5 Unexpected Benefits of GAPS Diet

Heather Dessinger

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gaps diet benefits

When our family started eating based on the GAPS Diet, I didn’t know what to expect. It was an exploratory journey filled with bone broth, bone broth, and, well… more bone broth. While that initial phase may not have been the most exciting, I noticed 5 unexpected benefits of GAPS Diet for our family along the way.

Benefit #1: No One Ever Asks What’s For Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Because it’s always soup! Yes, there’s some variety . . . butternut squash soup, broccoli and beef soup, chicken carrot stew . . . but no matter the question, the answer is SOUP.

Benefit #2:We’re Finally Getting Some Respect

For years people have looked at us like we’re aliens for our food choices. Not that I blame them. What other family have you recently overheard saying “โ€œI said Iโ€™m ready to talk about how many chicken bones you got, not how many bodies are in the fridge“??? Yeah, that really happened.

But hey, now that we’re “on a diet” people finally seem to “get” us. Seriously, whether I eat jelly beans all day or nothing but ghee and squash, as long as I call it a diet everyone’s on board. I’m trying to figure out how to apply this loophole to situations other than food. ๐Ÿ™‚

Benefit #3: Eat Fat, Lose Fat

Since the late 1950’s, we’ve been barraged by the message that fat makes you fat, saturated fats (such as those found in butter, eggs, and red meat) are unhealthy, and tropical fats and oils (like coconut and palm) are downright deadly. And yet-despite our dutiful efforts to eliminate saturated fats from our diet for fear of high cholesterol levels and hardened arteries-obesity, heart disease, and cancer rates have continued to climb.

Based on more than two decades of research by world-renowned biochemist and fats expert Dr. Mary Enig, Eat Fat, Lose Fat flouts conventional wisdom by asserting that so-called “healthy” vegetable oils (such as soybean and corn) are in large part responsible for our national obesity and health crises, while the saturated fats traditionally considered “harmful” (such as those found in coconut oil and butter) are, in fact, essential to weight loss and health.

Eat Fat, Lose Fat (emphasis mine)

Sheesh. Inย  the last couple of months I finally caved and read one teeny-tiny little diet book . . . now here I am quoting another one! It’s true, though. The intro diet is very high in FAT and protein, yet my husband has shed at least another 10 pounds.

Here he is oneย  month ago (before starting GAPS) and today. It’s hard to tell because of the lighting, but the dark circle under his eyes are becoming lighter, too.

Screen Captures

Benefit #4: I Started A Bucket List

This is not a list of things to do before I die, it’s simply a list of times I’ve had to use the puke bucket since starting GAPS. So far, twice. To my complete surprise I have had two massive detox episodes. This was completely unintentional since I do not want to detox too heavy while breastfeeding, and yet its a testament to the healing power of this diet.

I’m not taking herbs or any supplements except for cod liver oil. This is just food, healing me from the inside out. Before starting GAPS I had no health complaints except tiredness. I had a baby seven months ago, so that seemed pretty normal. However, following both detox days I had a surge of energy and increased mental clarity. It feels like someone is walking through the rooms of my mind and opening windows. Fresh air and light are pouring in, and although I still miss the high of my morning coffee, I don’t actually need it anymore.

Benefit #5: My Picky Eater Has Become A Chowhound

The days of negotiating over veggies are gone. My girl begs for sauerkraut, silver dollar squash cakes, and plain raw yogurt. Her palate has expanded significantly and she is doing great at trying new things. She even compliments my meals!

I have become a chowhound, too, only some of my feasts involve illegal peanut butter jars in the garage while no one is looking. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you think your family might benefit from GAPS, but not sure if you want to take the plunge? I have great news for you! Cara at Health Home Happy, who knows MUCH more about GAPS than I do, will be doing a Q&A post here on Mommypotamus. Tell us your questions/concerns about GAPS, and we’ll help out if we can. So leave a comment and tell us what you want to know!!

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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40 thoughts on “5 Unexpected Benefits of GAPS Diet”

  1. I’m interested in doing this, but I work outside the home and I’m not sure if I have time for all the meal prep. Is is possible for two working parents to undertake this. And if so, how?

