12 tips and recipes for stage 1 of the GAPS intro diet

This grain free chicken noodle soup is GAPS friendly! For the intro diet, leave out the celery.

The intro diet to GAPS is the most effective way to heal, but it is quite restrictive. You can read the instructions for the introduction diet here. On stage one, you are basically consuming homemade bone broths, meats cooked in broth, and non-fibrous vegetables, also cooked in broth, with a little bit of sauerkraut juice. It can be hard to get through, get enough calories, especially if you have children on the diet. This is what I learned more recently when we did a test run of the GAPS diet for my daughter after some issues cropped up again after some unavoidable antibiotics.

But before I get to the practical tips, read this amazing GAPS story for encouragement. A mom with very fussy eaters on the GAPS diet with great results. I love it!

1. Make broth everyday so you don’t run out.

2. Make very large pots of soup so there are plenty of leftovers.

3. Plan to eat very, very often. I plan on feeding my daughter every two hours.

4. Everything has to be cooked in broth, but you can pull out hamburger patties, steaks, and other cuts of meat from the broth and eat it with a fork while sipping a cup of broth on the side.

5. If you don’t do well on a low carb diet, or have children doing the diet with you, eat lots of squash and carrot soups for the carbs.

6. Cut carrots into carrot sticks and cook until soft in broth. Remove, then sprinkle with salt and serve. This is a great way to get good carbohydrates.

7. Invest in a hand blender. When you can’t even saute onions in oil yet, your soups are going to pretty basic. By blending some of your soups, you will have a more enjoyable soup experience with certain vegetables. A hand blender makes this much easier.

8. My personal favorite soup on the diet. Creamed Cauliflower with Beef. Cut up cauliflower and place in pot with several peeled garlic cloves (I also add oregano which is not technically in stage one). Cover with broth. Cook until soft, blend with hand blender. Bring to a simmer and drop balls of uncooked, salted, ground beef into the soup to create meatballs. Simmer until cooked through. Adjust with salt to taste and serve with chopped cilantro.

9. My daughter’s favorite soup on the intro diet is ginger squash soup. Peel a large butternut squash soup and cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon and dice the squash. Place in a pot with a tablespoon or two of finely grated peeled ginger, and several peeled garlic cloves. Cover with broth. Simmer until the squash is cooked well. Blend until soft and salt to taste.

10. We also really liked broccoli beef soup. Thinly slice one or two well-washed leeks. Add to a pot of salted broth. Simmer for ten minutes. Then add cut up broccoli and salted ground beef shaped into small meatballs. Cook for about 7 minutes, or until cooked through.

11. Make sure you eat plenty of fat. Keep all of the fat in the broth. I found that the pureed soups tasted velvety when they contained lots of fat. This is important for both satiety and for healing.

12. Purchase the ebook, What Can I eat now? 30 Days on the GAPS Intro Diet You will not be disappointed as she walks you through the intro diet with a variety of tasty recipes. We have not used it strictly, but rather used it as a resource for more recipe ideas.

So there are 12 of my tips and recipes for Stage 1 of the GAPS intro diet. I’d love to hear yours as well!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Tara says

    Kimi, just one thing… I believe the GAPS instructions call for cooking intro veggies for 20 minutes (or more). Perhaps this makes them more digestible?

      • Tara says

        Hi Kimi, on p. 146 in the GAPS book, where she describes stage 1 foods, there is a bullet point for homemade soup, and those instructions say to simmer for 25-35 minutes. This is also stated in the “basic soup recipe” on p. 180 (the recipe section of the book), though on that page she says 20-25 minutes. In the section on p. 146, she also states, “Cook the vegetables well, so they are really soft.” I assume this just makes things more easily digested. I’ve also seen this recommendation on the GAPShelp Yahoo group, where people state if they are eating in a restaurant, for instance, they ask for the veggies to be plain and well-cooked, at least 20 minutes. The other helpful tidbit in that section of the book is that in the early stage, peels and fibrous parts (such as broccoli stalks, cauliflower stalks) should be removed so as not to be too irritating to the gut.

