The Full GAPS Diet
Your patient needs to carry on completely avoiding starches and sugar for two years at least. It means avoiding all grains, sugar, potatoes, parsnips, yams, sweet potato and anything made out of them. The flour in your cooking and baking can be replaced with ground almonds (or any other nuts or sunflower or pumpkin seeds ground into flour). In about 1 – 1.5 years you may be able to introduce new potatoes, fermented buckwheat, millet and quinoa, starting from very small amounts and observing any reaction. Wheat, sugar, processed foods and all additives will have to be out of the diet for much longer.
Slowly increase the amounts of fermented foods. You can ferment vegetables, fruit, milk and fish (please look in the recipe section). I would also recommend reading a wonderful book by Sally Fallon “Nourishing Traditions”, it will provide you with a lot of good recipes. Eating fermented foods with every meal will help your patient to digest the meal without using supplements of digestive enzymes. Make sure to introduce all new fermented foods into the diet very gradually starting from 1-2 teaspoons a day.
The best foods for the GAPS person are eggs, meats and fish (bought fresh or frozen, not smoked or canned, and cooked at home), shellfish, fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, garlic and olive oil. As well as eating the vegetables cooked it is important to have them raw in the form of salads and sticks. In this form they will provide your patient with valuable enzymes and detoxifying substances, which will help in digesting meats. Raw fruit should be eaten on their own, not with meals, as they have a very different digestion pattern and can make the work harder for the stomach. At that stage let your patient to have fruit as a snack between meals. Remember, that about 85% of everything your patient eats on a daily basis should be savoury – made out of meats, fish, eggs, vegetables and natural fats. Sweet baking and fruit should be snacks between meals in limited amounts.
It is very important for a GAPS person to have plenty of natural fats in every meal from meats, butter, ghee, coconut and cold pressed olive oil. The fat content of the meal will regulate the blood sugar level and control cravings for carbohydrates.
If your patient gets a tummy bug or any other form of diarrhoea go back to the low fibre diet for a few days: remove all nuts, raw vegetables and raw fruit out of the diet; go back to meats cooked in water and meat stock, fish, eggs, fermented dairy and cooked vegetables (skinned, de-seeded and well cooked with meats as soups and stews) until diarrhoea completely clears. After the stools stay normal for a week introduce raw vegetables slowly, one at a time and starting from small amounts. When vegetables are introduced, try to introduce nuts, seeds and fruit gradually.
It is important for your GAPS patient to balance the meals so that his or her body pH stays normal. All protein foods, such as meats, fish, eggs and cheese leave an acid ash in the body, which may aggravate his or her condition. Vegetables are alkalising, so you need to combine meats, fish and eggs with good amount of vegetables cooked and/or raw. Raw fruit, vegetables and greens have particularly strong alkalising ability. Apple cider vinegar is very alkalising, it is good to have it every day: just add one teaspoon of cider vinegar into every glass of water your patient drinks. Hot water with cider vinegar will makes an excellent warming and alkalising drink. Fermented foods are also alkalising.
It is very important to avoid processed foods (any packet or tinned foods). They are stripped from most nutrients that were present in the fresh ingredients used for making these foods. They are a hard work for the digestive system and they damage the healthy gut flora balance. On top of that they usually contain a lot of artificial chemicals, detrimental to health, like preservatives, colorants, E-numbers, etc. Try to buy foods in the form that nature made them, as fresh as possible.
Do not use a microwave oven, as it destroys food. Cook and warm up food using conventional oven and stove.
My GAPS Preparation Check List
□ Source Organic Suppliers and Health Food Stores
□ Read through all material
□ Order and Purchase GAPS Supplements
□ Make Sauerkraut so that it is ready for when you start
□ Buy Kitchen Item Supplies
□ Buy Pantry Supplies
□ Dispose of chemical cleaning and personal care items & replace with safer options
□ Buy Food Supplies for GAPS Meals
□ Make your own Animal Cooking Fats and Order your Butcher Broth Bones
□ Practice cooking some GAPS meals
□ Introduce GAPS Meals
□ START the Introduction Diet
Introducing GAPS Meals
Commence by exploring the GAPS recipes so thatso that you can become familiar with them. You can adopt the following approach if you like or you can prepare and start with the introduction stages. Make sure you have all your codiments like oils and sauerkraut made before you start.
