So you know you should focus on gut-healing and you’ve heard that the GAPS diet can really help you and your family with that.
But, you’ve also heard…
…that GAPS is overwhelming — lots to wrap your head around!
…or that your family might struggle with not enjoying food due to the restrictions and might get so sick of the cooked veggies and broth they’ll stop eating altogether!
…or that you might end up spending tons of time (you don’t have) in the kitchen keeping up with the broth-making — so you won’t have time for anything else.
Well. GAPS can be that way.
Or not. 😉
That’s why I’m delighted to introduce you to my friend and GAPS practitioner Melanie Christner.
Melanie is the lead teacher for the online GAPS Class — enrolling now through October 3 — that has helped several hundred families implement and heal with the GAPS diet. Melanie also generously offers a Free 30-Day Prep Guide for GAPS.
She’s joining me on this podcast (aka webclass) to share how you can make GAPS simple.
Yes, SIMPLE. Finally.
(Plus, how to know if you should do it in the first place… a very good question to answer first!)
The GAPS diet is life-changing, I know that myself. I went on it several years ago and it helped me heal from a lifetime of debilitating seasonal allergies. I am allergy-free for 4 years now. By the way, my allergies were BAD. (Info: here and here.)
Below, you’ll find Melanie’s 3 sensible ways to implement GAPS. Depending on your family’s skill level and need, she’ll help you figure out which is best for you or your family. Also, she gives oh-so-many tips for implementing it, how to know when to move on to the next stage, basic foods list, basic equipment list, resources for foods and equipment, and much, much, more.
Melanie is one of the best guests I’ve ever had on my podcast. She knows her stuff, she was well prepared with amazingly valuable info, and she cares so much. You will get a lot out of this webclass!
Check out the audio podcast, video replay, and complete print transcript below.
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I recorded this podcast live on Blab last week, and here’s the video from that! It’s just like the audio file above, except you can see it, too. 🙂
The Gut-Healing GAPS Diet Made Simple Transcript
Here’s the complete transcript from this podcast.
Wardee: Hey everyone! Welcome to Know Your Food with Wardee podcast. This is episode #165.
If you’re joining us live, we don’t yet have the show notes ready, but if you’re watching this as a video replay, or the podcast on Friday — on or after Friday, June 10th – then the show notes will be ready for you, and all the links and everything we’ve mentioned, even the complete transcript, at knowyourfoodpodcast.com/165
So, we are live right now on Blab, so I just want to give a quick rundown of how Blab works before I introduce you to my guest, Melanie, and we get into the topic.
How Blab works is if you’re here live, you will have a live chat on the right-hand side. Feel free to make use of that. If you want to ask a question of Melanie or I, you do a /q, and that will put it into the question queue. We will answer if it’s relevant to what we’re speaking about, or we’ll save questions for the end.
On the left-hand side of your screen is where you can share. You can share the last thirty seconds of what’s been going on to Facebook or Twitter, and just let people know what’s going on. If you have friends or family who need or are interesting in gut healing, we appreciate you sharing.
And finally, Melanie and I would dearly love your participation and applause where appropriate. Chime in on the chat, but also where you see each of our faces in the bottom-right corner, there’s two hands. Side by side, thumbs together. If you just click there, you can click multiple times if you like what’s being said, like I’m doing to Melanie right now. I’m giving her applause. Feel free to do the props. Blab calls it props.
So, welcome to everyone. Welcome to those who are live and the replay and podcast listeners later. This is going to be a great, great podcast/webcast today.
I’m going to tell you Melanie now! Melanie is my guest that you can see up here too if you’re watching the video… She is a nutritional therapy practitioner, and she’s a certified GAPS practitioner in Vermont. She’s been trained by the creator of the GAPS diet, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, and she’s had further training in functional nutrition as well.
She has a passion for helping families in the area of digestive therapy, and she’s known for making digestive therapy understandable and for supporting families in that endeavor. She has four children of her own, so she’s well-versed in children and navigating these waters. She has a great desire to help other families follow this path of nourishment with a focus on gut health.
So, welcome Melanie. I’m so glad you’re here.
Melanie: Thank you, Wardee, that was a great introduction. Thanks.
Wardee: Well, you deserve it. I’m just so thrilled you’re here to share. And I should say, you’re taking time out of attending a conference right now, so we are especially blessed that you’re taking this time with us!
So, I gave kind of the bio that anyone could read on your site really, as they get to know you, but I’m hoping you’ll take a few minutes and tell us more about you and your family, and kind of your life and some special things about you.
Melanie: Okay. Well, as you said, I’m mom to 4, and I like to say I’m mom to 4 hungry eaters. I’m wife to a great guy, we’ve been together for 19 years. We were childhood sweethearts. We’re celebrating our nineteenth anniversary this summer.
Melanie: Thank you. That’s a feat.
Melanie: I have four kids. My oldest is Kade, who is 16. Then there’s Jack, who is 13. Maggie, who’s 11, and Charlotte, who’s 9. They’re all blonde.
We live in the green mountains of Vermont where the people are of a very decent sort, and local food is plentiful and easy to come by, and there’s plenty of mountain ponds and rivers to swim in, and cross-country skiing in the wintertime.
Wardee: I see your pictures on Facebook often and I think you just live a perfect life.
Melanie: Well, there are definitely some very good pieces to it.
Wardee: Yep. As it is with all of us. We all have blessings and we have challenges, and we’re going to talk about some of those challenges today; how we can make them easier.