    • I’m preparing to do this diet, and the GAPS GUIDE has helped me overcome my fears! Haha. The author discusses all the challenges you might face – for me, it’s the budget. She talks about busy schedules, working parents, etc. You can order it on gapsdiet.com.


  2. I’ve looked at the GAPS cookbook and it seems to call for a lot of nuts, which are expensive. Is there a way to make this diet more affordable? Thanks!

  3. I’m very intersted in doing this diet as well, but I’m on a fairly strict budget and in a state that does not allow the sale of raw milk. I would love to hear if this can be done on a budget and some ideas if pastured, grass-fed meat is hard to find.

  4. Yes, I need to know where to get the best price on the GAPS books. Does anyone have a second hand one? I’m short on funds right now and need that book!

    • We intended on starting gaps intro today but I didnโ€™t do enough prep work J guess and let my kids have raw goats milk because they were hungry. We already eat pretty healthy but this is definitely restrictive. My husband caved already and had a bag of cassava chips and rice haha but at least it was soaked. I am still going strong with my kids to hopefully get through a week of intro and evaluate from there. My goal is to clear up Excema for my baby girl.

  5. I don’t eat any land animals and I don’t drink milk, but I will occasionally eat cheese, yogurt and kefir (preferrably from goat or sheep). I do eat fish and seafood. Is it still possible to do the ‘diet’?

  6. How are you feeling on this while nursing? I’ve done the Standard Process cleanse while nursing and found myself so ravenously hungry that I had to greatly increase my protein intake, but otherwise found it compatible. I have crohns disease and another auto-immune disorder that has doctors perplexed but both I control very well through diet, but I suspect that if I was even more diligent that I would feel even better.

    And the most important question of all- do you ever get to add back in coffee? Even just decaf organic? It isn’t the caffeine I miss when not drinking coffee, it is the yummy yummy taste. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I’m in Ann Marie’s class to help get started on this for my daughter. I’m currently expecting and nothing sounds good right now (especially chicken stock) so I’m hoping once I’m past the first trimester I can do the “full” version for myself for a few months before the baby arrives. We might have a battle of the wills with my daughter though. She has coconut milk every day and usually gets a banana in the morning for starters on breakfast. From what I recall of reading through the book, I don’t know if those are allowed in the very beginning?

  8. i can’t stop thinking that this may be just what we need (esp my hubby) but i also can’t stop thinking about how hard it would be to give up grains for so long. we eat healthier than the typical american (less processed, better meats/milk/produce/etc) but we eat out probably twice a week and i can’t imagine spending all day in the kitchen. so i guess my question is, how in the world do i go without what you’re used to having on a daily basis, for 6 months to 2 years? is it just knowing that it’s exactly what you have to do to get healthy, or is there something else? and how much extra time would you say it takes to prepare meals? (factoring in the lack of grains, extra work to find gaps-friendly recipes, etc) i’m so scared that we’re going to be bored from day 1 with stew, soup, stew, soup… BUT i am very drawn to the unexpected benefits you listed, and the fact that the whole concept just makes sense. i’m just standing on the edge and need something to make me want to jump! also a list of where you buy everything allowed would be great!

  9. I’d like to be pregnant in the next 2-6 months or so, and I read somewhere recently that it’s not a good idea to start a detox diet any time in the 6 months prior to conception. Do you agree with this?

  10. I eat primarily vegan whole foods type diet with rare occasion goat cheese and very rare occasion fish. Is there another version of this diet for those like me? As well, can young children follow this diet or is it modified for them?

    • I saw gaps 10 years ago
      I just couldnt justify the meat….I didnt start the program till last week….
      One week on the program and I deeply regret the 10 years I put it off
      Being vegan about killed me…..
      There is only one way to heal a damaged gut….
      I am 62 I was having balance issues and walking problems
      I have lost 6 lbs in a week
      my balance is already better….
      I am shocked beyond belief
      But we all know
      Like cures like
      How is it we stay in denial so long ????