Start by eating one gaps meal a day
Then 2 gaps meals a day (when you are ready)
Then 3 gaps meals a day
Then include snacks and all beverages
And you are on your way
Plan Start Date
Plan a date that will prepare you to spend most of your time at home resting.
It is a good idea to spend a week at home when starting the introduction stages and stock up on DVDs as the GAPS patient may need some rest.
Implement the Introduction Diet
By now you should be ready to start. Progress through the introduction stages is always easier to achieve when family support is provided. Click here for the 6 Stage to the Introduction Diet.
Gaps Shopping List
The GAPS allowable food list outlined in the GAPS book was disigned for severe digestive disorders. When the Gut lining has healed, people can gadually move onto a wider varied diet as specified in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
Foods to avoid:
• Sugar and anything that contains it.
• Molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup, any other syrup.
• Aspartame in any form, it is a potent neurotoxin (brain toxin).
• Sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, ice – creams.
• All alcoholic beverages. An adult can have good quality wine with meals occasionally but not beer or spirits.
• Tinned and processed foods, always read the ingredients label, beware of sugar, lactose, maltose, starch, corn flour, preservatives, flavourings, colours, yeast. It is best not to buy processed foods at all.
• Grains: rice, corn, rye, oats, wheat and anything made of wheat flour (breads, pasta, biscuits, cakes and anything from the bakery, anything with bread crumbs or batter), buckwheat, quinoa, millet, couscous, spelt, semolina, tapioca, etc. After about 1 – 1.5 years you may be able to slowly re-introduce buckwheat, millet and quinoa (fermented to start with), but not wheat, rye or rice.
• Breakfast cereals are highly processed products with virtually no nutritional value, they are full of sugar, salt, trans-fatty acids and other harmful substances. They should be out of the diet forever.
• Starchy vegetables and anything made out of them: potato, parsnips, yams, Jerusalem artichoke and sweet potato. In about 1 – 1.5 years you may be able to introduce new potatoes.
• Milk should be out at this stage. However, the GAPS person can have soured milk products, such as natural hard cheese, live natural yoghurt and kefir, crème fresh or soured cream, butter and ghee. There are many substances in milk, which could cause trouble, such as milk sugar lactose, casein, immune complexes, etc. Soured milk products do not contain lactose and are pre-digested by the fermenting microbes, which makes fermented milk products very easy to digest for us. I would recommend using only organic milk products and introduce them one at a time, starting from small amounts. If you were not able to introduce any dairy in the Introduction Diet, then please look at page 95 in the GAPS book, it will explain how to introduce dairy safely. If you have introduced homemade yoghurt, kefir and ghee as a part of the Introduction Diet, then gradually introduce fermented cream and butter. When that is well tolerated try natural mature cheeses. You may want to try goat’s or sheep’s milk products first as they are often better tolerated by the GAPS people, than cow’s. In about 1,5 -2,5 years and when all fermented dairy products are introduced, your patient may be able to drink raw unpasteurised organic milk. Introduce it gradually starting from 1-2 teaspoons a day. A GAPS person must never have pasteurised milk!
• Fruit juices apart from freshly pressed. Unfortunately fruit juices (not freshly pressed by you) are a source of processed sugars and can contain a lot of fungi and moulds in them, which your GAPS patient might react to.
• Beans and pulses are generally hard to digest. The two varieties that your patient can have are white (navy) beans also called haricot beans, fermented and cooked at home, and fresh green beans. Commercially available baked beans have almost 40% sugar and should be avoided. You can make your own baked beans at home (please, look in the recipe section).
