After we completed the introduction phase, we were ready to transition to the full GAPS diet. This felt like food freedom!
What is the full GAPS diet?
It’s true. I would be not who I am or where I am today without having overcome my chronic health issues with the GAPS diet. That goes for my husband and son, too. Check out how the GAPS diet changed our lives here. If you’d like all my best tips on how to start the GAPS Diet, check out my post here.
If you’re new to what the GAPS diet is, what it does, and how it works, I talk about it in this post here where go over the GAPS diet explained in a nutshell. Basically, you can think of the GAPS diet in three main phases:
- Introduction Phase – Deep rebuilding of leaky gut.
- Maintenance Phase, or full GAPS diet – Continuing to rebuild the gut and restore the balance of healthy gut flora.
- Reintroduction Phase – Transitioning from the GAPS diet to include all food groups.
The full GAPS diet is the middle phase, and most people spend the majority of their time on this phase. Dr. Natasha says that people usually need to follow the full GAPS diet for 2 years without cheating. Some will be able to go quicker, and some may take much longer. But 2 years is a good, average timeframe.
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Who is the full GAPS diet for?
After I completed the introduction phases of the GAPS diet, I was ready to transition to the full GAPS diet. Dr. Natasha says that some people, like those without severe digestive issues, can start with the full GAPS diet without first following the introduction phase.
There are other ways to start the GAPS diet, too. For example, if you’re very underweight, or have a child with failure to thrive, Dr. Natasha it’s usually a good idea to start with the full GAPS diet rather than the introduction phase. Then, once you or your child are at a healthy weight, you’ll be in a better place to go through GAPS intro.
Dr. Natasha also recommends the full GAPS diet for those who struggle with chronic constipation. Then, once constipation is no longer an issue, you can go back and go through intro.
If you do start the full GAPS diet without following the introduction phase, you’ll need to follow the dairy introduction structure.
How do you follow the full GAPS diet? What do you eat?
After completing the introduction phase, I gained valuable knowledge about my body. I knew what foods I was doing well with, and possible foods that could still cause issues. I was also very familiar with GAPS cooking techniques.
In the full GAPS diet, I enjoyed a lot of the same foods I ate on the introduction phase, along with new foods that I couldn’t have before. Let’s take a look at what a typical day looks like on the GAPS diet.
GAPS diet meal plan
- First thing in the morning: I start with a glass of filtered water with a slice of lemon or a teaspoon of raw, apple cider vinegar. I find that after the water is a great time to have freshly pressed juices.
- Breakfast: Some of my favorite breakfast choices are eggs cook a variety of ways, homemade pork sausage, cooked vegetables, avocado, soup, squash pancakes, and GAPS diet tea. I include some meat stock (unless I’m already having it in soup) and some probiotic food.
- Lunch: For lunch, I choose soup, stew, or meat cooked a variety of ways, along with avocado and raw or cooked vegetables. I remember to include some meat stock (unless I’m already having it in soup) and some probiotic food.
- Dinner: I choose any of the lunch or breakfast choices, along with meat stock and probiotic food.
- Snacks and desserts: For snacks and desserts, I choose from fruit, nuts, GAPS baked goods, and yogurt.
Full GAPS diet recommended food list
For a full and complete list of the foods allowed and not allowed on the GAPS diet, grab your own copy of “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. Or, you can check out the full list here.
If you want a quick overview, here are the main foods on the full GAPS diet recommended food list:
- Meat, fresh or frozen with no additives (organic and pasture raised is best)
- Non starchy vegetables, fresh or frozen without additives (organic is best)
- Fresh fruit (organic is best)
- Fresh herbs
- Spices with no additives
- Olive oil, virgin cold pressed
- Yogurt, homemade
- Aged cheeses (organic and pasture raised is best)
- Butter (organic and pasture raised is best)
- Coconut, fresh or dried, coconut milk, without additives
- Canned fish in oil or water only
- Nuts, freshly shelled with no additives
If you’re looking for guidance on how to get started with GAPS, I share all my best tips on how to start the GAPS intro diet here.
If you want to read ahead on how to transition off of the GAPS diet, check out my post on coming off of the GAPS diet here.
Full GAPS diet foods to avoid
This is just an overview list to get you started with the main things you avoid on the GAPS diet. For a full list, grab your own copy of “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. Or, you can check out the full list here.
- All additives, thickeners, flavorings, and colorings
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, parsnips
- Processed meats
- Processed cheeses
- Milk and cream
- Canned vegetables and fruit
- All sweeteners except raw honey
- Commercial juices
- Soft drinks
- All processed food
Supplements for the GAPS Diet
Nourishing food, on its own, can do wonders. Sometimes though, supplements are very helpful. Here is a list of some supplements that Dr. Natasha recommends considering:
- Cod liver oil
- Fish oil
- Digestive enzymes
- Individual vitamins and minerals
Most of the supplements in the list above are actually food, and are often fine to add on your own. However, you will want to consult a naturopathic doctor (preferably one who is familiar with the GAPS diet) or certified GAPS practitioner before adding vitamins and minerals.
