Does the GAPS diet work well long term for everyone?

I have been asked the last year by various people to share my experience on the GAPS diet, short though it was. I decided to do better then that. I am dedicating this week to the GAPS diet. I will be sharing my story and some thoughts here, and then I have a panel set up for others who have used the GAPS diet for a longer length of time. They will be sharing their stories with you too. Finally, I wanted to share some tips and recipes for the intro diet as well as a list of recipes that are GAPS friendly. We have a busy week ahead of us!

First, what is the GAPS diet? A short explanation is that it is a diet that uses the healing power of homemade bone broths and lacto-fermented foods to heal the digestive system. A very important part of the diet is completely eliminating foods that break down into disaccharides such as potatoes, yams and all grains. The combination of removing digestive stress and using homemade broth to heal, and probiotic foods and supplements is used to restore the digestive system and rebuild healthy flora. You can read more about the diet here.

I have read some of the most amazing stories of people healing through this diet. This includes autistic children dramatically improving. But that is a post for another day. All to say, this diet has had life changing effects for many, many people. I know that many of my readers here at The Nourishing Gourmet are on the GAPS diet, and that is one of the reasons I love to share GAPS friendly recipe.

The question I wanted to pose today is this, does the GAPS diet work well for everyone long term?

With that question in mind let me share my story in short.

When my daughter was younger, she went through a time period of having digestive issues. They got worse when I weaned Elena, and then continued to get worse as she got older. We finally felt we needed to take action and the GAPS diet was where we turned. However, since I had some digestive issues in the past, we thought it would be helpful for me to do the diet with her. I was also determined that I was not going to ask my little daughter to do a diet I myself was not willing to do.

So we went full throttle into the diet. The first week was great. Sure, we had some adjustments to do, but I felt good and it seemed to helping my daughter already. But after that first week passed, I started losing energy and getting more and more hungry. I felt like I could eat soups, and meat, and vegetables until they came out of my ears, but still not get my blood sugar up. I was constantly, and I mean constantly making food for the two of us. Another week went by and I got even more lethargic. In the end, my husband seeing me going downhill, started encouraging me that it was okay to stop the diet. I was determined to stick it through, so I made it another couple of weeks. Then finally one day I was trying to do our laundry.

I stood at the bottom of my flight of stairs and stared upwards. In the 4 weeks I had been on the diet, I had gained weight (although I felt like I was starving all of the time and had been at my perfect weight before the diet), lost energy, and it seemed like the diet was stressful on my adrenals and thyroid. Despite all of the protein I consumed, I often suffered from low blood sugar on the diet. But not all was negative. It felt like it was helping both my digestive system as well as my daughters. But as I stared up those stairs, I realized I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t walk up those stairs. I didn’t feel tired in the sense of wanting to go to sleep, but the type of tired that made you feel life was blah.

I made the only decision I could; I was going to break the diet. After starting to eat starches again, I improved, but my body was so tired by that point, I couldn’t keep the diet going for my daughter, who really was the one who needed the diet. I am forever grateful that the Lord brought healing to her most pressing digestive issues through other natural means. My adrenal function improved also as we continued working with a naturopath. I was puzzled about our GAPS experience, as I have many friends who experience the opposite! Their energy increases dramatically while on the GAPS diet.

However, I did noticed that stories of similar situations started cropping up, especially after being on the GAPS diet for a period of time. I noticed that the Wise Traditions journal started receiving letters from those on the GAPS diet who had experiences similar to me.

For example, in the last journal this letter was posted.

Regarding the article “Why We Crave” (Spring 2011), my experience has been that people can get cravings not only with a diet of too many carbs, but also too few of them. I don’t believe we are all the same metabolically, but rather that some of us need more protein and fat and some need more carbs.
I did the GAPS diet (very high fat, protein, lots of veggies and no rice, potatoes or grains of any kind) for six months last year and felt horrible for the first week. Then I had good energy and felt well for three or four months. But after that initial improvement, I started to get more tired, with lower energy and generally slid backwards.
I went off the diet and added back some healthy carbs like sprouted millet, quinoa, corn, brown rice, potatoes and yams. I notice that if my meal contains one of those along with my fat and protein, I don’t crave anything sweet. But, if I eat a meal that has none of those good carbohydrates, I will be starving soon after the meal and will be having cravings for sugar and other sweet stuff. I think we all really need to experiment to find what is right for our bodies.
Leslie Manookian Bradshaw
Ketchum, Idaho

And even more interesting, in a past journal the ND, Tom Cowan, who writes for Wise Traditions, shared that while he uses the diet for cancer patients, he feels that some need to add grains back into their diets after a while. At the end of a long article discussing why he generally didn’t think grains were good for health he shared,

I had a patient who had many health problems and the GAPS diet helped her recover from them. But after recovery she continued on the GAPS diet and she started to go downhill—not with the old symptoms, but she just got more and more tired. I advised her to add more grains to her diet—soaked oatmeal and sourdough bread—and she immediately snapped out of it. So there is a time to go off grains and a time to reintroduce them! A Holistic Approach to Cancer

Further information is found in this letter.

THE GRAIN CONUNDRUM
I have celiac disease and have been on a gluten-free and traditional diet for more than five years. Most of the terrible symptoms went away on the gluten-free diet but I still often suffered from bloating and gas. Last year I heard about the GAPS diet, which eliminates complex carbs like potatoes as well as grains, and went on it for almost a year. During that time, I began to feel more and more exhausted and my whole body began to be in pain. My muscles just hurt all the time.
I wrote Dr. Campbell-McBride about it and she said to go back to the intro diet again—I had already done the intro diet twice. She said I was just still toxic, which made me feel weak and exhausted. So I followed that advice, but I only seemed to get weaker. I had been a dance teacher and now I was having trouble just walking up the stairs.
I went to the doctor and got all kinds of tests. After many visits to different physicians and lots of money spent, they all said I was as healthy as I could be. Nothing was wrong, they said. I have always been relatively healthy, except for the gastrointestinal problems.
I then decided to call Dr. Thomas Cowan and do a phone consult. I knew he knew about the GAPS diet and could hopefully help me. After the first ten minutes on the phone with him, he told me I should start eating grains again and that my muscle pain and weakness were due to being on the GAPS diet. I was shocked. He said that many people have come to him with the same problem due to the diet and that he himself had felt this way after going on the diet for a short time. He agreed that it is, in theory, a perfect diet, but that for some reason many people cannot do it.
I have gone back on gluten-free grains such as millet, rice and quinoa, and am slowly starting to feel better. I have had such a hard year due to this and it has taken a toll on my whole family. I already feel much better having put grains back into my diet. I have lost considerable muscle mass but am hoping that I will be able to make a full recovery. By the way, I am still taking the recommended probiotics—I do not feel that this problem was caused by the probiotics.
I think the GAPS diet does heal the gut, but as Dr. Cowan told me, many people cannot live without some type of grain or starchy tuber like potatoes or sweet potatoes. Another WAPFsavvy physician has told me the same thing, and I have heard from two other WAPF members who have had similar symptoms until they put grains back into their diets. Living without these food can deprive us of any drive or happiness, which is not a good trade off, if you ask me.
Priscilla Smith, Chapter Leader
Annapolis, Maryland

It seems I am hardly alone in not feeling my best on the GAPS diet!

But why is that? Could it be lack of carbohydrates? The GAPS diet is not low in carbohydrates if you make sure you eat plenty of carrots and squash and later you can add fruits and honey. It just limits the type of carbohydrates. However, it would be easy to be very low carbohydrate accidentally and that could lead to low energy for some. It could be some unknown mineral or amino acid deficiency causing low energy that grains naturally contain. It could be that some of us are just not well suited physically for a grain free diet. It could help heal our digestive system, but not be an ideal diet for long term. All of these are some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind when I considered our common problems with the GAPS diet.

So, my conclusion is this. I feel that the GAPS diet is very important for people to know about as it offers an effective way to deal with digestive disorders. I really believe in the diet’s power to help heal, sometimes even dramatically as recounted by many. Some people may not want to stay on the diet forever, though as the diet may not be the ideal diet for them. I do believe that we are unique, and while the GAPS diet can offer digestive healing for all, it may not be the ideal diet for all long-term.

It’s also worthwhile for me to point out that the point of the GAPS diet is to heal the digestive system so that you don’t have to stay on the diet forever! Being able to eat normal food without it bothering you is the goal. The point of the GAPS diet is not to issue instructions on how everyone should eat for the rest of their life, but rather how to heal their digestive system so that they overcome limitations.