  11. okay i thought of a couple more questions:

    has your food spending increased, decreased or stayed the same since going on the gaps diet?
    what would you say to someone who’s not sure if this is the right decision for them?
    how do you manage different dietary needs within a family, for example, if not everybody does gaps?
    i’ve looked at this list of recommended/prohibited gaps foods (http://www.gutandpsychologysyndrome.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/GAPS-Diet-Foods.pdf) and am wondering, is that for 6 months, 2 years or forever?

  12. Very interesting! I’m wanting to do GAPS, but I was thinking it would be best to wait until I’m closer to being done nursing. I get hungry all. the. time. and if I don’t eat every couple of hours I start to feel really sick, really quick. Did you start with phase 1?

    I love that it’s helping your daughter’s food choices as well- my daughter is so picky!

  13. I’m teetering on the edge of this too, I know it would be great for us! I’m amazed about the dark circles you mentioned under Daniel’s eyes fading. I have had bad dark circles under my eyes for as long as I can remember, and I wonder if it has to do with underlying food allergies. That alone is enough for me to want to do it. I’ve been looking for something to help my husband, who is getting generally more unhealthy by the day, run down at work, etc. ๐Ÿ™ I wonder how you do it with a small child, though. Max is 2, and he’s picky to begin with. He pretty much just eats cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, toast, crackers (homemade if at all possible) and fruit. Should I just not worry about it with him? He’s also still nursing. It just seems like it’d be a huge battle with him (not to mention my mother who keeps him a couple of days a week)! I’m excited to learn more!

  14. Here is a question I am curious about (as we prepare/get ready to do the GAPS diet starting soon):

    How does an airline pilot who is gone for 4 straight days go on the Intro Diet?

    Sometimes he leaves first thing in the morning (5 am) on the 1st day and doesnt come back until 9 pm on the 4th day.

    I havent figured this one out for him yet and he is the one that needs this “diet” the most!

    • Hey Alexis!
      I also travel 4 days out of the week and fly to my destination. This is one reason I waited a while to start the diet – I did not think it was possible! I have been blessed to have found someone to make my food for me where I travel to. She only uses pastured meats and raw local dairy, and mostly organic local produce.

      An idea for your husband would be to pack food and take it with him to eat. The intro diet is definitely the hardest to do while traveling, but it is possible. If the food he brings is originally in liquid form, like broth especially, he can freeze it and bring it straight through security! I believe it is even on the TSA website. I have found this to be true because I have brought food with me on the plane that is frozen. He could try to bring as much food as possible with him for the 4 days and if he needed extra, he could stay at a hotel that has a kitchen. Maybe he could even ask the kitchen to cook for him at the hotel? It is safer to cook it yourself though, because you know exactly what is going in it. I hope this helps and good luck to you and your family!

  15. Hi heather,
    I am breastfeeding also and would do the diet to help with my baby’s digestive issues (he is 4 months). How do you make sure not to detox too intensely (other than skip the intro)? I’ve heard that detox during breastfeeding can release mercury that would transfer to the baby :(. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

  16. Thinking, thinking, considering doing this. But, looking at the Intro diet scares me. I just don’t see how it is possible with my kids being in daycare and school. I feel like I’d have to isolate them from society for a month in order to get rolling. What about skipping the Intro and going strait into full GAPS? I see that you have recommended that a couple times. Are there any cons to skipping the intro?

    • Hi Krissee! Yes, there are cons to skipping intro. First, the gut lining needs to heal before it can begin functioning properly on the main diet. That’s the main goal of intro . . . to heal and seal up the gut. Second, the intro diet is an opportunity to remove foods and then slowly reintroduce them. If a food causes a reaction you are more likely to catch it because you’ll know what’s changed, and therefore you can eliminate foods that are causing inflammation and problems. Does that help?

