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GAPS Intro. 4th time’s the Charm!

I began writing this post in early August when we began the GAPS intro diet again.  Then managing life on intro for the whole family plus blogging about it became too much for me so I stopped writing and focused on what matters most.  I wanted to share it with you anyhow though for those who are considering the GAPS intro for the first time or as a repeat.


GAPS cover - Copy

I made the decision to start my family on GAPS intro once again with very little warning (read about that here GAPS Intro Once Again). (apparently I like doing things like that. Read  Why we started the GAPS Diet.) One day I decided we needed it (especially me and little J) and after looking at my calender realized the next couple of weeks would be the best time I would have for the rest of the year make it happen. So we ate up some fantastic local, no-spray peaches that I got from a friend and began to thaw some chickens with anticipation of starting intro the next day.

Day one of intro I was so prepared!  I put a chicken in the crock pot to cook overnight so that we would have boiled meat ready for breakfast. I got up before the girls and boiled up some veggies and ate breakfast myself so that I would be prepared to deal with them being cranky about soup for breakfast. I finally went upstairs to check on them and they had decided that they were simply going to wait till soup was no longer on the menu before the ate anything.  They were cheerfully playing in their room. Hmmmm…. I pointed out to them that they would have a long wait since the first 3 stages of GAPS are all soup and if they didn’t start eating we couldn’t progress. My 9 year old quickly came to her senses and decided that she would get hungry within a couple of days (?) and came down to see what was being offered. Her sister is 5 and still wasn’t convinced. However, when I mentioned that she had always liked blended soup in the past and offered to blend up the veggies that I had made for her, she thought that sounded like a good idea. I got her breakfast ready and she quickly sucked down a mug of blended yellow squash, onions and broth using a glass straw. We were off to a great start and I felt like superwoman!

Meanwhile her sister was busy doing her before breakfast chore and in a freak accident injured herself pretty severely. This necessitated a trip to the ER and putting the rest of my plans for the morning on hold. Thankfully it did not do any lasting damage but it was a pretty traumatic event. I gave W a pass on doing intro for the rest of the day and just let her eat whatever she thought sounded good.

Once we got back from the ER I looked at my calender again and reminded myself that this really is the best possible time to do Intro for the family and quitting now would just delay getting done. I will admit that I had to talk myself out of cheating about 20 times that first day. The extreme stress of having to take your injured child to the ER really did take a lot out of me but I kept reminding myself that if I quit now that would just extend our time on stage 1 so I managed to just keep going.

To manage the stress I used Rose Essential Oil on my temples. It is a very expensive oil and before that day I would only allow myself to smell it but I knew I needed a stronger application. I have heard that it really is an amazing oil for extreme times and this was one. It made a huge difference in how I felt very quickly and I kept smelling whiffs of it for the rest of the day. Each time it calmed me and helped me know I could handle it. I get my Rose EO from Be Young Essential Oils.

So I haven’t mentioned how I felt. I felt terrible!  I was craving everything I couldn’t have. Nothing tasted good to me. We have done intro 3 other times and I have always liked the food. I’m not sure if the chicken was just overcooked in the crock pot or what but yuck! I hadn’t really planned for much but chicken soup for the first couple of days but when it tasted so bad I just couldn’t face eating more of it. That first night I made some soup using ground beef and veggies because I couldn’t face more chicken. To my delight, Yum!  It tasted so fantastic!  My body really likes beef right now. It is rather amazing to me how clearly my body can communicate what foods I should be eating.

I was also having my blood sugar swing a lot. I was eating fairly low carb before GAPS but between the no fruit at all and not really feeling like eating much anyhow I could tell I wasn’t getting enough. Ginger tea with honey to the rescue!  We have all been drinking a lot of ginger tea (my 5 year old would be happy to survive on just ginger tea till more variety is on the menu but I’m not letting her). It it pretty incredible how just a little bit of honey in some ginger tea can really perk you up when your blood sugar has slipped too low. We have been putting between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp in a cup of tea and that has been plenty to fix any low blood sugar issues. I also mixed up some ghee and honey to take by the spoonful to keep my blood sugar stable and focused on the higher carb intro foods like winter squash and peas.

My 9 year old has been the biggest surprise on intro. Despite her early protests and her insistence that she “hates soup” she has generally eaten most of what is served without a lot of complaining. I am, for my part, trying to be very low key and flexible about eating. I’m offering a wider variety of foods at most meals than I normally do if I can make it happen and I’m allowing more variance in our eating times than I normally do. I had implemented a “3 meals and 1 snack at 3pm” rule a while ago to keep the asking for snacks from driving me crazy all day long. Now I’m suggesting food to solve the crankies multiple times a day and it is working!