        • Erica Johnson says

          Is the GAPShelp group still around, I cant find it! and I need help! I did find the GAPSdiet group…but so far it hasn’t been super helpful, not getting my questions answered.

  2. Jessica says

    I recommend that everyone get a zucchini noodle spiraler. They are AWESOME, especially for gaps. We got ours a year into the diet, but I wish we had especially had it for intro. I got mine at TJMaxx for 15, but I saw them on Amazon for 35. It is SO worth it on Gaps.

    • MelissaLB says

      We used a zucchini & squash spiral-er called “Veggetti,” a gift from a friend. It was wonderful! We made GAPS pizza soup, let it thicken, and poured it over boiled, spiral squash and zucchini like noodles. (We also like it with homemade [boiled] spaghetti sauce, too.) Enjoy!

  3. Tara says

    I would also add that most people seem to need to stay on stage 1 for only a couple of days – not weeks or months. I think that part can be intimidating, when people see the very limited menu and imagine it going on for a long time! But if there is no diarrhea, I believe the idea is to keep progressing, only doing stage 1 until that issue clears. So maybe that makes the idea more bearable for some people! After those first few days, you can begin to add the other items, one at a time, which introduces more (and more diverse) nutrition.

    • Jessie says

      I was actually reading the GAPS book this week & this was not my impression about the intro phase. I will look this up & post with a page refernece later on today or tomorrow. If anyone else can comment on this, I would appreciate it.

      • Tara says

        Jessie, I am not referring to the entire Intro phase, only Stage 1 of the Intro. Note that there are multiple stages of Intro (6 to be exact); I am referring to only Stage 1, which is what Kimi is describing in this post – the stage where you are eating a VERY short list of foods. As you progress through the following stages of Intro, you add in additional foods, one by one. So to say it another way, I am simply saying that a person doesn’t have to live on broth, boiled meat and boiled veggies indefinitely – just a short while until any diarrhea clears up, and then can begin adding the next foods, including raw egg yolks, ghee, etc. So a person is still eating soups/stews for a while, but after stage 1 it does get a little more interesting, step by step. In the GAPS book (mine is published 2010, I think it’s the latest edition?), see the section titled The Appropriate Diet for GAP Syndrome, and beginning on p. 142, she begins the description of the Intro diet, including a discussion of each of the 6 stages of Intro.

  4. says

    Pureed soups are SOUPER haha velvety when there’s fat. Like I just made a soup with a full can of full fat coconut milk, butter nut squash, chicken stock and some beef liver. FANTASTIC. It is solid in the fridge, and I add some water to it on the stove and reheat. YUM

  5. Dawn says

    Thanks Kimi for this article. To date, I haven’t seen so many recipes for Intro in one place. I also appreciate your article from yesterday on the possible downside of doing GAPS. We tried Intro a month or so ago. I just plunged in without preparing much. We lasted one day! Now that I know more, we are working towards doing full GAPS first.

  6. emmi says

    In the creamed cauliflower with beef soup, I do have one question. What kind of stock do you use? Beef, or chicken? I assumed beef.
    Thank you for all the wonderful recipes.

  7. Candy says

    I have a question about leaving Stage 1 when one has chronic constipation. Do you stay on Stage 1 until chronic constipation is no longer a problem or move to Stage 2?
    Also what if you know you have candidas which has been long term–Do you stay on Stage 1 or move on?

    I love this weeks post they have been so interesting.

    • says

      You can move on if you have constipation (you should do enemas or castor oil or something to help you eliminate). I had C until about halfway through intro. Enemas worked well.
      If you have candida you can also keep moving through the stages just skip the nuts, honey and sweet veggies as you add foods to your diet.

