GAPS-Introduction-Diet

How to *Thrive* on the GAPS INTRODUCTION Diet

Megan Healing Diets, Health & Nutrition 51 Comments

We all know by now that it’s about the journey, right?  But when it comes to healing one does want to arrive.

Ironically, although we are people who like to make progress, to strain forward, to hurry to the finish line, we can not operate on our own time frame when it comes to healing. We can not arrive if we don’t go by the right paths.  I have learned the hard way that to hurry is actually to slow one’s progress.  To stop and eat the metaphorical lollipops that grow by the way will send you back to the “Start” square in the game.

Arriving for me will look like being symptom-free, being able to maintain a whole, slow-food diet without omitting many foods due to their toxic effects.

Thankfully, the most healing diets also keep me satisfied!  I am grateful.  But what I didn’t realize until recently, when I had certain persistent symptoms that just wouldn’t go away, is that I passed through the GAPS Introduction Diet too quickly.

The GAPS Introduction Diet is among the very strictest of the healing diets, it specifying the greatest quantity of  foods to avoid, exact specifications of what foods to eat, and how they need to be prepared… but to great purpose!

The originator of this diet is a British medical doctor, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The purpose of the GAPS diet is to heal a condition called Leaky Gut and Pathogen Overgrowth, more often diagnosed by naturopaths, but occasionally by medical doctors too.  By starving ones’ pathogens from all sugars and starches and healing the mucosal lining of the gut, largely with bone broths, the goal is to restore one’s proper flora balance and also to heal whatever diseases may have resulted: autoimmune diseases, including diabetes and asthma, ADD, ADHD, IBS, food allergies as well as many others.

While the  Full GAPS Diet consists of eating only homemade whole foods, and eating a starch and sugar-free diet without exception, the Introduction Diet starts out with the simplest healing menu possible: bone broth soups made with well-cooked veggies and slow-simmered meat, adding in fermented veggies and a few other gentle foods over time.  That’s all.  Cheating sabotages the process.

This is a diet for the sick person determined to get well.  It works; but it’s work.

Dr. Natasha’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and cookbook, are worth owning if this is the right path for you or someone in your family.  The diet can be quite a challenge for most people. But I can say from experience that it is effective and in my opinion worth the sacrifices required.  The GAPS Diet website is also excellent and, as I found out recently, more updated than her book, on supplements and products that can help.

After 3 years, that have flown by relatively quickly, I  recently put my whole family back on the GAPS Introduction Diet. Even my husband opted in. The kids heard the news with some initial trepidation.  A bit of the fight or flight instinct kicked in; but amazingly, they were truly soothed by the truth: we can be healed more quickly by going back to do what we should have done in the beginning.

I wish that certain subtle sentences and perhaps a single paragraph in Dr. Natasha’s guiding book could have been accentuated further. These sentences, I now see, need to be underlined and emboldened for the naïve and weak, namely me!  She does emphasize other important principles more than once, like not introducing dairy or probiotics too quickly.  Ultimately, I missed it.  Perhaps back then I wanted to miss it because it was so hard.  Or, more than likely, it is just a book chalk-full of content.  And it is hard to absorb the importance of everything.  Our minds naturally fall on certain details that we follow through on well.  Yet we have to reread a long book many times to catch all of the important details.

Like most families starting out on this diet, the changes felt very dramatic to us, years ago when we first attempted them. I was weak in bed for two weeks with “die off” and not sure if my body needed raw vegetables and the living enzymes therein to regain its strength. In retrospect, in rereading this canon of health and healing, I see what I somehow missed on that first reading.

Dr. Natasha says on pages 143-144,

People with food allergies and intolerances should go through the Introduction Diet in order to heal and seal their gut lining…From my clinical experience, it is best to concentrate on healing the gut wall with the Introduction Diet…Those without serious digestive problems and food intolerances can move through the Introduction Diet quite quickly…However, …the Introduction Diet will give you the best chance to optimize the healing process in the gut and the rest of the body. I see cases where skipping the Introduction Diet leads to long-term, lingering problems, difficult to deal with.

That was me. Autoimmune diseases, food allergies, a daughter with asthma. I realize now that we should have stayed on the Introduction Diet for much longer, not been in such a hurry to progress to the Full GAPS Diet.

The Full GAPS Diet somehow has a feeling of progress about it. You get to eat more foods, feel more freedom, possibly experience less die-off. It felt, at the time, like our unspoken goal as a family was to get off the Intro. Diet. Those first couple of weeks I remember as though in a grey fog, walking around in a blur of fatty soup broth, trying to keep up the morale of kids who did not feel welcomed to a new day by a big mug of turkey back broth with a ¼ inch of fat hanging out on the top.  Poor kiddos! Their mama didn’t yet know how to make GREAT soups and we were just following “orders.”

Dr. Natasha began to be referred to in derogatory terms as “she” and “her,” as in, “Why does she say we have to drink this broth every morning?” We all knew who “she” was and I did my best to vindicate this same woman whom I counted as a hero (and still do), the woman I thought should win some international award for her contributions and insights in the world of health and healing.