I think it’s important, as we go into this week of GAPS, that you have this information about possible long-term effects. Out of my friends who have stayed on the GAPS long term, some have felt so wonderful, they have stayed on it much longer then required to heal their digestive system. With them feeling so well on the diet, why change? Others experiences, as recounted above, are quite different. Perhaps one day someone will figure out the missing piece for those who need to use the diet to heal digestively, but don’t have energy while on it.

Meanwhile, despite my experience, I feel that GAPS is a wonderful tool to use to heal the digestive system. So much in fact, that we have recently started a trial run of it for my daughter, who had a few issues crop up again.

I would love to hear your experiences using the GAPS diet!

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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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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for posting this. I have the GAPS book and have intended on starting it soon. However, I have moderately to almost severe adrenal issues and I’m unsure this would be a good fit for me. However, even if I don’t do the straight diet, the book is amazing and well worth the read.

    • says

      As a nutritional therapist and certified GAPS practitioner, I work with a lot of people who are on GAPS- all for varying amounts of time. One of the things I find most often is the need for supplemental digestive support, like hydrochloric acid or bile salts/bile building nutrients, because GAPS folks almost universally have problems with low stomach acid and/or gallbladder function. Therefore, they can be eating fats and proteins, but not actually DIGESTING them and getting the nutrients appropriately, which can lead to the type of fatigue you are talking about- basically malnourishment. It’s not the diet that is lacking most often, it’s the person’s physical body that needs the help. This would also apply in folks with adrenal burn-out, because digestion needs to be working optimally (especially fat digestion) to help support those adrenals. Additional supplemental support could be used short-term to band-aid the adrenals while they are rebuilding.

      That said, it is a healing protocol, not meant specifically to be lifelong, though I do feel that grains can be left out, and the inclusion of other healthy foods, like sweet potatoes can be added after the healing portion is complete. It is so important to seek support from GAPS-minded practitioners so that you can assess what is REALLY going on with your body, and not just blindly follow what is in the book or on websites- we are definitely all unique. It is because of this, that Dr. Natasha saw the need for an army of GAPS practitioners throughout the world, because she can’t see all the patients herself. 🙂

      • says

        Hi Amy,

        Thanks for bringing up the hydrochloric acid. Lisa will probably remember that being addressed in the GAPS book too. While I have heard varying opinions on supplementing for this condition, I know of many who have been helped by supplementing. I would be surprised if Natasha or Tom Cowan wouldn’t have thought of this issue with the many people who have suffered from low energy while on the diet, so it’s probably not a fix all. But it certainly could be a contributing factor.

        I am glad that they are having more training now for the GAPS diet! That’s great. Thankfully, many people weren’t so severely sick that they needed any extra help and did the GAPS diet fine without seeing someone. However, if one does need help, it can be hard to find someone in your area really, truly knowledgeable to help.

      • says

        If some people have digestive issues like low stomach
        Acid or gallbladder problems wouldn’t it make
        More sense to fix these problems rather
        Than supplement the body so the problem
        Remains & may possibly get worse. Why
        Do people always try to ignore the problem?
        If you had a leak in your house which lowered
        Your water pressure would you just add
        More water? Our medical system is constantly
        Ignoring problems & treating sumptoms.
        There is a reason the gall bladder is not functioning
        & the body is not producing enough acids.
        Anyone interested in treating their core
        Health problems & not just the symptoms
        Should watch ALL of Dr Robert Morse ND
        YouTube videos. They are free!! No scam just
        A really evolved bio chemist naturopath telling
        It like it is. I hope my post helps some of you.
        Communitysupportedliving@gmail.com

        • says

          Hi Lilly!

          I am absolutely fanatic about uncovering the root cause and fixing it and not covering up symptoms. I totally understand what you are talking about. However, in this case- of low stomach acid or thick bile- the supplement is what helps to address the root cause, while we make dietary/lifestyle changes as well. They jumpstart the body into doing it for itself so that the supplement is only temporary until the body takes over again. So, for example, if someone has decreased hydrochloric acid due to endocrine imbalance secondary to blood sugar handling issues, we would address the blood sugar handling issues (which requires that nutrients are absorbed, which requires hydrochloric acid, so you MUST supplement) which would be addressing the root cause. Hope that makes sense. Believe me, I am NOT about a “pill for every ill”. I think even natural practitioners can fall into that trap (this herb for a headache, that homeopathic for fatigue, whatever, while not addressing the WHY) but I always work extremely hard to dig down and find out why the headache is happening or why there is fatigue. 🙂

      • says

        I agree with Amy on the need for supplemental HCL. Depending on where you are at when you begin the GAPS diet – perhaps you have not eaten the quantities of fat or protein required on this diet, so realize that you may not be able to digest them properly, this can cause many issues. I find GAPS focuses on removing the stressors to the small intestine and including healing foods for the gut but does not push enough (although it does address it) the need for support for digesting proteins and fats with HCL in the stomach (as many people are hypochlohydric, or have low stomach acid) and fat digestion is likely not adequate for most people in this modern day as we all have not grown up eating near this much fat in our diets. I think if you start GAPS and have not adjusted to these two issues prior, they will affect you on GAPS if you do not deal with them – supporting protein digestion with HCL for a time is critical as is supporting fat digestion with bile salts or beet kvass even would be a good idea. Those two things alone could have a major impact on energy and weight. There is no food equivalent to supplemental HCL – we have to retrain our bodies to begin making stomach acid again. Certain nutrients are needed for it to even be able to be made in the first place and our pituitary function needs to be working properly. I have seen that many peoples pituitary function is very poor, so it could take some time supplementing with HCL and healing the pituitary and getting adequate zinc and certain B vitamins for the body to begin making HCL again on it’s own. This is epidemic in our culture, and there are NUMEROUS reasons why most of us are low in stomach acid. Don’t underestimate how important this one factor alone is in healing.
        Also many people start GAPS and have not dealt with getting their blood sugar regulated – I don’t think this diet focuses on that either, though it certainly can be addressed by removing a large amount of starchy carbohydrates that most people were likely eating prior. If this is the case and you have kind of gone low carb on GAPS rather quickly after having not dealt with getting your blood sugar on track prior, I can see for some how it could cause issues with energy, especially for those with adrenal/thryoid issues. It would be better to wean your way into GAPS by slowly removing starches/grains out and get your blood sugar where it needs to be. Some people can get their blood sugar handling worked out easily, some it takes more time.
        Your adrenals have to kick into gear when too many carbs/starches/sugars are continually spiking your blood sugar, which is only meant to be an emergency response. Your adrenals should not have to be called on regularly to do the job of blood sugar regulation. Once you take away this stressor from the adrenals, they can often just peter out due to exhaustion and take some time to be nourished and recoup.
        There are numerous things to consider here and I am not saying GAPS is fool proof, but it could really take getting the support of a GAPS practitioner as Amy mentioned to work through things. The diet makes a ton of good sense that can be very helpful -however doing it on your own without support may not work. If you can’t find a GAPS practitioner, try searching out an NTP, who will be well versed helping people with getting digestion on track as well. Digestion is a tricky beast -there are many many many factors that play into the whole big picture that need to be considered. I personally think taking time prior to starting GAPS to iron out some things, as I mentioned above is a good idea for some to consider. Hope that was helpful – as I think we can all share our personal experiences but we need to realize the body does work a certain way and though we are all bio-individual we do have the same organs and systems that do want to operate a certain way.

  2. says

    Thank you, thank you for bringing people back to how THEY feel on a diet! Our household is doing GAPS, and I’m also a Certified GAPS Practitioner so I have seen the great that can come from the program. That said, the most important thing all of us need to find is what is right for our body by being in tune with it! GAPS is not a fad diet, or a one-size fits all, it’s a therapeutic diet that should be tried, monitored, and altered as needed. We are all bio-individuals!

  3. shannon says

    This is very interesting – we’ve been on GAPS diet for several months – but now I’ve been having a lot of back pain,, weakness and fatigue. I thought it might be adrenal fatigue. Is there a safer way to prepare rice, millet and quinoa?

  4. Nili says

    Great info! I’m looking forward to the rest of the week! Have you heard of The Perfect Health Diet by Dr. Paul Jaminet? He has some of the same concerns with the GAPS diet (being too low carb for most people) and has had a lot of success in healing guts and restoring health using his diet which includes a moderate amount of what he calls “safe starches”. I recently ordered the book from Amazon an am anxiously awaiting it’s arrival! I had planned on getting my family on GAPS until hearing Dr. Jaminet’s concerns.