• Coffee is a strong irritant for the digestive tract, try to avoid it. Strong tea is not advisable either. Natural herbal teas (no flavourings added) and ginger tea are fine. Ginger tea is a well-known folk remedy for digestive problems.
• Soft drinks are not allowed at all, they are full of sugar and various chemicals, which are very damaging for GAPS people.
• Anything with colours, preservatives, flavourings and other chemicals.
• Soya and anything made out of it. It interferes with thyroid function in the body and negatively affects hormonal balance, as it contains oestrogen – like compounds. It is important to avoid all synthetic oestogens, such as from soya, contraceptive pill, many other drugs, domestic cleaning chemicals, laundry detergents, toiletries, etc.
• Buy fresh or frozen meats, fish and shellfish. Make sure that they are not smoked, salted or preserved in any other way. Your patient needs to have gelatinous meats every single day (meats around bones and joints, skin and brown meats on the poultry). It is important for him or her to have all the fats on the meat, eating lean muscle meats will not be good for GAPS.
• Liver and other organ meats should be eaten on a regular basis. They can be cooked any way you like. It is very nourishing and is the best remedy for many nutritional deficiencies.
• Eggs – the yolk is best eaten raw, the white should be slightly cooked, like for example in soft boiled or fried eggs. Make sure that you find good quality eggs, free-range organic eggs are the best. Your patient should have minimum 2-3 eggs a day as they are particularly good for restoring neurological functions.
• Fresh vegetables – all types of vegetables are recommended, apart from starchy vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips, sweet potato, Jerusalem artichokes and yams. You can cook vegetables by steaming them, stewing, roasting, grilling or stir-frying. It is particularly good to eat them as a homemade soup or stew with plenty of garlic, added at the end of cooking. Your patient should have plenty of cooked vegetables with every meal, as they are better digested than raw vegetables and are more nourishing. It is also important to have fermented and raw vegetables with every meal in a form of salads with olive oil and fresh lemon juice or as a snack. Raw and fermented vegetables will help in digesting proteins and detoxifying. However if your patient gets diarrhoea then cook all vegetables until diarrhoea clears.
• Fresh fruit. It is important that the fruit should be ripe. After completing the Introduction Diet introduce local seasonal ripe fruit gradually. At that stage start your patient’s day from a bit of fruit and offer some fruit between meals. He or she should not have fruit if there is diarrhoea. When the diarrhoea has cleared he or she can start from having cooked fruit (peeled, de-seeded and well cooked with a good dollop of butter, ghee or coconut oil) and then raw, introduced slowly.
• Avocado is a wonderfully nutritious fruit. Make sure it is ripe and serve it with meats, fish, shellfish and salads.
• Butter is better than any so-called healthy substitutes. You can cook with it or add it into ready dishes. Butter should be bought organic and unsalted, because non-organic butter contains a lot of pesticides and antibiotics, which the cows consume. Cold pressed virgin olive oil is very good for your patient, use it in salads and ready dishes liberally. It is not a good idea to cook with olive oil because it changes its chemical structure when heated. Frying is best done with animal fats: pork dripping, lard, lamb fat, goose fat, duck fat, ghee and butter. Coconut oil and palm oil are two plant oils, very good to use for cooking. These fats do not alter their structure during cooking. They can even be re-used. Collect your own fats after roasting meats. Avoid all common vegetable cooking oils, margarines and other processed fats: they are very harmful to health.
• Nuts and seeds are a wonderful source of very good nutrients. Nuts should be bought just shelled – not salted, roasted, coated or processed in any other way. This way they are an excellent source of essential fatty acids and many nutrients. However, nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors, which may make them difficult to digest for some people. If you feel that it is a problem for your patient, as soon as you bought nuts to remove the enzyme inhibitors try to do the following: soak the nuts in salty water over night (1 tablespoon of sea salt per litre of water), in the morning drain them, rinse the salt off and dry in your oven at the temperature 50°C for 3-24 hours (keep checking them as different nuts take different time to dry). Your patient can also eat nuts and seeds straight after soaking without drying them. Once they are dried keep them in an airtight container or well-sealed plastic bag. They become nice and crunchy and make an excellent snack food together with dried fruit. You can grind nuts and seeds (sunflower and pumpkin) into flour consistency to make bread, pancakes and even cakes at home. My book will provide you with recipes. Ground almonds or almond flour is available in health food shops.