      • Erica Johnson says

        THANK YOU for asking and answering this question! I’ve been trying to figure it out, and all of the yahoo/facebook groups have not had an answer! I’m on day 6 if intro stage 1. I planned to start stage 2 tomorrow. I saw that it was suggested to add in juice earlier to help battle constipation. Should I start with egg yolk or the juice? At this time I’ve been doing nightly enemas. I eliminated grains sugar and fruit 30 days before starting GAPS (and was consuming kraut and stock with my meals…so kiinda like Full Gaps plus starches 🙂 Anway, even after making those changes I was going 4-5 days between BM. So I was told after the first 2 weeks that I needed to do nightly enemas if I”m not going on my own. SOOO, just didn’t want to rush off intro 1 if I need to get regular first…THANKS SO MUCH!

  8. says

    Thank you so much for this…..I love hearing concrete details of your favorite foods to eat in this stage.

    I have a question about the bone broth: When you say to make it every day, what kinds of bones are you using for that? Do you always use a whole chicken, or mix it up with all different cuts of chicken? And beef, is it always the same type of bone, or do you buy bone in roasts and ribs and all kinds? I’m just trying to figure out the logistics of broth every day…..it seems a bit overwhelming. I think I’m just too stuck-in-a-rut with my broth, which is always just a whole roasted chicken carcass. 🙂 And that’s only about once a week and then we eat it almost all in one night’s worth of soup.

    • Linda says

      Using any kinds of bones from a butcher or meat source that you trust. I even mix and match. My favorite is chicken and beef. Sometimes I roast bones first for added flavor. I have a big family (4 children). One of the best pieces of cookware I have is a 5 gallon stock pot. I use 2 chickens or 10 lbs of beef bones or the combination and depending on how strong I want it. In the 5 gallon pot I add 5 or 6 carrots, 2 to 3 stalks of celery, a couple of large onions, lots of celtic salt and a cup of cider vinegar. I fill it 2/3’s full of water and then gently boil for 2 days. I remove the chicken from the bone as soon as it is cooked through so the meet has some flavor when I add it back to the soup later. What I don’t use I put in the freezer for later. When I decant the soup I put them in old yogurt containers and put them in my freezer. I label them and then have quarts of broth for the ready. Then when I make soup I almost pretend that the broth is just water and add all of my ingredients to make a really rich soup. Because I have broth at the ready I can make one or two or three different kinds at t a time and have a variety of leftovers. It makes life more interesting for the kids.

  9. says

    My tip is when you’re eating soup with chicken to take all the fat and soft parts (you don’t particularly want to chew, but need to eat) and pop them along with a cup or 2 of warm broth into your blender and blend until smooth. Pour it back into your soup and keeps all that good fat in your soup. We tend to blend our whole soup since it distributes the fat throughout the soup and doesn’t leave that layer of fat on the top.

    Love everyone’s ideas!

  10. Rosana martin says

    Hi. My son is 3 years old. He is in the 4rd day of the intro diet. First day as so encouraging, he ate his soups without complainings. 2nd and 3rd day did not want anything to do with broths or soup, he will only eat some steam broccoli and cauliflower.

    I am worry he will get very week and sick. I am hoping he will give up this fight and eat the soup.

    He also has not poop for 2 days, so we are considering doing the enema today. Very scare about enemas, we try once and was not a good experience .

    He is autistic with lots of bad bugs in his gut and he is having withdrawals, fatigue and extremely tired.
    Did anybody go throuh this with a young child and would like to share an experience?

    When would be a good time to move to the second stage?



    • Stacy says

      2 of my 4 kids wouldn’t eat much day 2, 3 & 4 of intro. They also started vomiting days 2 & 3. They both happen to be the carb lovers of the family so I pushed them to eat carrots and squash and made them a rehydration solution with 1T honey, 1/4t celtic sea salt & 2c water. This pulled them out of the vomiting and their appetites came back. Today is day 10 and they are eating everything in sight! Also, 1 didn’t have a BM for 1 week. I let her go that long because she didn’t feel the need to go (she’s 9 and old enough to trust her judgment on this) and she had barely eaten for several days. With 1 of my younger kids I probably would have done the enema. I hope this helps, even though it’s been a few months since your post.

