Before we began eating real foods, my hubby and I did one month gluten-free (December of 2010). While looking for gluten-free recipes, I stumbled across something called the “GAPS” diet. After reading through the basics I thought, “I could NEVER do that!!” Well, on Saturday my family is starting GAPS. Never say “never”, right?
GAPS stands for “Gut And Psychology Syndrome”. It is a temporary diet that is meant to heal the digestive tract (“gut”). You can read a bit about the creator of the GAPS diet, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, and the history of the diet here. The gist of it is that a problem in the gut is often the root cause of “mental health” problems. Diseases such as autism, ADD, ADHD, depression, anxiety and more have been found to be drastically improved and even cured for some people when they use the GAPS diet.
Damage to the digestive tract and the wrong bacteria and yeast taking over can cause “leaky gut syndrome”. In this situation, undigested foods are able to get into the bloodstream. This can cause so many problems throughout the body, but it’s surprising how much of an effect it can have on the brain and emotions.
Along with mental health and psychological issues, many chronic health problems are improved or eliminated by following GAPS. Food allergies, immune system problems and inflammatory diseases are some of the things people find relief from. You can read some testimonials here, if you’re interested.
The GAPS diet has two parts: “Intro” and “Full” GAPS. Intro is broken down into six steps and each step adds in some more foods. On intro, only highly nutritious and easily digested foods are eaten. Homemade broth/stock, boiled meats, well-cooked veggies, probiotic-rich foods, raw egg yolk, fresh-pressed juices and other healing foods are added slowly so that any adverse reaction can be spotted. If a certain food causes problems, it is removed for several days or a week and then tried again. You can read the details of the intro diet on the GAPS site. Some people can go through the intro in about a week, but other people can take several weeks or even months in extreme cases.
Once all the foods on the intro diet are well-tolerated, Full GAPS is started. Meats, cultured dairy, nuts, fruits, veggies and plenty of other nutritious and tasty foods are available. Here is a list of foods available on Full GAPS, along with a list of foods to avoid. It is a grain-free diet and uncultured dairy is not recommended for anybody who has problems with it.
- I love that this diet is meant to be temporary. I have known so many people who are avoiding certain things (especially gluten or dairy) and plan to do so for their entire lives. That method avoids reactions, but it doesn’t heal the cause. Many of them might be able to overcome their digestive problems by being on a stricter diet for a short amount of time and then be able to eat the foods they are avoiding.
- The fact that this is not a low-carb diet is another plus in my book! My hubby and I tried low-carb several years ago and weren’t crazy about the exhaustion that goes with it. Although this is a grain-free diet and highly starchy foods, such as potatoes, are out there are still plenty of carbs to choose from. Once on full GAPS fruit and raw honey are allowed, so I’ll be making fruit salad with our delicious dressing!
- Both of those points are part of my final thought. None of the real foods are bad! God gave us all these amazing foods and said they are good, so I’m not crazy about the “grains are evil” and “don’t eat meat” type movements. The problem lies with damage that has been done to our bodies. We aren’t able to digest these foods the way we used to be able to. Antibiotics and other “safe” drugs, artificial “foods” and all the nasty chemicals that we are exposed to every day have wreaked havoc on us. It’s so much better to try to heal the damage and eat all foods than to avoid them for life. If, after following GAPS a person still can’t tolerate a certain food, they haven’t lost anything. All they’ve done is eaten some extremely nutritious foods!
Have you done GAPS? Are you thinking about trying it?