**This post has been entered in Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist!**
Almost everyday, I get questions from people wanting to know different things about the GAPS diet. I’ve gotten so many similar questions that I thought I’d address them here! Hopefully this is a good starting place for those interested in the GAPS diet.
First, if you’re unfamiliar, you might want to check out some of my previous posts on GAPS/grain-free diets to learn more about why one might choose to do the GAPS diet or otherwise go grain-free.
Q: Is GAPS safe while pregnant or breastfeeding?
A: Yes, but you should only do full GAPS (not intro) and go slowly. If your gut needs healing, you will want to introduce stock, fats, and probiotic foods slowly so that you don’t experience severe die-off. If you are nursing, detoxing too fast can lead to dumping toxins into your milk, which can negatively affect your baby. Of course, chances are if your gut flora is not so good, your baby’s isn’t, either, so you should ideally do GAPS while still nursing to give your baby a better start!
Q: If I do GAPS while nursing, should I start my baby on solids soon or should I keep exclusively nursing for awhile?
A: First, you should ideally never start solids before 6 months, and later is better too. Second, if your gut flora is messed up, your baby’s likely is, too. Keep exclusively breastfeeding for awhile and allow your baby’s gut to heal. When you do introduce solids, the best plan is to introduce GAPS foods – sips of stock, ground meats, egg yolks (after 8 months), plain yogurt or kefir, etc. It’s best to wait on vegetables, even those that are well-cooked. Some babies do tolerate them, but many don’t because of their fiber content. Starting with animal foods is much safer. Go very slowly and watch for reactions, and never introduce grains before age 2. It is also fine to introduce probiotic foods and drinks to an older baby directly.
Q: Is it safe to start kombucha while nursing? Or to give it to my baby directly?
A: Yes. Go slowly on the kombucha initially, just a couple ounces a day, because it can cause die-off and that’s not always pleasant. Watch your baby for any reactions (especially if you’re exclusively breastfeeding) and back off if needed. Babies over a year can feel free to try drinking kombucha for themselves, a few sips at a time. Many toddlers end up really loving it!
Q: How can I get enough to eat on GAPS?
A: It’s not unusual to be absolutely starving when you first begin GAPS. Your body is crying out for nutrients. Make lots of soup and have it on hand for snacks. Sneak bits of liver or other organ meats into the soup, along with other meats, to make it extra nourishing. Fill the soup with plenty of vegetables and also fat – add ghee or coconut oil to the soup. Small amounts of probiotics served mixed into the soup or alongside it will help. If you need to and can tolerate it, bake some breads with almond flour and smear them thickly with butter (if tolerated) or coconut oil and eat these. Don’t be afraid to eat extra meat as desired. Protein is a huge need for GAPS patients. Eat whenever you are hungry and know that this ‘starving’ stage will not last forever.
Q: I’m an athlete, how can I get enough protein?
A: Eat plenty of meat, eggs, plain yogurt, etc. Jerky is a great snack, as are nuts. Smoothies made with plain yogurt are good for breakfast – add raw egg yolks to them if you can find pastured eggs. If you can tolerate honey, bake with almond flour to make “breads” for snacks (there are some options to bake with almond flour without any honey).
Q: I’m craving ____, should I eat it?
A: If it’s sugar/grains…no! You will crave this as you’re healing, because the bad gut flora in your body thrives on this. It doesn’t want to die, so it forces you to crave sugar and grains to try to stay alive. You would feel temporarily better if you gave in, but ultimately you would feel worse.
If it’s meat/fat…yes! Eat it to your heart’s content. I know that if I don’t eat enough fat I will crave it and I will try to find anything I can that contains fat. I have been known, on occasion, to sneak bites of plain butter when I was really craving fat. Your body needs these foods to heal, so if you are wanting them, eat them as much as you desire. You can pour olive oil over your food (right before serving) for added fat – this is recommended on GAPS.
Q: If I follow GAPS, won’t I gain weight and have high cholesterol?
A: Probably not. If you were underweight, you may gain weight, but this is not bad! It’s a sign your body is actually absorbing the nutrients from your food and so you are able to gain weight. If you were overweight, you may lose weight (I lost a lot – too much – when I first did GAPS). Also, since natural forms of cholesterol do not raise blood cholesterol, no, you will not have high cholesterol. It is usually the damage from digesting the grains/sugars that causes your body to produce more cholesterol, and since you are no longer eating these foods, your cholesterol levels should get lower over time. Fats and meats are not bad for you!
If you have any additional questions about GAPS, please don’t hesitate to ask! I will do my best to answer, and if I have a fair amount of other questions, I will do another FAQ in the future.