Are you wondering why and how to start the GAPS diet with your family? Used successfully to reverse autism and many autoimmune diseases, it’s also a great seasonal cleanse. We have done the GAPS diet as a family in January as a nourishing cleanse to jumpstart our nutrition for the year. Here’s my best tips after 3 years of experimenting with GAPS…
Why Do GAPS??
The GAPS diet is a grain-free diet that focuses on easy-to-digest meats, broths, and veggies in an effort to ‘heal and seal’ the intestines. GAPS stands for ‘Gut and Physcology Syndrome” and is based on the book by the same name by Natasha Campbell-McBride and has been used to effectively heal Autism, ADD, ADHD, Depression, Schizophrenia, Chrone’s Disease, Candida, and more.
We do the diet as a gentle cleanse for the whole family. You may be interested in the diet if you have digestive issues, allergies, or grain, gluten or milk intolerances. The great news about GAPS is that you don’t have to be on it forever–once you’ve healed and sealed your gut, you can often enjoy foods that you were previously allergic to!
The GAPS diet has 6 stages which are increasing less restrictive until you reach “Full GAPS”. The first year we did it, we went on Full GAPS as a family for 3 weeks, and I worked through the 6 stages of more intense GAPS on my own. If you’re doing GAPS for the first time, I recommend starting with Full GAPS, and when you get into that rhythm, you can try the more restrictive GAPS Intro.
Here I shared my favorite resources for learning about GAPS and finding yummy recipes my family would eat. You can also read what we ate, how we felt, and why we quit our grain free experiment!
OK, now to this year! Let me just say, this is so much easier the second or third time around! Mainly because I saved my menu plans from last year and we’re just reusing them. I checked my menu, went shopping, checked my menu, made dinner, checked my menu, made breakfast….and so on. No brain power needed. Instead, I’m using my brain power to walk you through taking your family on a GAPS journey!
1. Menu Plan for GAPS Diet
This is THE #1 secret to a successful diet. Plan ahead what you’re gonna eat so you’re not stuck trying to figure out what’s for dinner when you’ve got Detox Brain Fog and mac and cheese is no longer an option. Here’s the menu I’m working from this week:
B: Smoothies and Omelets
L: Supermuffins (meatloaf in muffin tins) and steamed carrots
D: Taco Salad, minus the chips (don’t forget cordito!)
Snacks: Nutbutter brownies, Apples
B: Pumpkin Nutbutter Pancakes with Honeybutter
D: Meatzza (thin meatloaf spread with pasta sauce and cheese), Squash Fries, Salad
S: Leftover Pancakes, Apples
B: French Toast Souffle and Smoothies
D: Roast Chicken, Mashed Cauliflower, Steamed Carrots, Gravy
S: Grapes, Cheese
D: Beef stew
S: Pumpkin Pie Souffle, Apples
B: Yogurt with blueberries, scrambled eggs
D: Meatloaf, squash fries, Broccoli with cheese, sauerkraut
S: Apple nut balls, grapes
B: Apple nut balls, omelets
D: Spaghetti Squash with meatballs and sauce
S: Nut bars
B: Banana Pancakes
L: Spaghetti Pie
D: Shepard’s Pie
S: Apples and peanut butter
Again, you can check out this post for where I found our family’s favorite GAPS recipes. It’s helpful to have a complete list of Recommended Foods and Foods to Avoid as you craft your menu.
2. Take time to prepare for GAPS.
Another secret to a smooth GAPS experience is beginning preparation in little ways ahead of time. My freezer is stocked with butter I made when I was getting a lot of cream from my milk supplier, as well as store-bought butter I grabbed when it was on sale. I also have lots of chicken and turkey broth put up. I made a half gallon of yogurt last week, and I already had three jars of sauerkraut in my fridge (leftover from last year, actually. Yeah, it’s still good!!). So, make your
- and stock up on whatever freezes well.
Don’t be intimidated by or avoid the weird stuff like bone broth or sauerkraut. They are the backbone of this diet and why the GAPS diet gets better and more permanent results than other grain-free diets. If you need a SIMPLE guide to bone broth, yogurt, kefir, and a variety of sauerkrauts to add to your repitiore, then grab a copy of my book, Your Real Food Journey. It’ll get you well on your way!
3. Go Shopping!
(Don’t you love when I tell you to do that?)
Once you’ve got your menu planned and your advanced prep done, you’re ready to go shopping for all those veggies!
This is what shopping for GAPS looks like. Nothing too weird, right?
And just look at these yummies you can have on Full GAPS: Steak, cheese, fruits, and coconut milk!
4. Be Smart in the Kitchen
Everything I talk about in my book about Menu planning, bulk food prep, and freezer cooking applies to GAPS diet. You need to make every minute in your kitchen count, or you will get burnt out. I’ve gotten into the habit of making two meals each time I make dinner. Meatbals and meatloaf use almost all the same ingredients, right? So make them both, and freeze the one for later in the week.
On Tuesday I mixed up meatloaf and Supermuffins while I was making the taco salad. Three meals at one time–score!
There’s freedom in leftovers, people! A family of 4 won’t eat this many squash fries in one setting, but that’s the whole idea. Planning for Leftovers means I don’t have to make lunch the next day, just reheat!
My Final Tip:
Buy Paper Plates. You need to simplify wherever you can if you’re gonna be trying a whole new style of cooking. Go ahead and eat off paper plates if it makes things easier. That’s what I do!
What do you think? Doesn’t sound too crazy, does it? Grab my book for your foundational GAPS recipes and get started!