Well, friends, if you’ve been following on Facebook or Twitter, you might already know that I’ve officially begun the GAPS diet. It’s day 3 of the Introduction portion of GAPS, and so far, things are going okay. I’m getting a little sick of eating nothing but boiled meats and vegetables, and homemade stock of course, but I’m otherwise feeling pretty good.
I knew before I started GAPS though, that there were some important things I would need to try to get before I began. Buying various kitchen supplies, getting GAPS Intro-legal foods, and other preparations needed to be made. And now that I’m going through it, I thought I’d compile a little guide to share everything I think is necessary to gather up beforehand, for those of you who are interested in taking the gut-healing plunge.
What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on GAPS Intro Handbook, an e-book from Health, Home and Happiness
Intro is scary-sounding. There’s this list of foods on the GAPS site that you can have for all of the stages of Intro, but when you look at it, it just makes you go, “Are you joking?? How am I supposed to make meals out of nothing but squash, broth, and ground beef?!” Well, this book is your answer. If you don’t want to have to worry about figuring out what to make on Intro, this is what you need. Every day of each stage, recipes and meals are listed out for you, simple and easy. This one is a MUST!
We are going to be having a giveaway of What Can I Eat Now? coming soon in the next few days. If you want a shot at winning a free copy, be sure to sign up for email updates so you’ll know when it’s posted!
The GAPS Guide, by Baden Lashkov
The original GAPS book can be a little overwhelming to some, so I’ve heard it suggested that for people who just want to get started, rather than read lots of information as to the hows-and-whys of GAPS, that this simplified guide is the way to go. I haven’t gotten this book yet myself, as I’m just following the step-by-step guide for intro in What Can I Eat Now? but I plan on ordering it before I transition to full GAPS.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
potatoes squash of GAPS. Dr. Natasha provides a wealth of information in this book, and if you really want to fully understand why GAPS works, what it does, and how it heals so many health conditions, this is the book to read. You’ll learn everything you need to know about gut health to answer everyone’s questions about why you’re collecting bones and eating soup constantly.
Supplies and Tools:
A hot lunch system: insulated lunch box, glass jars with BPA-free plastic lids, glass food containers, lightweight towels.
When you’re on Intro, there’s almost no way you could possibly find intro-legal food to eat outside of your home, so have no choice but to take your meals with you. And you’ll be eating a lot of soup, and hot food. So, instead of your standard ice pack and lunch cooler, you have to find a way to keep things hot. I’m really not all that sure I trust stainless steel thermoses, so I opted to go for the glass route instead. It’s not perfect either, but it’s what I chose.
To pack mine and Pre-Hubs’ lunches, I put a quart-sized jar of hot soup, a pint-sized jar of hot meats and/or vegetables, and a small Pyrex container of meats and/or vegetables, wrapped up in a flour sack towel, and stuffed inside the insulated lunch box I have pictured above. The food stays warm until lunch time and beyond! It’s a great system. You don’t want to be caught hungry away from home, so you’ll want plenty of intro-legal food to have with you throughout the day.
Slow Cooker/Crock Pot
You need to have a crock pot. Really. I don’t know how anyone could get by without one on Intro. You’ll need it for making stock, ghee, tallow, roasts, simmered onions and veggies, anything that needs to be cooked slowly and thoroughly — so basically, everything you’ll be eating. If I lived in a regular house instead of a solar-powered hippie one, I would have multiple crock pots, so that one could always have stock in it going 24/7, since you need so much bone broth.
Non-toxic Pots & Pans
You don’t want to ingest a bunch of neurotoxic chemicals while trying to heal your gut, so ditch the non-stick aluminum. Good news is, you don’t have to shell out hundreds for Le Creuset, either. I have a 6 quart stock pot for stock when my crock pot is occupied, a 3 quart casserole for cooking up soups and boiled meats & veggies, and a couple small pans for cooking and reheating quick meals and snacks throughout the day — all from Granite Ware which is non-toxic enamel on steel. This brand is by far the cheapest safe cookware I have found.
