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The Ultimate Pre-GAPS Preparation Checklist

admin November 10, 2015

Fairly soon, we will be doing GAPS (again).

GAPS, for those unfamiliar, stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome.  It is a diet that addresses leaky gut, created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (based on SCD diet by Elaine Gotschall, if you’ve heard of that).  The diet has been used to heal food allergies, autoimmune conditions, autism, and a whole lot more.

Essentially, the diet removes all sugars and starches (with the exception of fruit and honey), including all grains and potatoes, and adds a lot of animal fats, bone broths, and probiotic foods to heal and seal the gut lining and re-populate with healthy bacteria.  It is not an easy diet, but it is beneficial.

We were on GAPS back in early 2010, and on and off through 2011.  We used it to help heal my daughter’s gut (you can read her story, part 1 and part 2).  Also, we were helping my husband to heal from his own childhood health issues, including heavy metal exposure.

At this point, we’re still coping with mold exposure,  I know our guts are not as healthy as they should be.  We have finally reached a point where we are less stressed and can do something to address this, and improve our health.  GAPS starts in about two weeks.

Before that point, though, there is a lot to do to get ready.  Sure, you can just dive in at any point, if you want, but you’ll have a better experience if you work ahead of time.  Those early weeks can be filled with fatigue, brain fog, tons of hunger, and more.  It’s easier if you do prep work before you start.

Pre-GAPS Preparation Checklist

The most important thing to know is that you will be starving, and you will not be able to eat any pre-made food items (for the most part).  So, if you want to eat, you have to cook.  You may not feel like doing a whole lot of cooking in the early days, so preparation will make everything much smoother.

A Week or More Ahead

These are things you can freeze, so do them first.

  • Make stock (several gallons of chicken, beef, pork, etc.)
  • Prepare some soups (with stock and GAPS-legal veggies)
  • Begin making or buying fermented foods (yogurt if you can tolerate dairy; water kefir, sauerkaut, pickles, etc.)
  • Render or purchase fats (tallow, lard, schmaltz, butter, ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil)
  • Soak and dehydrate nuts
  • Make GAPS-legal non-soup meals (and freeze)
  • Buy bulk, frozen meat (any natural varieties — not sausage, hot dogs, etc. but whole chickens, ground beef, roasts)

In the Final Days

  • Buy a high-quality probiotic supplement (see this post for best strains and brands)
  • Purchase a piece of fresh ginger
  • Purchase a bag of lemons
  • Buy any other supplements you will use upon starting
  • Purchase a large variety of fresh and frozen produce
  • Make a meal plan of what you’ll eat in the first few days
  • Prepare a couple pots of soup and put them in the fridge
  • Purchase Epsom salts, baking soda, and/or bentonite clay for detox baths
  • Make a daily supplement plan

The key to doing GAPS well is not just what you do or don’t eat.  It’s about the supplements that you take and how you support your body’s detox pathways.  The whole goal of GAPS is to heal your body.  The diet is just one piece of that.

GAPS prep checklist -- everything you need to get started with GAPS and successfully heal.  With recipes and supplement list.

GAPS Soups

Food does matter a lot on GAPS.  Here’s what’s not allowed:

  • Grains (wheat, rice, barley, spelt, corn, etc.)
  • Sugar (cane, beet, maple syrup)
  • Starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes)
  • Mucilagenic foods (arrowroot, okra)
  • Processed foods (fast food, artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, etc.)

If you already eat a real food diet, GAPS is not nearly as big a change as if you currently eat SAD (Standard American Diet).  It’s huge from SAD.  If you are already gluten-free or paleo, it’s an even smaller step.

I like to make several different soups.  There’s only one my daughter will willingly eat, so I make a lot of that.  (It’s basically chicken veggie.)

  • Immune-Boosting Soup
  • Butternut Squash Soup (no cream)
  • Chicken Vegetable (with and without tomato)
  • Chicken Soup
  • French Onion Soup (soup alone; no bread or cheese topping)
  • Garden Vegetable Soup
  • Simple Ground Beef Veggie Soup
  • Stuffed Pepper Soup
  • Tomato Soup (skip the flour)
  • White Bean Chicken Soup (only use navy beans; other beans aren’t allowed on GAPS)

Other ideas include bean-less chili, steak and mushrooms, pumpkin soup, and more.  If it involves GAPS-legal fats and veggies, plus stock, then it’s a good soup.  Get creative with it.