It is common for GAPS people to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. Figuring that out and supplementing is often what’s needed if you find yourself hitting a healing “roadblock.” I go over supplements for the GAPS diet more in depth here.
Tips for following the full GAPS diet
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride recommends keeping these things in mind as you work through the GAPS diet:
- Combine vegetables and meats with each meal to balance ph.
- Eat fruit on its own, away from meals that contain meat for better digestion (avocado is the exception).
- Organic is best. If you have to prioritize to stick to your budget, choose organic produce over organic meats, as animals have a detoxification system that helps get rid of some toxins.
- Include fats, especially animal fats, with every meal.
- Have a cup of bone broth or meat stock with every meal to aid in digestion.
- Include plenty of fermented foods and drinks with every meal and between meals.
- Avoid all processed and packaged foods.
For all my tips on traveling on the GAPS diet, check out this post here.
Does the GAPS diet work? A GAPS diet review
As I mentioned at the beginning, my family and I have our own GAPS diet success stories. The GAPS diet enabled my body to overcome frequent headaches, fatigue, being underweight, and cystic acne. My son is successfully following the GAPS diet to prevent autism.
I also know other people who have benefitted from the GAPS diet. My friend Laura from the blog Our Oily House also has an amazing GAPS diet success story. Her son was able to reverse his eczema, dairy intolerance, and digestive issues. Read all about it here.
Should you try the GAPS diet?
The GAPS diet is an amazing tool for healing. I believe that anyone would benefit from following it.
Since the GAPS diet is just a way of eating that focuses on whole, healthy foods and avoids sugars and processed foods for a time, it is not harmful or dangerous.
If you have any serious health issues or any concerns, I do recommend getting guidance from a certified GAPS practitioner before you begin. They can help guide you, and help design a protocol or version that is best for your specific situation.
Does the GAPS diet have any risks?
Like I mentioned, the GAPS diet is just a way of eating that focuses on whole, healthy foods, and avoids sugars and processed foods for a temporary time.
If you follow the GAPS diet properly, it is very safe. Having a certified GAPS practitioner is a great idea if you’re dealing any serious health issues. That being said, many families have successfully followed the GAPS diet on their own, with amazing results.
The only challenge that might come up is if you try and start the GAPS diet too aggressively. For example, if you introduce too much fermented food or a probiotic supplement too soon, the die off reaction can be pretty miserable, and can even make symptoms worse for a while.
It can be easy to be too enthusiastic and try to do too much too soon, especially in the beginning of the GAPS diet introduction phase stage 1. Keep this in mind: Just going from how you were eating before, to GAPS intro, may trigger some die off all on its own.
Dr. Natasha recommends avoiding bad die off by going slowly and gradually. She says to really listen to your body, and avoid probiotic foods and supplements completely for a while if you have to.
Is there a vegan GAPS diet?
I personally had to wrap my mind around this issue before I began the GAPS diet myself. Before starting GAPS, I was following a vegan diet in the hopes that it would solve my health issues. It definitely did not, and I knew I needed to do something different.
That being said, I was hesitant at first to go from eating no animal products at all to a diet that is heavily focused on them. But I’m so glad I did.
Vegan and vegetarian diets are popular right now. The idea of avoiding animal products is an entire discussion on its own. For now, let’s look at if it is even possible to follow the GAPS diet while also being vegan.
The GAPS diet focuses on certain foods that are very nourishing. Dr. Natasha says that these foods provide the building blocks for repairing the gut. She says that the nutrients that do this work are found in foods like meat stock and bone broth.
Fruits and vegetables are wonderful, and have lots of great health benefits. They are an important part of the GAPS diet, in their raw, cooked, and fermented forms. But, there just isn’t a vegan alternative that works as well as foods like meat stock, bone broth, and animals fats for the gut.
Our bodies are made up of bones, muscle, connective tissue, and so much more. Our digestive systems are not designed to break down and utilize only plant foods.
The idea of avoiding animal products can have a wonderful sound to it. And, Dr. Natasha says it could even be beneficial for some people to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet for a short time, to cleanse.
But Dr. Natasha says that our bodies need the nutrients from meats and animals fats in order to be nourished and thrive. This is especially true for people who are unwell, mothers, and growing children.
The GAPS diet focuses on meat stock, bone broth, meats, and animal fats because Dr. Natasha says these are the best foods for bringing about deep nourishment. Traditional cultures throughout the world knew this, and used these very foods for rebuilding and nourishing.
GAPS diet recipes
Are you following the GAPS diet?
How is it going for you? Do you have any questions? Share your experience in the comments!
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Looking for a GAPS intro meal plan?
GAPS to Go is a 30 day meal plan for the GAPS introduction diet that tells you what to eat each day, with complete cooking instructions, and guidance on when to move to each intro diet stage. Check out GAPS to Go here.
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GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
The information in this blog post is my personal experience and opinion. It is for general information purposes only, that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own physician’s medical care or advice. Always seek advice from your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding nutrition, medical conditions, and advice. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on this blog.