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GAPS Diet Basics & Getting Started

Looking for GAPS resources as a way to improve your health?

started the GAPS diet in May of 2011 as a way to eliminate symptoms of panic, anxiety, and insomnia. I’ve read and heard many, many testimonials from people who have healed on GAPS.

I’ve been health coaching for almost 3 years with an emphasis in GAPS by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride and related protocols. I have also provided GAPS workshops in my local community and educating people about how beneficial the basic foods that are used in GAPS are for lifetime health.

For these reasons, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a basic reference page for GAPS fundamentals and resources.

It’s been profound to learn about the healing power of traditional foods – the very same foods that Dr. Weston A. Price discovered in his world travels to isolated cultures who were consuming nutrient-rich foods that contained up to TEN times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins that we currently consume in our modern diets – A, D, E, and K2.

My health problems were chronic and spanned for over 2 decades of time. Things only got worse the older I got, with panic and anxiety like symptoms that I was told were connected to gallbladder problems (I had my gallbladder removed in 2001), and also thyroid (hormonal issues).

It wasn’t until I started GAPS that I saw an abrupt ending come to these symptoms I’d suffered through for at least half my life: racing heart, jitteryness, chronic fatigue, digestive problems of varying kinds, general feelings of doom and negativity, muscle weakness, nausea, and general malaise. I also experienced frequent colds and flus – especially in the winter time.

What is the GAPS diet?

Dr. McBride developed the protocol out of a lack of resources and need to resolve her own son’s issues who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Through both trial and error and diligent research, she discovered that many diseases including autism happen due to digestive breakdown which leads to nutritional deficiencies throughout the body.

Starches, grains, and sugar all contribute to breaking down lining in the gut and generate pathogenic bacteria. The gut lining becomes permeable due to poor dietary and lifestyle habits – processed foods, stress, use of antibiotics, steroids, NSAIDs, and birth control, lack of adequate rest, exposure to environmental toxins, etc.

When undigested foods and other substances penetrate the intestinal lining and go into the bloodstream. This causes an auto-immune response. Undigested substances that reach the blood-brain barrier cause additional issues:

These deficiencies are responsible for a variety of health issues including autism, hyperactivity, ADD, eczema, depression, dyspraxia, and many others that may be seemingly unrelated.

The common link in all of these disorders is breakdown of the mucosal lining in the intestinal tract from poor lifestyle and dietary choices – stress, environmental toxins, processed foods, and a lack of essential nutrients which are necessary to maintaining overall health and well-being.

Not only do nutritional deficiencies cause a wide array of symptoms which point to various health problems, many of these problems are the same in many people yet manifest themselves in unique ways.

Symptoms include:

  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Thyroid and hormonal problems
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dyspraxia (motor movement issues)
  • Autism
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes and insulin- resistance
  • Digestive disorders such a colitis, Crohn’s Disease, IBS
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both)
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Joint stiffness or pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Food sensitivities

For example, a child with autism or hyperactivity could have the same basic physiological problems and experience symptoms of autism or hyperactivity, while an adult with similar issues might exhibit symptoms of chronic panic or anxiety. An elderly person could experience symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease – a condition that is linked to the presence of heavy metals in the body and nutritional deficiencies – especially of minerals since heavy metals displace minerals in the body. All conditions are exacerbated by heavy metal toxicity and not enough minerals in the body.

Although GAPS is an extremely beneficial and healing protocol that can help a variety of health issues, it is not a cure-all or guaranteed way to improve your health. If you have tried GAPS and aren’t healing or improving the way you need, check out these resources:

If GAPS hasn’t worked for you or yours, read this – Nourishing Our Children.

The GAP in GAPS? What you need to know – Nourishing Hope, Julie Matthews

General resource links

GAPS is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) created by Elaine Gottschall. Here is her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet.

What can I eat on the GAPS diet?  Printable sheet reference guide showing what you can eat on the GAPS diet to hang in your kitchen or keep in a place where you have easy access

FAQ GAPS diet questions – from the Gut and Psychology Syndrome site

GAPS Diet Journey – testimonials, interviews, resources, and links

Gut and Psychology Syndrome/GAPS Diet Facebook page – great resource and forum for those getting started and for those looking for a place to interact and ask questions.