  5. says

    I have been on full GAPS since February and I plan to continue. I’m feeling well but still cheat occasionally, need to include more broth and more probiotics (I’m planning on redoing intro this winter and add Custom Probiotics to my routine).
    I think people are eventually meant to go ‘off GAPS’ by adding potatoes, buckwheat, quinoa, etc. Dr NCM does say this in her book. GAPS is meant to be a temporary diet. Depending on your health issues you may need to be on GAPS for several months, few years.. maybe forever if your issues are deep enough. Everyone is different. Also, getting a checkup is important. I think I might be dealing with hypo/hyperthyroid and adrenal fatigue and I’m planning on seeing a holistic doctor about those issues. I also have trouble with hormones. In an ideal world GAPS would heal those issues but I think many people today are so ‘messed up’ diet alone may not be enough. Just my two cents… looking forward to your other GAPS articles!!

  6. says

    I am on month 7 of GAPS, and I am healing steadily from adrenal, thyroid, hormone, and weight issues. I have also just done another run-through of Intro diet, which has really helped as I felt a little stagnant after the first six months.

    I’ve also recently started my 6-year-old on GAPS with me, and I think it’s really helping his chronic sniffly nose and tendency to get ear infections (in spite of his real food diet). And then my other son and my husband seem not to need GAPS, so they just eat grain-free along with us GAPS family members most of the time. And we all take our cod liver oil and probiotics of course!

    Anyways, my plan is stay on GAPS for a while. I have stuck to the full GAPS diet without exception until about a week ago when I added raw milk. I missed it so much, and I come from Irish dairy stock and just went with my gut feeling (pun intended!) on dairy. I was able to reintroduce it, no problem!

    Thanks for hosting this week on GAPS posts, Kimi! I think GAPS and SCD can help a lot of people if they are aware of it and able to see that they are not alone.

  7. says

    Although I am sorry you had to endure the fatigue and adrenal stress, it is actually a relief to hear your experience. I have been suffering with digestive issues all my life (and actually had 12″ of my colon removed as a result), but no doctor has been able to correctly diagnose the problem. So, I have been searching for relief in various ways (some healthier than others)…
    After my latest intestinal “attack” (about 2 mo ago) I gave up gluten. It immediately calmed the chronic bloating and intestinal pain, but I must have replaced the gluten with grains equally or more irritating so I gave up all grains. Then, I read about Paleo and SCD and decided I should give up milk, too… but the nuts and eggs on those diets are also irritating so I am afraid to eat (and yet afraid to restrict anything else). Perhaps moderation is key… and listening to your body (and mine is crying out for food!)

    • says

      Have you looked into histamine intolerance? All the things you listed can be triggers for those with HI. That Paleo Guy has a great overview article on it; see if it sounds like a “fit” for your experience. In that case you would need to hybridize GAPS and autoimmune paleo.
      When I’m having a hungry week I make a batch of coconut milk chai concentrate (recipe on my blog, if you’re interested) and maybe some 3 ingredient fudge (cocoa, coconut oil and sweetener [also on my blog]) and those high-fat treats keep the dragons down.
      Hope that helps!

  8. Jessie says

    thanks for this post. I am very interested to read this series. I have the GAPS book to read & am considering this diet, but would consult with my naturopath before starting. I also would only do it if my husband was on board. Because without his support, it would be too taxing I think.

  9. Sara H. says

    I do the Perfect Health Diet (perfecthealthdiet.com) and feel great at almost a year-I have tons of energy. Paul Jaminet advises against grains (due to their inflammatory tendencies) but encourages “safe starches” such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, plantains etc. and the only grain he considers safe -white rice. The amount of carbs he advise you to eat is dependent on how healthy-or metabolically healthy you are. Have you considered your low energy was the lack of these starches and not the lack of grains? I will never eat wheat again as I feel this was what led me down the path to a very serious autoimmune disease. I realize the Gaps diet is good for gut healing but I do feel that I’ve healed my gut through his diet which is very carefully researched by him and his wife (he a physicist and she is a cancer researcher). I just wanted to put this out there for anyone who is not aware of the Jaminet’s diet -I personally respect your freedom in chosing the food you want to eat.

      • MaryanneA says

        Mark Sisson has several posts on the white vs. brown rice issue on his website, Mark’s Daily Apple. I think white rice is easier for your body to digest – can’t really remember specifics, but it’s worth looking into.

  10. says

    I think it would be more helpful to explore the grains vs low blood sugar + just increase carbs issue. Increasing items like potatoes, fruits and maple syrup would probably do the same things that grains would. Also it’s important to find out if the tired feeling is caused by nutrient deficiencies that the grains were previously supplying and if supplementing that would stop symptoms. I also feel like these people would be asking the question: “am I eating ENOUGH FAT” (avocado, olive, palm, coconut oil, nuts, butter, cream, eggs) since this is an area on the GAPS were MANY people fail. They are eating lots of good things but simply not enough fat OR glucose and not having enough of either will not give the body enough to run on. These are just some areas to consider before going PRO-GRAIN again. A big diet change like this also has lots of physiological changes on the body and coming from the SAD or another diet can cause lots of differences that your body has to adjust too. Hormones that are off can make this tired, energyless feeling, especially if your neurotransmitters are not working, thyroid or adrenals are off.

    • KimiHarris says

      Hi Meagan,

      Dr. Natasha states in the intro diet that it is vital that patients get enough fats for the healing process. I do think that’s important. I should clarify that the GAPS diet is not a diet based on the thought “grains are evil”, rather that foods that break down into disaccharides need to be taken out for the digestive system to heal. For that reason, those who specifically want to be on the GAPS diet cannot have potatoes or maple syrup either. However, those on the GAPS diet are often eating many fruits and honey as well.

      As I mentioned in my post, I have wondered if either a mineral/vitamin or amino acid deficiency could be some people’s problems in doing the GAPS diet. However, some people only started feeling tired after a very long time on the GAPS diet. I think that if it was caused by some type of deficiency, it would have been caused by the GAPS diet, not their diet beforehand. As far as with my own experience, I not long after that experience, did a full blood work test for any deficiencies, and I was labeled “very well nourished” by my ND. 🙂 All to say, it’s not always as cut and dry as we think.

      I personally, am not “pro or against” grains, but rather feel that individuals need to find what daily fare works well for them.

  11. Sarah says

    This makes me feel so much better. I was on the GAPS diets last year – initially it started out well. I lost eight pounds and a chronic skin condition I had cleared up, but about a month into it I started feeling even more fatigued than before (fatigue was one of the reasons my naturopath suggested GAPS), I started gaining weight, my legs ached and I was getting migraines (also a reason for GAPS for me). Oh, and I was unbearably cranky. After seven months, I stopped. I gradually added potatoes and grains back into my diet and I feel so much better. And I’m not cranky. I had decided it was time to make a switch about the time my husband decided he had enough. The night I told him I was done with GAPS, he looked so relieved. He said he was waiting until the weekend, but he was going to ask me to consider stopping, or at least modifying, GAPS because he and my daughter couldn’t handle the grumpy, angry person I had become. It took about 10 days, but the aches, pains, fatigue, migraines and grumpiness went away.

    I think GAPS helped me though – my hormones are more balanced and my skin condition has stayed away and I rarely have migraines anymore. I am still struggling, seven months later, to lose the extra weight I gained. GAPS also helped make all of us more aware of what we’re eating – we eat fewer carbohydrates and more broth and soup.

    I think GAPS might be right for lots of people, just not for us.

    • Miriam says

      Sarah,
      Your GAPS account resonated deeply, and would I love to know if you’ve been able to lose the weight gained, and if so, how you achieved, or are progressing towards that.

      I’ve been following GAPS since the end of August to heal pharmaceutical triggered psoriasis and food allergies. My condition has slowly improved, along with 13 pounds above my healthy happy weight. Am trying to cut back some of the fat, protein which seem to trigger overeating. I do eat lots of cultured vegs. None of this is helping, am stressed and frustrated as I’m petite and for me this is a ton of weight.

      If you have time, I’d love to hear how you are and what you’ve adjusted with diet. Hope you are well and thank you.
      Miriam

    • Miriam says

      Sarah,
      Your GAPS account resonated deeply, and would I love to know if you’ve been able to lose the weight gained, and if so, how you achieved, or are progressing towards that.

      I’ve been following GAPS since the end of August to heal pharmaceutical triggered psoriasis and food allergies. My condition has slowly improved, along with 13 pounds above my healthy happy weight. Am trying to cut back some of the fat, protein which seem to trigger overeating. I do eat lots of cultured vegs. None of this is helping, am stressed and frustrated as I’m petite and for me this is a ton of weight.

