Can you cheat on GAPS? If you do, what can you do to prevent a flare-up of your pre-GAPS symptoms? Katy’s back to give us some good news. There is room for cheating on GAPS — though probably not too much if we really want to heal. I confess to a few cheats here and there recently, and my body’s letting me know it isn’t happy with a slight recurrence of seasonal allergies. What about you? –Wardee
So, you’ve started the GAPS diet, or are considering it. But it all sounds so rigid, and militant, and impossible!! How will you manage to eat the exact right things all the time? How will you pacify your sensitive mother-in-law when you spend Thanksgiving at her table? How will you possibly make it without eating a single bite of chocolate for the entire length of the diet?
Well, I’m here assure you that often times there is room for a little bit of cheating while on the GAPS diet. The keys being: 1) don’t cheat while on the intro diet, 2) after intro, don’t cheat often, and 3) pay close attention to your body’s signals and your own weaknesses (which will be different from the next person’s).
So, one-by-one, here are those keys, followed by a list of my own personal cheats.
1. Do NOT cheat while on the intro diet!
I am a huge fan of the intro diet, and think it is most effective when followed to the letter. This is a true chance for your body to detox years and layers of candida and all sorts of other bad gut pathogens. Your body cannot do this effectively if you cheat — in addition, you can’t pay attention to your body’s true reactions if you are also feeding it illegal sweeteners and starches (yes, even TINY bites make a difference!) Rather than cheating during this phase, I recommend researching some of the legal ways to get a “fix” when you need it — such as a sweet-tooth cure of a simple mix of pure raw coconut oil and honey, which tastes like candy.
2. Do not make a habit of cheating.
Even after months on the GAPS diet, your body is still healing. You might be able to tolerate a very small amount of illegal foods — but keep in mind that it’s not what’s best for healing your body. So while feeling immense guilt over that one bite of homemade (lactose-laden) ice cream isn’t necessary, you can’t expect to eat lactose every night and still heal at an effective rate.
Pay attention to your body, and your personal level of tolerances.?I was very fortunate to have what I referred to as my “flux capacitor:” a spot of eczema on my leg that flared up every time I ate a problem food. During the first few months on the full GAPS diet, it would flare if I took so much as a bite of an illegal food. Now, after almost a year on the diet, I have healed to a point where the eczema almost never flares. I can tolerate small cheats here and there with no reaction — but again, I keep in mind that while my leg doesn’t itch, it’s still not ideal for my gut.
3. If you really cheat, take extra detox measures.
Early in my diet, I was at my mother-in-law’s house for lunch, on the road, and she’d made homemade soup for us. A true labor of love — and I literally had nothing else to eat. So I ate minestrone, loaded with pasta. That night when we got home I took a long detox bath, juiced first thing the next morning, and drank extra broth during the next 24 hours. My eczema still flared, but I avoided any worse symptoms.
Easily Tolerated Cheats
So, what are easily-tolerated cheats? It differs for everyone, but this is a common list for people with whom I’ve spoken.
- commercial canned coconut and/or almond milk (as few additives as possible, no illegal sweeteners)
- store-bought bacon (usually contains sweeteners, try to get nitrate-free w/ no artificial flavors)
- the occasional meat that has additives (Mom’s Butterball turkey, perhaps?)
- very small amounts of maple syrup or maple sugar
- an occasional serving of rice or other gluten-free grain
- corn (homemade popcorn, organic corn tortillas or chips, fresh corn)
- home fries, or other potatoes (including sweet potatoes)
- coffee (limited amounts — it can be hard on the stomach)
- organic store-bought dark (78%) chocolate (I do a single square about 3x a week)
- soft cheeses and other non-cultured dairy, like heavy cream
If you’re on the GAPS diet, have you found any foods to be tolerated if eaten in small amounts? Or have any on the above list given you trouble? If you’ve done any “big” cheating, how did you detox to avoid a full-body revolt?