GAPS diet: Surviving the Intro Diet and Die-off

July 16, 2011 · 6 comments

homemade sauerkraut

homemade sauerkraut

This is one of many posts about the GAPS diet. You can read the others here .

Not everything about starting the GAPS intro diet is fluffy clouds and roses.

If you’ve read anything about the intro diet, it consists of broth, boiled meats, and vegetables (starting with boiled, then adding fermented, then raw). So it’s a change from the way most people eat.

I don’t know if there’s really anything to do to make actually making the change easier, except to be motivated. My family has been on a long slow path to getting healthy for a few years now. We’ve been tripped up by injuries and exhaustion. After discovering I’m gluten-intolerant and eliminating wheat from our diets for about a month (and surviving), we felt ready to take the plunge.

We’re doing this as a family, because it just seems easier that way. Some families go on the full GAPS diet together, but only choose one person at a time for the intro diet, because it can cause some serious side effects as gut flora re-balances and pathogenic bacteria die-off, releasing toxins (you can read about common symptoms here). We’ve felt that, and that’s been hard. We’ve worked through it by acknowledging that we’re all going through it and it’s step towards us getting better. It helps to know where it’s coming from, and that it’s temporary.

Some people have a problem with taste aversion and cravings. I’ve been lucky with this, because the GAPS intro diet is really similar to how I ate as a young child living in Asia — lots of natural soups (liver soup was my favorite, which is interesting, because it’s one of the most healing for the conditions I’m dealing with) and fermented vegetables. It’s totally normal for me to go to the hole-in-the-wall Korean market on the edge of our town and buy a few jars of kimchi, but I know this is difficult for a lot of people. My husband has a serious aversion to kimchi, so I tried my hand at making sauerkraut, and we’re nervously watching it ferment on our kitchen counter.

Sometimes you just have to go with whatever works for you.

The author promises that after some time on the diet, your tastes will change, and I can see that after a week. Both my husband and older son are picky eaters, but they’re warming up to everything on the diet. It’s kind of amazing how delicious new foods taste after the blandness of broth and boiled meats. We are relishing the sweetness of fresh carrot juice, and the small amounts of watermelon we have between meals taste insanely sweet — beyond satisfying for all our sweet tooths.

A friend who’s contemplating starting the diet asked about making everything homemade and is intimidated by doing all the yogurt and fermented foods. This diet is a big leap for almost everyone, even the most health-conscious among us. My feeling is that anyone who’s interested in the healing benefits of the GAPS diet should do what they can, and make changes as they can.

If it means starting by making bone broth and drinking a cup with every meal without making any other changes to your diet, it’s a step in the right direction. Others might feel more comfortable just cutting out grains (or one grain at a time), or juicing. There are LOTS of ways to incorporating healing habits and moving towards the full GAPS diet without taking the full plunge, and those small changes might make you feel well enough that you’re willing to keep going.

Photo credit: NourishingCook on Flickr

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