Melanie: So, that’s kind of the synopsis of my little family. Or, big family, depending on how you look at it.
Wardee: I love that. My husband and I are on our twentieth year as well.
Wardee: Well, we just hit 19 in December. We’re about to hit 20, and like you said, it’s quite amazing to have built a life of so many years, so many rich blessings and hard work.
Melanie: Very, yep. Good stuff.
Wardee: Well, let’s get into your health story, and what brought you specifically into the realm of gut health and nutrition.
Melanie: So I spoke of those four hungry eaters. Having babies takes a large draw on the bank of internal health, and by the time #4 came around, my maternal bank account was kind of in the red. Through a series of postpartum events, my health kind of spiraled and set off my own health crisis.
Migraines, eczema, thrush… When I say thrush, I’m talking about five months of excruciating nursing. Like, crying whenever she latched on. That kind of thrush. Systemic candida, acne, fatigue, anxiety, just general aches and pains, that sort of thing.
So, I tried real food diets, the candida diet, I tried natural remedies like herbs and different supplements, which moved the needle enough to encourage me, but it was not enough to deal with all of my issues.
In the midst of my struggles, I found Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who is this neurologist from the UK who has this amazing wealth of medical knowledge paired with this wonderful traditional Russian wisdom.
I was able to hear her speak at a Weston Price conference when I was nursing my fourth. She spoke about the gut and psychology syndrome protocol, and it just… All the connections and synapses fired in my brain, you know, how, when given the proper tools, our bodies want to heal themselves. They want to take care of us and support us, but they need the right tools and often that’s going back to traditional ways, but in a structured, healing protocol.
I needed a protocol that went deeper. I found Dr. Natasha, I found GAPS.
She designed the GAPS protocol out of her own need when her small son was diagnosed with autism, and she was able to heal him and then go on to use it in her clinic with hundreds, thousands, of families. She found that by focusing on this digestive protocol she not only helped children, but the families of the children who were doing the protocol with their kids. She found that it just helped a myriad of issues along with the autistic children.
Wardee: When you hear typing, it’s because you had so many little perfect quotes here. I’m sharing them on Twitter and Facebook.
(Melanie and Wardee laugh)
Wardee: It’s just so wonderful to hear your story. I have heard her speak as well when I attended Wise Traditions in 2011, and it was the most memorable presentation. I think it was her knowledge combined with her heart.
Melanie: Yes. Yeah.
Wardee: You could just tell she is a doctor that has lived it, cared it, loved it, and puts 100% into continuing to help.
Melanie: Absolutely. She’s had to actually step back a few times for her own health because she’s so passionate about her work.
Wardee: Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing your story and how you got on this path.
Let’s talk now about what you do. You had your own health challenges, and the GAPS diet was what moved the needle significantly for you and your family, and now you are… I guess you could say following in Dr. Natasha’s footsteps because you’ve been trained with her, and now you’re helping children and families yourself. Talk a little about the work that you do, now.
Melanie: Yeah, minus the neurologist part.
(Wardee and Melanie laugh)
Melanie: So, I am trained as a nutritional therapy practitioner, as you said before — or NTP, for short — and as a certified GAPS practitioner, with further certification in a functional nutrition training by restorative wellness solutions.
What all means that I can help moms, kids, and individuals, to sort out their health in a very foundational way, crafting a GAPS plan that’s very bio-individual. Using targeted lab tests to work efficiently and specifically to each individual’s needs, or their body’s needs.
I also take their lifestyle into consideration. You need to factor in not just the food, but what’s going on in their life, you know, what food sensitivities they have that could be causing inflammation. They could be the very GAPS foods that they’re eating every day. So we test for that, we want to know what’s going on in their digestive tract that we could help move along quicker.
I’m able to very effectively help even some of the tougher cases, which a lot of GAPS cases end up being.
Wardee: Right. That’s what I’ve noticed. Everyone is just a slight bit different, and that difference is so crucial to getting over the hump to healing.
Wardee: Because it can really hold you back.
So, without divulging private client information, could you give us a simple example of something that you’ve run into that you discovered through testing, that then you were able to craft a more personalized plan?
Melanie: Right off the top of my head, just in this year, I was working with a little boy who was put on the GAPS protocol.
He was dealing with, from the time he was very little, constant vomiting and refluxing, and within a very short period of time on GAPS, that completely stopped. He’d been dealing with that since the time he was very little. But he continued to deal with some other issues, like tummy pain, and through the food sensitivity testing that I do, we were able to completely eliminate that, and get his digestion working well and kind of hammer out the rest of his health details.
That’s just a quick example right off the top of my head.
Melanie: Within GAPS, you’re eating — especially on GAPS Intro — you’re eating some pretty specific foods, and let’s for example say you have a sensitivity to chicken and cabbage, and you’re making chicken broth every day, or eating sauerkraut or sauerkraut juice every day, and you’re sensitive to those two foods. You’re going to slow down or even halt your healing process. Just by limiting those and moving to, like, beef or venison or lamb or turkey, and choosing some other vegetables to ferment… Then you’re able to kind of speed that healing process up.
Melanie: Not have the daily inflammation from those problematic foods.
Wardee: Because it’s not a one-sized-fits-all. We have these classes of healing foods, but some people are allergic. Like some people are sensitive to most protein, and so they have to find the one that they can eat.
Melanie: The one safe protein.