Now, three years later, we really know the ropes of the Full GAPS Diet. But in having a friend begin the diet who I thought had a more revised and updated version of the GAPS book, I have recurred to chapters again and again recently, some of which I hadn’t looked at in months or years. This time, within days of rediscovering Dr. Natasha’s exhortations regarding the Intro. Diet, I had gently persuaded our kids to walk the tightrope once again with me. They didn’t really have a choice because I am committed to healing them; but having them understand the big picture makes them motivated and more cheerful. We’re on the same tightrope; so if they rebel too violently we’ll all fall off.

It’s my job this go round to make the soups DELICIOUS! The kids and my husband have remarked so many times that they don’t even feel like we’re on the Intro. Diet when I serve them a meal. The soups now taste so good, and they are so satisfying, that we are all prospering. They do still have moments of missing certain foods, and I feel momentary attractions to non-GAPS foods when I’m working at our healthy ice cream shops and surrounded by beautiful sweets and savories. But when I am at home I never want for more. And my attraction to beautiful ice cream and frozen yogurt is mild enough to not be a craving, as it was the first time we were on the Intro. Diet.

Given that we have this newfound strength and empowerment on the most stringent part of the diet, I am writing to save you time. Be staunch the first go round. Stay on the Intro. Diet longer.

The way the diet is orchestrated is that even on the Introduction Diet there are different stages of progression. Stay with just grass-fed meat, slow cooked in bone broth, with soft-cooked veggies for weeks, if not longer. This is your chance to have dramatic healing take place! The first foods are utterly gentle. You are, thus, giving your body a real break from the starches and scratchy surfaces that have worn it down for so long.

  • Add in raw egg yolks for what Dr. Natasha says amounts to the nutritional power, purity, and easy digestion of mother’s milk.
  • After raw yolks, whole, soft poached eggs can be added, then avocado and eventually the Intro. Diet is lenient enough, while still being gentle and healing, to allow for small pancakes made from sprouted nuts, winter squash, and grass-fed eggs, cooked in lavish amounts of rendered animal fat.
  • Ghee, probiotic juice from fermented veggies, and ginger tea are also healthful elements.
  • Eventually salads are added in, fully cultured dairy for some who can tolerate it, more uniquely made baked goods, and casseroles.

All on the Introduction Diet! Party on, man! Well, maybe not quite, but that’s pretty good. Plenty of progression and variety if you need to stay on the Introduction Diet for a while.

Really, why we rushed beyond those options is hard to remember now. Because currently we feel satisfied. But back then we were coming off of sugar addictions for the first time ever and the switch must have been stark, with false notions of deprivation, and temptation appearing like mirages in our way. It was the juxtaposition of one life to the next that made it so hard. Whereas now the contrast is minimal. We are excited to see the drama of healing more rapidly unfold. And we love our soups!

Where are you coming from? Are you hooked on sugar, processed food, bread, or any other common component of the SAD, (Standard American Diet)? If so, I’ve been there, albeit with a “healthy” twist. (I never liked soda or most processed foods.) So any pep talk from me is sobered by my awareness of how hard that initial transition is.

What was missing in my initial journey was the bold faced, italicized, underlined font of this fact: do not hurry through the Introduction Diet!

GAPS-Introduction-Diet

Find the fun in it somewhere. Enjoy all the fat. Learn to like fat, if you don’t already. Hang out. Heal. If you move forward too quickly, the process will take A LOT longer in the end. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Learn to make great soup. Introduce the next stage s-l-o-w-l-y. Feel joy about what you’re accomplishing. Give yourself permission to not exercise if you are tired. (Adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues often compound leaky gut symptoms, leaving many of us with little strength. They’ll be plenty of time to be in great shape when you’re not drawing on your body’s stores. Focus now on getting your “core” healthy again.) This is a rare moment in your life when you are doing dramatic healing that not even most medical doctors believe is possible. You are part of the great frontier. Speckled all over the map there are individuals just like you, eating soup at their tables, persevering, and sealing up their diseased bodies. There’s a great big community of courageous individuals who are learning to love fat, soup, bone broth, well-cooked veggies, fermented veggie juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and cod liver oil alongside you. Some were gourmets; some were junk food addicts. All must deep down have hope and optimism, a belief that others have healed before us, and we are the next in line to heal. It will take years; but don’t be scared! Like my midwife said to me, before the birth of our first child, just take one contraction at a time. Don’t get worried about the ones to come. Take one day at a time. Focus on joy and quality healing today.

I can tell you from experience how quickly the time goes by. Also, don’t ever cheat. It only sets you back and makes things harder. Stay home and eat soup. Focus. Heal. And when you’re ready, yes, the Full GAPS Diet awaits you and after that, the Weston A. Price or Paleo diets will help you to happily maintain your progress. But in the meantime, find what you love among the Intro. Diet options and make really good broth.

Well, this article would be sorely lacking if I didn’t next pass along to you some of my favorite tips for great bone broth and for great soups! I have outlined a week+ of soups below, ideas for ingredients and methods. They aren’t full-length recipes. But they are ideas for excellence in regard to the textures and flavors of your soups. They are all completely “legal” ideas! And there are plenty of Low-FODMAP veggie options for those of you with that added restriction.  (See my prior article on this issue.)

