“A well-functioning gut with healthy gut flora holds the roots of our health. And, just as a tree with sick roots is not going to thrive, the rest of the body cannot thrive with a well-functioning digestive system.” ~
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
What is the GAPS™ diet?
GAPS is short for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”. It is a term coined by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a physician in the United Kingdom whose son was diagnosed with autism and who she treated using the protocol outlined in her book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”. In her book, she concentrates on the conditions of autism spectrum disorder, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and schizophrenia. She points out that the diet can also be helpful for patients who are suffering from allergies, asthma and eczema.
The GAPS™ diet is based on the similar Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which was advocated by the late Elaine Gottschall. It is supported as a treatment for many similar conditions, but also specifically for patients suffering from Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, diverticulitis, cystic fibrosis, and chronic diarrhea. For patients that are specifically looking to use the SCD diet to treat autism, the following website may be helpful: www.pecanbread.com
The GAPS™ protocol focuses on diet, basic supplementation, and detoxification, including “cleaning up” your living environment. The diet emphasizes the healing power of traditional broths, fermented foods, and good fats. The goal of the diet is to “heal and seal” the gut lining, which has been damaged to the point that it has become “leaky”, allowing undigested food and toxins to enter the body, causing numerous unwanted reactions. Once this gut lining is sealed, the patient slowly introduces new foods. The diet also involves an Introduction phase, which involves six stages, before the patient moves on to Full GAPS™.
A must read for someone that wishes to start the GAPS™ protocol would be Dr. Natasha’s book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, which outlines the plan that should be closely followed. The following websites are also very helpful:
www.gaps.me (Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s official website)
www.doctor-natasha.com (Dr. Natasha’s blog)
www.westonaprice.org (A link to the Weston A. Price Foundation, where you can find many helpful resources for healthy eating)
And obviously this website is a great reference for you as well. 😉
For additional help and motivation, I run a support group on Facebook. This support group discusses principles of the GAPS Diet but also a lot of general tips for healthy eating along with helpful step-by-step videos. You can find the group on Facebook by searching under “Healthy Home Body Support Group” or by clicking this link:
For those who are local to the Rockford, IL area, I also offer several GAPS, fermentation, and “organic/green living” classes in the Rockford and surrounding areas. (Please contact me to learn more about this or see the Community Education page for upcoming events).
The GAPS Introduction Diet
The GAPS Introduction Diet is outlined in the book “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Before beginning the diet, it is important to read over the information in her book outlining the stages and requirements of this portion of the diet.
The goal of the GAPS Introduction Diet is to heal and seal the gut lining quickly. You can move through the protocol as fast or as slow as you and your symptoms need. You can spend longer on one stage than the next, depending on what your body is permitting you to do. The Introduction Diet is recommended for the following people:
– those with serious digestive symptoms (reflux, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, severe constipation, etc.)
– those with food allergies/intolerances
– those without the above conditions should still go through the Introduction Diet, but they may be able to move through it quite quickly
If you decide to go straight to Full GAPS instead of doing Intro, remember that about 85% of your diet should be meats, fish, eggs, fermented dairy and vegetables. Avoid baking and fruit for a few weeks, and then only limit them to snacks. Homemade meat stock, soups, stews and natural fats are required and should be staples of your diet. When starting with Full GAPS, you need to slowly introduce dairy as outlined in Dr. Natasha’s book on page 124-125.
The GAPS Introduction Diet consists of six stages which are outlined in the links below.
Resources on this site to help you:
The following links take you to articles I’ve written that help you understand the GAPS™ diet in more detail:
What is a Certified GAPS™ Practitioner?
Traveling on the GAPS Diet (Part One)
Traveling on the GAPS Diet (Part Two)
When It Is Just Too Hard (a story of why we choose GAPS and health)
GAPS™ Introduction Diet – Stage One
GAPS™ Introduction Diet – Stage Two
GAPS™ Introduction Diet – Stage Three
GAPS™ Introduction Diet – Stage Four
GAPS™ Introduction Diet – Stage Five
GAPS™ Introduction Diet – Stage Six
A list of FAQs can be found here and is regularly updated by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
Beginning the protocol can be daunting. Although the book explains things in detail, issues may arise as you go through the stages of the Introduction diet, leaving you unsure of what exactly you are experiencing. Yahoo! has a GAPS™ diet group that is very helpful when you have questions. Facebook also has a couple of groups (like GAPS Kids) for those looking for help, along with the GAPS Support Group that I offer (Healthy Home Body Support Group).
Another option would be to hire a GAPS practitioner who can guide you through the roughest times. Certified GAPS Practitioners have been trained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and have extra experience and knowledge to help you on your healing journey. You can look for a local GAPS Practitioner (a list of GAPS practitioners can be found here) or several GAPS Practitioners will work via long distance communication such as Skype. Please contact me if you need help in finding a GAPS Practitioner to work with you.
2 Replies to “The GAPS Diet”
Hi and thanks for following my blog! I’m excited to explore yours–it looks like a wealth of information! One question I’ve always wondered is how are GAPS, SCD, and BED all different–and how do you choose which one is best for you? We are doing the BED diet but recently I have started to wonder about GAPS and SCD. What made you go with GAPS over BED?
I like GAPS for the healing aspect. I didn’t look too much into BED initially, but I’ve noticed that on BED it does include some gluten-free grains and potatoes, etc. I don’t feel like we could have reached the level of healing that we did if we would have included them from the start. My youngest was allergic to most gluten-free grains at that point, and I feel like the extra starches would have hindered some of our healing. I like the emphasis on healing fats in GAPS, to help correct leaky gut. We had initially started with SCD and did it for about a month prior to GAPS, when our doctor recommended to try GAPS for my oldest who was losing weight and starting to look very unhealthy. He felt the extra fats would be helpful to him, and he was right.
That being said, eventually we will probably end up on a diet that looks somewhat similar to BED or Paleo, as we start incorporating new foods back into our diet. So I did get the “Body Ecology” book, just to check it out, too 🙂