      If you have time, I’d love to hear how you are and what you’ve adjusted with diet. Hope you are well and thank you.
      Miriam

    • Miriam says

      Sarah,
      Your GAPS account resonated deeply, and would I love to know if you’ve been able to lose the weight gained, and if so, how you achieved, or are progressing towards that.

      I’ve been following GAPS since the end of August to heal pharmaceutical triggered psoriasis and food allergies. My condition has slowly improved, along with 13 pounds above my healthy happy weight. Am trying to cut back some of the fat, protein which seem to trigger overeating. I do eat lots of cultured vegs. None of this is helping, am stressed and frustrated as I’m petite and for me this is a ton of weight.

      If you have time, I’d love to hear how you are and what you’ve adjusted with diet. Hope you are well and thank you.
      Miriam

  12. says

    Hi,

    I find this article and the experiences I have heard (of people struggling with this sort of thing on the GAPS diet) interesting. I’ve been on the GAPS diet for a year and 4 months now, and have been doing great. But I understand that it may not work for everyone.

    Personally I think everyone’s length of healing their gut, digestion, and body is different. That’s why some people are finished at 6 months, but for someone like me (who was a severe case) will need to be on it for longer.

    I think the best thing to try before changing your diet – if you’re having trouble on GAPS – is to increase your fat, fruits, and more “starchy” veggies (carrots and such) before you go off. I also have found that doing full GAPS instead of the intro tends to make you less tired. (I’ve been doing full GAPS only so far.)

    Those are my two sense, but definitely do what makes you feel better, and what works for you. (Thank you for the interesting discussion everybody.)

  13. says

    I have discovered a lot about the response to this diet. Although I never did the diet I have know others who have. Whenever you greatly reduce or restrict carbs you insulin fails to rise and fall as it normally does after a meal. The body sends out a stress response to the adrenals and they start working over time to compensate. Thus adrenal stress will naturally ensue. Probably why you were feeling like those stairs was more than you can handle. I think a lot of the points to this diet are great but I would caution people to pay close attention as you do to how you are feeling. Many many of the problems this diet can fix can be fixed by having a cultured food at every meal. My Daughter had terrible IBS, allergies, and chronic sinus infections and cultured foods with every meal healed her. ~Donna

  14. Tara says

    Just wanted to mention that earlier today I read the updated FAQ answers on the GAPS website (GAPSdiet.com), and Dr. Natasha specifically addressed the question of using the diet to treat cancer (she doesn’t use it for that, actually). So I thought it was interesting that the practitioner you referenced in the article uses it to treat cancer. Just throwing this out there, in case anyone is considering it for this use. Might want to read Dr. Natasha’s answer about this question.

    • says

      Tara,

      Thanks for bringing that up! Tom Cowan doesn’t just use the GAPS diet to treat cancer, just one of the things he does. I personally would go to a doctor more specialized in cancer treatment. 🙂 I will have to go read Natasha’s answer!

  15. Tara says

    I forgot to ask whether you were nursing when you were on the diet. I’ve read a number of people refer to their tiredness because of that, and needing to increase their nutrient intake even more due to the demands of breastfeeding. For instance, Sarah over at the Nourished and Nurtured blog has mentioned this – as well as her fatigue after quite a few months on the diet. I think she said it resolved when she added more fruit and honey back into her diet (which is perfectly legal on GAPS, but you know how we get in our minds that we need to be really careful about the sugars, and as you said, might unintentionally get a little TOO low sugar or low carb). Sarah may chime in here about her family’s experience on GAPS, so I’ll let her speak for herself… but that’s just something that came to mind. Also, I’ve realized that various people can say we’re on the GAPS diet, but what I’m doing versus what she’s doing versus what someone else is doing, might all look quite different. Some might be getting very little fat, some might be eating tons of ferments and some hardly any, some might be taking a probiotic supplement and others aren’t, some are relying too heavily on nuts and others don’t eat them, some eat plenty of the “sweet veggies” (carrots, winter squash) and some don’t, some are guzzling the chicken stock and others confess they aren’t consuming it regularly, and so on. So it makes me think that although we are operating within similar guidelines, there can still be quite alot of variability – not to mention the other things people might be incorporating, essentially doing hybrids of GAPS and something else, some are taking various supplements, etc. It’s perhaps not as straightforward as we’d like it to be!

    • Coral says

      I wish there was “like” button, like Facebook! GAPS doesn’t have to be low carb! Eat more squash or carrots too if you are worried about fruit and honey 🙂

      • Mindy says

        I absolutely agree! I am only on Day 48 of GAPS myself. I am also an adrenal patient with lots of hormone imbalances. I get so sick of hearing that GAPS is low carb. Or that “it wasn’t for me” even though it healed digestive issues. The diet DID work for you in that case, but you reached the point where your body told you, “You’re done! Move on.” And I wonder, why is it we very rarely hear people mention the lentils and navy beans for carbs? Those are legal on GAPS!!

        Hm, sorry for the rant. I have just been hearing so much negativity lately against GAPS. I have just come to the conclusion that we are all VERY unique and respond differently to all sorts of stimuli. So we need to be listening to our own bodies and just experiment. Try GAPS. If it helps with digestive or other issues, great! If you reach the point where new pain/ fatigue, etc. show up, add “safe starches” or make other adjustments. Find what’s right for YOUR body at that particular time. Oh, and I wanted to add that kefir is also a carb on GAPS. And I for one love it with honey. 🙂

  16. says

    I have to admit that I fell into this kind of cycle as well – upping the fats (a lot!) and including raw milk made GAPS more doable for me – but I’ve also learned about healing going through cycles. My first week on GAPS was miserable, but at the end of my 3 month commitment, I was relieved to bring back starchy foods.

    Unfortunately, my recollection is poor as to where I read about it, whether from Dr. NCM or elsewhere (or both?), but basically after a period of time, when the body has healed some and better prepared to handle it, you go through another intense healing cycle. Fatigue is a standard during detoxing and healing, along with other symptoms that depend on the individual. It is also most tempting to abandon the diet when your body is working hardest to clean up, and diverting off of it will generally lessen or eliminate the symptoms of detox/cleansing rather quickly.

    That being said, I too find it very difficult to stay on the GAPS diet for a long period of time, even with the inclusion of raw milk (in part because we can’t get enough of it!) because I seem to need a tremendous amount of carbs and budget limits how much veggies and meats and fats I can buy. There are certainly times we do a lot of lard loaded refried navy beans!

    Though our issues are very minor now, I am hoping with adding HCL and doing more work to heal gall bladders in our family, digestion will get even better and we’ll reach that delightful point of not going through quite so much food.

  17. SarahB says

    Hi Kimi and Everyone:

    I am a nutritionist and have been in practice for over 15 years. I am also the chapter leader for WAPF Marin. I advocate a whole foods diet for everyone, but beyond that, I have found that it really is important to note that everyone is biochemically different. I know peole who follw GAPS and do brilliantly, and I know people who are vegetarians and eat 60% or more of their diet as grains and thye do brilliantly. Then, there is everything inbetween. The most important thing is to use all the tools in your tool box and try these diets and find out which one best suits you as an individual. Don’t get attached to dogma. I maintain that the best diet for everyone is a whole foods diet (if possible) as I have yet to find that person whose biochemistry responds well to refined sugary GMO foods on a daily basis 🙂 but within that framework, there are many diets or food plans to follow and you might even find that one works well for you at one point in your life but that you need to follow a different direction at another point in your life. Kimi, you provide a wonderful resource here for everyine. Thank you!

  18. Heather says

    Thanks for sharing this. I emailed you awhile back about your experience with this diet, and your kind reply then, and this post combined, make me even more confident that stopping the diet was the right thing for me. I can relate to much of what you blogged today. A few years before I tried GAPS, I had a similar response to the Body Ecology Diet – my guess is, that was probably due mostly to the food combining rules of that diet.