      • ChrisP says

        Thanks, Stacy!! Dealing with two of mine vomiting on days 2 & 3. Needed the rehydration solution. Hoping for a better day 4 tomorrow. 🙂

  11. Natalie says

    This blog was EXTREMELY helpful! I’m doing GAPS intro for the second time, and I have just about had it with my standard chicken soup and meatball soups. I now have a new grocery list for tonight! Butternut squash, ginger, cauliflower…..These new souper recipes are SOUPER (love the pun!)

  12. says

    Great tips here, everyone–thanks. After a full year of psyching myself up, I’m starting my GAPS intro diet tomorrow for the first time. I’ve been cooking broth all week and made my own sauerkraut (feeling very proud). I’m going to do the 30-day intro and a few months of GAPS, and if the results are good, I’m hoping my husband and teenagers will also give it a try. I’m especially glad to hear about the GAPS Yahoo group–I’ve been wishing for a support group to be part of.

  13. says

    I’m a bit worried about doing the gaps while breast feeding, I know you go straight to full gaps, but I’m thinking I might have candida and just worry about the die off effecting her if I have candida. She is 4 months and I plan making it a year nursing. Any opinions?

  14. Christine says

    Thinking of starting GAPS diet due to leaky gut, food intolerances, and IBS(no diarrhea, just constipation, bloating). I’ve been doing Paleo diet and love it but recently found that I am intolerant to staple ingredients on both GAPS and Paleo…almond, tomato, egg yolk, dairy, broccoli, cauliflower, some other veggies and fruits…frustrating. How the heck am I supposed to get off stage 1 of the intro if I have to add egg yolk and fermented products?…so many recipes with whey…not to mention the almond flour…the soups with the above ingredients that I can’t have. Overwhelmed and don’t like the idea that I am going to have to eat just broth and soup since I can’t seem to eat other stuff…not to mention broth/soup has never been a favorite of mine to either make or eat. I don’t mind doing it if I have some variety, but it will get old quickly.

    • Kelly says

      You could find that after two weeks on GAPS intro you no longer have allergies to all of these things 🙂 the diet is designed to help with this.

  15. Pam says

    I also want to start on the GAPS diet, but I have leaky gut, candida, ibs and food intolerances including wheat, soy, avocados, coconut, bananas, tomato, dairy, potatoes, nuts, etc. So overwhelming. I’ve tried eating broths and soups, but I feel too weak.

  16. says

    I have UC and have been on GAPS intro stage 1 for 11 days. I am still having diarrhea. Has anybody been in stage 1 that long? How do you keep from being sick of all broths? I’m trying to up my intake of the broth maybe I’m not taking enough. I’m on yogurt 8-9 tbl a day. Please give any advise! Thanks 🙂

    • Cindy says

      I would recommend that you try eliminating the yogurt. It may be too much for you. I have seen others go that long on stage 1. I know it can be frustrating, but I have seen great results with my patients.

    • Cindy says

      I would recommend eliminating the yogurt. It may be too much for you right now. I have seen others on stage 1 for a long time, and eventually they start to heal. I have had many patients on the GAPS diet who have greatly benefited.

  17. Amanda says

    Nephew (aged 10) has encopresis and autism. We were directed to the GAPS diet today. He doesn’t usually like any meat other than chicken, and that’s rare as well. Where do I get the bones you are describing? On the meat itself?

    • Julie says

      If you visit a real butcher, bones from preferably grass fed beef should be very reasonable. You can buy whole big bones and have them cut them up to size to fit your stock pot. They sell them to restaurants for stock, so my butcher even had a bag of lamb bones ready to go. You can also pick from marrow bones, which they can cut length-wise, or knuckles, which have lots of connective tissue that dissolves wonderfully into gelatin when you simmer for at least 6-8 hours and use a bit of vinegar.