Little J has also been a surprise although in retrospect I should have expected it. When we have done GAPS intro in the past she was much younger and usually happily ate whatever I offered. She has become a lot pickier over the past couple of years. While I know that tastes change, she has limited herself down to just a couple of foods and eating the same foods everyday like she has been is not healthy either. On the first day of intro, after that first cup of blended soup, the only thing she ate willingly was boiled peas. She managed to finish off all the peas in the house by the middle of day 2 and now we are out. She has been very fickle about the boiled chicken but prefers it to the beef that I have made. She now wants to eat only winter squash. I made her some spaghetti squash which has always been a favorite but she doesn’t like it. She only wants butternut squash.

On day 3 I had an inspiration!  We had moved on to stage 2 and I decided to make some meatballs for dinner. I mixed up 1 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of ground pork along with about 2 cups of pureed raw veggies (a mix of onion, garlic, zucchini and mushrooms that I pureed) I also went out to my herb garden and grabbed some oregano, basil and parsley that I tossed in to puree. I cut up some tomatoes and boiled them in broth and then pureed them. I used that to then simmer the meatballs that I made out of the mixture.  They were delicious!  My 9 year old ate I think 3x as many as I did. I discovered that I can’t tolerate pork right now. Bummer!  It was my first pork meal since we started intro and it really did not sit well in my gut at all. I didn’t feel well just sitting at the table and when I woke up this morning my whole stomach felt like it had been rubbed by sandpaper on the inside. :(

However here I am on Day 4 with a clear head and as much energy as I typically have. I’m thrilled to be improving so quickly!  It isn’t always like this. I remember our first time through intro we were still really out of sorts after 2 weeks (although getting better all the time). We also had traveled and done other stressful things on intro so that could explain how long it took us to get used to it.

Here we are now 4+ weeks into intro and still mostly on stage 3.  We do ok with some baked or broiled meats as long as they aren’t every meal. I can tell that my body prefers it’s foods to be boiled still. My gut had been sore for a few months now and I have been ignoring it. I have had a few days on intro here and there that it has felt quite normal. I haven’t figured out  pattern other than eliminating pork had a bit positive impact so I’m trusting that my body is rebuilding itself and it just needs some time. It didn’t get like it was overnight and I’m trilled in many ways to be getting clear messages from my body that it can best digest boiled foods and as much as I miss raw and sweet foods I’m pretty happy to be feeling like I’m making some progress and have some insight into how to support my body in the healing it is doing.
Here is what this intro has brought to my family. The good and the bad:

Patty/Mama- I have been struggling with the worst cravings that I can remember having on GAPS.  Early on in intro I was struggling all day long with wanting to “cheat on intro”.  It is much better now but the first week or two were tough!  Also food aversions!  I haven’t ever had those like I did this time. Some of my favorite foods were completely revolting to me. It was such a strange experience.  One more huge thing was that I discovered that I was reacting to pork. I have gotten it twice since starting intro and each time I got stomach aches, tired, foggy headed, and my gut just felt raw.  I had been struggling with those symptoms daily for months!  I had no idea it was being triggered by pork. As much as I’ll miss bacon I’m glad to be feeling so much better.

Jason/Dad- Jason has been on GAPS with us since the start nearly 4 years ago. A year or so ago he began to cheat a bit when away from home and he began to drink beer again. Then we did genetic testing with my affiliate partner 23 and Me and he discovered that he has the Gene for Celiac disease.  He went on a gluten binge this past spring to get tested and felt terrible while eating gluten daily. He is now strictly gluten free and is also doing intro with us for his second time. Anyhow after a solid 2 + weeks on all boiled foods he began to have detox symptoms for the first time ever!  First he had a metalic taste in his mouth for a while. Then it switched to a sweet taste for several days (he drank a black coffee one day and said it tasted like someone had dumped a bunch of sugar in it).  He has even taken a few detox baths (he usually does not want to take the time for detox baths). That tells me that he is really getting some changes this time around. We’ll see what happens.

W/9 year old girl- She has had a pretty easy time of intro. She is liking the intro food better than I have ever seen her. She is being more helpful and kind too. She has had some extreme emotional days and I’m not sure what is just being a 9 year old girl and what is intro. This year has been a hard one for her in general. (No one warned me that 9 is hard!)

Little J/ 5 year old girl- J is having the hardest time of anyone of us this time. Lots of food aversions. She likes a food one meal and won’t touch it the next. She is having stomach aches off and on that I can’t seem to trace to anything in particular. Early on she was just eating peas and squash and none of the meats at all but that is much better now although she still has her moments.  I am hopeful that she is also getting some good gut healing from the boiled foods like I seem to be. Detox baths and flower essences are our saving grace this time with her.  Oh and raw beef liver.  That is her favorite.

So that is where we are at. I’m trying to not move too quickly through intro this time. I want to take our time and really get the healing we need. I can see that my losing focus on broth and ferments over the past several months did move us backward and we have some lost ground to regain but we are getting there. I am reminded that it isn’t just about avoiding the wrong foods but it is about consuming the right ones. You can’t expect to heal if the healing foods aren’t going in.