Cast Iron Skillet
Later on after you’re past the boiled-foods-only stages of Intro, you’ll need a skillet to make things like squash pancakes and scrambled eggs. But like I mentioned, I have my reservations about stainless steel. And I can’t afford a high-quality enamel skillet right now. So, it’s good-old-fashioned cast iron for me. These ones are inexpensive, although they are coated with nasty soybean oil (soy is not a health food, in case you didn’t know), but never fear. I’ll soon be sharing how I took my soy-seasoned skillet and turned into a healthy, non-toxic one. It’s easy.
Blender or a Food Processor
You’ll need to shred up vegetables — a lot of vegetables — on Intro. If you already have a high-quality blender, try that first. But I really like my cute little mini food processor, pictured above, that I can quickly take out for small jobs. It’s perfect for chopping up cabbage for sauerkraut, or carrots and cauliflower to put in soups or sauces. A fancier one would be able to do more things, like slicing or grinding nut flour.
These are really nice for blending creamy soups right in the pot. I can imagine what a hassle it would be to let it cool, dump into a food processor or blender, blend it, then put it back in the pot to reheat. No thanks! I love getting to use a stick blender instead.
Really can’t get away with not having one of these. You’re supposed to put a clove of freshly-pressed garlic into each bowl of soup you eat. You eat. A lot. Of soup. It’s a good idea to invest in a quality garlic press.
Such a necessity for making stock, or any boiled meats or veggies — which is all you eat on stage one of Intro! I have this 6-inch one, but I would like to get a smaller one for straining right into a mason jar.
These are a necessity in any real-food kitchen, but especially a GAPS one. I use pint-sized jars just as much as quart-sized, so I’d advise getting both. Pick up some BPA-free plastic storage lids too, since the metal ones can rust easily.
The whole purpose of GAPS is to heal the gut and repopulate it with good, probiotic bacteria. So if you have chlorinated water, you could be undoing all that hard work to fix your flora, since chlorine is designed to kill bacteria. It can, and does, absorb through the skin and mess with your gut bacteria. You absorb and inhale way more chlorine from taking a shower than you do from drinking a glass of city water. Protecting your gut with a quality shower filter like this one is a good investment.
Same thing. You are supposed to be doing detox baths daily on GAPS Intro, but if you’re bathing in chlorinated water, you could be doing more harm than good. These little bath balls soak up chlorine in your tub, making your bath much safer.
For scraping your glass jars clean. You definitely need a couple of these. And isn’t that set so pretty? I’m ordering it even though I already have a spatula. It’s good to have spares.
Wooden Spoons and Utensils
Safer than plastic and metal ones, and they won’t scratch your new pots and pans. Plus, you need wooden spoons for making kefir, as metal or plastic ones can hurt your grains.
Meat Tenderizer/ Sauerkraut Pounder
Sauerkraut juice is the first probiotic food you will introduce on Intro. And it is hard to pound the stuff in a jar enough to get the juices out, without something like this. I ordered it as soon as I realized how much this little tool was necessary! (UPDATE: My pounder came, and the darn thing is HUGE! The head doesn’t fit into my jars. But, it is still a great pounder. So now what I do is pound the cabbage with it on a plate or cutting board to really get the juices going, then scoop it into the jar, and fit another glass or small jar inside to smush it down. I’m still on the lookout for a legitimate sauerkraut pounder that will fit into a mason jar, though!)
Nut Milk Bag
You won’t need it right away, but eventually you’ll probably be making and drinking milk alternatives such as coconut milk or almond milk, since you won’t be able to drink non-fermented dairy for a while. A nut milk bag is what you need to get the job done. It can also be used to make cream cheese out of homemade yogurt, and to drip out whey which can be used in fermenting foods.
Homemade, fresh-pressed juice is used as part of the detoxification of Intro. So, you have a few options. If you already have a quality blender, you could strain out the pulp with your nut milk bag, although that’s kind of a big pain and I doubt you could really squeeze out all the juice with your hands, so there would be waste involved. If you can afford it, invest in a nice juicer. This one is top-of-the-line, while this one has excellent reviews and is under $100 (although as of this writing, Amazon is sold out and it’s selling for a higher price through other retailers — put it on your wishlist and check back again soon). And finally, if all this other GAPS stuff is too much of a strain on your budget already, go with this little juicer. It’s decent for light use, and under $30 bucks.
