Onward and upward with our GAPS series! Today, I am going to talk about the overall goals and differences of the two phases of the GAPS diet. If you’re brand new to our series, please catch up by reading Why I’m On The GAPS Diet and Demystifying the GAPS Diet (what it is).
The GAPS diet actually has two phases — the Intro and the Full.
The Intro GAPS Diet
Intro Diet is restrictive, focusing on a limited choice of foods that are all very easy to digest and nourishing to soothe an often inflamed and tender digestive system. In the six stages of Intro, a person moves from stage to stage by introducing new foods as long as the foods can be tolerated.
Intro is typically done before Full and probably lasts around a month, depending on the person. (Some people don’t do it at all, while some stay on it for months.)
Intro is sort of a jump-start to healing. However, it can be a quite intense detoxification phase — what is also known as “die-off.” The bad organisms (viruses, pathogens, bad bacteria, fungi, undesirable yeasts) in the gut are perishing and giving off toxins on the way out. This is how they fight back.
Unfortunately, these released toxins cause increased allergies, rashes, headaches, fatigue… basically bad stuff that can be quite difficult to go through. On top of that, some people also suffer with extreme boredom from food and/or lack of energy.
I don’t believe lack of energy is a necessary component of Intro. In my experience, it seems that lack of energy (if not from “die-off”) really comes about when our family members lose interest in the few foods that are allowed and go without.
Sometimes, Intro is so difficult that some people choose to go through it more quickly or they skip it entirely and go to the Full GAPS diet. I’ve noticed as I read more and more, and experience more and more, that there’s really no one-size-fits-all.
What foods are allowed on Intro? Here’s the Intro Diet Explained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. This is not a substitute for the book, however. If you’re going to implement GAPS, the book is required reading.
An excellent resource, complete with step-by-step meal plans for all six stages of GAPS is the What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on Intro eBook from Cara at Health, Home, and Happiness.
The Full GAPS Diet
Full GAPS is less restrictive than Intro, but still eliminates all sugars (grains, sweeteners except raw honey, and starchy vegetables). It includes nourishing foods like fermented foods, fermented dairy, broth, meats, nuts, seeds, pastured animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, and non-starchy vegetables. The person with severe gut issues often has trouble on Full GAPS — they have so many food allergies or reactions that they’re having to limit the Full GAPS diet and make their own kind of Intro diet.
The Full GAPS diet should be followed for a longer period of time. Dr. Natasha recommends at least two years, but I know of people who’ve done it for 6 weeks. It really depends on the severity and need for gut healing.
People come off Full GAPS by introducing select sprouted “grains” like buckwheat and quinoa, eating only small amounts and seeing what can be tolerated without an onset of symptoms.
What foods are allowed on Full GAPS? Here’s the allowed foods list. Help with implementing GAPS and serving appetizing meals is worth its weight in gold! Check out the meal plans from Cara at Health, Home, and Happiness.
Understanding the Purpose and Timing of GAPS
No matter Intro or Full, GAPS is not meant to be a permanent diet. It is meant for healing so that a person’s gut health is restored to being able to eat most, if not all, foods. This doesn’t always happen for everyone, especially those who have severe issues. But, I think for most people, the goal is to get off GAPS with a healthy gut and go back to “normal.” Those are the stories I tend to hear most — people who did GAPS for 6 weeks or 6 months or 2 years and then moved on to a more typical traditional diet.
Each person has to figure out where they fit. If a person is struggling with GAPS, not making progress, or needing special support, I think it would be helpful to find a GAPS practitioner. In upcoming posts, we’re going to talk about complimentary therapies, too — like NAET.
In my next post, I’m going to share how we approached Intro and Full. Then I’ll address common questions and answers about the GAPS Intro diet. After that, there’s just so much more coming. Please subscribe to my blog to catch all the upcoming GAPS series posts.
Would you add anything to this overview of the two components of GAPS? What are your experiences with each? How did you decide to do one or the other? Please share any of your thoughts.