So how about you?  Are you on GAPS?  Do you remember to always have those fermented foods and cups of broth or have some of the healing foods become occasional instead of daily?

Many of my blog posts contain affiliate links. Purchasing through an affiliate link allows me to keep blogging and sharing what I learn with you. It is a bit like leaving a tip for service and is very much appreciated.
Thank You! –PattyLA


  1. Have you seen this post?

    She says, “It should not take longer than six months to heal the gut. I’ve seen many people on GAPS™ for over a year and they still don’t feel great.” I thought the post might be relevant since you have been on GAPS for a couple years.

    • Yes I read that post when it first came out.

      It is ridiculous to think that everyone will heal within 6 months and the author of the GAPS book does not support that idea. I have met people who are completely healed thanks to GAPS who saw zero progress for a full year of strict GAPS. My family has seen a lot of healing but we are not done. We also have complex medical issues like Lyme disease complicating our healing journey.

      I do agree with the idea that many need to do more than just GAPS to heal. My family has found that we need many cherries on top to see progress including a low oxalate diet for 2 of us, avoiding certain food allergens, and other approaches that were either temporary (low free sulfur diet) or continued long term. Testing and finding food allergens can be helpful for those who can’t figure them out on their own. We have done testing ourselves and would do it again if we needed to.

      That article makes it sound like NCM says that the GAPS program is all that anyone will ever need. She does not say that at all. She recommends parasite treatments and specifically recommended a parasite drug to my family when I consulted with her directly. She says that 80% of people will get better on the GAPS program as it is written and 20% will need more than that. My family clearly falls in the 20% and I’m ok with that. That said we are also seeing good healing this time through the GAPS intro and my only regret is let my dread of the work involved in intro keep me from jumping in much sooner and seeing this progress months ago.

      I do not say that the GAPS diet and protocol is enough for everyone. Dr Natasha does not say that either. Nor will I say that she is always right. She is brilliant and gets things right much of the time and has far more experience than I do with people who need gut healing but she has also change her advice over the years as she learns more so I follow it and recognize that I may just be ahead of the curve with something she will get a better understanding of later on.

      I appreciate the concern. You are not the first person to bring that post to my attention. I do not agree that gut healing will always happen so fast. My own constipation took about 13 months to resolve on GAPS and it did resolve just doing GAPS. As much as I would love to heal faster sometimes it just takes time and patience and a willingness to keep sticking it out.

  2. Thank you for such a detailed response. I appreciate your knowledge and experience. Are you familiar with the book “The Ultimate Healing System” by Dr. Donald Leopore? Another GAPS follower recommended it and I am about to start reading it. It sounds like it overlaps with GAPS some. Apparently it helped her cure/reverse all manner of stubborn health problems.

    • Gretchen,
      I am not familiar with that book. I’ll look into it.

  3. Thank you for chronicaling your GAPS journey. I am a GAPS newbie. I also have hypothyroid with elevated RT3. I just switched from NDT to Cytomel at Christmas time. Low cortisol, too. I go from 19 in the morning to 1.6 at noon. Then there’s the food sensitivities & leaky gut.
    I’ve been on GAPS intro a week. AFter a week of chicken bone broth and chicken the smell of the broth turned my stomach! Fortunately I had some beef that had just been cooked the night before. That’s gone over much better. I was relieved to read you experienced something similar.
    Today, I feel like I’ve hit a wall, I’m not even eating boiled vegggies yet. The GI upset doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

    Thanks for “listening”! I’m the only one in my family doing GAPS, nobody else “gets it”.

  4. I just discovered your site, and am thanking you profusely for your detailed honesty. Truly, it’s encouraging to know I will be able to look at what happens to me as I begin this process and compare it to what you’ve experienced; I will be better equipped to connect the dots in my own experience. Thank you!

  5. Thanks for your blog! I really want to heal my gut before I get pregnant with next baby to prevent passing on my poor gut health. I can’t seem to find the right time because I have read that one shouldn’t do GAPS while nursing as toxins will go through breastmilk. Thoughts? I’m currently nursing my 13 months old daughter but I’m thinking of doing it anyway because I plan to nurse her till she’s 2 years old or when she wants to wean (whichever comes first). And I really don’t want baby #3 to be far apart in age to my 2nd child. I have either been pregnant or nursing since 2010. Any other suggestions you may have will be greatly appreciated!

    • The author of the GAPS book has said that it is safe to do full GAPS while nursing and even to do intro if you start with stage 2. My opinion is that a nursing mom should start with full GAPS and then after a few months move backward through the stages of GAPS to stage 2 slowly removing foods/cooking methods. Then after spending a few days on stage 2 move back up through the stages again.

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