Wardee: The one safe protein. Well, that’s wonderful.
Melanie: So that’s my work, and then I’ve had the privilege of bringing over two hundred families through my online GAPS classes. That’s a real treat to be able to do that.
Wardee: Yeah. I mean, ’cause that’s what it’s about. It’s about helping children and families. Well, let’s back up because we’ve been talking about GAPS, which is a particular gut healing protocol, and it’s the one that worked for you to significantly move the needle with your issues, it’s also the one that you teach and that you [use to] help families.
How can someone know whether they really need GAPS at all? Because I know there’s a lot of people in our community — in the Traditional Cooking School community — who are like, ‘well, I’m not at my best…’ I get this question all the time. ‘Do I need to do GAPS, or can I just do traditional cooking, traditional foods?’
Melanie: Well, to give an example from my own story… I started with traditional foods, and made some good movement. It didn’t quite do what I needed it to do. I would say that anyone who is unwell can do well with full GAPS. That’s kind of tailored to them.
Now the specific reasons to do the GAPS Introduction diet, I’m going to read from my notes because there’s about six or so points.
If you have diarrhea of any origin, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, that kind of thing. Those real digestive issues. If you have leaky gut and inflammatory bowel conditions.
Autistic children, and all children on the spectrum, or with learning disabilities like Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy… Those are kids that should be doing GAPS Intro.
Kids and adults diagnosed with Diabetes Type I or Celiac disease… These people have serious damage to their gut lining, and they need slow and methodical healing.
Some cases of stubborn constipation, but I’ll talk more about that in the full GAPS.
And then multiple food allergies and intolerances. In those cases the gut lining is really damaged and, again, needs the slow and methodical healing.
Those are the people groups that GAPS Introduction is really meant for.
And then one more. If you have health issues that aren’t resolving on full GAPS — if you’ve tried full GAPS and they aren’t resolved — it would be time to try Intro.
I’m just leaving a link in the comments. Roxanne is asking where she can get more info, so I linked her to your 30-day prep guide. And coming up here, Roxanne, we’re going to talk about Melanie’s GAPS Class. I’ll give you a link to that right now if you want to check it out while we’re talking.
Did you have anything else to add there? Did you get through all your six?
Wardee: Okay, great. So that was really helpful. I like that, I like that you pulled out very specific conditions or symptoms that people are experiencing, where, like you pointed out, traditional food will get you a little bit, but you need more, and that’s where GAPS comes in. That’s wonderful.
Now let’s get to the promise of today’s web class. You’re very good at simplifying GAPS from the 30-day prep guide that you have for free at your site. Which, by the way, anyone can get at tradcookschool.com/30dayprepguide
I just put a link in chat, it’ll also be in the show notes: knowyourfoodpodcast.com/165
And also through your GAPS Class, we’ll talk about that in a bit, too.
But you’re here on this webclass, and you’ve promised to give us some tips.
So, GAPS can be so overwhelming. How do we make it simpler?
The things that come to my mind are people thinking they have to be a slave to the broth making, they don’t have time for anything else, they don’t even have enough time. They’re also faced with family members that are like, ‘I’m so sick of eating cooked veggies and broth and I’m not going to eat anything else ever again, because now I hate eating…’ Or just, ‘I can’t wrap my head around all the different stages of Intro, and what I can introduce when.’
Talk us through how to demystify that and make it simpler. You have led two hundred families through your GAPS class. You’ve made it simple for them. Let’s do it here.
Melanie: Okay, so, let’s start with talking about the main components of GAPS.
There’s three main components.
That being the diet, which is further broken down into Introduction diet, the full diet, and transitioning off of GAPS.
And then the second component is supplementation.
And the third is detoxification.
I’m going to focus on the diet component, and more specifically, the Introduction diet.
(Melanie takes a break while Wardee recaps)
Wardee: We’ll continue with talking about how to simplify GAPS, how to make it not overwhelming.
So, back to the overview… What the GAPS protocol does is it treats the root issue, which is the gut. And it does this by gently cleaning up, removing the flow of toxins. It removes hard-to-digest foods, and it corrects nutritional deficiencies by emphasizing healing foods which in turn restores your immune system.
Wardee: That’s a great summary.
Melanie: Great. Thanks.
So, the diet component, as I said before, it’s made of the six stage Introduction diet, the full GAPS diet, and the transitioning off of GAPS eventually.
As a whole, the nutritional protocol of GAPS lasts for 1.5 to 2 years. We’re ready to start adding in some transition foods when we’ve been about six months with no symptoms.
Melanie: So, that’s when we start talking transition foods that we haven’t been able to eat for awhile.
Wardee: I like that. I’ve never heard anyone say that as a rule, but what a great thing to go by.
Melanie: Yeah, so, we’re talking… That’s done in a very structured way, and very slowly. But if you’ve been without any digestive symptoms or symptoms that are unique to you for about six months, then you can start adding in, like, new potatoes and fermented buckwheat. Things like that. But for most, that’s at least a year, year and a half.
But for families like ours who are not coming in with issues like autism, that can be a shorter period of time, if that makes sense.
Wardee: Sure does.
The next thing I want to talk about is what the GAPS Introduction diet does. It provides building blocks for the kind of little baby cells in our digestive tract, the enterocytes, and it’s very gentle and healing because it’s low fiber. And it introduces those gentle foods gradually, starting with the very gentlest first.
It also provides beneficial microbes.
You could call it a holistic approach for diarrhea, to put it in basic terms.