• If your child would like to have a milk-like drink, nut/seed milk can replace all other milk while you are gradually introducing dairy. You can use almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pine nuts to make milk. Blanched almonds make the best milk. You can add a teaspoon of flax seeds to make the milk thicker. Soak a cup of almonds in water for 12 – 24 hours, drain. Blend in a food processor with water: for 1 cup of nuts/seeds add 1-2 cups of water. A good juicer will crash the nuts/seeds well, making a paste, which you would blend with water. Mix well and strain through cheesecloth or a fine strainer and you have got milk. You can add some soaked dates or raisins, when blending, they will make the milk sweet. If you find that the milk is too rich, just add more water. You can add some of freshly pressed apple juice or carrot juice into it to make a very tasty and nourishing drink for your child. You can “milk” the same cup of almonds a few times. Just keep the paste covered with water in the refrigerator.
• You can also make coconut milk. Bring to boil (but do not boil) 1 cup of unsweetened shredded dried coconut and 1 cup of water. Cool down and blend well in your food processor. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine strainer.
• It is better to replace the table salt in your patient’s diet with unprocessed salt. The salt, which is sold in shops has been processed to remove all natural minerals apart from the NaCl. The human body needs all those minerals, that is why we must consume natural unprocessed salt. You can get very good quality sea salt called Celtic Salt or a Himalayan Crystal Salt.
• Garlic is very important to eat every day. It will help to normalise your patient’s gut flora and stimulate the immune system. It is important to have it raw with meats or cooked as a part of the meal. Work on using a whole head of garlic every day (not just a few cloves).
• Unprocessed honey is the only sweetener allowed (in baking it is better to use dried fruit as a sweetener). Locally produced honey is usually the most reliable.
A typical menu:
Start the day with a glass of still mineral or filtered water with a slice of lemon. It can be warm or cool to personal preference. Have half a cup of homemade yoghurt or kefir.
Instead of drinking water and yoghurt/kefir separately, you can make a refreshing drink: mix well half a cup of yoghurt/kefir and half a cup water and drink first thing in he morning.
If you have a juicer your patient can start the day with a glass of freshly pressed fruit/vegetable juice diluted with water.
You can make all sorts of juice mixes, but generally try to have 50% of therapeutic ingredients: carrot, small amount of beetroot (no more than 5% of the juice mixture), celery, cabbage, lettuce, greens (spinach, parsley, dill, basil, fresh nettle leaves, beet tops, carrot tops), white and red cabbage, and 50% of some tasty ingredients to disguise the taste of therapeutic ingredients: pineapple, apple, orange, grapefruit, grapes, mango, etc. Your patient can have these juices as they are, with some yoghurt/kefir or diluted with water.
Every day our bodies go through a 24 hour cycle of activity and rest, feeding and cleaning up (detoxifying). From about 4am till about 10am the body is in the cleaning up or detoxification mode. That is why many of us do not feel hungry first thing in the morning. Drinking water, yoghurt/kefir and freshly pressed juices will assist in this process. Loading the body with food at that time interferes with the detoxification. It is better to have breakfast around 10am when your body has completed the detox stage and is ready for feeding. At that stage we usually start feeling hungry, which is the body’s way of letting you know that the detoxification is finished. Children may be ready for their breakfast much earlier than adults.
