To GAPS or not to GAPS

16 Sep

Everywhere I look these days, I find info on the GAPS diet. One blogger is hosting a giveaway, another is running a challenge, still another is teaching an eCourse, all with GAPS as a central part of their philosophy. All the marketing has got me interested-but do I really want to go through with it?

What is this GAPS you speak of?
The GAPS diet is based on a book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, titled Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Dr. McBride is a British doctor whose son was diagnosed with autism, sending her on a search for a cure. The book is the result of her work, detailing her conclusion that the source of many brain disorders and autoimmune diseases is in fact the health of your intestinal tract. Healthy Gut=Healthy Brain.

Ok, so what is the Diet all about?
Dr. McBride provides what she believes is a diet designed to heal the gut, therefore healing the diseases that are plaguing you as a result of your damaged system, diseases and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, allergies, ADHD, autism-the list goes on. It starts with an introduction diet that is basically a cleanse. You eat mostly soups made with rich meat broths, soft-cooked eggs, and cooked non-starchy vegetables. After a week or two you start slowly adding foods back into your diet, from most easily digested and nutrient rich to least easily digested, watching for abnormal reactions to each food (such as digestive upset, abnormal stools, eczema, headaches, etc.). All the while you take probiotic supplements and eat fermented foods to support the development of healthy bacteria in the gut. This process of healing can take anywhere from two months to two years, depending on the individual and how damaged their system is to begin with.

That’s quite the process. Why do you want to go through it?
Well, I have a history of allergies, eczema, ear infections and skin infections and other ailments involving multiple rounds of antibiotics, prednisone prescriptions, abrupt weight gain and loss amid years of yo-yo dieting, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and general malaise. Allergies and eczema in particular are an inherited issue, from my mother and my grandmother and even my great-grandmother. One of the things that Dr. McBride discusses is how generations of mothers with unhealthy guts will pass on these deficiencies to their children, who pass it on to their children. And since I am thinking about trying for kids in the next year or two, getting my system healthy is a top priority, as I don’t want my kids to suffer with any of the things I struggled with as a child.

So what’s stopping you?
Well, it’s pretty drastic. It cuts out a lot of foods that make up our everyday diet: all grains (not just gluten grains) all dairy at first, all sugars and starches, including most fruit. The Intro diet is basically just soup. And while that is only for a week or two, and we will add other foods back in, it’s still a big request to make of my husband to give up his beloved breads. I also don’t believe it is a viable long-term option, as any “diet” will eventually get too onerous, as I have found through my years of trying to lose weight. Also, I believe that fundamentally, God has given us all of these natural foods to enjoy, and by properly producing (either through good animal husbandry or organic gardening) and preparing (soaking grains, using natural yeasts, preferring unrefined sugars and flours)we can have a healthy, stable, long-term diet.

So what’s the solution?
Well, here’s where I am right now: if in fact a lot of my issues are caused by a damaged intestinal system (something which I’ve read about in multiple books and articles, not just McBride’s work), then a period of time on GAPS might be beneficial not only for me and Jer, but also for our kids in the future. The healthier I am before I get pregnant, the healthier I will be during and after pregnancy, and the healthier my child. Since GAPS is not designed to be a long-term way of eating but instead a method of healing, it could be a great short-term way to bolster our health. I was listening to a podcast the other day with a blogger who was using GAPS for herself and her children, and she was able to heal her dairy allergy in two months on GAPS (something I am sensitive to) as well as her son’s eczema (my lifelong scourge). So could we sacrifice our delicious whole foods diet for a few months to heal up some long-standing ailments and set us on the path to extreme health? I think maybe so.

This fall we plan to continue our research and transition our pantry to prepare for the great GAPS experiment, hopefully beginning after the holidays. At the very least, this will be a good strategy to lose some weight and cleanse our systems, as we are all exposed to an incredible amount of toxins in our everyday lives these days. At best, I could find a level of health I have never experienced before. I won’t know unless I try.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays and Monday Mania


Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Things Edible


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4 responses to “To GAPS or not to GAPS

  1. beingconformed

    September 18, 2010 at 04:30

    I appreciate your post. I struggle with some of the same thoughts/issues. Wishing you the best on your path to wellness! ~Karen

  2. Sonja

    September 18, 2010 at 10:19

    Great post!
    I would say: Do it! You list yourself the endless good reasons for testing it out, and yes, it might be something of a pain for a few weeks; but that will most probably pay off very shortly.
    I have read both Campbell-McBride’s books, and after finishing each one am overwhelmed by how good they are. I haven’t considered going on GAPS, because I’m in pretty good health, other than a small patch of eczema on the little finger of my left hand, ha! I had a bit of eczema as a child, but this patch came back within the last few months; whilst I have been eating lots of Real Food. My suspicion is that it’s more to do with stress than anything else, but I’m not totally sure.
    Anyway, great post; always good to get us eating and thinking out of our comfort zones!
    Sonja (

  3. Renee

    September 21, 2010 at 21:12

    Hi there! Our family is on a sort of scd/gaps hybrid diet. It took about a year of prayer and consideration before we decided to make the plunge. And we didn’t really plunge. We bought a few cookbooks, practiced a few recipes, then gradually incorporated the ones we liked into our repertoire. It took a long time, but it was less painful this way than going cold-turkey. And we never did do the intro. We were going to start on full gaps and then back in to the intro, but our issues resolved fabulously without the intro. Good luck! Let me know what you decide!


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