      I’ve also been getting Mary’s brand chicken feet, and turkey necks and backs at Whole Foods. The cheapest cuts of meat, from the highest quality animals are perfect for broth. Any actual meat you put into a long simmer you need to remove after a few hours our it’s just tasteless and dry, but meat does add great flavor to the broth. So, I’ll throw in some stew meat strips with bones and then fish them out. I have not had the nerve to attempt fish stock, but that’s next on my list. I’m not much of a seafood eater, though I have been putting a strip of Kombu seaweed in each of my broths to add some iodine.

      It’s amazing how much more satisfying the broth is when it’s simmered overnight. If I get hungry, I serve myself a cup of broth like tea. I’m on week 2 of Intro 1 and while I’m getting tired of soup, my eczema is still super itchy even though it’s getting better. I’m concerned about moving on to stage 2 because eggs might be a trigger for me, so I’m hovering at Stage 1!

  18. Shannon says

    I’m wanting to start the GAPS diet especially for my 2 year old son who suffers from eczema and has his whole life. We had him allergy tested this week and NOTHING.. ok a very mild reaction to sage, but other than that, NOTHING! I have a 9 year old daughter with some learning difficulties, she is a bright girl who has a hard time with reading (testing is in progress) and math as it becomes more challenging. I also have a 4 year old daughter who is sharp as a tack but is very moody. I want to lose weight and have IBS (constipation) and I want to elliminate the candita from my body, my husband does not want to do the intro, he wants to go straight into the full GAPS diet. I guess my question is, if we skip the intro will we still get the good effects of the GAPS diet? I am a very picky eater and so are my kids so I’m already aprehensive about this whole fermented vegies thing.. I do NOT like saurkraut! I’m also trying to ween my son off of apple juice. I feel as if I’ve jumped off a cliff! I haven’t even eaten the broth yet and I’m already having second thoughts about this whole thing!

  19. Sheri says

    Shannon, look up Gaps Diet Course 1 on youtube. I think that will be helpful. She says that it is absolutely essential to do the intro stage, and it will actually help the healing process be faster in the long run then if you go straight to the full gap diet. However if i recall correctly she said that for adults its more optional when you do the intro stage as long as you’re sure to do it, in other words he could do the full for awhile but he’ll have to do it sometime eventually.

    Good luck!

  20. Liliana says

    Please somebody answer my questions. Just started everybody on intro gaps stage 1. My child is normal, we don’t have extreme issues like ADHD or autism. The reason I started is for his extreme pickiness, getting worse every day, and his moods, his night enuresis ( which lots of people and doctors say is normal in boys his age, 4.5), and his recently itchy skin and small rash.

    We have been on stage 1 for 5 days, I’d like to move fast through intro and stage one but to date he still has only eaten a few simmered hamburger patties which he no longer wants and a few shrimp. He won’t touch broccoli, soup, carrots, fish. I tried to do aba techniques with honey spoons and cool activities and movies but he still refuses. The squash soup he ate the first day and not again just like he has always been with every food since he started eating.

    He vomited a lot the first 4 days and I gave him a homemade orange juice Popsicle just like Dr Campbell recommends on her FAQ page.

    So my question is, do I keep starving him? Do I move onto stage 2? Does healing only occur if we eat all of the food in each stage or at least most?

    And the last question is how do I find out more specific aba techniques?

    • KimiHarris says


      The throwing up can be a sign that your child’s blood sugar is not doing well on the diet. The GAPS diet isn’t for everyone, truthfully. If you think that the GAPS diet is for you, you may want to start with the full diet, see how your child does, and then if you think necessary you can go to the intro. We ended up feeling that the GAPS was not the right diet for us as a family or for our daughter. She ended up losing her generally healthy appetite on it and getting really lethargic on it after a month.

  21. Liliana says

    Thanks for the reply Kimi. Ill keep it in mind if he gets more and more lethargic. I have been trying to do full gaps with him for a long time, and the problem was that he gets pickier and pickier, and asks more and more for snacks and fruit. And it was always a fight at the table. It was restricted to hot dogs, breakfast sausage only with ketchup, only scrambled eggs with ketchup, apples and bananas. And of course he would do anything for bread, sweets, etc….
    Then he got this rash all over his body and it wasnt from any specific thing he ate, after all he only eats a handful of things.

