GAPS: T-1 week

by gidget on March 5, 2013

in family life,more yummy recipes

Farmer's market bounty: CA-raised grass-fed/finished meat, grapes, pluots, kiwi, almond butter, & chamomile mint tea for Gigi. Score! (

So it’s official, we are starting the GAPS diet in one week. I thought it would be nice to give a “concise” overview of what we’re doing and why since lots of people are curious. I have a lot to learn, but this is where I’m at with it so far.

What is GAPS?

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. The diet consists of two parts, the Intro and the Full GAPS diet. The Intro is an intense elimination diet that progresses through several stages. We are starting on the Full diet. The simplest way I would describe it is no grains, no sugars, lots of meat, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, raw dairy and probiotics.


The idea is that when the gut flora is out of balance, the bad bacteria can take over and essentially bore holes in the gut lining, leaking toxins out into the body which can effect the body psychologically (and physically). The diet aims to heal and seal the gut. It is not a forever diet (or rather, it doesn’t have to be). Once the gut is healed, the diet can be modified, although ideally a patient would never go back to a Standard American Diet of processed foods and white flours/sugars.

Our story begins


For a couple of years now we’ve been challenged by Gigi’s behavior. I have alluded to this before. She doesn’t have any particular diagnosis, and many of her struggles just stem from being a kid and being a sinner. We tried going gluten-free– while we definitely we noticed when we added gluten back in that things got worse, our day-to-day experience being GF wasn’t that drastically different.

Then a couple of months ago I started noticing fatigue being an issue for Gigi. At first I just thought it was normal kid behavior, especially as she was adjusting to being a kindergartener.

She currently goes to a charter school where she has several different teachers over the course of her two full days of school a week. More than oneĀ of them mentioned to me that she seemed tired in class. I was called more than once to pick her up because she just could not pull herself together (either emotionally or just by being physically over-tired).

She is always tired in the afternoons, but on some days, even after a full night’s sleep, she can barely sit up to do schoolwork because she’s so tired, even before lunchtime.

So I called her pediatrician. We really like him, and have a good rapport with him but when I asked about getting her tested for anemia or some other issue, he didn’t seem too concerned. But a mama knows her kid, and I could tell all wasn’t totally right with her.

Finally, I decided to see a nutritionist that a friend had recommended to me a long time ago. After an extensive questionnaire and then meeting with Gigi and me and talking through Gigi’s history (one red flag was how constipated she was as a baby after I began feeding her standard American baby solids starting with rice cereal {which I cringe at now}; she’s also had bouts of minor eczema), she recommended GAPS for Gigi.

Gigi's first primal/lacto-paleo lunch: natural beef jerky, dried pineapple/freeze-dried banana/raw sunflower seeds, cheddar cheese, local almond butter and fruit spread in a bowl, grapes & cherry tomatoes. Guess I need more veggie ideas!

Our plan

Our nutritionist recommended we start on the Full GAPS diet rather than the intro because of Gigi’s history of constipation primarily. I think this will be easier because the allowed food list is pretty doable compared to the Intro. But it’s still relatively extreme, especially compared to the Standard American Diet.

I have a lot of friends who eat paleo, and several who are doing the Whole30 challenge. Our diet, or eating plan, as I’m going to be calling it so as not to get strange looks from other moms who think I have my 5-year old on a “diet,” will be basically paleo, but with raw dairy, and lots of bone broth (ie drinking chicken broth with meals), and probiotics. I will embark on the strange experiment of making sauerkraut for one thing, and maybe other lacto-fermented vegetables eventually.

We will be doing GAPS as a family for the most part. I will not be giving up my swiss-water-processed decaf espresso or chocolate, although I will try to choose soy lecithin-free, good dark chocolate when I indulge. :) I’m sure I will still occasionally have sprouted bread to make the little ones AB & J and I won’t be as strict with them, or David and myself as I will be with Gigi. Basically whatever we do with GAPS will help us even if we aren’t technically all GAPS patients.

We live a life in community, so one my biggest concern is dealing with social situations. But I will be getting a thermos so we can bring along broth or soup for Gigi, and do the best we can. One thing my nutritionist made clear was that “cheating” won’t take us back to square one, but we will notice its effects.

The great thing is that our wellness office is doing monthly GAPS support meetings so I will be able to ask a lot of questions and get connected with others doing it. I’m also in a local real food group on Facebook where some other members are venturing down the same path.

The goal

We are not expecting a miracle cure from this, like suddenly Gigi will be a perfected being, no longer a sinner. ;) No, we simply want to level the playing field for her.

We’ve already started adding broth into her diet and cutting down on the grains and sugars she eats (although not strictly yet). Then, last Sunday she had cookies and Kool-Aid at church and all afternoon she was fidgety and had a harder time than usual with her self-control.