  19. says

    Is anyone familiar with gastroparesis? I was wondering if GAPS would help with that. It is basically paralysis of the stomach muscles, delayed emptying of food through the digestive tract. I’ve been diagnosed with borderline GP, and also chronic Lyme disease, and am recovering from a brain injury two years ago, and I was wondering if this diet might help. I’m 22 years old and severely underweight due to the paresis (97-98 pounds at 5′ 7″). Already eat Nourishing Traditions, but wondering if I need to modify more. I need to gain weight, but have a hard time eating more than a little bit without severe pain, nausea, bloating, over-fullness, etc…SO if anyone has any advice I’d love to hear it! Have considered doing a liquid diet, or maybe GAPS…

    • says

      Hi Abby,

      Yes I have heard of gastroparesis. We thought I had it for a while. Like you I suffered from severe stomach pain, nausea, bloating, overfullness… etc. I was terrible. My stomach felt frozen, like a rock. Sometimes I wouldn’t eat anything but broth for a day or two, feel better, then a week later be right back where I started. It was frustrating. I’ve been on GAPS now for over a year, and all that is gone! I struggled with a few days of feeling off in the beginning but it’s been basically smooth sailing. So my two cents is it’s definitely worth a try and broth, broth, and more broth. After a week on being on GAPS I went to my Mom and said “Mom, I can’t feel my stomach – it’s not hurting. Am I okay?” (That’s how bad it was for so long.) She assured me that was normal – been feeling like that ever since.
      Hang in there Abby. I know it’s hard and you probably don’t feel good, but I believe there’s hope. If you want me to answer anymore questions you have let me know I’d be happy to help. Or you can click on my name, head to my website and around the top right corner is a contact me page which has my email. Hope this helps. : )

      • says

        Thanks Hannah for your encouragement…it helps to hear from someone who has been through something similiar! I enjoyed your website. I’ve been so hesitant to start GAPS as the intro diet seems very time consuming and confusing…for me, it’s easy to focus on food too much. At the very least, though, I’d like to add in broth like you said; I know it is very healing for digestion! I found an article on Weston A. Price on gastroparesis, and they recommend drinking broth with extra gelatin added in at each meal. I got some soup bones today, and have some kosher gelatin, so hopefully that will help, too!

        • says

          Hi Abby,
          If the intro seems too time consuming and confusing at this point just try Full GAPS. That’s what I did and it works. Dr. Natasha created the Intro later to help people who after being on the diet for a while were still not feeling better. Now they use it at the beginning, as a jump start, but you can heal without it. It can just take a little longer. Personally that doesn’t bother me. So long as I feel good I can remain on the diet for the 2 years.

          We read that Weston A. Price article as well and the broth with gelatin is a wonderful thing to have at each meal. But personally it didn’t work long term for me, when I took out the grains, starches and sugars. Voila! It disappeared, and my digestion began working again.
          But no matter what the broth will help.

        • K. Walter says

          I realize I’m making a comment very late after the original post, but I wanted to encourage Abby H., that a raw milk fast may be able to help you with Lyme Disease. This article I will attempt to attach is about a woman who CURED her Lyme Disease by doing a raw milk fast. It must be RAW, full fat, whole milk, not pasturized or homogenized, from grass-fed grazing cows, and eat no food. You will not be hungry drinking this kind of milk. Healing to you! http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/the-milk-cure-for-healing-lyme-disease/

  20. Mary P. says

    Thanks for the post about your experience on the GAPS diet. I am praying about and trying to decide about putting our family on this or the SCD diet due to some health issues. This was helpful to read and keep in mind that this may not need to be long term or that it may not work for us long term. This is a good reminder… that I need to be trusting God ultimately and not a formula….that I need to listen to our bodies. I am looking forward to your posts on this subject and am so thankful for the timing of your post as I was researching today and looking at possibly starting the first of the year. Thank you so much!

  21. joann says

    Anyone have any insight on how the Blood Type Diet might fit into this discussion? BTD has never made much sense to me and I questioned its validity, but many people I know have had great success on it. And it may be coincidence, but the people who I have talked to on GAPS who have had long term success on it have been O blood type (which is suited to GAPS approved foods). Granted my sampling is small, but I am very intrigued to learn more. I have been on GAPS for 3 months and feel great, and I happen to be O blood type. I know that this will be a lifetime way of eating for me (whether or not I call it GAPS, paleo, grain-free etc.), but I wonder if I would be so committed if I knew that it didn’t suit my type?

    • says

      Joann, I am also type O, and I THRIVE on GAPS! I have been on it almost 2 years now. I never really did the “intro,” so we started it today (our whole family–w/7 kids + hubby!). I felt great. It was odd eating soup for breakfast instead of eggs, but my blood sugar was great, I didn’t feel like I lacked a thing. GAPS has been incredibly healing for me and my family.
      I also wonder about the blood type thing. I’ve wondered about this with other “great” medical/nutritional things, too. Lots of people I know drink Kangen water, for example. We don’t, and I’m skeptical–because I know of others who are also type O, who got “too alkaline” and then developed some health issues after drinking the (alkaline) water. So I wonder about blood type, too!
      Kimi, I’m so sorry to hear about your GAPS experience and the other quotes you shared. I definitely think there are different metabolic types going on in people, and that potentially it’s related to blood type.

      • joann says

        Brenda — thanks for your personal insight on this. Obviously this way of life takes a lot of commitment so it is always good to hear other’s stories and experiences to help motivate and validate. The more data points, the better!

      • Tara says

        Brenda, I’ve been skeptical about alkaline water as well. Can you elaborate on what type of health issues those individuals developed after drinking the alkaline water?

  22. says

    Thank you!! We started intro Oct. 1 with the 30-day challenge at Health, Home, Happiness, and quickly modified within 2 weeks to full GAPS. With some cheating, mostly involving Chipotle. And ice cream at a county fair. Anyway. Intuitively as a mom, after those first few days (or even the first day), I could see I would need to go more slowly and gently, and added things in much more quickly like apples/bananas. I had ketosis symptoms, so even did apple juice a couple times. Freshly pressed juices also make me feel better when low energy. I have been surprised how well my kids have done with “soup for breakfast,” even though they still ask for their oats. It was making a big difference in my 2 yo girl’s attention span and whininess, although her skin condition had not made big improvements as of yet (I think taking nuts out might help this–she always asks for them, which makes me think maybe a sensitivity like when we like something TOO much). But her red cheeks improved that first week on intro–they would be flaming by the end of the day before, and she has keritosis bumps (along with my 6 yo girl) on her thighs/calves/arms/cheeks. My son’s behavior and focus improved, and he has slight ADD/labeling things issues that seemed to improve. He’s my dough boy (not chunky, but always asking for bread, sugar etc.)–I’m sure he has the biggest yeast problem, just like momma. I was discouraged last week when I got the stomach flu and was down all week, and my husband was kind of doing the diet and kind of not. He wasn’t giving enough veggies or any of the probiotic foods, and they had starches a few times. They have had so many issues this week now that I’m back on duty!! But the diet is so hard, and so time-consuming, I have been praying and praying that God will show us what to eat on a daily basis. We are all blood type O’s, so were already gluten-free and baby is dairy-free, and I think do well on lots of meat/fat and little to no grains. But potatoes and sweet potatoes might be on the horizon. Already added in the lentils, and they LOVE those. Have noticed mood issues too, with feeling a bit lower and more anxious. I know complex carbs help manufacture tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin (before, was following Potatoes Not Prozac nutrition plan to help heal depression). It’s at http://www.radiantrecovery.com. But our allergies and baby’s asthma (doc wanted us to do steroids constantly through spring–no way!!) have led me to desperate measures!!

  23. Natasha says

    It was great to read this and all the comments. I had heard Priscilla’s story before and am lucky to know a few people around who are or have been doing GAPS. I have been peeling away the layers of my health over the last two years and have realized several things: 1) I have a lot of healing to do as allergies and auto-immune issues are rampant in my family, 2) most of my major health issues have popped up after major emotional events (deaths of my grandparents mostly) and I need to heal from those before I can really heal my body, and 3) after trying several different diet modifications, I really have to find what works for me. GAPS has so far worked ok for us. My 7 yo seems to be the most toxic and needs the most healing and of course she’s the most picky and has sensory issues so it’s the hardest for her but it has helped a lot. My 5 yo was always constipated and this diet has helped a lot with her too. I’ve gone from Body Ecology to Bee’s Candida Diet to GAPS and now am finding what combination of all three works best for me. The food combining rules and maintaining a low sugar diet help since this seems to add to my inflammation. But I think what helps the most is remaining gluten free and somewhat dairy free (that’s one of our sensitivities) and making everything ourselves. I’d also recommend that people get tested for food allergies! Many of these diets work because you remove a lot of the common food allergens but then people like me (who react to nightshades) keep doing damage if they don’t remove the foods that are hurting them. It’s hard to follow a GAPS or Paleo or Primal diet when lots of the recipes call for pepper or tomatoes or other nightshades. Once I figured that out, healing progressed better. Also, I think the most important thing is PROBIOTICS! They are not all created equal! The ones with the most kinds of organisms and the most volume of organisms are going to make a much bigger difference to your gut. We take them every day (at NCM’s therapeutic levels) and eat fermented foods as well. We also try to have some kind of broth every day. Those things I think make a huge difference. And now that we have done GAPS for 6 months and the weather is getting cold, we are adding those healthy grains back in: quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice – soaking them and cooking with broth of course. I was craving them and of course my kids have been asking for them for a while now. The weird thing is that I have gained 7 lbs since I started GAPS (I noticed someone else mentioned this too) and I’m hoping that backing off from the diet will help with this. It’s possible also that it’s because this is the first time period in 2 years where I have steadily eaten fruits and honey. I don’t know. I also am an A blood type (which they recommend to be non-dairy and not much meat) so that may factor into it too. I notice that my husband and my 5 yo who are Os actually crave meat. So maybe there is something to that. 🙂

