Healing with the GAPS Diet – INTRO (Day 1)

So, I’ve heard about the GAPS diet (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) for several years now. People that have followed it claim they’ve cured many of their and their children’s chronic ailments and diseases, usually of the autoimmune family. Yes, I said CURED.

I knew when first hearing about the GAPS diet, that we just weren’t there yet. Yes, my son’s skin was really out of control, but we had to try other options first. In fact, I wanted to be able to say we’d exhausted all our other resources first. Why? Because the diet is not easy – it’s far from it. And frankly, I really didn’t want to have to put our family through it.

Preparing chicken stock for GAPS diet healing.

Preparing chicken stock for GAPS diet healing.

But fast forward some years and I can honestly say that we’ve tried pretty much everything out there from NAET, to homeopathy, osteopathy, to supplements and conventional medicine as well, even steroids back in the very beginning. While some of these things helped for a time, they did not CURE my son of his ailments. I do know some of these methods, as well as acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, have really been helpful for some, but unfortunately, they were not the answer for us. As far as I was concerned, there is no CURE for eczema, asthma, and allergies or even sensitivities.

We’ve also done a few elimination diets in the past, quite successfully too. Thanks to eliminating dairy and gluten, and some tree nuts completely, as well as only allowing moderate consumption of soy, corn, tomatoes, and coconut, my son, Tristan’s, skin has improved by leaps and bounds. But despite eliminating these trigger foods/sensitivities (as well as full-blown IgE allergies), the eczema still persists. We keep the mild flare ups under control with a variety of creams, but it doesn’t stop at eczema, we’re also dealing with asthma as well as food allergies and food sensitivities.

I don’t want to continue just treating him, I want to heal him and I want to cure him because…

  • I don’t want him to grow up worrying that something he may eat could send him into anaphylactic shock or worse.
  • I don’t want him to feel singled out at birthday parties and school activities when he has to eat differently from everyone else. Sure, he can have birthday cake, but it’s not the exact same cake. Even though other kids may not notice, he certainly does.
  • I don’t want him to be bullied because of his allergies, asthma, or eczema.
  • I’d like to get a break from preparing every single meal and snack from scratch to ensure it’s safe.
  • I don’t want to have to worry about all his medications being with us at all time and up to date.
  • I don’t want to get that sick feeling in my stomach each time Tristan coughs, assuming he’s either heading into an allergic reaction or he’s going to get an illness and his asthma will flare.

Can all these worries really just go away? Is there really a cure for these allergic conditions that plague so many children and adults? According to many families on the GAPS Kids FB support page (which I’m sad to say is no longer accepting new members as the admins cannot keep up with the demand), after following the GAPS Intro diet many parents saw improvements in their children’s conditions after just a couple of days and many saw IgE food allergies disappear altogether after a time. The same stories kept popping up about eczema, asthma, autism, seizures, and more. Children cured. Adults cured. Although I don’t know most of these families personally, so I was a more than a bit skeptical, I have had the fortune to meet a local mom whose child was born with such severe allergies, she was not able to consume her mother’s breast milk (even though the mother was on a strict elimination diet) and at only a few months old, the baby was failing to thrive on every formula they tried. She was dying and her doctor’s had given up hope. The parents began the GAPS Intro diet and their baby began to gain weight in a couple of days. The family has kept their daughter on the GAPS diet and she’s now a strong, healthy toddler that had almost no chance of surviving before. They keep adding foods back into her originally, very limited diet, and she’s doing extraordinarily well. She is not able to eat just anything yet, but they are hopeful. And their story gave me hope, and I hope it will do the same for you.

After hearing about the GAPS diet for years, learning about families like the one above that have had success on the diet, and realizing we’d finally come to the end of our rope, we decided to start the GAPS diet. I hope to heal my son and myself as well. (I have a variety of heath ailments (you can find here) I’ve tried to heal with previous elimination diets, which have helped, but have not cured me.) I understand this may not happen, but I am hopeful and I feel that I must try.

Take a look here to understand more about what the GAPS diet is and how it works. The general premise is that for many people with autoimmune disorders, the intestinal lining has become damaged, thus allowing foods and food proteins to leak into our blood stream, creating the coined phrase leaky gut. This leaky gut leads to inflammation in the body and in turn provides the right environment for autoimmune disorders to thrive. The idea behind the diet is that the gut can be healed following a strict regime of consuming gentle, nourishing foods and removing hard to digest foods, while sometimes also supplementing with cod liver oil, probiotics and a few other supplements. Foods are added back in to the diet over multiple stages, allowing each individual to pass through these stages of healing at their own speed. Some people are only on the diet for six weeks, for others, healing takes longer, 2 years and more.

We started the GAPS Intro diet today. And just to clarify, there is the GAPS Intro, which is the beginning of the diet, and there is the Full GAPS diet, which is where you end up indefinitely or for some time before ending the GAPS journey by adding all foods back into your diet. You can find a good explanation here.

The GAPS Intro diet is very restrictive and basically only allows meat broths made from scratch as well as boiled meats and veggies for the first few days before moving on. At first I thought it would be really easy to cook on GAPS Intro because the diet is so limited and simple. But because of its simplicity, the food can get boring – fast. So, I found this meal plan to follow on GAPS Intro and I plan to use this and supplement with some other basic recipes I happen across online.

Here we go…….

You can follow along with our GAPS Intro journey here.