Onions are optional in all of the following recipes.  They are great for healing with lovely bioflavonoids that benefit the immune and digestive systems; but they are not a Low-FODMAP food.  So I have had to remove them from our diet, (3 out of 5 of us react), and have been surprised and pleased how much easier it is to do without them than I had expected.  Other FODMAP veggies to avoid if you have bloating or other IBS symptoms are beets, cabbage, cauliflower, and green beans.  So in some of the recipes below I have focused more on safe FODMAP veggies like carrots, bok choy, zucchini, eggplant, greens, and winter squash.  Also, wonderfully, the greens of green onions are FODMAP-free and can be substituted in for yellow onions.  (Just share the green onions’ whites with a friend!)

Soup Ideas-

  1. Grate beets and simmer them in bone broth (recipe follows); poach venison steak, cooking it only to medium rare and then cube or slice it prettily; also slow-simmer the beet greens with onions, cool them, and puree them; combine the thick puree with the grated beets for a very thick soup overall; serve the steak fanned out on top.
  2. Make beef meatballs, combining the raw meat with dried basil, white pepper, and sea salt.  Add into the broth that is poaching the meatballs the flesh of baked winter squash and fresh spinach, gently simmering the three together in the broth; puree some of the veggies so the broth is thicker but also leave lots of individual spinach leaves and chunks of satisfying squash.
  3. Poach whole chicken legs in bone broth; add the remains of a winter squash from a prior meal, thyme, and lots of small-cut cauliflower; keep this soup broth-y but full of small cauliflower and a bit of squash so it has creamy components.
  4. Poach shrimp, salmon, white fish, or pork meatballs in Cilantro Broth (recipe follows), with fresh ginger, bok choy, julienned carrots, diagonally cut zucchini, green onions, and garlic; add raw egg yolk or poached whole eggs when you have progressed to the second stage of the Introduction Diet.  For Cilantro Broth, puree warm, not hot, broth with a big handful of the fresh herb, fresh ginger, to taste, and optional garlic.  Add it to the soup and heat it gently.
    photo-189

    You can see I have poured the puree in separately, keeping some of the hot broth in a separate pot during the soup prep. process. The puree is moderately spicy with fresh ginger; so some like more and some like less. And it’s pretty to see texture variations between the broth and the puree. When you’re only having one thing for dinner, it pays to make it interesting to look at, and interesting to eat.

    photo-187

    For my biggest eater, my 10-year-old son, you can see winter squash, a whole egg, and multiple meatballs. He actually averages 3 bowls of soup at each meal. And he’s thriving.

    photo-188

    Here’s how I serve our 4-year-old. Everything is still prettily presented, composed, but chopped into bite-size pieces; and he has less cilantro-ginger puree.

  5. Make lamb meatballs with dried mint and oregano mixed into the raw meat; eggplant, zucchini, red bell peppers, and optional onions are simmered until very soft; cool and puree a portion of the veggies before adding them back into the chunky ones.
  6. Make buffalo meatballs with basil and oregano; simmer carrots, onions, and zucchini, in a winter squash puree.
  7. Poach whole turkey thigh; then allow it to cool and chop or shred the meat; puree some cooled broth with the skin, fat, and dried sage; simmer in the broth cooked winter squash, cauliflower, cubed turnips, chopped kale or spinach, and optional garlic and onions.  This is a great Thanksgiving-flavored soup, comfort food, and well-liked by all.
  8. Harvest beef marrow from yummy beef marrow bones; puree the marrow into cooled fatty stock with winter squash; serve this rich and satisfying base with poached eggs and any slow-cooked beef from the bone.

Okay, serious YUM.  I am really hungry right now.  These soups are really good.  And meatballs were my big epiphany this go round.  I never thought of it three years ago.  But this time the idea popped into my head the second day.  And, wow, meatballs are fun.  Kids love them.  I love them.  And they are really versatile.  You can mix in not only dried or fresh herbs, but also minced ginger or garlic for Asian soups.

Also, the more fat you can puree into your veggie purees and add back into your soups, using the skin, soft cartilage, and rendered fat, the more satisfied you will feel with each bowl of soup.  Well-cooked carrots pureed with lots of fat, broth, and a well-chosen herb is lovely.  Top it with poached meat in a pretty way and you will have a crowd pleaser.

Below I have pictured a few carrot-based soups.  For the few of you who can’t do carrots, zucchini also makes a great creamy base, as do cauliflower, rutabaga, turnips, onions, and of course, winter squash. Just remember the grass-fed, saturated meat fat is largely responsible for healing your gut; so learning to make it really palatable is an important step! 🙂

photo-190

Tuna was recently vindicated of the high mercury charges of which it was once convicted. Apparently the ratio of selenium to mercury in ocean-going fish is the real issue. Tuna, therefore, has made a pleasant comeback in our home and is seen here poached to medium-rare, sliced and served on a base of carrot-ginger soup with prawns. We’re really not hurting here, are we? Squeeze a little lemon juice over the fish to counter its tanginess and to compliment the ginger.

photo-186

Simple meatball soup, made with any ground meat of high quality, and your favorite spices, is a great and easy meal to fall back on. Use spices like thyme, sage, rosemary, and basil. The meatballs do not need any egg to hold together.

Now, how to make great bone broth?  Firstly, source pasture-raised meat.  Chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, any pasture-raised or wild meat bones will make great broth.  Also, hit up your local fish market for salmon collars or bones.  The collars are super inexpensive, deliciously tender and fresh, and after eating the gently poached meat, the bones can be used to make nourishing broth.