  24. Paula A. says

    Dr Natahsa has an article on her blog about the importance of people listening to their own bodies. It’s worth reading. It’s called One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poison (http://www.doctor-natasha.com/one-mans-meat-another-mans-poison.php) . This is the first paragraph:

    “We are all different; every one of us is a unique individual. So, ‘one size fits all’ never works. That is why we have such a bewildering number of various diets being proposed: high carbohydrate / low carbohydrate, high fat / low fat, high protein / low protein, all raw / all cooked, etc. etc.; and the interesting thing is that every diet suits some people and does not suit others. Why is that? Because ‘it takes two to tango’, which means that there is no such thing as a bad food per se or good food per se without taking into account a very important factor, who is eating it! Not only who is eating it, but what state that person is in.”

  25. Heidi says

    @Heather -“Thanks for sharing this. I emailed you awhile back about your experience with this diet, and your kind reply then, and this post combined, make me even more confident that stopping the diet was the right thing for me. I can relate to much of what you blogged today. A few years before I tried GAPS, I had a similar response to the Body Ecology Diet – my guess is, that was probably due mostly to the food combining rules of that diet.”

    Years ago I also was on BED and felt weak, lethargic, and constantly hungry. I also wonder if the was partly because of the food combining. This led me to a seriously not fun place because I had isolated myself socially to avoid cheating temptations and the constant hungry feeling also messed with me and I feel gave me emotional issues with food. It was years before I stopped feeling like everything I was putting in my mouth was doing me harm. I was also seeing a Naturopath at the time, so was on all kinds of supplementation with no help. I eventually started to focus on Homeopathy and stopped seeing the Naturopath. Then I got pregnant with my first and started adding back “regular” foods.

    Currently, I have been eating more Paleo-ish. I know my adrenals are “shot”, and know I need to get off coffee, but haven’t tried hard enough yet. I made a plan to start weaning today and only had one cup :). My MD is aware of BED and the issues that would make someone seek it out. He knows Donna Gates personally. He has me on DHEA and a concentrated greens product for my adrenals. I have no desire to go back to BED so I am reading and considering GAPS. I feel that it would help to do a short introductory phase and I like the idea of food based probiotics and bone broths. Also, I like the idea of adding foods back one at a time to see what I react to and therefore should avoid. But, I am concerned that I would feel the same way that I did years ago. Plus, I don’t want to give my children complexes about food. I refuse to be militant about what they eat.

    It’s cool to see others facing similar issues. 🙂 I am very glad to read this blog entry and the comments responding to it.

  26. Emma says

    I had a similar experience. Dr. Cowan prescribed GAPS for my 1 & 1/2 year old daughter for eczema. It was very difficult for me to implement, and I even had my mother come stay with me for a while to help. So my mom and I ended up doing the diet also, although not 100%. My mom lost weight and said her digestion never felt better. After several months my daughter’s skin improved.

    I lost weight, but I was constantly hungry. I never felt satisfied. I began losing energy. I began to slip on the diet for my daughter. Then I got pregnant and I just couldn’t keep it up.

    My daughter is now 3 & 1/2. Her skin has returned to the same condition as before. Once I wean my son I would like to try GAPS again for her sake, as it did seem to work for her.

  27. Megan says

    Thank you for this article. I am one of those people. I have been on GAPS for 8 months and do feel like it has healed my gut. I am slowly reintroducing grains because of lack of energy. Great article.

  28. Rachel Murray says

    Wow – lots of interesting comments. I went on GAPS several months ago to heal my digestion and do feel like I am making some great strides with that but now am having MAJOR gallbladder issues. I think another woman above experienced a similar situation. I am having major back pain and other symptoms and had a major gallbladder attack several days again. My energy is low right now. Thinking it might be time to modify. But up until this point I had been feeling well and I do think it helped my digestion!

  29. says

    I, too, had problems with low energy on GAPS. I felt great for about 5 months, then started to feel very tired and have spells of extreme exhaustion. My husband and daughter who were also on GAPS did not have this same problem, so I’m guessing it is related to being a breastfeeding mom. What has helped me work through this is to make sure I eat plenty of carbs, specifically sweet carbs like fruit. This was counterintuitive for me as, in the years previous, I had worked to reduce my sugar consumption. I have to make sure I eat lots of fruit on GAPS. Lentils and white beans don’t seem to work; winter squashes seem to help though.

  30. says

    Wow, this is a great post and an even better discussion. Thanks Kimi for posting your story so honestly and encouraging others to do the same. I am one of the many who is also trying to find the right diet for me that gives me energy for my day without giving me GI issues. I have also had so many days when I am too tired to climb the stairs and it is just so frustrating not knowing how to fix this. I have actually felt great for most of this month and then I woke up this morning (after having insomnia from 4-6 am) feeling like a train wreck and unable to do my morning exercise. Why? Was it something I ate last night? Who knows.

    As an additional thought, I wonder if it is a possibility that the reason some people don’t do well on GAPS is not necessarily because of the lack of grains but because maybe we increase our meat consumption to make up for those calories? Perhaps it could be an effect of eating too much meat than is right for our bodies? I can’t remember my blood type exactly but I know I’m not O. I think I am A something.

  31. says

    Kris Kessler specifically advises that people who experience flagging energy after a good stretch of happy GAPS should add carbs back in, usually with potatoes and white rice. You can find him at The Healthy Skeptic dot com – he’s good. Very balanced, very well-researched. He calls his general style of eating (note that he advises that everyone find what works for them) GAPS/Paleo, or paleo plus broth, or other such things. It works well for us.

  32. Frances says

    I’m so pleased to have found this blog, thank you.

    I’ve been doing GAPS/SCD for about 9 months and my experience is very similar to some of those on here.

    My reason for doing it is ankylosing spondylitis (autoimmune), fibromyalgia and gut dysbiosis, with an assortment of other problems – adrenal fatigue, hypoglycaemia, insomnia, thyroid antibodies.

    To cut a long story short – starch aggravates the AS inflammation, fibromyalgia and dysbiosis, no starch aggravates all the others.

    I find that I feel awful on too much meat and don’t tolerate bone broth very well or any supplements.

    I’m interested in a couple of comments from other people on here about Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet and the Blood Type Diet.

    I think that the PHD makes a lot of sense and it’s what I’m aiming for. Paul explains very clearly why lack of starch, and therefore glucose, causes a number of symptoms.

    I’ve been doing Blood Type Diet for many years and am now doing it’s most recent incarnation, the SWAMI diet, which is much more personalised. What I’ve found is that I can’t eat lots of my so-called Beneficial foods (the starchy ones) but the Avoids and particularly the ones indicated as Inflammatory (for me) seem to be very accurate.

    So I feel that there is a lot to it and it’s a shame that it’s just put out there without any published research to back it up and give it credibility. Also, most people assume that it is based solely on Blood Type, but the Genotype and then the SWAMI are based on many more indicators. So it’s perfectly possible that an A blood type can do well on a non-vegetarian diet. I’m an AB and I have enough meat/poultry/fish to make it possible to crossover with GAPS, albeit in a slightly limited way.

    If there is anyone out there who is in a similar situation to me and has a dietary conundrum to deal with I’d be interested in your experiences/advice.

    • Danielle says

      Hi Frances

      I am a coeliac (autoimmune) and am also suffering with a number of the other symptoms you mentioned including hypoglycemia, gut disbiosis (sic) and malabsorbtion. I also went on the GAPS diet, including intro for 6 weeks and total about 7 months. I lost a lot of weight, felt awful eating all that meat needed to keep me feeling full, and don’t even know if the bone broth was helping me much….

      I had just started the Ayurvedic (Indian medicine) diet which suggests there are different foods appropriate for different personality types.

