GAPS Diet Q&A At The Sandbox Cafe!

Heather Dessinger

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GAPS Diet Q&A At The Sandbox Cafe!

Gotta love the Sandbox Cafe — the mud pies are cheap, the waitress is cute as a button, and there’s a great view of the slide. There is this one thing, though . . . the cook can be a little temperamental. Ask for a fully loaded baked potato and you’re gonna hear “That’s  not on your GAPS diet.” ** Sigh**

Do you have questions about GAPS beyond what’s on the diet? Perfect! The Sandbox Cafe is hosting a Q&A today with Cara of Health, Home & Happiness. Grab a slice of that Mississippi mud over there and pull up a chair, this is gonna be good. 🙂

**All questions below answered by Cara unless otherwise noted.

Meal Prep / GAPS Diet Questions

First up is Anni. You’ve got the floor, missy. What’s your question?

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?

Great question, Anni! I’ve created this guide to help families maintain the GAPS diet on a busy schedule. I think that for a family that works outside the home, it would be doable, but at least one 6-hour block each weekend would need to be devoted to meal preparation for the coming week. Thankfully lots of things like bone broths, ferments, roasts, etc on GAPS can be made ahead of time.

I’ve looked at this list of recommended/prohibited gaps foods and am wondering, is that for 6 months, 2 years or forever? ~ Joanna

It’s for as long as you’re ‘on the GAPS Diet. You may find that you prefer to eat GAPS foods forever, but others just go on the diet temporarily to heal certain issues, and then return to a Nourishing Traditions type diet.

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? ~ Megan

Right, fruit isn’t allowed until the end of intro and coconut milk isn’t allowed at all on intro. I spent some time with my kids working to get them to like soup, they like drinking it out of my lidded coffee cup, out of a Klean Kanteen, or through a straw.

I’d say this is 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.

No kidding! I have used coffee, both decaf and regular, on GAPS and I didn’t feel it harmed me 😉 I’ve done it all three ways, without coffee, with regular, and with decaf.

How Much Is This Gonna Cost???

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. ~ Mary

The GAPS diet can be done on a budget, but that would be harder with ‘Intro GAPS’. ‘Full GAPS’, or what’s allowed on the full version of the diet allows beans and lentils, which can stretch grocery dollars well. I have a budget stretching lentil burger recipe if you are interested. On Intro GAPS most people find they eat so. much. food that it’s very hard to stay on a limited budget, but it is only temporary. For grass-fed meat, I had good results independently contacting local producers that had their meat sold at our health food store, and ordering in bulk.

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! ~ Lisa

We use nuts more as snacks and treats on the GAPS diet, nuts aren’t really supposed to be the main focus of the diet anyway. But meat and bone broths are important to the healing process, so it isn’t usually possible to do this on a very limited budget. Grains are very cheap filler calories.

Has your food spending increased, decreased or stayed the same since going on the gaps diet? ~ J

It has increased. There’s no doubt about it, meat is more expensive than grains. But I’ve seen amazing health benefits for my family, so I don’t mind this change.

Ideas for Eating Outside the Home

I’d like to know how to do GAPS when you’re on the go or when you go to someone’s house for a meal or party. ~ Sharmista

We tend to not eat out at friends’ houses when we’re on GAPS, just because it’s such a limited diet and usually getting anything off the diet will make the GAPS person sick. It’s usually easier to just suggest an alternative activity, like visiting a park or the zoo. About eating out, we’ve found a few things that worked well- Fuddruckers here has all beef (or wild elk or bison) patties, with just plain vegetables. Outback has a gluten free menu, so they’re familiar with food restrictions, and we’ve ordered plain salmon and steamed veggies with butter there and had a good experience. It’s generally easier to just pack some soup in a thermos.

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! ~ Alexis

Cara: Could he have a crockpot going and a cooler of meat for stock and fresh veggies? I do think the entire intro could be done in a crockpot if necessary, if this was at all possible.

Heather: I’m not sure how much down time a pilot has between flights, but here’s an idea. Pack some essentials: a supply of frozen stock, frozen meat (maybe) and a pot/hotplate or crockpot. Then at each destination go to the grocery store for veggies and cook in the hotel room? Would that work?

What About the Rest of the Family?

How do you manage different dietary needs within a family, for example, if not everybody does gaps?

We make all our meals GAPS, and then after the kids go to bed we’ll eat ‘off GAPS’ food. We also will make GAPS version of foods like ice cream, and give the kids GAPS ice cream while we eat regular if desired.

Preconception Health/Detoxing

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?

I would stay away from doing any major detox right before conception, but I don’t think I’d be too nervous if it was 6 months away. That’s just my personal opinion. During pregnancy I would stick with ‘full GAPS’ and not go through intro though.

Children and GAPS

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. 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! ~ Heather

I would try to start ASAP! It won’t get easier as they get older. My son (he was 11 months when we did it the first time, then I put him back on when he had just turned 2) had started becoming very picky, limiting to carbs mostly. Within a week of putting him back on GAPS he was eating everything again.

“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?” ~ Ashley

First question- you might like the Body Ecology Diet better than GAPS, it’s similar, but would work well for those who feel they do better on a vegan type diet. As for children, I feel that the GAPS diet has been very healthy for my children. My daughter with autism has been on it strictly for over a year now, and my son has been on it, but not so strictly, since he first started solids.

Nursing While On GAPS

Heather, 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.