  1. The Allergista on January 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Dang, good for you for putting in the effort! Can’t wait to see if it works!

    • Jennifer on January 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks! I have to try everything until he’s eczema, allergy, and asthma free. I’m not giving up. I hope this is the answer, finally!

  2. Brandi H on January 22, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Hi Jennifer,
    I came across your blog at just the right time, and I’m excited to follow your journey! My husband is following a version of the GAPS diet, and he has had wonderful improvement of his autoimmune condition. It is a pain, but it really does work! My daughter has food and environment allergies, and we have recently gotten her eczema under control through MANY environmental changes (including re-homing our dog). We just found out this week that my son has a tree nut allergy. Even with the eczema under control, I’m interested in how trying this diet might cure the underlying cause of their allergies. It really WOULD be nice not to have to cook every meal from scratch. 🙂 Good luck!

    • Jennifer on January 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Hi Brandi – Wouldn’t it be great to be able to take out once in a blue moon? Fingers crossed this really does help eliminate allergies altogether. What a miracle that would be!

  3. Kristi on January 24, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Good luck! I can’t wait to hear about your journey. Sounds like my son is very similar to yours. I’ve toyed with this diet too, but like you said, it’s so daunting! Thankfully my son’s eczema is under pretty good control right now, but he is on other medications for his asthma that I would love for him to be off of. And the ever present epi-pen- I’d love to get rid of those forever!

    • Jennifer on January 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      I totally understand! I hope the diet works for you and you’re convinced to give a chance too!

  4. Jennifer on January 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Chelsea had a hard time leaving a comment, but emailed me this and asked that I share her story with GAPS. And of course I’m happy to do so! – Jennifer

    “I also noticed your post about the GAPS diet and wanted to take a minute to share our experience. Just like you, we put it off…for a long time. It was only in desperation last year during an eczema herpeticum outbreak that I decided I’d absolutely had ENOUGH. Though I adore our family physician, and he’s very holistic in nature, I moved on to a naturopath who told us we really had no choice, we had to do GAPS. So we went for it. It was during a crazy period in our family’s life, too – we had just put our house on the market (FSBO, no less) and it sold immediately and we had to pick up and move cross-country from Kansas to South Carolina. Even so, we somehow made it through. I honestly thought, going into it, that it was just going to be the death of me. But we survived…and thrived! My daughter had the most severe eczema at the time of all my kids. My youngest was pretty bad, too, and my oldest had a moderate breakout at about 1 year (right after having peanut butter, which he reacted pretty badly to and is severely allergic to). His only lasted 6 months, thank God! He had some other health problems, though, so I put him on GAPS as well. Initially, they were all worse. My son refused to eat for 4 days (he was the picky one – the oldest – the one who our naturopath said would be most difficult to get on board), but just as I’d been told, on the fifth day he began to eat…and he hasn’t stopped since! All three kids are ravenous, amazing eaters now. They still have a few things they don’t like, but now they beg for things like “More broccoli!” and “More peas, please!” 🙂

    My youngest was seemingly reacting to everything. Still to this day, his list of safe foods is VERY short, probably only 15 or 20 things he can safely eat without vomiting, breaking out in hives/swelling up or seeing an eczema flare. I almost quit right around a week because I saw no improvement, and had convinced myself my youngest was getting worse than ever. But our MD confirmed that GAPS is good, and healthy, and that we should give it at a minimum, six months. He told me that the reason I (and others) discredit the food allergy/sensitivity element is because we don’t eliminate for long enough. He said the myth of 2 weeks or even a month is just that: a myth. For some, it can happen. But we’re generally talking about healing a leaky gut, which usually takes a minimum of 2 months. And for us, that was exactly it! At one month, we saw mild improvement, but nothing earth shattering. At two months, my daughter was almost eczema-free! It felt like a true miracle. It’s been six months now and she is still about 98% eczema-free, and the only time her tiny patch or two bother her at all is if she’s crying quite a bit or sick. And even then, it doesn’t impact our life at all anymore. Which is saying so much, because one year ago, our life absolutely revolved around my children and their severe eczema. My youngest improved drastically after I weaned him (he didn’t get much better on GAPS like my daughter did, and I failed miserably at staying on the diet, so my last hunch was that it could be my breastmilk, and within one week of being weaned, he was probably 95% eczema-free). Winter has brought on a flare for him, but mild in comparison to life a year ago, and I do believe we still have things in his diet that are bothering him because he has very frequent diarrhea (and the eczema flares at the same time he has diarrhea every. single. time). For both my daughter and son, we had to go beyond GAPS. I had to cut out additional foods based on initial hunches (most come from the Oral Allergy Syndrome list – all three kids react badly to bananas – and Landon has some really strange food intolerances that most people would never even think of eliminating). I learned to just listen to my gut, and I knew that a few months without a food wasn’t going to hurt them. They do surprisingly well eating the exact same thing over and over again, so I think I was the stumbling block there – *I* was afraid of subjecting them to boring food, when in reality, they are totally fine with it. 🙂


  5. momversusfoodallergy on January 31, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I can’t wait to read updates on your GAPS journey! I’ve thought about trying it, too, with my son but you’re right, it’s so daunting and overwhelming to make such a change. Best wishes and I hope this brings positive results for your family!!

    • Jennifer on February 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks Rachel! I hope it goes well for us and maybe our story can help others decide to try healing via this route.

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