Explanation of GAPS dietary protocol including the Intro stages – additional information to supplement the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, for the Intro part of the GAPS diet, 6 stages

5 most common mistakes made on GAPS – Healthy Home Economist

10 reasons GAPS is better than gluten-free – Well Fed Homestead

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Is GAPS safe during breastfeeding? – Health, Home, Happiness


Internal Bliss – GAPS Cookbook

9 reasons to make bone broth  – health benefits and recipe for broth

GAPS-friendly recipes – The Liberated Kitchen

GAPS-friendly recipes – GAPS Diet Journey

GAPS recipes – MyGutsy

Recipes and ideas for what to eat on the GAPS Introduction Diet – Keeper of the Home

GAPS-friendly, grain-free pancakes w/vanilla, cinnamon, and raw honey

Cookbooks, guides, & cooking e-courses

Grain-free meal plans (menu mailers) – Health, Home, Happiness

GAPS Freezer Cooking Guide – Health, Home, Happiness

What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on the GAPS Diet – Cara Comini, Health, Home, Happiness

Beyond Grain & Dairy Cookbook – Starlene Stewart, GAPS Diet Journey

Go Grain-Free Online Class – Real Food Forager

Guide to Grain-Free, Dairy Free Baking, Sweets and Treats – Nourished Kitchen

Get Cultured Cooking Class – Nourished Kitchen (How to create fermented foods)

Interviews and related

Dr. Mercola interviews Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride

My GAPS experience for panic disorder and GAPS radio interview

My interview on GAPS Diet Journey – Empowered Sustenance

GAPS Diet Journey Radio Interview – Loving Our Guts


8 replies on “GAPS Diet Basics & Getting Started”

I’m so glad I found your website. I just listened to an interview you did on how you improved your anxiety and panic and I can totally identify with you. Since have children, I have 3 now ages 6,4, and 20 months, I have gone downhill as far as my ability to deal with life in general. My anxiety is worse than ever and panic is now a regular feeling keeping me from wanting to even be around people. I too wake at night and in the morning with pangs of anxiety in my stomach which is not restful at all! I’ve heard of the gaps diet for a while now and just ordered the book so I can begin planning and preparing for this diet. I’ve always felt like the cure to my anxiety was within myself. My body was out of whack and I needed to help it get back. I always felt my diet was the answer. I’ve cut out processed foods and eat quite healthy and it’s hard to fathom that I would have to go further to get my body back in balance. But…I can’t see from other peoples stories that sometimes that is the case. Merely eating unprocessed or organic isn’t going to do the trick. I’m so ready for a change and I feel like I am ready to do this. If someone told me about it a year ago I would have said no thanks, but I am ready for the change. I can’t wait for the book to get here. Thank you for such an inspiring story that I could identify with, it gives me hope.

Hi Hannah – I am glad you found my interview and this site helpful. I struggled for so many years with panic and anxiety, I really wanted to share what I’d learned with others. I know there are so many people who also struggle with this issue and are on medications or might even be taking a lot of natural remedies and are getting nowhere. It’s a cycle that spins out of control, for sure, and it seems like you will never be able to get it under control. But fortunately, adding in frequent servings of traditional foods like broth and fermented or cultured foods, and healthy fats can really make a difference – and also, eliminating the processed foods and as many chemicals in your environment is another big one, and getting enough rest & stress relief. Please let me know if you have any questions I could answer. I wish you the best of luck in your health journey.

Thank you! The more I read about your story the more i identify with it. I can’t wait to start the diet I just need my darn book to arrive! We live in Idaho as well. Our library does not offer it. Do you have an actual practice where you consult with patients or is it over the internet mainly?

My biggest fear is that I’ll feel more panic and anxiety on the diet! There are stories of it not working for people but I just keep believing that after 3 long years of a roller coaster ride of emotions it’s time for healing, oh to be able to be a better mom and wife again!

Hi Hannah – some people don’t respond on GAPS, that’s true, but you won’t know until you try it. I am a health coach and I provide coaching services to those who need it locally, by phone, and e-mail. There are many reasons why GAPS may not work – either because it wasn’t applied properly or because the person doing it needs something in addition to GAPS or something different entirely. Many people can benefit from digestive enzymes as they are basic to every functioning digestive tract. Because so many of us are deficient in enzymes due to poor digestive condition, enzymes are always beneficial and can help with the healing of the mucosal lining of the digestive tract – something that is broken down in anyone with digestive problems. GAPS helps to deliver more of the nutrition your body needs since it includes many easy-to-digest, nutrient-dense foods, and also heals the intestinal lining as do the enzymes. I recommend Enzyme Formulations in conjunction with GAPS and that they be used faithfully until symptoms subside. Let me know if you have any other questions.

The enzymes must be obtained through a practitioner, check the “Help” tab on the front page of this web site and click “Find a practitioner” for more information. If you can’t find one, my ND Stephanie Kennedy in Meridian uses these and does phone consults.

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