Mind the GAPS


I was scared of the GAPS diet. Petrified. Completely unable to consider it as an option. A combination of having to eat every 2 hours, fatigue, and a mental reliance on the comfort of carbohydrate made me skirt over it for a long time, and then outright reject it when I finally sat down and read up on it back in March 2013.

What changed? I was diagnosed with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth in July . My research said that treatment entailed either the Specific Carbohydrate (SCD) or Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet.

I started on the full SCD diet, missing out the Introduction stages for the first month to get used to the diet, and I did originally think that I did not need to do the Introduction stages, having already been on restrictive, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial diets for a year. I was wrong on that one.

After only 4 days I saw major improvements – my headaches cleared, my mental function returned and I felt clear and focused and motivated for the first time in years. I was sold, SCD was the way forward.

However, after 2 months of the diet, my most stubborn stomach symptoms were still present – bloating, pain, nausea, food intolerance, and constant hunger. I did some more research and decided that switching to the very similar GAPS diet and going through the prescribed Introductory stages would be my last ditch attempt to use diet to heal my gut.

I started Stage 1 in September 2013, and spent a week on the sofa feeling very sorry for myself. As stage 1 consists of low-fibre veg cooked and souped, meat, and bone broth to the exclusion of everything else, it didn’t provide me with much energy – and as I don’t absorb food properly anyway, and have Chronic Fatigue, it was a bit of a slog. However, it got better and as I started to add foods back in according to the prescribed timetable, my energy improved. The pain in my gut also subsided, as did bouts of diarrhea.

I got stuck on Stage 1 for 5 weeks. “What?” I hear you scream. Most people are on it for a few days, maybe 2 weeks at most. Nope, not me. 5 weeks. That’s dedication for you. I was having massive problems adding in fibrous veg, fat and eggs. Turns out I might have a sensitivity to eggs, so I went around stage 2 and straight onto 3. And having spoken to my doctor, a GAPS practitioner himself, my problems seem to stem from an inability to digest fat properly, rather than a failure of the diet to heal my gut as it is designed to do.

I cut down on fat and fatty meat and continued with the low fibre veg soups. I added nut butter and honey (by the bucket full after 7 weeks of nothing but veg and meat soup!) and my energy increased overnight. And this is where I am currently – hovering around stage 4 of the Introduction stages. My progress is probably atypical of the diet – my health problems are numerous and severe – but even through the disappointment and hardship of the Introduction stages of the most restrictive diet I have ever come across, I do think that it is helping.

One of the most notable improvements so far is a major reduction in nausea. Previously I felt violently sick daily after most meals, or when I was really tired or stressed. Since starting GAPS I have experienced the least amount and severity of nausea that I’ve had for over a year – a massive relief! And when nausea does occur, it’s less violent and subsides quickly. Result! Also, my mental function continues to improve, my irritability is reducing and I am no longer constipated. Mega result!

Conclusion: GAPS works. I’ve committed to it long-term (I expect to be on it for at least 2 years). I’ll update on progress in a week or so.

Thinking of going on the GAPS diet? On it now? Been there, done that and have the health-regained hat? Tell all!


2 responses to “Mind the GAPS

  1. I’ve been on GAPS for about two and a half weeks. I’m currently on stage 3. Beautiful beautiful stage 3.

    The first two stages are tough… there’s the really limited options for food and then there’s the die-off/carb-flu. By the time you’re at stage there there are so many additional foods that you can have that it seems really blissful.

    This change of lifestyle has happened over only a couple of weeks but already the benefits are making it worthwhile. I have more energy, less pain and I’ve lost some weight that I couldn’t shift before trying GAPS. I think the weight gain was down to the perfect storm of foods I was intollerant of, leaky gut, chronic fatigue and pain.

    Yay for GAPs and thanks Jen for helping me get back on track xx

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