      Would you believe it that last night I read this message of yours, and then just today I bumped into someone who mentioned the SWAMI diet and blood type diets to me. I am type A but know nothing about either of these diets. I feel this is too much of a coicidence and perhaps it is a sign? I would LOVE it if you could private message me at http://www.minimusica.danni@gmail.com and we could discuss this further.

  33. Christina says

    Dr Cowan told me to incorporate sweet potatoes and soaked 24 hr brown rice into my son’s (22mo) GAPS diet because he is thin and so young. He assured me he would still heal because he is so young. We’ve been at it for about 2 months without doing intro and his bowels are opening more than ever except when I try dairy or something new that irritates him. He has been constipated his whole life practically except when he was BF for 1 short month.

    I barely use the SP and have used BR once because I know it messes me up and is difficult for me to digest so why would it not bother him?? I notice the morning after SP fried in lard for dinner he is clumsy, moody, and more difficult than usual (just like before GAPS). I would love to bend the rules, but I think they’re there for a reason.

    I am considering the stomach acid supplementation just need to figure out what’s appropriate for his age group. Otherwise I am gaining weight on GAPS and am miserable just because of that! I suspect the same as all of you – adrenals, thyroid, etc etc. The past 6 months I have been relying on melatonin to keep me asleep if that isn’t a clue!

    I gave up most dairy and grains with the exception of a once a week sprouted tortilla pizza and raw aged manchego sheep cheese when I was pregnant and did GREAT! I had a lot of energy and was juicing A LOT! I also limited my protein intake because too much wears me out. I ate a lot of veggies and fruit and the sheep cheese. Dinner was always meat and veg.

    When i discovered NT and soaking grains and when my son started eating more adult like food it all went down hill for me and him because I thought more raw milk and grains would fatten him up and I’d be OK eating soaked grains. Sorry to say it fattened me up and made me bloated, gassy, and just plain miserable. Im sure it also irritated his underlying compromised gut!

    Sorry to be all over the place, but Im just wondering why I don’t feel the vitality I felt when I was on my semi-restricted pregnancy diet? I want to say I can make exceptions but everyone tells me you’ll be feeding pathogens if you do.

  34. John Temes says

    I know people who did not heal on the GAPS diet but who went to a website called healingnaturallybybee.com and after starting a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet that removes all grains, dairy, sugars, starches, got remarkably better. They came to that diet after not improving on the GAPS. The Bee diet has no grains at all. But it has high good fats (coconut oil, butter, olive oil, fats from meats) which your body needs.

  35. Emily May says

    I’ve done the GAPS intro diet four times, and it’s worked with different degrees of success. I have ulcerative colitis, and I usually begin the diet when I’m having a serious flare and have hit the bottom, so it’s hard for me to tell sometimes which symptoms are from GAPS and die-off and which are from my pre-existing severe digestive conditions and adrenal fatigue. I’m currently on the intro diet again and started it about two weeks ago. I was barely able to get out of bed, because I was having serious low blood sugar problems. I went to see my herbalist and my acupuncturist, and they both recommended that I try eating protein right away in the morning, before doing anything else. I’ve been having a chicken thigh and soup as soon as I wake up, and it helped SO MUCH. I also skipped to the next phase of the intro diet and started adding in egg yolks, etc, and I’m beginning to feel better.

    The thing that I feel is seldom addressed about the GAPS diet is the emotional side of it. Let’s be real, it is really freaking hard to go on a homemade soup diet. For one thing, if you are already really sick and have no caretaker, just making the food is a full-time job. I’ve found that the GAPS diet is successful for me when I am staying at home in bed all the time, but totally bombs if I’m even working part-time. This is because of the challenge of making all the food in addition to having it available when you need it, because you can’t grab even a “healthy” snack anywhere else in the early phases of the diet. Also, I have really low energy from my existing disease, die-off, and low blood sugar, and it’s just impossible to work when you feel that ill. I either end up dropping the diet or dropping the job.

    Beyond the logistics, the GAPS diet is emotionally trying. I feel that part of why I feel so low during the intro diet is because I am forced to feel every single one of my emotions. This isn’t a bad thing, but let’s face it, in our culture, we are not used to it! Even those of us with healthy diets and conscientious lifestyles use food as an emotional comfort, which isn’t necessarily bad. When you take away the cup of coffee, heck, even the piece of fruit, any little stress you were soothing comes up to the surface and you have no choice but to sit with it. Being with our stress, anxiety, depression, and despair is a really valuable thing to learn how to do, but it is not easy, especially, again, when you are also working.

    I know a lot of the folks who do GAPS do it as a family, but I am a one-woman show. I find GAPS to be really lonely. Think of all the social rituals that go with food – sharing a meal, contributing to a potluck, celebrating with birthday cake, etc. These kinds of events cause me stress and feelings of isolation now (even when I’m not on GAPS diet, I have some pretty prohibitive food allergies).

    I don’t mean all of this to sound like harsh critique, because I do like the GAPS diet. It definitely works for me, in certain circumstances. It’s worthwhile enough that I keep coming back to it; to be frank, it’s the only thing that when done right is certain to help me. But it’s slow, and it has to be at the epicenter of your life. I wanted to address my emotional experience, because I feel like it is fundamental to what makes GAPS so hard to do successfully, and I haven’t seen much written about it.

  36. says

    Interesting post. For us, GAPS saved a life. We have one of the most extreme GAPS situations in our home. I think it is important to remember that GAPS is a *healing* diet, yet some may have to stay on it indefinitely (which is fine because it meats all nutritional needs). Also, it is meant to be individualized. Each person progresses through stages according to their own healing and body needs, and Dr. NCM is very clear on that. If you need more carbs – then eat them! And if you have gotten to the point that you can eat grains and feel good, then hallelujah it worked!

  37. Danielle says

    Hi

    I just wanted to say that the extract report from the coeliac patient who set out how GAPs didn’t work for her could have been my exact case! I went on the intro diet for 8 weeks, and the strict GAPS for 6 months. I started losing LOTS of weight, lots of energy and was feeling really blah and depressed. My menstrual cycle also went out of wack. I am now back on basmati rice and already feeling a bit better. In my case, the cure was worse than the disease, at least mentally and strength wise, although my gut symptoms seem better. Not a good trade off for me. I recently found out about Ayurvedic diet and medicine which suggests different diets for different personality types. According to my type, I should not be eating meat much at all, and definitely no red meat. I suspect that my body type was just not tolerating or digesting all the red meat on the GAPS diet that I was consuming to try to stay full (man cannot live on veggies alone, surely). I must admit that because of my multiple food allergies, I wasnt able to consume legumes, nuts, honey, fruit or some veg such as carrots either so I was quite limited….

  38. Karen says

    I am just starting on Gaps (and haven’t even got the book yet) but the fatigue you describe sounds exactly like a potassium deficiency. If you are having too much salt in your soup the vegetable juice will not be enough to balance this out. The solution could be less salt and more potassium rich vegetable juice.

    I don’t know if prunes are okay on GAPS but they are a great source of potassium as are kiwi fruit and bananas.

  39. Karen says

    I am just starting on Gaps (and haven’t even got the book yet) but to me the fatigue you describe sounds exactly like a potassium deficiency. If you are having too much salt in your soup the vegetable juice may not be enough to balance this out. The solution could be less salt and more potassium rich vegetable juice.

    I don’t know if prunes are okay on GAPS but they are a great source of potassium as are kiwi fruit and bananas.