A therapeutic-grade probiotic is absolutely essential to healing with the GAPS protocol. Most probiotics out there are highly ineffective and a waste of money. Bio-Kult is the only one recommended by Dr. Natasha (she actually helped develop it), and if you compare prices, it’s really not even that expensive — around ten bucks a month if taking one capsule a day. Totally worth it.
Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Fermented cod liver oil is highly recommended on GAPS. There’s actually only one company in the entire world that is still making fermented cod liver oil the old-fashioned way — modern cod liver oils are usually highly processed and contain synthetic vitamins. Ick. This one is a blend of fermented cod liver oil and butter oil — which is what Dr. Price himself used on his patients. He said that the cod liver oil was relatively ineffective on its own, but when paired with high-vitamin butter oil, produced “excellent results.”
There’s more to Intro than just this list, but this is what you’ll need to get started on Stage 1, plus a little bit beyond.
Butternut squash: Stock up, y’all. This is gonna be a staple of your Intro diet. You’ll put it in soups, eat it cubed and boiled, topped with tallow and salt, and later use it in baked casserole dishes. Squash is relatively high in carbohydrates, so it’s one to load up on, since there is a risk of eating too low-carb when you’re on GAPS. Other squashes, both winter and summer varieties, are also allowed.
Onions: Also fairly high-carb. Crazy, huh? I never knew that before starting GAPS. So again, you’ll eat a lot of onions. A lot — try to get a big bag of them in bulk. And, you can save the scraps for making stock.
Cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and leeks: These along with the squash and onions are the only veggies you’re allowed on stage one of Intro. Think about the fact that along with chicken, beef, and lamb, this is all you’re going to be eating, so get lots of them!
Cabbage: You’ll need this for both sauerkraut and kimchi.
Garlic: Each serving of soup gets a whole clove pressed into it! Stock up.
Grass-fed tallow: Either beef or lamb. You can order some from US Wellness Meats, or if you have a source for clean fat, ask the butcher to grind some up for you so you can render some tallow yourself. For stage one, you’re only allowed animal fats such as tallow or the chicken fat from your stock.
Grass-fed beef, lamb, and pastured chicken, and organ meats: I think it’s important to get quality, clean meat when you’re on GAPS, especially. You definitely don’t want to be eating CAFO. Get the best that you can afford or have access to — ideally local, grass-finished or pastured animals. Organic would be next-best. Most lamb is grass-fed even if it isn’t labeled that way, so “conventional” lamb is usually just fine. Also, try to find a source for quality fish. Make friends with a fisherman if you can!
Grass-fed bones and bits, in addition to what comes from your meat: Get beef marrow bones, beef “feet” (those are great for getting a gelled stock), chicken backs, chicken feet (really! Get a lot of these, they turn your chicken stock into jello, which is exactly what you want — lots of collagen for gut healing, beautiful skin, and reduced cellulite — bonus!) heads, necks, whatever no one else wants from the butcher. This is all for your bone broth, and since you’ll be downing so much of it, you’ll wind up with too much meat if you’re only using bones from the meat you eat.
Pastured eggs: Just as with your meat, you want to get the best quality possible. Check your local Craigslist for pastured eggs. Keep in mind that store-bought “free-range” eggs are often anything but. The term means very little. And all “organic” means is that they were not fed GMO soy and corn.
Grass-fed butter: You’ll be making ghee, which is clarified butter, on Intro. Try to get the best butter you can, which is locally pasture-raised.
Real salt: Liberal use of salt is encouraged on GAPS, but definitely not the fake stuff. Learn more about which is which here.
Detox baths are an important part of Intro. You’ll want to rotate between these in your tub on a daily basis:
Since supplements other than a therapeutic-grade probiotic (Bio-Kult) and fermented cod liver oil are not recommended to reintroduce until after the Intro phase of GAPS, I also think it’s a good idea to begin a regimen of betaine HCL at least a couple weeks before going on intro. This can help normalize your levels of stomach acid so you can better digest all the good fat and protein you’ll be eating on GAPS.
Another supplement regimen to consider is using l-glutamine and chromium to kick your sugar and starch cravings. It’s a good idea to try to taper off your consumption of starchy and sugary foods as you prepare for GAPS, and the glutamine and chromium can be a huge help in weaning yourself off. You can learn more about how to do this in The Mood Cure by Julia Ross.