(Wardee and Melanie laugh)
Wardee: I like that.
Melanie: I like to approach the Introduction diet with three different time frames. I call it my ‘three measured approaches’ to starting GAPS with your family.
Approach #1 is what is called the ‘3 to 6 month approach.’
That’s best if you’re starting from ground zero, eating a standard American diet. You don’t know much about real food, maybe you’re just discovering Wardee’s site and traditional cooking. There’s still a lot of processed food in your diet. And you found out about GAPS but you are completely overwhelmed, and you need to educate yourself.
So, in the 3 to 6 month approach, the first thing you want to do is transition to real food. And you might take a month just to remove processed foods and learn how to replace them with more traditional home versions. When you’re searching for new recipes, you could use search terms like ‘paleo,’ or ‘primal,’ or ‘real food,’ or ‘grain free.’ And just get used to that kind of cooking.
The second step would be to remove sugar and grains.
The next step would be to move to full GAPS, and here’s how I would recommend doing that.
I would take a month, where in the first week you are doing all of your breakfasts full GAPS, and then maybe the second week, you’re doing all of your snacks full GAPS, plus the breakfast. Then week three, you’re adding in GAPS lunches, and then week four, you’re adding in GAPS dinners. So that by the end of that month, you are on full GAPS.
Wardee: So what you’ve done is you’ve taken somebody from standard American diet to cleaning up the diet so that it is whole food traditional, and then you started removing some of the foods that are not included on full GAPS so that by the end of that time, they’ve very simply transitioned to full GAPS. The removal of grains, sugars, processed foods, basically?
Melanie: And then once you’re fully transitioned to full GAPS, we’ve got your cooking skills in hand, and you’re familiar with the skills that are needed, then I recommend doing the six stages of Intro in reverse, actually, before then doing them in the order they are meant to be done.
Then when you’re finally done with the six stages of Intro, then transition to full GAPS.
Now that’s the long view approach, the 3-6 months, wherein you plan tasks on your calendar by the week, gathering your sources, learning your skills, finding your recipes, that sort of thing.
Wardee: And you go through a lot of these things in your 30-day prep guide, correct?
Melanie: A lot of the skills, yep. And I’ve got plenty of recipes on the site.
Wardee: I just want to direct people to that. If you go to tradcookschool.com/30dayprepguide, you’ll be on Melanie’s site. She’s at Honest Body. You can sign up… It’s fairly obvious where to sign up to receive that prep guide. You can also explore her recipes. That’s where she walks her through some of these transition steps of gathering supplies, equipment, learning the techniques that you will need to do the GAPS diet.
Melanie: Yep. There’s also a handy little 5-day downloadable menu and checklist for the first five days of GAPS Intro.
Wardee: Yeah! I saw that.
Melanie: Which can be the roughest five days of the Introduction diet. Just being honest.
(Wardee and Melanie laugh)
Melanie: Worth it. Totally worth it.
Wardee: Totally worth it.
Melanie: My second approach is the ‘1-month approach.’
That’s best for the family, or the individual, who has a good understanding of real and traditional food. They’re ready to take their health to the next level, but they still want to and can afford to take a more measured approach.
So what that looks like is you’re planning your tasks on your calendar by the day, but you’re doing that 1 month trying GAPS foods and using the 30-day prep guide skills, and week by week you’re adding in one GAPS meal per day. First week, breakfast; second week, lunches; third week, snacks; fourth week, full GAPS; and then you start the six stage just of GAPS Intro as normally laid out.
Wardee: I like that.
Melanie: So that’s kind of my 1 month approach.
And the reason I’m giving time frames is that it’s so helpful to put it on the calendar and schedule it, and work backwards from there. In our own family, we — just a little side note, here — did GAPS while traveling in an airstream around the Western half of the country, and in a moment of ‘life is what you make of it,’ we set a date of when we were going to start GAPS, and just went for it.
Wardee: So if you can do that, anybody can. The normal way is way easier.
Melanie: It is! And if it can be done in our kitchen, it can be done.
Lastly, as far as approaches… I do have what is called the ‘next week approach.’
Wardee: This is like the cold turkey approach?
Melanie: Yes, the cold turkey approach. But there are circumstances where that’s needed.
If you have severe digestive issues, children with autism, children who are in daily pain and distress — their tummies hurt no matter what they eat, they’re doubled over and self-harming because they’re in pain — that kind of situation.
Wardee: Or wasting away.
Melanie: Or wasting away. Like these kids need nutrients and they need them now.
So in this case you don’t have the luxury of a measured approach. Or if you just happen to like the cold turkey approach.
In that case, I recommend clearing your calendar, a long weekend at least, removing some of the social obligations. I would say five days off of school or work is best. Some special needs kids need longer, of course.
I would suggest using the five days Intro checklist and menu that’s on my site, and make a grocery list. Order the Heal Your Gut cookbook, which is an awesome cookbook that’s just been available in the last couple years. It has all six stages of Intro with recipes for each stage, plus lots of amazing full GAPS recipes.
You need to prep one day ahead of yourself, and I would caution to not run out of food. It’s really when you’re dealing with detoxing, and brain fog, and all those sorts of issues, you want to have food prepped ahead of yourself.
That would be my ‘next week approach.’
Wardee: So we’ve had the 3 to 6 months, the 1 month, and the next week approach. And they’re all possible ways for people to get into GAPS very simply and not overwhelmingly. They also suit the type of family you are, where you are.