For every gallon of water add 1 1/2 lbs. of bones, (including skin, small bits of meat, giblets, fat, and cartilage) and 1 T. + 1 tsp. sea salt.  Simmer the bones gently for 2-3 hours and then harvest this fattiest of broths for the first use of the bones.  You will then refill the pot with the same salt and water quantities and continue to boil these bones for 24-72 hours to extract minerals, collagen, and gelatin.  But the first 2-3 hour broth is the fattiest and therefore, the most nutritious for the Introduction Diet.  The fat itself is not supposed to boil for days, as it will become rancid.  So harvest and consume it, enjoying the rich flavor of the first batch.

You may steam vegetables or place larger whole vegetables on top of the bones to simmer or steam gently during this process.  It makes one less step some days to cook the veggies and the bones at the same time in the same pot.  Of course there will be other times when you cool the broth, strain in, and then simmer chopped veggies and poach meat in it.  Below you can see the process of me pulling out cooked carrots, fat, and cartilage so that they can cool and be pureed.  It isn’t pretty at this stage but it has a satiny outcome.

I've got the tongs to grab little pieces of hot skin and other useful parts.

I’ve got the tongs to grab little pieces of hot skin and other useful parts.

Let’s look at the next stages of the process.

It's quick and easy to form meatballs, about 5 minutes total for 1 1/2 lbs. of meat.

It’s quick and easy to form meatballs, about 5 minutes total for 1-1/2 lbs. of meat.

Here they are poaching in strained broth and veggies.

Here they are poaching in strained broth and veggies.

Poached red bell peppers and soft cooked carrots get pureed with herbs and cooled broth for a hearty, satisfying base.

Poached red bell peppers and soft cooked carrots get pureed with herbs and cooled broth for a hearty, satisfying base.

See how the soup looked good but too broth-y to satisfy as one's only food for the day? Adding the thick puree changes the whole experience.

See how the soup looked good but too broth-y to satisfy as one’s only food for the day? Adding the thick puree changes the whole experience.

Here's one stage of soup with added puree. I love it like this, with small flecks of fat melted into it. But see the next photo to see what fills up and better satisfies my family.

Here’s one stage of soup with added puree. I love it like this, with small flecks of fat melted into it. But see the next photo to see what fills up and better satisfies my family.

This thick soup has two blender-fulls of veggies pureed into broth and fatty parts. It is very enriching now and will leave hungry eaters feeling happy.

This thick soup has two blender-fulls of veggies pureed into broth and fatty parts. It is very enriching now and will leave hungry eaters feeling happy.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  I really wish you well and hope that the specifics of this article, the pep talk, the warning of moving along too quickly, and the recipes will equip you to stick to the Introduction Diet regimen and to find healing sooner, faster.

It’s the turtle mentality.  Win the race not by hurrying, but by slow, thorough progress.

By the way, at last count, I have been on the Intro. Diet now for 6 weeks, still only on Stage 2 of it.  I am happy, doing great, and improving constantly.  By body can not yet handle ghee or raw veggies.  So I’m sticking with my lovely soups, eggs, and small amounts of fermented veggie juice.  My most exciting mark of progress thus far is that my mild, remaining Interstitial Cystitis symptoms (a bladder and urethra disease that is incurable for most) are completely gone.  The disease had improved considerably three years ago, after first going on the GAPS Diet.  But in getting back on the Intro. Diet, I am now free completely of all symptoms, which is a huge indicator that my gut has sealed up considerably more than it was able to on the Full GAPS Diet.  Interstitial Cystitis is basically just Leaky Gut extended down your alimentary canal.  So healing in the bladder and urethra indicate healing in the whole gut!

If you feel you’d benefit from one-on-one counsel, feel free to read about the consulting I do and to email me.

  • Anne

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences, knowledge, and soup (recipes), Megan. Thanks for the insider tips on the GAPs Intro plan. I look forward to hearing more!
    Anne

  • Do you think the second time around you are more satisfied because you’re digesting what you do eat better, due to healing that has already taken place?

  • I don’t have a ton of confidence in my body’s ability to assimilate nutrients properly yet. I attribute the improvement to the fact that I have killed off the pathogen overgrowth. It sounds creepy; but I think those “critters” crave sugar. So when your body is over-populated with them YOU crave sugar, as a result. Savory food and especially fat are now what satisfy me. Thanks for the great question! I’ll look forward to improved digestion in the future and, in the meantime, I LOVE digestive bitters. They have been another huge help. 🙂

  • raiatorn

    Wow, Megan, those soups really do look delicious. I will have to try your carrot based one next time around. My whole family pretty much threw up my attempt at carrot soup during the Intro Diet. I ended up making it into a custard, which was pretty good. 😉

    My family and I were on the Intro Diet for a month (you can read our story here) to try and my autoimmune issues and multiple food intolerances, and on the Full Diet for about 5 months. I know we should have been on it longer, but we simply could not afford it. The Intro was so helpful and I healed SO much. We are hoping to do a sort-of Intro Diet “fast” once or twice a year until we can financially afford to be on it longer.

