This guide on how to follow the GAPS diet while going to school is born from lots of experience – I’ve had several kids successfully follow GAPS while going to school, and these are my best tips for you.
How to follow the GAPS diet while going to school
Knowing how to follow the GAPS diet while going to school is something that can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! In fact, one of the best decisions I made was having my kids stick to the GAPS diet while in school.
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Understanding the GAPS diet for boosting gut health
The GAPS diet is my personal preference in healing my family’s gut and helping us have a healthy gut all year long. According to UCLA Health, 70% of the immune system is held in the gut so diets like GAPS diet are key to a healthy year.
How the GAPs diet works by using foods that are healing to your gut to allow it to repair. Foods like meat stock, probiotics food, and well-boiled vegetables help your gut build a strong foundation for healthy living.
For kids that go to school, I believe that this type of diet is an excellent tool to help them succeed. Not only does this type of diet boost immunity so they have fewer sick days (both my kids got perfect attendance last school year!), but I have noticed that the GAPs diet also improves my children’s ability to focus and learn.
What about class parties?
For younger kids, it is important to make sure that their parents are involved and working with the school to help their kids stay on their diet. In my experience, I have found that good teachers take food allergies and special diets pretty seriously. If you come to the teacher wanting to work together, they are almost all likely to help your child stick to the GAPS diet.
Some points I like to make clear to my children’s teachers are:
- How excess sugar and dyes affect my kids (it limits their attention spans and their focus).
- Keep a substitute treat in the freezer (like GAPS cupcakes) in case there is a celebration in class so that your kids don’t feel left out.
Preparing for school success on the GAPS diet
One of my biggest tips is to have kids only follow full GAPS while going to school, or spending any significant time away from home. The bigger variety and all the treats that are allowed on full GAPS make this much more doable. The GAPS introduction diet should only be followed by kids when they are home full time, such as during the summer.
With kids in school, it is important to remember that lunchtime doesn’t look one specific way. In fact, trying to keep lunch the same as other families not following the GAPS diet is the perfect way to burn yourself out. Instead, try and look at lunch preparation as an opportunity to fuel your child’s mind and body for the rest of the day.
Once they start eating these delicious lunches packed with nutrients, they won’t want to eat anything else – trust me!
Here are a few foods that are GAPS approved that my kids love for their school lunch:
- Meat Stock/Soup in a Thermos
- Salads (I usually add whatever meat we served for dinner as well as a homemade dressing) in a non-plastic container like this wheat staw lunch containers
- Pizza with grain-free pizza crust
- Dinner Leftovers
Packing GAPS-friendly lunches: nourishing your body
When it comes to packing GAPS friendly lunches for my kids, I love to involve them as much as possible. This gives me a good idea of what my kids enjoy eating during the day as well as what they love to share with their friends.
Most of the time, I plan my kids’ lunch to be leftovers from the dinner the night beforehand. That way, I don’t have to plan another meal and she gets a delicious meal twice. To make this work, I invested in a quality lunch box and thermos so that her meals stay at the proper temperature.
For class parties, I like to pack special treats. Here are the recipe links to the ones that my daughter requests the most:
- Cinnamon baked apples (see my recipe here)
- Grain-free cheese crackers (see my recipe here)
- Flourless Cupcakes (see my recipe here)
Following the GAPS diet while going to school: how to prepare for success
AS a certified GAPS coach, one question I work through with parents a lot is how they manage to convince their kids to go on a diet change like choosing to start the GAPS diet. It can seem impossible, but I promise you it isn’t!
The biggest tool for transitioning kids to GAPS is teaching, teaching, teaching. I talk with my kids a lot about how food impacts how we feel, and ask them to notice how they feel after eating certain things.
Also, I involve them in the cooking process, and lead by example. I make sure I’m enjoying nourishing foods, both savory and treats, with them. When they are used to delicious homemade food, junkier processed versions just don’t appeal to them anymore.
There are plenty of resources for starting the GAPs diet with your kids. The book From Mac and Cheese to Veggies Please by Jennifer Scribner is a tool that I recommend to a lot of families that has some wonderful techniques to help your kids fall in love with nutritious meals.
Challenges of following the GAPS diet while attending school
When your child is attending school, there will be days when celebrations happen and special treats get handed out. Since my children feel best avoiding chemicals and processed sweeteners, I like to be prepared so that my child doesn’t feel left out during any school parties.
A few things I try to do so that my child can still celebrate in school while on the GAPS diet:
- I get a calendar from the teacher so I know in advance when the parties are as well as have a lot of communication with the teacher for any surprise parties that may come up.
- In my freezer, I make sure to have single-serve treats that I can pull out the morning of a class party for her to enjoy.
- I also keep a container of treats in a freezer at school so that the teacher can grab one of these for any surprise situations that come up.
- I keep a lot of communication with my children about how different foods make them feel. That way, they are aware of how different sugars and dyes can affect their bodies and minds. This helps them make choices on their own when the time comes for them to decide what they are going to choose to eat.
- Pack enough for the entire class! You would be surprised how many kids prefer fresh fruit over processed sugar.
Following the GAPS diet while going to school video
What are your kid’s favorite back-to-school lunches?
Connect with me in the comments I would love to know what your kid’s favorite lunches are. Are you new to GAPS? I have SO many amazing recipes right here on the blog that can guide you through the transition.
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Disclaimers to use as applicable:
The recipe in this blog post is used with permission from the book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morrell. Learn more at nourishingtraditions.com. Nourishing Traditions® is a registered trademark of NewTrends Publishing.
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, 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.