The 3 to 6 month is the family who is standard American diet.
The 1 month diet is the family who is well-versed with traditional methods, knows how to make stock and simple ferments, and has the equipment and the ingredients already down so they can transition easily into more restrictive, but they already know how to do everything.
And there’s the next week, because the person or family member just really needs the protocol right now.
Wardee: I love how you broke that down. Love it.
Melanie: So, now I’d like to talk about some basic GAPS Intro tips.
My first tip is about food sourcing, which is something really near and dear to my heart. This is an involved conversation that we talk about a lot in the GAPS Class. We just wrapped up a GAPS grocery list challenge wherein we talked about all the main foods of GAPS and where to source them regardless of where you are.
I like to recommend that you get to know your local farmers, that you spend a day evaluating your budget and pricing out your local sources. You may say, ‘what if I live in a food desert?’ That is a very possible thing in different parts of this country. So, there are some online resources.
There’s an Amish food membership called Miller’s Organics, and they ship all around the country, and it’s a lot of GAPS-friendly foods. There’s the broths, the sauerkrauts, the 24-hour yogurts and kefirs… I believe you can just Google that and find it.
Wardee: Great. I will have all of these links in our show notes: knowyourfoodpodcast.com/165
That will be available on Friday, June 10th , if you’re listening to the live recording.
Then, a special note that’s been added in recent years to the Introduction diet is that, for the first 30 days, we’re doing meat stock instead of bone broth. Meat stock has less histamines, less glutamine. When there’s a leaky gut, there’s very likely leaky blood/brain barrier, and strong, hearty, bone broth can cause issues at first.
So, chicken stock is especially gentle for Intro.
The difference between meat stock and bone broth is that meat stock is made by boiling a cut of meat on the bone. For instance, if you took a whole chicken, or a bone-in roast, and you cooked that in water for a short period of time, say, 1.5-2 hours. Whereas bone broth is made with all kinds of bones for a really long simmering time from 2 to 48 hours.
Meat stock is easier and gentler in the beginning of Intro. And you do that for 30 days, and it’s easier to make, as you can just throw your chicken in the pot with some carrots and onions and garlic and whatnot, and then an hour and a half later you’ve got your cooked chicken and you’ve got your meat stock, and that’s dinner. Everything in one pot.
Wardee: Right, and it’s not so much different as making chicken soup, right?
Wardee: So it works no matter what. You already know how to do that.
Melanie: You do.
So, to speed up your healing, there are some foods to focus on.
Those being bone marrow, the gelatinous soft-tissues around the bones of the skin — and I’ll tell you a use for that in a minute — animal fats, and organ meats.
Those are the four foods that, if possible, they need to be consumed as often as possible. They provide some of the best healing for the gut lining. They’re the nuts and bolts of what goes into making a healthy gut lining.
So, how we did this as a family… I would cook a whole chicken, and then I would collect all of the soft tissues, the skin, the fat, the connective tissues, etc., and I would combine them in a blender with salt and pepper, and this made a creamy patte that could be added to our soups and stews for extra flavor and all those reparative nutrients.
Wardee: Great. It also thickens it up, it really is delicious.
Melanie: Yes. It’s like a cream replacement.
So, tips for being smart in the kitchen. I recommend making two meals from every one that you’re making.
Wardee: Yes! That is good advice to anyone who has to cook.
Melanie: Plan 24 hours in advance for every meal. Monday morning, you’re thinking about Tuesday morning’s breakfast, and Monday night you’re thinking about Tuesday night’s dinner.
It’s a great idea to chop a week’s worth of veggies at a time and freeze them. That’s a huge time saver on Intro.
Wardee: Yeah, so you’re talking about carrots, onions…
Melanie: Carrots, squash, onions, broccoli, cauliflower. All of that can be chopped and frozen ahead of time.
Melanie: If you don’t live in the deep South where it’s… Well, even if you do live in the warm part of the country, if you keep 1 pot of soup on your stone, and if you’re home, you can reheat that throughout the day and not deal with multiple pulling out containers, heating up, then putting them back into the fridge.
This is what can be done unless you have histamine issues, wherein you need to have your food as fresh as possible.
I really can’t stress enough that when you have detox brain and you’re feeling foggy-headed, you don’t want to make it worse by going hungry. If you keep food prepared and on hand — and most of the GAPS Intro foods can be prepared ahead of time, you can stock up on ghee, meats and bones, fruits and veggies, animal fats and butter, 24-hour yogurt and kefir, quarts of sauerkraut — they all keep.
Wardee: Yep, they do. Great advice.
Melanie: The basic foods to have on hand.
Wardee: Oh, this is going to be good.
Melanie: We’ve got about 8 foods here.
A variety of meat and meaty bones and fish.
Fats, such as tallow, lard, ghee, duck fat… I love duck fat.
Yogurt and kefir, they need to be cultured for 24 hours or more. And there is a commercial brand of 24-hour cultured yogurt. It’s by White Mountain, and it’s coming to more and more health food stores. Just to put that note in there.
Melanie: Prepared meat stock. Sauerkraut. Vegetables. Eggs. And virgin olive oil.
Those are the basic foods to have on hand.
Wardee: Great list.
Melanie: Basic supplements to have on hand… And these first two aren’t technically supplements, but they kind of act as supplements digestively.
Lemon-water in the morning, and ginger tea.
