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New Year, New Transformations: The GAPS diet

The week after Christmas, the whole family started the GAPS diet.  This has been a long time in coming as I have threatened my family, lovingly, with it for years.  Simply, the GAPS diet is designed to detox and heal the gut.  Dr. Natasha McBride Campbell formulated the diet while researching diets for her autistic son.  Research shows that so many ailments, both metal and physical, are rooted in the health of the gut.  Through the GAPS diet, Dr. Campbell has been able to reverse the symptoms of autism in her son and alleviate symptoms of numerous clients.
As someone who has done many detoxes and knows the importance of gut health, I was drawn to the diet.  Although we, as a family, eat fairly healthy; we have eliminated cereals, and any artificial coloring, preservatives, etc and eat organic, whole foods as much as possible, I still felt there was far more we could do for our health. My youngest was GREAT eater until he hit about 2 years old.  For the last three years he has primarily subsisted on carbs.  Getting him to eat meat had been a fight and bribery was usually involved. He is an extremely strong willed child, so when we went to restaurants, we was pretty much allowed to eat what he wanted so as not to cause a scene.  I have desperately wanted to break this in him, but he continues to grow at a normal rate even though he eats little and limited types of food, so I had not been moved to any significant action.

Then, early this fall, my oldest was officially diagnosed with two learning disabilities and ADHD inattentive type.  And, as I began to look for exercises, therapies, games, etc, that could help him, the GAPS diet came up again.  By October, I was ready to start the diet.  Is tomorrow too soon?  Luckily, a friend, who has also done GAPS, talked some sense into me and suggested that it might be a good idea to wait until after the holidays were over.  Because, who wants to attend parties and dinners where you cannot eat anything that is offered!  So, we enjoyed the holidays and prepared to start GAPS in the new year.
Homemade dill pickles and sauerkraut, staples of GAPS

We are currently on what is called the Intro diet.  I will not give you tons of details, but we eat lots of broth, meats,  cooked vegetables, and homemade fermented foods such as yogurt, keifer and sauerkraut. The first few days were rough.  I had a detox reaction the first day and was SICK.  The boys had a tough time adjusting and kept asking questions like, "Mom, will we ever get to have donuts after mass again?" (and then tears ensued).

A eating GAPS pancakes made with squash, eggs and almond butter
 Now we are about 12 days into the diet and there have been huge changes.  First, our youngest, has  transformed his eating habits!  The first few days were HARD and he refused to eat much of anything.  Three days into the diet, I made the mistake of taking him to the grocery store, where he had a break down and sobbed and sobbed, asking to be taken off GAPS.  But, that must have been a turning point for him, because that night he ate, and ate, and ate.  And he has continued devouring foods that he would not even touch before!  He can still be picky, but I will take desiring broccoli over cauliflower rather than refusing to eat any vegetable.

Plus, it is evident that everyone's tastes have changed.  My kids will eat plain keifer and plain yogurt with no complaint, when, before, NONE of them would even touch yogurt if it were not sweetened in some way.  As of right now, the whining about dinner and what I made has stopped.  Everyone eats and is happy with what is in front of them.

I have seen behavior differences in my boys too.  Nothing significant, but overall they seem to be more calm.  They still are rowdy boys, but it is just on a lower level than before.  And, J has been much better at being able to attend to his school work. 

And, finally, I have lost weight! Although that is not the intent of the diet, I have lost all of my holiday weight gain and am back in the 120's again even with eating lots of meats and foods with higher fat content (the good fats).

My family has declared egg drop soup as their favorite meal!

As pleased as I am about the changes, I do want to share some of the cons:

- My family's appetite has increased significantly.  Each family member is eating MUCH more than they did before.  They are snacking much less, but eating so much more at each meal. To give you an example; my family just finished off 3 dozen eggs in two days!

- We have had to adjust our food budget.  Eating lots of good quality, organic meats, vegetables, etc is not easy on the budget.  This will ease some when we can introduce more vegetables and have fruits.  But for right now, we have had to find ways to rearrange our budget.

- It is time consuming.  Everything is made from scratch.  You make your own broths, yogurt, keifer, sauerkraut.  Almonds need to be soaked overnight, then dried in the oven, then processed in the food processor to make almond butter, almond meal, etc.  This means lots of cooking and lots of pots and pans to be cleaned.  If you were to walk through my kitchen right now, you would see bone broth simmering in a crockpot,  jars of nuts soaking,  and keifer, tucked on a shelf, fermenting.  Yet, even though it is time consuming and there are times, between homeschooling and food prep, I feel like I am spending my whole day in the kitchen; I am starting to really enjoy it.  There is a pleasure in making foods from scratch that you normally just buy at the grocery store. It adds a peaceful rhythm to our days.

Ok, this post is much longer than I intended so I will end it here. This is just the beginning of our GAPS journey.  I will update you all on how it continues to go!


  1. Good for you! That sounds so hard but it's inspiring! I always wonder if I should try something like this. We're getting by just fine, I suppose, but it always makes me wonder if I just don't know that we could feel healthier and be better and just don't know it because we've never experienced it!

    1. Thanks Mary! It is hard, but so good. There have been so many positive changes, that it is clear that it is worth it for our family. I had felt we were doing fine, but once my oldest was diagnosed with ADHD, I just felt like we had to try something to help him. I am amazed at how the boys' behavior has changed. Again, it is something that someone else may not notice, but as their mom and teacher I can see a significant difference.

  2. Katie, those results (and I'm including the result of picky eaters eating better) are awesome! I was talking to my midwife about anxiety and she is a super health/natural person and said that sometimes red dye and orange coloring can cause anxiety. I had never heard of that, but I really do believe that what we eat affects all areas of our health so so much, and I know I could clean up my diet more when it comes to including more organic foods. This is so inspiring!!

    1. Colleen, we eliminated artificial colors years ago. I saw a huge difference in the behavior of two of my boys when they had artificial coloring and when they did not. For my oldest, it was a remarkable chang. If he has artificial coloring he becomes moody and emotional and loses impulse control.

  3. Praise God! May you persevere in your journey to restore your family's health.

  4. Wow, Katie, this is awesome!! I'm going to do some reading up on that diet - as my 2 year old also is a major carb craver and tends to dislike meat. He is very small for his age. All of our other boys were between the 75th and 98th percentile for growth and Charlie is in the 10th percentile! Our kids always balk when we have a major diet change (no cereal, no processed/packaged foods, low sugar etc.), but after a couple of days, they always end up looking for fruits, veggies and nuts to snack on instead of refined carbs. Keep it up, Lady!! Your sacrificial love for your family is beautiful!!


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