  17. I just love your blog! I am about to start the GAPS diet with my family and wanted to ask can we have organic palm oil on this diet and is it a beneficial oil? (I have organic non hydrogentated red palm oil). Simone ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. We are 5 months into GAPS, and I have to say it’s SOOO true about the expanded tastebud pallet. Everyone said that would happen on GAPS, but I questioned the extent it would happen. My toddler pre-gaps would MAYBE drink a half cup of kefir if I sweetened it w/ a ton of fruit and stevia, and kept offering it to her over an hour long period. Now she downs a whole cup of plain kefir and asks for seconds and thirds! We just went to our first halloween party, and not one complaint about candy. They were just happy with their ground beef, squash, and plain yogurt. My kids it almost everything now. Even the FCLO – my toddler is eating it by herself. Doesn’t like it, but I’ll tell you, a miracle has occurred.

    And we haven’t even done intro. Starting in 4 days !!!

  19. Hi.. I am interested in trying this diet… but I too am nursing an almost 6 month old.. but he has an ear infection.. and suffers with congestion… He got if from his sister.. Soo.. how do I do this? I heard that I have to do the FULL GAPS.. and not the intro to GAPS.. while nursing.. is this correct? Thank you for your time.. Blessings.. Judith M

  20. First I would like to say I am amazed by your knowledge! When I talk to people about health they think I AM CRAZY!!!!!! Most people still think the concept of a Chiropractor is crazy…I am 25 and have always studied about it but I have never heard of GAPS… I ordered the book yesterday and then the intro meal planning book… I am very nervous to start this diet just bc Im scared I will want to Cheat… Kind of like when you juice…and everything sounds amazing lol.
    I do have a very picky son who is almost 3 y.o…does anyone have any suggestions on how I can get him to transition from his regular diet to this diet?
    Heather One thing that also made me want to start was reading about your husband…and he sounds just like mine to the T… Its very strange, I wonder how many people are actually going thru what my husband is. I suffer from acne, dry skin, allergies, anxiety/depression, horomonal imbalance and mental foginess and no energy!! Im tired of feeling like crap… I work in a nuclear plant around a bunch of 60 some year olds everyday and they feel so much better than me…geez lol. Sorry to rant but I wanted to let you know how encouraging your site is and how much is has already helped me (DIY organic beauty recipes) Please don’t ever stop this blog!

  21. I’ve read over your GAPS articles looking to see if this question was asked and answered elsewhere but didn’t see it. For someone with MANY food allergies and sensitivities, will healing the gut eliminate those allergies or sensitivities, or at least some of them? I am 35 and virtually housebound due to allergies and sensitivities. Everything is carefully checked before it is allowed into our home. The idea of expanding my diet is VERY appealing, and yet terrifying. If I eat the wrong thing it takes over a week to recover from the brain fog, lethargy, nausea, ensuing infections, abdominal pain, blackouts, difficulty maintaining proper blood sugar levels and joint discomfort. Looking for a ray of hope here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Hi Heather!

    You have such a great blog.. full of amazing information!
    I am considering trying the GAPS diet (i suffer from depression, anxiety and i have gluten and dairy intolerance). I haven’t read the book yet (it takes 2 weeks until i receive it from amazon). I haven’t found a kindle version in order to get the information sooner and since i want to start the diet this week, i was wondering what kind of probiotics should i use (those that i found on GAPSdiet shop are too expensive for me to afford).

  23. Please. For dear god, do not do this diet. The reason your child isn’t hyperactive, or is a Chowhound is because they’re hungry and tired. GAPS doesn’t provide the right nutrition for children. Vax your kids, give them a national regulated balanced diet, make sure there healthy and happy mentally and that all matters. Take them to a really GP, not a quack and get them tested for mentally illnesses or learning disorders if you’re worried. Don’t try this non-scientifoc thing because you saw it on a mommy blog of someone with kids who will grow up skinny, tired and sad and will eventually stop the diet and maybe need help for mentally illnesses or even physical ones that had but never had treated because their mother thought they needed a special diet. Please look up the science based fcats. Please.

    • 5 stars
      Please, with all due respect, look up a dictionary before posting. While looking for one, please do your research in a more broader context before spouting off.

      Many people thrive off of this diet and get back their healthy state of bodies and minds once it achieves proper homeostasis.

      On a scientific level, not all scientific studies make the books, because those with their hands in the cookie jar mandate that they be excluded. Peace. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Mental issues can be often picked up and identified with a glance in the mirror. Just saying.