Summary of the GAPS Intro Diet

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If you haven't done so already, check out my previous post "What is GAPS?" The information from Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (Dr. NCM) will blow your mind!

Before I give you my summary of the GAPS Intro Diet, I should preface it by saying that the intro diet is not mandatory, but is highly recommended. Dr. NCM states in her book that people who only follow the full GAPS diet, without first going through the Intro, may end up with persistent health issues that are difficult to deal with. However, everyone is different.

People who are not used to eating "real food" and rely on packaged and processed foods, may find it easier to start with the Full GAPS Diet and then go back and do the Intro when they feel more comfortable with it. Or, the main caregiver in the home may want to get through the Intro first before implementing it with the rest of the family. Other people may choose to skip the Intro altogether. It's up to you how you do it.

For us, the decision was that everyone would do the Intro except me. The reason for this is that the Intro is not recommended for pregnant/nursing women due to the detox and die off that occur. A secondary benefit to this is that I am more able to function and take care of the rest of my family :) When I am done nursing baby #3, I will be going back to the Intro to make sure my body has healed properly.

An additional suggestion that Dr. NCM and many more GAPS people have is to go back and do the Intro whenever you are fighting the flu or another illness. Or, it is even suggested that many people can experience further healing by going back to the Intro in the future.

Although the Intro Diet is the most restrictive and intense part of the GAPS Diet, it has the most benefit.

So, after reading about the GAPS Intro Diet in the book, I decided to summarize it to make it easy for me to reference and be able to put on the side of my fridge. If you are interested in starting the GAPS Diet, please purchase the book in order to get the full information you need. This summary is only meant to give you a brief look at the Intro Diet.

The Introduction Diet is designed to heal and seal the gut lining quickly by providing 3 factors:

  1. Providing large amounts of nourishing substances for the gut lining (amino acids, gelatin, glucosamines, fats, vitamins, minerals, etc.)
  2. Removing fibre and other substances which may irritate the gut and interfere with the healing process
  3. Providing probiotic bacteria in a food form

Time frame:

  • May take a few weeks or a year
  • Pay attention to abdominal pain and stool changes
  • Pain and diarrhoea need to clear before moving to the next stage
  • Some foods may be introduced later depending on individual sensitivities

How to test for food sensitivities:

  • Mash the food and add it to a bit of water
  • Put on the wrist before bedtime
  • Check the spot in the morning; if there is a red or itchy section, avoid that food for a few weeks
  • Try the sensitivity test again; if no reaction, introduce food gradually, starting with a tiny amount
  • Always test the food in the state you are planning to introduce it (ex raw egg yolk, not cooked or whole egg)

Start the day with water & probiotic; water should be warm/room temp

Stage ONE:

  • Homemade meat, chicken or fish stock
    • chicken is gentle on the stomach and good to start with
    • at every meal, eat the gelatinous soft tissues from around the bones and the bone marrow
    • drink warm meat stock all day with meals and between meals
    • add probiotic food to every cup of stock
  • Homemade soup
    • made with homemade stock and non-fibrous vegetables only (onions, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, carrots, squash, pumpkin, zucchini)
    • eat with boiled meats and bone marrow
    • eat as often as you would like throughout the day
    • add probiotic food to every cup of soup
  • Probiotic foods
    • start with juices from homemade, fermented vegetables
    • introduce gradually
      • 1-2 teaspoons a day for 1-5 days
      • 3-4 teaspoons a day for 1-5 days
      • continue until you can add a few teaspoons to every cup of stock or soup
    • foods should be warm, not hot, when adding probiotic food (so as not to destroy the bacteria)
    • do sensitivity test before introducing fermented dairy
    • if no reaction to fermented dairy, introduce gradually
      • whey... 1 teaspoon for 1-5 days; increase to 2 teaspoons
      • increase until you're having 1/2 to 1 cup of whey per day with meals
    • you can then introduce, in this order: homemade sour cream, homemade yogurt, and homemade kefir
  • Tea
    • ginger, mint or camomile
    • little bit of honey
    • between meals

Stage TWO:

  • Continue with previous foods
  • Raw egg yolks
    • separate carefully from egg whites
    • start with 1 yolk a day and gradually increase to every bowl of soup and stock
    • no need to limit the number of egg yolks per day
  • Soft-boiled eggs
    • when raw yolks are well tolerated
    • whites cooked and yolks runny
  • Stews & casseroles with meats and vegetables
    • add only salt and fresh herbs
    • fat content should be high
    • add probiotic food to every serving
  • Increase daily amounts of probiotic foods (dairy and vegetable)
  • Fermented fish
    • start with one small piece a day and gradually increase
  • Homemade ghee
    • start with 1 teaspoon a day and gradually increase

Stage THREE:

  • Continue with previous foods
  • Ripe avocado
    • mash into soups
    • start with 1-3 teaspoons a day and gradually increase
  • Pancakes
    • start with one pancake a day and gradually increase
    • fry using ghee, goose fat or duck fat
  • Scrambled eggs
    • scramble with plenty of ghee or fat
    • serve with avocado and cooked vegetables
  • Fermented vegetables
    • start with a small amount and gradually increase to 1-4 teaspoons of fermented vegetables with every meal

Stage FOUR:

  • Continue with previous foods
  • Roasted and grilled meats
    • add gradually
    • avoid bits which are burned or too brown
    • eat with cooked & fermented vegetables
  • Cold-pressed olive oil
    • start with a few drops per meal and gradually increase to 1-2 tablespoons per meal
  • Freshly pressed vegetable juices
    • drink as it is, diluted with warm water, or mixed with yogurt or whey
    • consume slowly, "chewing" every mouthful
    • if well tolerated, gradually increase to a full cup a day
    • drink on an empty stomach in the morning or middle of the afternoon
  • Baked bread
    • start with a small piece of bread per day and gradually increase amount

Stage FIVE:

  • Continue with previous foods
  • Apple puree
    • may add honey to taste
    • start with a few spoonfuls a day; if no reaction, gradually increase amount
  • Raw vegetables
    • start with soft parts of lettuce and peeled cucumber
    • start with a small amount and gradually increase
    • if well tolerated, try carrot, tomato, onion, cabbage, etc.
    • chew well
    • if diarrhoea returns, then you're not ready for this step
  • Add fruit to vegetable juices
    • avoid citrus at this stage

Stage SIX:

  • Continue with previous foods
  • Raw fruit
    • start with peeled, raw, ripe, apple
    • gradually introduce raw fruit and more honey
  • Baked cakes and sweets
    • only items allowed on the diet
    • use dried fruit and honey as sweeteners

Intro Diet Complete

  • When your main digestive problems are gone, move into the Full GAPS Diet
  • Meat stocks and soups should be eaten at least once a day after completing the Intro Diet

Again, please read the full GAPS book before starting this diet! This summary is not meant to replace the information given by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

If you're considering doing the GAPS Diet, I hope this gives you a bit of straight-forward information about what to expect!