The ugly truth is that we notice the food we eat affecting her little body. We want to give her the opportunities to make good choices, and if changing the way we eat for a time will help with that, then I am excited to get started. I think it will be a good chance for us to experience the discipline of making certain food choices as well.

I’m collecting GAPS-friendly recipes on Pinterest and would love more– please share if you have any!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

jen March 6, 2013 at 5:21 am

My daughter had intense constipation as a baby/toddler and a wild temper. We started “clean eating” Oct. 2011 and over time her gut seemed to heal and she had been much more open to us helping her control her temper. I truly believe food can do amazing and horrible things!
Good luck!


Allie Zirkle March 6, 2013 at 8:21 am

I’m so excited for your family to embark together. I started the #whole30 by myself and since my husband has joined. Hannah will join if my husband makes it 2 weeks. Yay! I’m amazed, daily, how much better I feel. I can only imagine how the GAPs will help Gigi! My boys cannot have red food dye or they experience similar issues. Constipation, excema, irratic behavior, etc. Isn’t it funny how we work so hard to feed our babes real food and then it turns out we need to step up our game? I’m excited to hear how this works for Gigi and the family!


gidget March 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Thanks for the encouragement! I’ll do updates here when I can. :)


annie March 6, 2013 at 10:09 am

Love it! HOpe it helps:) I could stand to be a little more strict with myself and paleo;) The sugar, not the bread is the one that gets me!!


gidget March 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Both for me, but yeah, probably sugar more. At least raw honey is acceptable. I can totally make ice cream with raw milk/cream & honey. {phew!}


Elizabeth March 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

Totally unsolicited advice here, and I debated about posting this, but what you discribe sounds like it could be sensory issues. I highly reccomend reading Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske. Most peds don’t understand sensory issues. We only got help for our daughter because we have a friend who works in a pediatric OT/PT clinic that sees children with sensory issues and she reccomended having our daughter evaluated. Changes in diet can also help with sensory issues.


gidget March 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Thanks for the book rec. It’s funny, I read a book called The Explosive Child and he referenced sensory issues. I did some googling and didn’t feel it totally applied to Gigi but there were definitely some similarities. Might be worth looking into again more… thanks again!


J March 24, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I agree with the possible sensory issues. My 5 year old son has very similar behaviors. We had difficulty getting anywhere so I embarked on self-education in occupational therapy. We made significant progress and then finally (love insurance) saw an OT. She felt like everything we were already doing was what she would recommend. BUT I still have a nagging feeling that there is something more. I really believe it is diet based but am alrady so weary from everything that I can’t bring myself to learn one more thing. Also, I’m think I’m subconsciously afraid that it won’t work and then what? So looking forward to following your journey and hopefully finding strength to begin my own.


jenny denysenko March 7, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Hey Nicole
Dave is coming up on a year of G.A.P.S also we love making sauerkaraut and sourdough starter is our current thing, we have not done GAPS with our children paleo of sorts. good luck to you


gidget March 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm

That’s so cool! I had no idea. David was trying to get a hold of him but I guess Dave’s phone wasn’t working. miss you guys!


Tiffany March 8, 2013 at 10:37 am


We have been on the GAPS diet for about 6 months now and have been feeling much better. There are a lot of great blogger/cooks out there coming up with some very tasty recipes that are GAPS friendly. Two of our favorite treats are from Comfy Belly blog. Their banana bread is excellent (even better than when made with wheat flour) and so is their whoopie pies.

I look forward to hearing your progress.


gidget March 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Thanks so much for the recipes ideas- I’ll check out that blog!


Emma March 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Nicole you are an incredible mother and someone I admire so much.

Thanks for your honesty and for sharing this journey with us (all the way over here), we will be praying for swift and amazing results.

Our latest medical news was that C needs glasses! She is struggling a little with the idea so I might tell her that her friend Gigi is starting something new with different foods!


gidget March 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

oh, thank you for your sweet words prayers! Cassia looks so adorable in her glasses; I hope she’s warmed up to the idea. Just tell her (along with Gigi’s food journey) that I used to wear fake glasses just because I love glasses so much! ;)


Aimee @ Simple Bites March 29, 2013 at 3:44 am

So how has it been going, friend? Looking forward to hearing about your first month on GAPS and hoping little GiGi is doing well. xo
Aimee @ Simple Bites recently posted..Spring harvest: what we’re making with our maple syrup


Kamille@Redeeming_table April 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Nicole–I totally get this. My oldest, Veronica has big emotional meltdowns and I need to get back on the strictness of what she can and cannot have. I have been really good about eliminating gluten. I don’t buy much of anything that is processed, it’s more if we are at someone’s house or grandparents and I’m not prepared for it. I look forward to reading more about your family’s journey.

Kamille@Redeeming_table recently posted..The Family Dinner Table (Practices of Eating)


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 1 trackback }