GAPS Meals (Non-Soup)

Intro includes a lot of soup (like, for almost every meal), but sometimes you just need some other options.

Drinks, Snacks and Probiotic Options

It’s important to note two things about this list.

First, I’ve included a handful of juice recipes.  Fresh-pressed juice is not only allowed, but encouraged, on GAPS.  Mix fruits and vegetables and make different combinations.  Good ingredients include greens, parsley, beets, celery, pineapples, apples, carrots, lemons, ginger, grapefruit.  I’m partial to lemon and ginger in my combinations.

Second, I’ve included very few baked goods or sweet recipes.  I’ve seen many lists of GAPS food which include a high amount of squash, honey, almond flour, and generally attempt to re-make classic meals with GAPS-legal ingredients.  I don’t especially like this approach because I think getting away from overly sweet foods is necessary.  That’s not to say you should eat low-carb (many people do poorly on that), but eating whole fruit and sweeter vegetables (carrots, squash) will be plenty of carbs.  Eating meals that are naturally GAPS-legal is better than getting too complicated.

Plus, almond flour is high in omega-6s, which are pro-inflammatory.  Too much sweet food is pro-inflammatory, too.  So, we stick to the basics and I enjoy flavors I really love, like fresh salsa (by itself or on top of grilled chicken and greens), chicken with sauteed veggies, freshly-pressed juice blends, and more, instead of those other foods.

Supplements and Detox Protocol

I’ve tried so many things over the years.  I feel it’s more effective when taken together, and consistently.  We’ll be including all of these things with GAPS.  They are things you should consider.

Morning Supplements:

Additionally, each day will start with freshly-pressed juice, a smoothie (with yogurt), or something similar.  Most likely there will also be eggs, sausage, or some other protein with it.  There will also be an herbal infusion ( nettles and raspberry leaf, or mullein, dandelion root, and fenugreek), lots of lemon water.

Later in the day, there will be probiotic food and drink (Bubbies pickles, ginger beer, water kefir).  Most days there will be a salad plus soup for lunch.

Evening meals will vary, and there will be an additional probiotic food or drink with it.  Then, there will be a detox bath with baking soda or bentonite clay.

Throughout the day, everyone will have as much water (plain or lemon), water kefir, ginger beer, as they would like.  Extra rest will be encouraged, as well as exercise if they have energy and feel like it.  Drinking broth in a mug with sea salt is also good and will be encouraged.  Snacking (on jerky, fresh fruit, certain cheeses) will be allowed as needed.

A note on cheese: many people remove all dairy at the beginning of GAPS, and add it back in slowly. Many are allergic or sensitive to dairy starting out.  That is where we were when we originally did GAPS back in 2010, and we did not introduce any dairy until after we had been on GAPS for three months (and had been off dairy for 6 months prior to GAPS).  After that point, our family has always done better on raw/grass-fed dairy than none.  So, we are keeping GAPS-legal, raw/grass-fed cheeses, butter, and also some limited raw milk.  If this were not the case, if we were starting GAPS for the first time, or had symptoms of dairy intolerance, then we would not keep it initially.

I will be preparing these supplements, and making all of our probiotic drinks, over the next couple of weeks, so we have several on hand when we get started!

Have you ever done GAPS?  If yes, did you prepare ahead of time?

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2 Comments

  1. How do you practically keep track of everything? We are just coming off intro. I rushed it a bit for me (went at my daughter’s speed) because I originally was not going to be doing it and didn’t prep enough for how I would be feeling. Intro again in January/February for me, and in the meantime full GAPS for my four year old and me. Is your whole family doing it? If not how do you handle everyone eating differently? Between my allergies (eggs and tree nuts) and over half the family not doing GAPS, and those on it needing to go different speeds through intro I feel like my brain is going to explode.

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  2. Hey Kate,
    Have you heard of homeopathy? I want to let you know that you will be able to heal yourself and your family at a much faster rate if you incorporate homeopathy into your lifestyle! I have had immense and rapid healing and my family and friends have as well. Joette Calabrese was my homeopath for a while. She is trained on the “Banerji Protocols” which have a quicker and more effective response rate than classical homeopathy. I would highly recommend incorporating it into your lifestyle!

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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