And then the real supplements… A probiotic like Bio-Kult or Gut Pro.
Cod liver oil, the most unprocessed and high quality like you can.
Hydrochloric acid, which is the same acid that your own stomach cells secrete. Almost every one of my clients needs some hydrochloric acid at some point. One of the very first north-to-south digestive needs is good stomach acid which breaks down our proteins, chelates our minerals, sanitizes our foods. It has so many functions, and it sets up the rest of digestion to work properly.
Magnesium glycinate could be helpful for constipation.
And then essential fatty acids supplements, like orange or black currant seed oil, fish oil, that sort of thing.
In general, we had to take a break from all supplements on Intro; and then in stage 3, we’re adding in the probiotics and the cod liver oil; in stage 4 we’re adding in the other essential fatty acid supplements.
But there are 2 exceptions. If you’re on prescriptions that need to be weaned off under a practitioner’s care. The other exception is if digestive help is needed during Intro wherein you would use things like hydrochloric acid.
So let me get into the basic equipment.
If you’re on a budget, here’s your list; the most basic equipment. Most of us already have this in our kitchens.
You need a stock pot, and a good pan. I like cast iron and stainless steel.
You need good knives and cutting boards.
It’s really helpful to have at least an inexpensive juicer. You can pick up a Jack LaLanne juicer for less than $50, usually, from Craigslist. I’ll get into my recommendations for a better juicer when I talk about more bonus fun equipment.
Stick blender, like the Cuisinart Smart Stick. You can pick that up for like $35.
And then mason jars of assorted sizes.
Wardee: Yeah, so the family that is already traditional cooking, probably already has all those. Maybe not the juicer.
Melanie: Maybe not the juicer, yep.
So, the bonus equipment, if you have the budget. If you want to make food more fun, more gourmet sometimes, or easier…
My personal favorite for a juicer is the Omega J8006. There are other comparable or better juicers, that’s kind of my family favorite.
I really like the Excalibur dehydrators. You can do your 24-hour yogurt in it, you can dehydrate fruits and vegetables for snacks during your whole GAPS experience.
You have a jerky recipe, don’t you?
Wardee: Yep. Jerky’s great. Here’s the recipe.
Melanie: A stand mixer, like a KitchenAid, is really useful for making GAPS baked goods or making Russian custards, which are actually a stage two legal dessert to be used judiciously.
Wardee: Is that a recipe on your site?
Melanie: It is, actually.
Wardee: I’ll try to get a link to it at the show notes, knowyourfoodpodcast.com/165
Melanie: That is a recipe that comes from Dr. Natasha’s book. It’s about as simple as you can get. It’s whipped egg yolks and honey.
Wardee: Sounds delicious!
Melanie: It is!
(Wardee and Melanie laugh)
Melanie: An Instant Pot is helpful for quicker cooking.
A food processor, like Cuisinart, is wonderful to have.
And then, if you have some of the more serious issues, or you know, histamine issues, or methylation issues, it’s helpful to have air lock fermenting vessels like the Pickl-It or The Probiotic Jar to have a cleaner ferment. If you are fermenting long enough then there are less histamines to deal with.
So that’s kind of my bonus equipment list.
It’s common to deal with either stubborn constipation or diarrhea on Intro.
In the case of stubborn constipation, some tips are to either add in fresh-pressed carrot juice early in stage two, and take that with your cod liver oil. Or to try to an enigma, if you’ve not had a bowel movement in two days and nothing else is working.
In my GAPS Class, I have a whole menu of constipation remedies.
For diarrhea, we recommend that you stay put on the current stage you’re at. If it’s profuse and watery, then we would need to eliminate veggies until that clears up. You can also introduce the probiotic Bio-Kult which has been well-tested for diarrhea.
Melanie: Those are kind of my basic tips.
Wardee: Those were fantastic. I want to remind everyone that at the show notes that will be up on Friday, June 10th , we will have a complete transcript that I know you’re going to want to copy and paste to Evernote, or wherever you keep your notes, because if you go on GAPS, these are so valuable. The basic equipment, basic supplements, basic pantry list. Then there’s the special conditions of constipation or diarrhea, and Melanie has got a wealth of really simple ways to proceed.
Show notes are going to be useful for you.
Melanie: In regards to proceeding, I just want to give a couple tips on moving through Intro, because a lot of people are confused by how to move through the six stages of Intro.
Stage one is generally 1 to 2 days, unless you’re dealing with diarrhea, then you stay put until the diarrhea clears up.
Stages 2 to 4, we’re taking about 4 to 7 days for each of those stages. Now, however, if you have a whole plethora of sensitivities or if you’re one of the more severe cases like the kind requiring that you start GAPS next week, then I usually suggest one new food every third day for stages 2 through 4.
Stage 5, we’re adding in local and seasonal veggies. Raw, that is. When you’re talking about vegetables, there are endless amounts of vegetables you could be adding in. What I recommend is that you stick to what is seasonal to you and work through those one by one.
And the same for stage 6, where you’re adding in more fruits. Stick to what is seasonal, that will shrink your list of foods to work through so you’re not overwhelmed with what you can eat.
And still taking a careful approach. One new food at a time.
Wardee: That’s a great tip.
Melanie: And I’ve mentioned this before, but if you are on a stage… Here’s my kind of flow chart for how to decide how to move on.
Say you’re at Intro stage 1. If you do have diarrhea, you stay put; consider the no veggies, consider the Bio-Kult. If not, move to stage 2.