    Anyway, thanks so much for the post, and for the encouragement to keep at it! 🙂 Hope your healing continues!

  • Wow, Megan, those soups really do look delicious. I will have to try your carrot based one next time around. My whole family pretty much threw up my attempt at carrot soup during the Intro Diet. I ended up making it into a custard, which was pretty good. 😉

    My family and I were on the Intro Diet for a month (you can read our story here) to try and my autoimmune issues and multiple food intolerances, and on the Full Diet for about 5 months. I know we should have been on it longer, but we simply could not afford it. The Intro was so helpful and I healed SO much. We are hoping to do a sort-of Intro Diet “fast” once or twice a year until we can financially afford to be on it longer.

    Anyway, thanks so much for the post, and for the encouragement to keep at it! 🙂 Hope your healing continues!

  • Hi Raia,

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I feel like maybe I am sheltered in my understanding of how the GAPS diet is expensive and would really appreciate your insight! Is it mainly the sustainably-sourced meat that is pricey? And also organic vegetables? Thanks!
    I perhaps have wrongly perceived that many families spend so much money on special juices and sodas and snack foods that if they were all cut out, there would be that extra amount of money to put toward higher quality meat and produce.
    What about your non-GAPS diet is more affordable? I know breads and pastas can be fillers and cheap…. Again, thank you, I really appreciate having a more accurate look into other families’ grocery practices so I understand all the challenges that go into a GAPS diet. I guess for us we were just so sick that we didn’t have an option. When we added back in raw milk and aged cheese, these were definitely measurable treats, financially too.
    Do you live somewhere that you can hunt, get 300# of meat cheap?! 🙂 And is there a company that you can buy bulk organic vegetables from? Like, we buy 25 pounds of organic carrots at a time for less than $1 a pound; and bulk yellow organic onions are similarly very inexpensive.
    Blessings to your family and thank you for your kind words!! 🙂 By the way, I hope you don’t mind me asking, that it’s not too personal! 🙂

  • Thanks so much for taking the time to read my comment, Megan (and sorry it posted twice)! I don’t mind answering your questions. 🙂

    I live outside Charleston, SC. You’d think for being a big metropolis it would be easy to find organic, free-range everything, but sadly it’s not. My husband is a self-employed freelance web designer, so work (and therefore money) is pretty inconsistent. Our food budget is $350 a month for our family of 6. We’ve always ate a whole foods based diet, and have been gluten, egg, and mostly dairy-free for the past 4 years, due to my food intolerances, which made it easier to keep the budget down. :p

    When we went on the Intro Diet, finding grass-fed meat was almost exactly half our monthly budget, and we could only get enough to allow us meat 3x a week. Not nearly as much as you need! The eggs were easier to find, but the closest organic produce was about an hour away at Trader Joe’s, so we just tried to do the “clean 15” thing. (Since then I have found organic carrots at Publix for a great deal, and organic peanut butter and raisins at Coscto.) Raw dairy was completely out of the question, so we just bought the regular nasty whole milk stuff and made it into yogurt and bought the cleanest sour cream we could find (Daisy brand, in case you’re wondering!).

    As soon as we finished the Intro Diet, we slowly added in low-carb starches like buckwheat and lentils to help fill us without completely wrecking everything we’d achieved. Since going off the Full Diet a few months ago we’ve only added in sourdough, soaked rice, soaked oats (for the kids) and potatoes. These were the healthiest cheap options we found. 😉

    Hopefully that answers your question. If you want to know more, please ask! 🙂 I’m always glad to talk about our GAPS experience in the hopes that it will help others. 🙂

  • Thanks, Raia, really helpful and interesting. And I’m sorry it’s so hard to get good stuff. It sounds like you’ve done an excellent job figuring it all out!!! Warmest wishes as you keep getting well!!

  • Nancy

    Megan, I just “stumbled upon” you this morning and am I glad I did! Your article and the recipes and hints are so good – very informative! It is hard sometimes to get specific, doable advice. I’m just beginning my journey after two years of baby steps (I’ve made a lot of progress, actually, and am ready to go the whole way). I have subscribed to your blog and intend to go back and read everything I can that you have written in the past. Thank you! Nancy

  • So glad to hear it!! Best to you as you journey on! It can really be great…! 🙂

  • How We Flourish

    Thank you so much for such a thorough and honest post! We’re starting intro in January and I appreciate all of the information.

  • Deborah King

    Wish I’d found this particular post during my last trip through GAPS intro. It might have lasted till I was really done with it, rather than just till I couldn’t do it any more.

  • Megan Stevens

    I hear you and can so relate. Well, there’s always going back, if and when you’re ready!! <3

  • Megan Stevens

    Thanks, so glad! 🙂

  • Megan Stevens

    Thanks, Anne.

  • Megan Stevens

    The reply is posted above.

  • Sarah

    Bless you, what a life saver, boy am I struggling right now on the intro diet and my 8 year old has bailed out on the second day! I am still a little concerned as I have acid reflux which is one of the main reasons for doing the diet, so I don’t know if I should be avoiding something in the intro diet too perhaps? I know chicken is acidic, but it’s tricky to avoid eating it on this particular diet. Any ideas???

