GAPS is a gut healing protocol developed by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride when her son was diagnosed with Autism and she felt there was more to it. She connected the gut bacteria to brain function in a way that was well before it’s time. Many of us now know what only a few did before… gut health will contribute to our brain function, immune system, skin conditions, thyroid function, joint and muscle pain, adrenals digestive and bowel function.
The way GAPS work is in three phases.. firstly we have the Introduction Phase which consists of six stages within it. Often I say to my patients it’s almost like weaning a baby from breast milk to solid foods. The goal is to go slowly, only introduce one thing at a time and watch for any reactions. Obviously there’s a little more to it than this but I find this is a much easier way for my patients to get their heads around what they’re about to embark on.
The Introduction Phase itself can take anywhere from a few weeks, to a few months and for a very small number of people it may even take years to get through all six stages. To this point I haven’t had anyone who has needed to spend more than a few months on the Introduction Phase as given the right tools and guidance our bodies are surprisingly resilient and we’re designed to be able to self heal.. the problem with this day and age is we have been introduced to so many processed foods and so much sugar that we can’t listen to what our bodies really need.
What I mean by that is simply, think of a cigarette smoker, they’re addicted to smoking so there’s receptors in their brains that are telling them they need a cigarette, processed foods and sugar have the same effect which means our bodies have lost the ability to really tell us what they need. The only way to get back to being able to “trust” what our body is telling us is to cut out the processed highly refined sugary foods, push through the cravings and detox process and give our bodies what they really want.. REAL FOOD!!
Once you’ve gone through the Introduction Phase you’ll move to what is known as Full GAPS. This is when I say it’s more about lifestyle than being a diet because you’ll be on this phase for 18 months to 2 years at least. For some people though they find this part of the diet very easy to manage, especially in this day where Paleo is quite an acceptable way of life it means that many restaurants and function centres are able to cater for these types of dietary requirements.
On a side note, GAPS isn’t Paleo but they have some similarities so you just need to always be aware of the foods you can and can’t have on the Full GAPS Diet and make sure if you are out and having a Paleo meal you don’t eat any of the components you’re not allowed to have.
After Full GAPS we go through the Getting Off GAPS part of the diet.. by the time most people get here they’re not that fussed about staying on a GAPS Style way of life ongoing but if you do want to get off the diet and start reintroducing a few different foods this is the time to do it.
As a GAPS Practitioner and someone who has been through the GAPS journey with their family I would have to say that once the first 3 phases of the Introduction Diet were done the rest became quite manageable with less and less arguments from the children (and the husband as well..).
The key to GAPS is preparation and support, don’t rush into it, just make sure you get yourself organised and ready then start so it improves your chances of success. It’s important that anyone who’s a part of your feeding regime or who may look after your kids is aware of the dietary changes and will support you in your goals.
The other thing I would recommend is to see a qualified and trained GAPS Practitioner who is working with patients regularly. Let them help to get you on the right track and support you, especially through the early stages when your body is really working hard to heal.
Don’t be afraid of the GAPS Diet, it’s a nourishing and healing protocol which will give you back your health… so what are you waiting for.