In terms of adding in new foods, if you have a food that you’re kind of wondering about adding in or not, then what is recommended is to do the skin sensitivity test.
Say you want to try egg yolk on stage 2. The night before you want to try that food, you put a drop on the inside of your wrist. If it’s a dry food, you can add a little water and make a mash. Put it on your skin.
This is a simple, at home, free test. There’s more expensive lab tests that they do with clients, but this is simple, free stuff at home.
So you would put a drop of egg yolk on the inside of your wrist and go to bed. In the morning, if there is kind of an irritated, red rash or something like that, then you would not add in that food at that time. You would move on to the next food and keep increasing what is already tolerated.
That’s basically how we approach adding in new foods as we move through the new stages.
You don’t have to halt at a stage until you can eat all the foods in that stage, you can keep moving on and just skip over the problematic foods and try them again later.
Wardee: Great. I’m glad you mentioned that, because I know so many people wonder. ‘I can’t have this one, do I have to stay here, or can I move on to something else?’ So that’s good. Lots of freedom and possibilities there.
My next thing I’d like to talk about if we have time, I see we’re coming up on 3 o’clock Eastern…
Wardee: Yeah, this has been amazing! You’re sharing amazing info.
Sure, how about one more point, and then I want to be sure to address and talk a little bit about your GAPS class, because I know people are going to be interested in maybe some more hand-holding.
Melanie: So I have kind of scripts that I have for people who want to get an idea of how to talk to their kids about GAPS. If I could, I’ve got a script that is for younger kids, and then my 16 year old son Kade actually shared a piece for teenagers.
If I may, I’ll just read those.
Wardee: Oh, I think this is fantastic.
Melanie: I’ll try to read somewhat slow, if folks want to take notes.
Wardee: They will be in a show notes, word for word. Just read at a conversational speed.
So, for little kids, younger kids…
Your body has lots of little helpers, tiny bugs inside, but your body can also get too many unhelpful bugs, or insert whatever word appropriate for your child. These unhelpful bugs don’t help us to be strong and healthy, so we need to tell them to move out and let the good bugs thrive.
We do this by taking away the unhelpful bugs’ favorite foods, like sugar, and junk food. And for awhile, we eat only food that feeds the good bugs, and makes them stronger so that they can do their jobs.
This diet can also help us by repairing our tummies, building our muscles and our bones, and helping our brains work better. It really helps all the parts of us. For a little while, though, while the unhelpful bugs are dying off, we can feel yucky and we might miss the foods that made those unhelpful bugs happy.
We can’t avoid that part, but I will help you as much as I can while they move out. We’ll take special baths, we’ll get fresh air and sunshine, watch some movies and read books, or insert favorite activities. It’s good to reward with experiences rather than food.
I also find it helpful to show the kids the stages and read to them what they can eat on each stage, and then that makes the list the guide, rather than you, and makes the list the heavy rather than you.
Wardee: Right. Good point.
Melanie: They can help make the plan from that as well.
So, my 16-year-old son Kade’s take on GAPS. He says…
It sucks sometimes. Your friends will make fun of you. It’s not a miracle that is going to fix you tomorrow, but if you ever want to feel good, if there was ever something that could benefit you more than exercise, more than just eating a few more vegetables a day or avoiding that tasty box of cereal manufactured in some lab… It’s hard, but if you really want my opinion, it’s worth it.
Anecdotally, if your teenagers have athletic goals, GAPS can help them stay really healthy, be less prone to injuries, and promote strong bones. I can attest to that in my own kids.
Wardee: Fantastic. I hope you thank your son Kade for sharing, that was a really good approach from him.
Melanie: I did.
Wardee: I think it’s great it’s coming from another teenager.
Melanie: It’s real.
Wardee: It’s real, it’s just what they think about. Great.
Well, thank you so much for the wealth of tips on simplifying GAPS. We covered a lot of ground, but it was very simple, simple lists you shared.
Everyone who is listening now or later, the show notes are knowyourfoodpodcast.com/165, those will be up on Friday, June 10th . Be sure to come by, because the sources and ingredients and foods and equipment lists, we’ll have lots of lists and you could just copy and paste wherever you want to save your document.
If you’re listening and want to switch to video, if you’re on video and want to switch to the audio version so you could listen while you’re doing dishes or walking, that’s all there for you as well.
We’re going to wrap up now with Melanie sharing about her GAPS Class, which she holds… I’m not sure how many times a year, but it is currently open. Talk to us for a few minutes about what it is, how it works.
And the link to it, everyone, is TradCookSchool.com/GAPSClass
Alright, take it away, Melanie.
Melanie: Yeah. So, it’s a ten week class that we run 2 to 3 times a year, depending on the year.
It’s 10 weeks wherein you get a different module delivered to you every Monday, and then what many consider the best part of the class, besides the great materials and resources, is you get 4 hours a week of Q&A access to a GAPS practitioner, that being myself and Jennifer Scribner who I’m partnering with for this class.
You get to ask your questions 24 hours a day, whatever suits you on the forum, and then we answer them during what I call office hours. For this round, that’s going to be Wednesday mornings, 9 to 11, Eastern, and then Friday afternoons, 2 to 4, Eastern time.
And if we have time, I’ll just briefly touch on what is in the modules.
Wardee: I think that would be good to briefly list the ten modules.
So, module one is dealing with both the organization of the course, and the organization and structure of the gut and digestion.