  • Megan Stevens

    Hi Sarah! My heart goes out to you; hang in there!! Yes, I would recommend (I am not a doctor, obviously) that you look into taking Betaine HCl with Pepsin, one with every meal, to start (500-600 mg.). Although it seems counter productive, the acidity will set your stomach ph right and help to digest foods efficiently. Let me know how it goes. xo

  • Lauren Kirby

    Meghan, thank you so much for your post! I started Intro again yesterday (3rd time lucky!) and I really needed those words of wisdom. Bless you, for giving me strength.

    I absolutely LOVE your Eat Beautiful Cookbook! I have a lot of Paleo/WAPF cookbooks but none have even come close to reproducing a “conventional” light texture like your method! (The panini bread was like heaven! I haven’t eaten anything like it in years!!) I’ve been telling everyone! =D

    If you could create another cookbook for healing diets, I would be the very first in line! Or maybe an eBook for soups? I love the variations you have included to keep things interesting!

    You’re a real gem Meghan. Keep up the incredible work ^^

  • Megan Stevens

    Lauren, thank you so much! You made my day! <3 Yes, actually, I am working on a GAPS soups cookbook right now. It will be an eBook; and I am also working on building a kind of GAPS support community. I am really excited about both as I wanted my next project to indeed by helpful for those on healing journeys in a way the first one couldn't be. And soups are the natural choice for so many reasons! My I ask a favor of you? Your quote is so beautiful. If you have a moment will you leave it (or new words if you prefer) as a review on Amazon? If you have time, here's the link: http://amzn.to/1NeyBDq Many blessings!! May this go round on GAPS Intro. be a great and effective one, with contentment and joy.

  • linda spiker

    Seriously. I need your persuasion skills. I can barely keep my dairy dairy and gluten free…but then again she is 27 and doesn’t live with me lol.

  • Megan Stevens

    Yes, it helps so much when the person is completely surrounded with that diet alone, with family members who are doing it too. So hard to do it alone, when no friends are etc. We had to be so sick ourselves… and I was already happily gluten-free. It’s quite a process and we all start in different places. It may come to her yet… xo

  • Lauren Kirby

    Hi! I’ve left a full (and well-deserved) 5 star review on Amazon ^^ I’m also spreading the word with friends and family, I am a huge fan of your work!
    I can’t wait for your GaPS eBook to come out! That’s the best news I’ve heard all day! Thank you =)
    Keep up the incredible work! And with GaPS, so far so good =)

  • Megan Stevens

    SO glad GAPS is going so well thus far!!! <3 Thank you for your review!! and for spreading the word! And because I love hashtags~ #thankful 🙂 🙂

  • Meghan

    Thank you SO much for this wonderful wealth of info, recipes, and inspiration! Just this week I have finally been able to start the intro diet and am curious about your thoughts on a few things. You say that going through the intro more slowly will reap greater benefits, so I am wondering what that might look like? I know that everyone is individual so there is no set time frame, but what do you wish you would have done differently the first time? How long did you go through the intro diet the second time? I’m actually concerned about moving forward too quickly, so I am not entirely sure what it will look like to progress to even stage 2. I’ve been struggling with dysbiosis for several years now and am only on day 5 of the intro diet, so I am right in the midst of lots of die-off and feeling pretty awful. BUT the soups are so nourishing and yummy that I am encouraged to press forward! I know that based on my situation it may take me longer than many to progress through the intro, but I am ok with that if I can finally start expanding my diet and not experience reactions to so many food. Again, thank you for your awesome site, delicious cookbook, and my little girls are much appreciative of Vanilla Jill’s! <3

  • Megan Stevens

    Hi Meghan, assuming you will be able to have egg yolks and even eggs, it’s great to progress to those; they are SO nourishing and add interest. At some point, adding in gentle lettuce, avocados (unless you get FODMAP bloating) and cucumbers is great for their living enzymes, and for the interest they add. Beyond that, I think it’s best to wait on nuts, as in the sprouted pancakes that are introduced at the end of the Intro. stages. Not forever, of course. If you can handle onions (again a FODMAP for some), they are great for keeping resistant starch in your diet. So lots of onions in your soups is good. Lastly, I would say to be very attentive to how you feel after you try introducing olive oil with your salads; and perhaps use avocado oil instead. Then stay put at that stage for as long as you deem it beneficial.

    If you have the money, I wholeheartedly recommend having a food evaluation done through the mail with Dr. Zeff. I would have healed literally years sooner if I had known to avoid all fruit. Instead I spent years on GAPS eating berries and low-sugar Granny Smith apples, thinking I was being sensible and moderate. Olive oil is a fruit, which is why I mention it above. I always got terrible die-off after eating fruit but never made the correct correlation. The evaluation is $150. For me, eliminating fruit meant that my healing then sped up considerably.

    So in addition to how intentional you are being on Intro., you may want to add in the insight of what food (not always fruit) and food combination your body can’t digest well (which I haven’t gone into here; but that’s what the food evaluation tells you) that may impede your healing process. I talk more about the food evaluation in my IC post- http://eatbeautiful.net/2015/10/04/how-i-healed-my-interstitial-cystitis/ (I need to write a post JUST on the evaluation; but at least it will give you an idea.) And here’s Dr. Zeff’s office if you decide to call- http://salmoncreekclinic.com/contact/

    So I went off on a rabbit trail there; but I hope it helps add to your success. Good job on Intro!! And you’re welcome. Thanks for all your kind words!!