    But it is really worrying me to see him get thiner and weaker.

    • Gretchen says

      The picky eating is a sure sign he needs to do GAPS, as the food cravings are due to the abnormal micro flora running the show. Check out GAPS Guide book, gapsguide.com, and GAPS FAQS on gapsdiet.com.

  22. says

    How long are you supposed to stay on the different stages? I dont have issues with constipation or diarrhea so what is the marker to change stage?

    • Gretchen says

      Check out gapsguide.com, GAPS Guide book, and GAPS FAQS on gapsdiet.com. Stay on stage 1 until bleeding, abdominal pain, or diarrhea clear or for 7 days max, whichever comes first.

  23. jenny says

    Hi there,

    Thanks so much for your informative blog. I’m diagnosed with bipolar disorder and polycystic ovarian syndrome, and wanted to follow an anti-candida diet after about a month of GAPS (and a year of generally very little added sugar and almost zero refined foods whatsoever). I was wondering what you thought would be the lesser of two evils for someone on an anti-candida, but not ketogenic, diet: fresh carrot/beet juice, or soaked and dehydrated nuts/baked items made with these ground nuts? I’ve been staying almost completely clear from nuts because I see it as a dangerous opportunity to eat baked things, but I’m trying to balance my health with the rest of my life after a very strict month of the GAPS diet. Prior to this I’ve been drinking a cup of carrot juice every day just because I read that it is good for detoxification.

    Please let me know what your two cents are on this!! Thanks!

    • Gretchen says

      Read the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book, GAPS Guide book, and the GAPS FAQS on gapsdiet.com. That should answer all your questions.

  24. Ann Power says

    Wowee! Did I ever need this. Day 4 of intro and I’d give anything to eat something that crunches (I’m not a soft foods type of gal, oh, except gelato or ice cream) This is inspiring to find your site. Many, many thanks!

  25. mccall says

    Love this so much!! Im on stage one day two of the diet and this helps answer so many questions!! I was under the impression that you only eat plaun broth for a week!!

  26. Casey Miller says

    I’m wondering how you typically cook the whole chicken – do you do it in the crockpot with the broth? If so, how long do you cook it for? Thank you!!

  27. Emma says

    Recently started gaps diet after 1 year of antibiotics for repeated urinary/ kidney infections. Last year was advised to follow Low Histamine diet which was helping but not healing. Now I’m in stage 1 of GAPS I’m struggling with High Histamine levels. Can anyone advise?
    Thank you Emma

  28. christina says

    I am thinking of starting gaps diet for my autism daughter but my fear is what will i be packing for her lunch for school especially when she is a picky eater who only liked hot dogs and bacon to school

    • Lisa says

      Hi. I started my daughter on gaps last week. I gave her two thermoses of soup to bring to school. I also called the school nurse and iNformed ner teachers not to give herany other food. Good thing I did. She was begging them for crackers. She wasn’t happy, but she ate at least one thermos of soup every day at school. She is 11.

  29. Lindsey says

    I have been on the intro stage of the GAPS diet for over 3 weeks – every time I try and introduce anything new I get reactions, and I am even still getting bloated sometimes even when not introducing anything new (but not sure why)…
    Do you have any advice? I’m not sure how much longer I can do this without needing a greater variety of foods, but I’m really unsure of where to turn!
    Thank you

  30. Mat says

    Thanks for sharing this Kimi. Ive had a flair up of Crohns and want to begin the intro diet. Ive purchased the 2010 book online but it hasnt arrived yet. Can anyone answer this question: when/what stage can I introduce coconut cream into the soup?

  31. Ilana says

    Hi Kimi
    I’m doing the GAPS diet to heal leaky gut and food allergies. How long do I need to stay on Stage 1 to heal my gut enough to move on? I’ve been going 9 days so far. Prior to starting GAPS I didnt have any significant diarrhoe or constripation, I’ve had a bit of both since starting though. I am also sensitive to eggs, so have been anxious to introduce those too soon.

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