour, Nuts and Seeds. The only way you can eat baked goods on the GAPS diet is by using coconut flour, nut flours and seeds instead of traditional wheat flour. Look online for recipes for coconut flour muffins and nut butter brownies.

Seasonings and Salt. Make your GAPS food taste better with dried herbs, sea salt and black pepper.

GAP Diet Recommendations

  • You should be eating cooked and raw vegetables. (Raw vegetables provide your body with enzymes that help to break down food and absorb nutrients.)
  • Natural fats (ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, meat) are important for digestion.
  • Fermented foods provide probiotics which helps aid in digestion.
  • Processed and canned foods are not recommended.
  • Fresh, natural and organic foods are recommended.
  • You should follow the GAPS diet for at least two years.