• A variation of English breakfast: eggs cooked to personal liking and served with sausages and vegetables, some cooked, some fresh as a salad (tomato, cucumber, onions, celery, any fresh salad greens, etc.) and/or avocado and/or meat. The yolks are best uncooked and the whites – cooked. Use plenty of cold pressed olive oil as a dressing on the salad and eggs. Mix a tablespoon of pre-soaked or sprouted sunflower and/or sesame and/or pumpkin seeds with the salad. Sausages (full fat) should be made of pure minced meat (full fat!) with only salt and pepper added (any fresh vegetables or herbs also can be added to the mixture). Make sure that there are no commercial seasoning or MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) in the sausages. I recommend finding a local butcher, who would make pure meat sausages for you on order.
• Avocado with meat leftovers, fish or shellfish, vegetables raw and cooked, lemon and cold pressed olive oil. Serve a cup of warm meat stock as a drink with food. Don’t forget to add some probiotic food.
• Pancakes made with nuts ground into flour are nice to have on the weekends, when you have more time for cooking in the morning. These pancakes are delicious with some butter, sour cream with honey, or as a savoury snack. If you blend some fresh of defrosted berries with honey, it will make a delicious jam to have with pancakes. Weak tea with lemon, ginger tea or mint tea.
• Homemade vegetable soup or stew in a homemade meat stock.
• Avocado with meat, fish, shellfish and raw or/and cooked vegetables. Use olive oil with some lemon squeezed over it as a dressing. Serve a cup of warm homemade meat stock as a drink with some yoghurt/kefir.
• Any meat/fish dish with vegetables.
One of the dishes from the lunch or breakfast choice.
After dinner half a cup of yoghurt or kefir.
Coming off the GAPS diet
The strict GAPS diet should be adhered to for at least 1.5 – 2 years. Depending on the severity of the condition, some people recover quicker, others take much longer. Your patient needs to have at least 6 months of normal digestion before you start introducing foods not allowed on the GAPS diet. Do not rush with this step.
The first foods you will be able to introduce are new potatoes and fermented gluten-free grains (buckwheat, millet and quinoa). The recipe section will explain how to ferment grains.
Introduce one food at a time and always start from a small amount: give your patient a small portion of the new food and watch for any reaction for 2-3 days. If there are no digestive problems returning, or any other typical for your patient symptoms, then in a few days try another portion. If there are no reactions, gradually increase the amount of the food. These are starchy foods, so do not forget to serve them with good amounts of fat (butter, olive oil, any animal fat, coconut oil, etc.) to slow down the digestion of starch. Do not rush with the introduction of these new foods, it may take several months to do it properly.
Once new potatoes and fermented grains are introduced, try to make sourdough with good quality wheat or rye flour. You can make pancakes or bread with the sourdough. I would recommend a wonderful book by Sally Fallon “Nourishing Traditions” for a wealth of recipes. Once sourdough is well-tolerated you may be able to buy commercially available good quality sourdough breads.
At that stage you may find that your patient can digest buckwheat, millet and quinoa without fermenting them prior to cooking. Gradually you will find that you can introduce various starchy vegetables, grains and beans.
YOUR PATIENT WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO GO BACK TO THE TYPICAL MODERN DIET FULL OF SUGAR, ARTIFICIAL AND PROCESSED INGREDIENTS AND OTHER HARMFUL FOODS. USE THE YEARS OF FOLLOWING GAPS NUTRITIONAL PROTOCOL FOR DEVELOPING HEALTHY EATING HABITS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE !
At the first glance the GAPS diet appears to be very hard work. However, it is a very wholesome and healthy diet and will allow your patient to heal and seal the gut lining and lay a strong foundation for good health for the rest of his or her life. It means that majority of GAPS people do not have to adhere to a special diet for the rest of their lives: once the digestive system starts functioning normally, they can gradually introduce most wholesome foods commonly eaten around the world. Some people achieve this target in 2 years, some take longer – it depends on the severity of the condition and the age of the person: children generally recover quicker than adults.
Once introduced, the GAPS diet is no more difficult than any normal cooking and feeding the family. And shopping is very simple: just buy everything fresh and unprocessed. Reading the GAPS book will provide you with essential information and many recipes.