    To answer one of your questions more specifically, the second time on Intro…. I think we spent about 3-4 months. I’m sure my kids remember exactly! 😉

  • Meghan

    Thanks! Ironically, I had the testing done by another ND and it came up with dairy and soy :(, which seems really hard considering there seems to be such an emphasis on dairy products on GAPS.

  • Megan Stevens

    Did you specifically have the Food Evaluation done developed by Otis Carroll? It is not commonly done by most NDs and soy is not a result that comes up from that evaluation. However, if dairy is a food allergy for you, or an intolerance, my daughter has done well by using coconut milk and making coconut yogurt on GAPS.

  • Meghan

    Yes, it was that one. The ND I saw mentioned that it was not a commonly used test as well. I’ve had a number of different tests done, so perhaps I am mixing the results (I didn’t actually go back and look at the print outs). I am certain, however, that dairy was my primary intolerance and then it was fruit+sugar combo. I love all coconut products, particularly coconut cream. YUM! Still…a litle sad about dairy since it is one of my favorites. Haven’t had it in years, though. Oh well, I think I might have a harder time if mine was fruit!

  • Megan Stevens

    Oh, good! I’m so glad you had that done, even though, like you said- something to give up. I’m so glad you love coconut. That does compliment GAPS well, even for savory curries! We all love coconut milk/cream in Thai bone broth soups.

  • Donnisha Cherelle Jones

    Thank you for this post. I’m going to do Whole30 in March and then the GAPS Intro diet. I’m addicted to sugar and want to start slowly.

  • Megan Stevens

    Good for you!! xo! You’re welcome.

  • HighlandHoney

    How is this working? I am also addicted to sugar.

  • Jake

    Hi Megan – great info! Quick question – lately I’ve been making my broths by first boiling a whole chicken (or lamb shanks, etc.) for 2 hours followed by removing and separating the meat and finally returning the bones to the “stock” to continue cooking. In this process, what would the “first harvest” be by your definition? Would it be the stock after the 2 hours where I separate the meat, or is it the broth after an additional 2-3 hours of cooking with just the bones (i.e., 4-5 hours total cooking)? Sorry if that’s confusing!

  • Megan Stevens

    Hi Jake, that’s a great question and not confusing at all. 🙂 The answer is kind of a combination. After you put the bones back into the meat stock, if you then simmer them for an additional hour, that would be about right. The goal is to not over-simmer the fats that are in the broth at the point the chicken is done cooking but to allow the bones a bit more time. I hope that helps.

  • Jake

    Thanks for the quick response! And then one follow up – which do you prefer for cooking soups – the first harvest broth or the later stages (or does it not matter)? Seems like you prefer consuming the first harvest as is. Also, I guess you wouldn’t want to use the first harvest for additional cooking to risk fat rancidity, right?

  • Megan Stevens

    You’re welcome. Yes on all those. 🙂 I do prefer the first harvest for drinking on its own, because its much richer and more delicious. It can be used beautifully in soups too, if you have plenty. The later stages get more hidden in the soup, so I often puree fat into a bisque base to make them rich again. The first harvest, broth, true, shouldn’t have prolonged cooking in any recipe that calls for it.

  • Yoha Bee

    Hello Megan,one quick question.. So i started gaps 3 weeks ago ,im on stage 3 now but cheated by eating some foods i should not be eating.. (i know ,shame on me 🙁 .. ).. what do you suggest. Should i start over??? Or just continue ??? By the way i love your recipes, i will be trying them all 🙂 .

  • Megan Stevens

    Hi Yoha. I recommend doing what will work best with your temperament. If you just go forward, will you have lost any momentum emotionally and with your commitment level? Are you more likely to cheat again? If not, just go forward. If, however, you feel you need to start at the beginning again to get your footing, either emotionally or physically, do that. Physically you can ask yourself, too, what you need. Is your body doing great on stage 3, even after cheating? If not, if you feel your gut needs to go back and that it would be helpful, start again. Thank you for your comments and blessings to you!!

  • Rebecca Wirth

    Hi Megan, great reading! I have a question, though. You mentioned adding veggies to bone broth in the intro stage. I understood that we aren’t supposed to have bone broth in intro, but meat stock instead? That’s how I read the book and supporting books and that’s how I’ve been following it.

  • Megan Stevens

    Yes, that’s right. When I used the term bone broth it was generic (overarching term); but specifically, it is definitely meat stock.

  • Margaret Costello

    Am having problems with the veggie list for the Intro Diet Stage 1. Most are on my food allergy list. The only ones that aren’t are onions, zuchini and squash…and the zuchini and squash you have to peel and de-seed to the point where there isn’t much left to eat. So what veggies do I add to the broth? Please help. It’s so frustrating to cook up pots of veggies only to realize that you now have to dump them because they might not be fiber-ok. It’s frustrating to have such an exacting diet but then the author doesn’t tell you the specifics like “what SPECIFIC veggies are ok for stage 1 of GAPS Intro.” Instead we just get a vague “etc.” and Stay away from fibrous looking veggies. I wouldn’t know what a “fibrous looking” veggies looked like if it hit me on the head. *sigh* Very frustrating. I don’t know how I can handle going thru Stage 1 on the Intro Diet just eating the fats and meats. I tried this 3 years ago and spent a week on the couch and too weak to do anything…my body finally gave out.