Module two, we’re talking about the psychological symptoms of GAPS. How the gut is connected to the brain and the more neurological issues. The food focus of that module is meat stock and broth; how to make them, how to use them.
By the way, we have cooking videos for all the main GAPS foods, as well, included in the GAPS class.
Module three deals with the physical symptoms of GAPS and how gut health is connected to the rest of our body. For instance, chronic cystitis, or asthma, or eczema. We have a food focus in that module of ghee; how to make it, how to use it.
Module four is a heavy one. We talk about the nutritional protocol, all the parts and pieces of GAPS. We also talk about fermenting; anerobic fermenting, probiotics. That’s a big one. We talk about dairy introduction, with a food focus on sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice.
Module five talks about full GAPS; breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack ideas, food lists, cool lunch menus, eating with other people, traveling.
Wardee: Very practical.
Melanie: Yes, very practical.
And then module six deals with the six stages of the GAPS Introduction diet, with menu ideas for each stage, recipes for each stage, the five days of Intro menu and checklist. The food focus for module six is crispy nuts and nut butter.
In module seven we talk about supplementation; the basic GAPS supplements plus additional complimentary supplements, like homeopathics. There’s a bonus workbook in that module that was put together by a doctor of homeopathy that works with a lot of autistic children and GAPS kids.
And then in module eight, we talk about GAPS detoxification, and how to use, and the resources, the different types of detoxification that are used in the GAPS protocol. Our food focus is GAPS yogurt and sour cream.
Module nine covers more practical matters; typical situations that come up and natural remedies for them. There’s a bonus workbook on budgeting in that module.
And then module ten deals with GAPS pregnancy and new babies. How to do GAPS when you’re pregnant, tips for the best start for your baby, with bonuses on postpartum depression and menus and recipes for GAPS pregnancy.
There’s a couple bonus modules on the heart-diet hypothesis. Heart disease, animal fats versus vegetable fats, cholesterol, that sort of thing. Those are extra bonuses.
Wardee: Wow. It’s impressive, it’s really impressive. Congratulations. I know you’ve been working on it for a couple years, and you’ve offered it several times and it seems like it just keeps getting better, and this time you have a partner practitioner, so you have more videos and more recipes.
I’m just so thrilled you’re making this available to children and families. Thank you.
Melanie: Yes. It’s a pleasure to do this work, and to run this class.
Wardee: So, we are featuring the GAPS Class on this episode of Know Your Food with Wardee, because Melanie’s GAPS Class is currently open. She’s taking enrollments through June 20th . The class starts on June 20th .
All the information is at TradCookSchool.com/GAPSClass.
If you’re listening to this way later, Melanie does open it up 2 to 3 times a year, so take advantage of her free 30-day prep guide, but also be on her mailing list by grabbing the 30-day prep guide so you can be first informed when she opens up again.
You can join in the next time!
This information that she shared today is so, so valuable. It may be enough to get you a head start, and get you already going.
Once again, links for you, everyone:
knowyourfoodpodcast.com/165 for links and transcript and video and audio and everything we’ve discussed today.
The GAPS Class itself is at TradCookSchool.com/GAPSClass.
The thirty day prep guide is at TradCookSchool.com/30dayprepguide.
Melanie, is there anything else you want to share before we wrap up?
Melanie: And we do offer a two-payment plan.
Wardee: Great! Well, Melanie, thank you so much for your time. You’ve taken time out of the conference, you put together an amazing set of tips and lists for everyone. I really appreciate you being so, so, generous with your wisdom and your experience.
Melanie: Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here, Wardee.
Wardee: It was a pleasure for me, too, to visit with you.
Alright, everyone, well, check out the show notes and the GAPS Class, and be sure to let me or Melanie know if you need any help with GAPS, or questions or anything about what’s been shared today.
God Bless you all, bye-bye.
About Melanie Christner, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner & Certified GAPS Practitioner
Melanie Christner is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Certified GAPS™ Practitioner in VT, trained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, with further training in functional nutrition through Restorative Wellness Solutions.
Melanie’s passion is helping families navigate digestive therapy in a way that is understandable and well-supported. Having four children of her own, she loves working with children and families, and she endeavors to pair her desire to nourish with practical efficacy for clients.
Work with Melanie through her GAPS Class and join hundreds of our families with children who have successfully used GAPS to get further on their healing journeys!
About The GAPS Class
The GAPS Class is a 10-week program for busy parents of young children, who are determined to provide a healthy environment for their child to grow or adults who want to restore their health.
If you want to know
- what foods are the best to eat
- how to plan for and prepare meals
- how to eliminate fussy eating and make meals everyone will enjoy
- how to make these changes in a systematic and non-overwhelmed way
… and you want to see your family thriving – happy, healthy, emotionally balanced, sleeping well, energized all day, and able to focus. Then you want the GAPS gut-healing diet.
In Melanie’s GAPS Class, you’ll learn…
- how the brain and the digestive system works together
- how to best support the brain and gut by choosing your foods wisely, based on a proven protocol designed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
- how to prepare GAPS foods
- meal planning tools
- budgeting tips
- what products to use on your body that support the brain and gut
- the importance of a daily routine to support this new lifestyle
You will be completely supported throughout the class – and beyond through Melanie’s private Facebook community.
- GAPS Class — enrolling now through October 3 (or check for current openings)
- Free 30-Day GAPS Prep Guide
- see transcript above for specific foods or tools mentioned
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