I was pretty hungry during the first part of intro, but my milk supply never suffered and it got much easier by the second week. I ate A LOT and there were times I tiptoed off to the garage to polish off a jar of peanut butter in secret. I have a busy schedule and didn’t have a lot of time to make our soups interesting, so that was hard, but it also led to a lot of jokes around the dinner table as we commiserated together. Rather than getting cranky and irritable with each other my family actually deepened our bonds doing intro together. Who knew??

Cara: I can share my experiences with nursing, too – I was HUNGRY! LOL! Other than the amount of food you need to consume, the full GAPS diet is good while nursing. I went through intro while nursing a toddler and did well, but he was down to nursing 1-3 times a day.

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? ~ Anna C

You can start by skipping the intro if you’d like, or waiting until you’re at least past the first year of nursing is a totally understandable option as well!


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

I’d recommend the Body Ecology Diet for you 🙂

Here’s my question: How will I know when I’m ready to transition off the diet? ~ Erin

I think Dr. Natasha recommends being symptom free for 2 years. Some of us don’t wait quite that long, and we just start with a few gluten free grains, or raw milk that hasn’t been cultured, or maple syrup, and see how it goes 😉

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! ~ Joanna

Once you get the hang of it, and the family is used to the new food, it really doesn’t take much work at all! No more soaking grains, making bread… a simple meal can just be a beef patty with guacamole and a piece of fruit! I did start the Grain Free Meal Plan and an Intro e-book to help those overwhelmed with the idea of this new way of eating get started.

What brand of cod liver oil is recommended. Also do you buy your raw yogurt or make it? Thanks

Heather: I use Rosita Cod Liver Oil and make my own yogurt. I have a recipe that is made from unheated raw milk (which makes it runny) and Cara has a great recipe using the cooler method here.

Cara: I use Green Pastures Salty Cod Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I have gotten their capsules as well. I make my raw yogurt, and I make dairy free coconut milk kefir for my kids, who don’t seem to handle dairy well.

What would you say to someone who’s not sure if this is the right decision for them? ~ J

Just try it for a short period of time that seems manageable to you- even trying it for a week is better than not trying it at all! Look at it as a fun challenge, and more likely than not the benefits you get will motivate you to continue!

Did this help? What other questions do you have?

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding 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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17 thoughts on “GAPS Diet Q&A At The Sandbox Cafe!”

  1. Great post Heather! There are a lot of questions about the GAPS diet which is a good thing because it says people are thinking. I think we might have to go back and do the intro again. My husband was out of town and had no options plus we’ve been hit with a few stressful situations recently that I can tell stress is playing a major role in healing. Thanks for posting the Q&A.

    • Ugh! I wish intro was just a one time thing but I think we will probably do it again sometime just because life gets in the way, you know? Good luck!

  2. I truly enjoy reading ALL of your blog posts! Thanks so much for the wonderful info! I have many questions about GAPS and today’s post really helps! Thanks so much! 🙂

  3. I’m so glad!! GAPS was this huge scary thing when I first considered it but now it is pretty easy, and based on some of the improvements I’ve seen in Daddypotamus’ health it is well worth it!

  4. Yay! When we return from Mexico next week I am really gonna get things going. I may have a few questions for you as we embark on this new journey..haha! 🙂

  5. Thank you for attempting to answer my question – greatly appreciated 🙂 Unfortunately I dont think it would be possible for him to bring a crockpot with him. Pilots tend to pack as little as possible because they have to lug around their suitcase and flight bags (which are extremely heavy) for four days. The one option I think that would work is if he were to bid day lines for a month or two. This means he goes into work and comes home that night for 4 days which most pilots dont do because of the cost of gas! But it would work because he could take a thermos for the day – I’ll see what the schedule looks like for him next month.

  6. This site is inspiring to those of us just starting the diet. Nice to know we have extra support. Does anyone know if Tamari sauce is an illegal substance in this diet?

  7. I am planning to start GAPS with my family in a few weeks because of a severe eczema issue. I am currently nursing a newborn. I’ve heard such mixed advice about doing the intro while breastfeeding. I would really like to do it along side my family, but obviously don’t want to lose my milk or hurt my baby. You said you did intro while nursing? Did you also take the probiotics, and use the ferments? I’ve heard that you can put all your toxins into your milk. Thanks for any suggestions you might have for me!

  8. I have a friend that has been on the GAPS diet (along with her husband and kids) for about 18 months. During this time she and her husband both look like they have aged 10 years. I don’t know why, but I’m not the only one who has noticed this. They looked healthier before the diet. Do you have any idea why this would be? They are very educated on the GAPS diet and do it to it’s full extent.

  9. Hi Heather! My family and I are just starting Stage 2 of GAPS. It’s been hard, but we’re doing it! I think the hardest thing for my husband and I is the lack of coffee. I saw above that you mentioned drinking coffee. Was that during the Intro? Is it a soft rule as long as it’s decaf?

  10. I need to start the GAPS diet for my 5 year old with high functioning autism. But I am nursing my 3.5 month old. I don’t have the energy to cook 2 meals. I have chronic fatigue, I suspect SIBO as well. Do you have any suggestions while nursing and doing the intro? Should I keep nuts, applesauce, and sweet potatoes to prevent die off in my breastmilk?

    • Hi Kristine, I never did the intro diet while nursing because my energy needs were too high. I recommend consulting a GAPS practitioner if/how to implement GAPS based on your family’s needs.