    If you could please list ALL of the ok veggies for Stage 1 GAPS Intro Diet, that would make my day:+) Thanks and God bless~

  • Megan Stevens

    Hi Margaret, Dr. Natasha gives the entire list in her book: http://amzn.to/2p5g20Z If you don’t own it, I recommend buying it. ALL of the veggies are listed in the book, and there are way too many for me to list here. But basically a few of our favorites include zucchini, carrots, red bell pepper, winter squash, onions, beets, well-cooked cabbage well-cooked fennel, asparagus, broccoli, peas, cauliflower. You do NOT need to peel and de-seed the zucchini. Regarding your allergy list, are there vegetables that give you a rash or other symptoms? A lot of allergy tests are not accurate. Unless a veggie gives you a clear reaction, I would eat it. Remember, too, to enjoy fresh ginger in your soups or in tea. With honey, if you can, in the tea. That’s very enlivening and blesses digestion, too.

  • Margaret Costello

    Thank you for responding:+) I have the GAPS diet book but it’s the original version. So I have to pay another 20 bucks just to get a specific veggie list? LOL It sounds like she has expanded it from the original. I can still only do the zuchini (what about yellow squash vs. winter?) and red peppers. Would you mind terribly listing the updated list? Her first book listed very few allowable veggies on the Stage 1 Intro diet. It would be a relief to find a couple of more to enjoy:+) Oh! And thanks for the ideas of the tea and food allergy tests:+) You are very kind to pass that along:+) God bless~

  • Megan Stevens

    Both yellow summer squash and winter squash are good. Also, see above for the other main veggies. That gives you lots to work with: zucchini, carrots, red bell pepper, winter squash, onions, beets,
    well-cooked cabbage, well-cooked fennel, asparagus, broccoli, peas,
    cauliflower, turnips, rutabaga. Any veggies that are not too stringy or starchy (like avoid parsnips, celery, jicama).

  • Margaret Costello

    Thank you for posting a list. I can’t seem to find this kind of update info on the main GAPS website. But thank you for the help:+) God bless~

  • Megan Stevens

    You’re welcome. 🙂 I’m not sure it’s an update. I think it’s just that there is so much information that it’s overwhelming when it’s new. I remember re-reading the book many times to try and get it all. xo! God bless you, too!!

  • Teri Snyder Stiepel

    Hi I have started the Gaps diet. I am boiling chicken carcasses and feet for 1 hour and taking the meat off the bones (none off the feet). I then simmer the bones in a crock pot over night. The broth is so fatty. As soon as it is cooled in the fridge the broth is like jello. I then heat a serving in a pot on the stove to drink or as veggies to and just simmer enough to cook the veggies. Seems very fatty. I am worried it is too fatty. Is there such a thing? Thanks so much

  • Megan Stevens

    Hi Teri, here’s my post on how to avoid rancid fat and how to make bone broth: http://eatbeautiful.net/2014/07/23/megs-bone-broth/ That will help. Also, this new method will not yield less fat, but you’ll be protecting its quality and separating it, as you’ll read about. In regard to it being too fatty, as long as the chickens are pasture-raised or organic, your body needs that fat to heal. It’s a foundational fact with the GAPS Diet. There are MANY nuances that can weigh in for different individuals. But overall, saturated animal fat is a healing food and we are advised to consume it generously. One trick is to puree the fat and broth in with cooked veggies and herbs and sometimes fresh ginger, so it makes a rich base, preventing you feeling like you’re drinking liquid fat. Also, make sure you add sea salt to your mug, as needed, so it begins to taste yummy. You’re welcome! 🙂

  • Teri Snyder Stiepel

    Thank you very much 😊

  • Xenia Danilova

    Dear Megan, thank you for your blog and your committment. I would like to share my story with you and ask for your recommendation. I have a constant pain in the urethra and bladder, often obstipation and vulvodynia. It started 7 years ago, after a bladder infection and a treatment with antibiotics. I have done a lot of treatments (neural therapy, osteopathy, accupuncture, ayurveda, yoga). But nothing seemed to help. During my pregnancy and nursing time I felt better indeed. My current urologist advised me to treat my gut. So I did a food allergy test and tested positively for dairy, gluten and other grains, some fruits (cherries, rasperry), paprika and garlic. She also identified that my histamine values are much too high. So my treatment is to eliminate all histamine, grains, dairy and fruits and veggies that I tested positively. Furthermore, she prescribed me to take Symbiolact and Symbioflor (live bacteria) and to take tapioca flour. Frankly speaking I do not feel much better. I am allowed to eat some fruits but I do not feel well afterwards. Also the only grains I am allowed to eat are millet, amaranth and corn but millet and amaranth have a lot of oxalate, which is also not good for IC. I read a blog by Dean Bill and his recommendation is not the same as what the allergy test said, so I am quite lost and do not know what to eat and what not. I read about GAPS diet and found it interesting. But I am working a lot, have a child and want to get pregnant again. Dear Megan, I need your guidance, what would you suggest to me in my situation?

    Best regards from Berlin!
    Xenia