  40. jack says

    It is interesting to read all these comments. Gaps hasn’t been easy for myself. Personally I put tiredness down to the body healing, so much more energy is being used to heal the organs and in balancing the functioning systems and hormones, that energy is lacking elsewhere. Also maybe you are still starving pathogens, and still detoxing so this will cause tiredness. If you have had a severe overgrowth of bacteria then you will feel tired as you starve them, as toxins released when they die will make you feel tired and eating starches will feed these, and give you a boost.
    Also the liver is doing a huge amount of work detoxing which would mean low liver energy, therefore low energy and maybe not breaking down fats properly could also mean you are not getting enough nutrients. I found eating sauerkraut before a meal really helped. And I felt much more full after.
    I think weight gain can also be to do with too much fluid retention, the body storing fluid in the tissues and digestion not being good enough. Lymphatic system may need a little help. With coffee enemas, cold shower, dry brushing and slow introduction of probiotics.
    Unfortunately a lot of patience is needed. And if you want to be clear of the problems then it can be a rough ride and its great int hat you learn so much about yourself in the time. However, if it’s too much and you think you are better off not doing the diet then maybe its not worth doing it, only you can decide. Personally I want to give my body the best chance in recovery after abusing it for so many years, and I think its amazing to now be tuned into what my body wants. I think it is only natural to look for an easy way out or an excuse to not do something that is very difficult, and google is terrible for helping you to find those excuses. But sometimes you need to find your own balance and tailor it to yourself, really read her book and FAQ’s properly , even ones that don’t apply to you because you may find answers in them, and sometimes maybe you need to pull back so it doesn’t cause you too much discomfort. I do think fats are crucial though in helping the body and mind to relax, and die off really can have an effect on the emotions. Emotions maybe the only symptom you have from die off. But also look around you see what else could be affecting you. Could even be a lack of sunlight or fresh air or exercise.
    I do recommend seeking alternative treatments whilst following the gaps diet to seek structural help. Someone who is has structural problems, will have more of a struggle as the body will be using a lot of energy to fight gravity and to function properly. Body balance will help balance the body bring back some homeostasis and allow energy to be used elsewhere for healing. Personally I think treatments that will balance cranio-sacral, visceral, and meridians are best.
    I see gaps as you giving your body a voice, so yes it is very important to look into why you may feel so down or tired, but don’t forget you have to take into account where the energy may be going.

  41. Maria Minno says

    I got the tired thing from the GAPS diet, also. However, taking the homeopathic Stropanthus which contains the adrenal hormone ouabain stopped all that, and gave me plenty of energy. Even if you are able to digest fats, you may not be able to metabolize them without this hormone. It seems as though people who have experienced a stress crisis have often lost the ability to produce this hormone. Taking the homeopathic seemed to revive production in me. At first I’d get really tired when I stopped taking it, then after a few months I hardly needed to take it at all, but I’m sure everyone is different in their dose needs. My friend who started when I did and quit when I did and started again because it helped so much is still taking it months later, but I think being vegan and very overworked may have been even worse for her adrenals than mercury poisoning was for mine.

  42. Maria Minno says

    It was Dr. Cowan who recommended the ouabain, and my friend did research and found the homeopathic version of Stropanthus, which is what Dr. Cowan now uses in his practice. If you look at the very interesting scientific literature on the Internet that is accessible, some of it makes Strophanthus sound very deadly, but I believe it’s very safe in homeopathic doses. It’s hard to get just one or two drops out of the bottle, and I usually end up taking a lot more than I meant to with no bad results yet.

  43. sarah UK says

    just before i found GAPS i found out i had anemia i am weak and very underweight, ive had severe allergies to food, electricity,chemicals-you name it…so ive been slowly going downhill, at times accelerated by taking antibiotics or stress etc, i found Dr Mcbride on you tube a week ago, i listened carefully and started the diet about 5-6 days ago, for a couple of years ive had bad diarrhea, poor absorption of food, felt generally low until i asked my doctor to run loads of blood tests where she found my b12 anemia problem, anyway i started GAPS-i didnt do the probiotics as i thought it would be shock enough to change my already limited diet, i had headaches for two days, my stomach stopped hurting, diarrhea stopped-in fact it went to the opposite, i found it hard to eat alot as my diet is limited which worried me, then i started to get heart palpitations by day three, now before you start panicking i want to say there are other considerations-i moved on day one of the diet so was very stressed-i had already been stressed badly as my old house had no heating, a rodent problem and the wiring caught fire so by the time i left i felt ill with stress which probably hasnt helped, to add i’ve had a bad 6 months, been ill every month since an operation and blood transfusion, miscarried a baby(i’m 39 it was my first) had post natal depression which i got no help with…etc etc so thats just some of the stuff i’ve had on my mind of course i have gut dysbiosis and an ulcer!!!, anyway back to the palpitations, i had a couple the first day which i ignored, then i awoke the next morning like i was having a heart attack to be honest , my mother came in and found me heart beating very strongly/missing and changing beats-to say it was uncomfortable was an understatement, it was terrifying but i tried to keep calm-the ambulance came and eventually it slowed and regulated, while i was in hospital i had lots more blood tests-my anemia had gone!!!!! the doctor wanted to know about the diet as she couldnt believe i had cured it in about 4-5 days, it was bad before i started the diet as i got so clumsy-hence falling down the stairs, my eyesight was not as good as before and i had pins and needles in my fingers and toes, not to mention they were always cold-now-within a week i have none of these symptoms…the unfortunate part is the palpitations otherwise the diet is nothing short of a miracle, i dont want people to think the diet definitely caused it-it is possible as it was a big change, but also i am intolerant to chemicals from the farm i am staying on so it may well be my body trying to get rid of anything i had breathed in as well as coping with a change in food…i just wanted to say i’m not even a week in and i have many positives to say…i have now been in touch with a trained GAPS practitioner who i am going to see as i feel i need proper regular guidance, i will reblog on here again if symptoms change or i get any other interesting symptoms…sorry if ive scared anyone, but Dr Mcbride does say if you have palpitations get help immediately-when they got too much i did, i would think it is rare but you have to remember i have been ill a very long time, allergic a very long time like many people with chronic illness it goes on and on, years of pain is a terrible thing i understand it only too well, i believe i have found Dr Mcbrides work for a reason, i have suffered so much and this is the first thing ever to have faded my painful symptoms so to me she is an angel and a genius…i pray for wellness for myself, all of you and the world as we all need healing…thanks to this wonderful Dr it may now be possible for many people.

  44. says

    Firstly I would like to say great work starting this conversation! It’s wonderful that this information is so readily available for all to find, particularly the GAPS information. We are in a position in this world where we must take responsibility for our own education regarding health because we are subject to an extraordinary amount of misinformation thanks to our commercial and convenience driven society. The availability of information such as it is has led to many people embarking on the GAPS protocol without sufficient professional guidance. I have seen clients in my own clinic who have less than outstanding results on the GAPS protocol who have needed support and guidance and understanding as to why they are feeling as they are feeling. My point is that there are health professionals who have quality training and understandings of the workings of the body and this needs to be remembered when making dramatic changes that will alter the workings of the body. It takes many years to gain that training and many years more to understand and learn more about what really matters. I believe there is no professional health training that hits the mark, it is up to proactive individuals who undertake their own further training over many more years who can truly claim to understand how the body works. There will always be underlying reasons for feeling poorly and these give us clues as to what is needing addressing. I would also like to ad that the GAPS protocol is the worst diet for a cancer patient as the foods used to nourish and heal will also feed the cancer!

  45. aqua says

    ‘GAPS people’ ‘Dr. Natasha saw the need for an army of GAPS practitioners ‘

    These statements incapsulates my problem with GAPS and Sally Fallon et all.
    Its not really about the ‘diet’ -alot of it is traditional home cooking and common sense, however their approach, organisation and attitudes I can only describe as at best overenthusiastic at worst ,cultlike.

    Some of the supplements are untested at best and potentially dangerous and or exploitative-Fermented Cod liver oil?? Butter oil ? Try and find any genuine proper research that isnt anecdotal/or lovely story shrouded in mists of time- And have you seen the prices? Fermented fish oil! Potential for food poisoning, no specific protocol for how its made, The maker doesnt even know its chemical composition-butter oil -is what exactly? -according to the seller its not ghee/clarified butter-but couldnt or wouldnt answer what or how it was specifically made-I estimated there is roughly a pat of butter per bottle for which you pay £34!!

    It doesnt matter whether its Vegan or Raw foods or Macrobiotic or Paeleo or GAPs its ALL emotive and faddish insofar as our extreme emotional reaction to food/nuturing/mother love is usurping the fundamental issues. We could stop buying and eating junk/Processed food, put pressure on the goverment to clean up our food supplies, ditto Supermarkets- eat less -dont view food as comfort or reward- and listen to our bodies.

    Anyone who has been on the net researching these issues cannot but fail to notice the extreme almost violent emotionalism the issue of diet generates and ‘GAPS people’ being particulary assertive -In America it seems very popular with Gun toting republican ‘Christians’, perhaps because it reminds them of the frontier days?
    And I cant help notice that none of the practitioners look especially healthy, Dr Natasha certainly doesnt.

  46. april says

    I have a question regarding GAPS. Do you think I can still heal my gut without the use of bone broths? I ask this because I have recently become intolerant of them (I get terrible bloating, nausea, and diarrhea as soon as I eat them). I was on the diet for 2 months and eating broth for 2 meals/day, and then I became very intolerant. I believe it may be a histamine reaction.
    I am still grain/starch/sugar-free but am no longer able to eat the broths. Any insight into what I can do heal even though bone broths are out for now?

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