GAPS for Beginners Series: The GAPS Introduction Diet

This is the last scheduled post in my GAPS for Beginners Series. I may, however, add more posts at a later date if I think they’re warranted. Is there anything I’ve missed that you’d like me to cover? Or do you have any other questions? I’m happy to answer.

Today I want to spend a little bit of time talking about the GAPS introduction diet. (Or intro, for short.) I’ve left this until the end because I feel that reading about the introduction diet can be really overwhelming when you’re first learning about GAPS. The prospect of doing the introduction diet may even be enough to keep you from doing GAPS altogether. Since I think GAPS can be beneficial for so many people, I’d hate to see people scared off because they’re worried about intro.

Not Everyone Needs Intro

First off, I don’t think that everyone needs the introduction diet. If you only have minor health issues, you may heal very well on just the full GAPS diet. I do think that many people can benefit from doing the introduction diet, but don’t let the prospect of having to do the introduction diet deter you from GAPS if you think GAPS could really help you. Ultimately you get to make the choice about whether you do intro or not. The intro diet was actually a later addition to the GAPS protocol, so plenty of people have healed using only the full GAPS diet.

Waiting to Start Intro

Secondly, even if you do think that you need the introduction diet, in most cases there is no need to start the GAPS diet with the introduction diet. If you have severe digestive issues, such as diarrhea or abdominal pain, you will probably want to start GAPS with the introduction diet because it has a better chance of quickly relieving your symptoms. In most other cases, however, I think waiting to do the introduction diet is actually a better plan. Depending on your diet pre-GAPS, switching to the GAPS diet may be quite a dramatic change. Starting with the full GAPS diet will give you some time to figure out new meals and cooking habits without having to be so restrictive and regimented as you need to be on the intro diet.

When to Do Intro

Once you’re more comfortable eating and cooking GAPS food, you may decide that you’re ready to take on the intro diet. Whenever possible, I think the best strategy is to start the introduction diet during a period that you can afford to take things easy for a little while. The intro diet can be rather stressful because it involves a lot of cooking. It also tends to bring on die-off so you may feel lousy for a while. You’ll be setting yourself up for success if you schedule intro for a time that you can drop some responsibilities if you feel overwhelmed or unwell.

If you can’t find a good time for intro, I’d still say go for it and see how it goes. You may find that you manage well and feel just fine. If things do become too overwhelming, you can always go back to the full GAPS diet and retry intro at a later date.

Finding More Details on Intro

I’m not going to go into detail about how to actually implement the introduction diet. If you’re interested in reading more, though, this page from GAPSdiet.com gives some good directions.

Do you think you need the intro diet? If you’ve already done intro, when did you implement it? Were you happy with your decision or do you think you started too early/late?  

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14 Responses to GAPS for Beginners Series: The GAPS Introduction Diet

  1. I totally agree about working into doing the intro. I actually spent several months prior to fully starting GAPS and intro working all of these new foods into my diet. I slowly increased the amount of GAPS-meals we were eating. I think it made my start much more successful.

    I am now getting ready to do a shorter version of intro again for further healing. The great thing is that I have a better idea this time around of how to make sure I’m fully prepared to start!
    Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen recently posted..The Secret to Delicious, Homemade Peanut ButterMy Profile

    • Meghan says:

      I’ll be interested to hear how your second intro goes. I’ve wondered whether I should do intro again but it just doesn’t sound very appealing…

  2. Jer Marie says:

    Would like to try my intro diet soon. Hopefully I can cope up with the challenge. See you soon!!!
    Jer Marie recently posted..armed security guardMy Profile

  3. Raine says:

    Hi, I just tried gaps intro. I’m a vegetarian but eat fish and eggs etc (I believe that’s Pescetarian). I made some chicken broth, determined to put healing first and on the first night I was violently sick about 10 times throughout the night! I now cannot face broth at all. How else could I do intro? Maybe just eat boiled veggies and fish??
    Please tell me if anyone has also had problems. Much appreciated

    • Meghan says:

      Hi Raine,
      Wow, I’m really sorry to hear about your reaction to the chicken broth! That sounds terrible. I completely understand you wanting to avoid broth for a while. If you absolutely can’t stomach the idea of trying broth again, then yes, I think you can just proceed with intro and leave out the broth for now. So do boiled veggies and fish and add in other foods as intro instructs.
      Were you making bone broth or meat stock? Meat stock is cooked much shorter than bone broth and is recommended for people starting intro. Patty from Loving Our Guts has a great description here. If you made bone broth this first time you might try meat stock instead and see if you tolerate that better.
      You might also try other types of broth. Since you’re used to eating fish, maybe fish would be easier to start with.
      But yes, some people just don’t tolerate broth (or even meat stock) in the beginning. So you’re definitely not alone. :)
      You might also consider posting your question on the GAPShelp yahoo group. There are many knowledge (and caring!) people on that list who might be able to offer more advice.
      I hope you feel better soon!

  4. Raine says:

    Thank you so much for your quick reply. I felt disheartened but feel better and positive again now. I put a whole fresh chicken (minus giblets) into my slow cooker and cooked it overnight. That link you sent me was very useful from patty. I shall perhaps try another meat broth in a while. Thanks again. Great blog

  5. I came across your blog in my GAPS research online and feel doubly blessed to have found you. My husband and I are just starting out on our GAPS journey and I am finding some helpful information on your blog. And your reasons for trying GAPS parallels my husband’s. It has been encouraging for us to read your story. I will probably have more questions as I go, but tonight as I have two crock pots going with broth it occurred to me that I don’t know if I can leave the broth out over night with the heat turned off. Do you happen to know? How did you keep your broth going day in and day out? I am putting it into smaller pots tonight and putting it in the refrigerator, but would like to leave this extra step out if it can stay in an unheated crock pot overnight.

    • Meghan says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’m glad you’re finding my blog helpful! As to your question, personally I don’t think I would feel comfortable leaving broth out to cool overnight. I’ve read that broth spoils easily and I’m personally particularly sensitive to “off” food so I wouldn’t risk it. You have to decide what you feel comfortable with, though, of course.

      Is there a reason that you don’t want to just leave your crockpot on overnight? As far as I know that’s a safe practice…I’m not an expert, or anything, but I’ve certainly seen plenty of recipes that involve running your crockpot overnight.

      Most of the time I actually just cook the broth on my stovetop for twenty-four hours. I really don’t know if leaving your stove on overnight is “officially” safe, but I feel comfortable doing so. I feel like I’m able to control the temperature better with my stove than in my crockpot so I prefer to use the stove when I’m going to around all day (and night) to keep an eye on it. If I’m going to be out for more than an hour or so that day then I’ll use the crockpot instead.

  6. Aimee says:

    Hi Meghen,
    I found your blog and wanted to know if you could clear up a few things for us?
    First of all my 16 year old was diagnosed with Sjogrens Disease last month. I found the gaps diet through a friend and started reading the book. My daughter and I are both on board to start this. My boyfriend on the other hand is scared he will lose mass (he lifts weights).
    So today I bought a whole chicken and put it in the crock pot. The butcher only broke one bone. He wasn’t very helpful.
    My question is this: my daughter has come down with a cold today and taking over the counter meds. Should we start another day or can she still take those to help with her symptoms?
    Also, I’m so confused as to when I can add veggies to the soup. I’ve looked everywhere. The Intro diet seems to get blended a lot with the regular diet.
    Can you please help?

    • Hi Aimee,
      Do you mean when in intro can you add veggies? You can start having veggies right from the beginning. You’ll probably want to start out avoiding the more fibrous veggies, like broccoli stems, leafy greens, and cabbage.

      As for the over-the-counter medications, personally I don’t think I’d take them while starting intro. If she can’t just stop taking them right away, you may indeed want to wait a few days to start into.

  7. Gayle says:

    Hey Meghan,
    My husband and I too just started the GAPS diet. Is there instructions on making beef bone broth?
    We are days six. He had some stomach problems on days 3 and 4. I was so achey and sore on day 5. However, we are sticking to it!

  8. Rachael says:

    Hello! I came upon your blog randomly but so glad I did! I’ve been reading through your posts on the GAPS diet and think it is something that I have to try. I can’t seem to find anything about how long each phase is. Recommendations?
    Rachael recently posted..My Journey – Gluten CrazyMy Profile

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