What do you think?
Is going on GAPS something you’re interested in? Do you think you could tackle this list and get ready to go for it? Or, if you’re an experienced GAPSter, is there anything missing from this that you would add?
Caroline Lunger says
wow nice post! i think you covered everything!
Great post! I’ve been wanting to do the GAPS diet for a long time, and I feel like I might finally be ready. The idea of giving up things like potatoes and corn tortillas is difficult to face. My husband won’t give up milk, and I’m also guessing that the monotony of the Intro would get to him. So I would be kind of on my own. But I do think it would be worth it.
Susan W says
BB, yes a wood tenderizer would be more useful to pound sauerkraut into a container, but as for meat, I’ve used an edge of a plate to tenderize meat for years. First time I used it was when I wanted to make Chicken Kiev and had no mallet. Worked wonderfully. Necessity is the mother of invention.
And yes, I agree that “free range” is nothing but. I had a friend who had chickens and one day he arrived home to see the chickens have gotten loose. Have you ever tried to round up chickens and chase them back to the coop? Not an easy job! So I always thought “free range” was a little far fetched and more a marketing ploy than anything else. 😉
Yeah, I would think just about anything would work for pounding on some meat! It’s squeezing down on the inside of a jar that’s tough, haha.
Oh and the chickens? Definitely a marketing ploy. The FDA’s idea of “free-range” means not in individual cages. Which usually means, a giant cement barn stuffed to the brim with chickens who never see the light of day. They’re only “free” to trip over each other and wade through a layer of poop. If you’ve seen “Food, Inc.” they depict this very well. So awful!
Like the info & appreciate all the time & effort put into this (very good) article. It is so easy to get a little frustrated with all the dos & do not’s of what to use & what is or isn’t good for us. I read that stainless steel was the better cookware to use a few years ago & I began to slowly purchase as I could afford. What is the concern with it & where can I find the reports? Also, I purchased a crock pot with a ceramic insert & now I hear concerns about that. Argggg! Is anything really safe out there? Just a little frustrated trying to figure things out & not wreck my budget & yet be healthy.
I am starting on the intro soon as I can, but do need some of these things. I did order the Intro ebook from HH&H & it is very helpful. But really, it’s pretty overwhelming to get started. Thanks for letting me unload. 🙂
Thank you, Patrice! My concern with stainless steel is that it’s been shown to leach heavy metals, such as nickel. I honestly don’t think the really high-quality stainless (like All Clad, for example) is going to do much harm, if any. It’s more the cheap stuff I worry about. I will try to write up a post soon about what I’ve learned regarding this so I can share it with everyone.
Oh but the crock pots! I recently came across this link: http://www.terminalverbosity.com/2009/11/09/the-skinny-on-lead-in-crock-pots-it-may-surprise-you/
They tested for lead in several different brands, and found zero! I wouldn’t worry about your crock pot.
I’m so glad you ordered the e-book! I really don’t know what I would have done without it. I just follow along for each day and make the recipes listed, and I’m constantly referring to it. Really hope it helps you as much as it has me!
Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! says
Great overview of what you need on intro! I really found Cara’s guide super helpful as I tried to figure out what to eat, especially during the first few stages. I still really need to order a filter for my shower and tub. I hate to think about all the junk I’m absorbing when I do my detox baths!
Thanks, Mindy! I know, it’s icky to think about what you could be absorbing from the water. At least the filters are fairly inexpensive! The ones I listed are also sold by Radiant Life which is recommended by the WAPF, so I’m pretty sure they are top-notch.
This was a fantastic article Emily! Thank you… it really helps. I’m glad that I’ve slowly been changing my kitchen over and acquiring this stuff over the last couple of years, that I finally think I may be ready to just go ahead and do it.
How long do you *think* you might stay on the intro for? I’m sure you don’t want to set expectations for yourself, but do you expect to be on it for longer than a month?
Thanks so much, Tracy! I’m so glad that you’ve found it helpful and are encouraged to get started. I honestly think everyone raised in the modern western world needs GAPS!
Good question about intro. The e-book I referenced is set to keep you on 5 days of each stage of intro. But if you have a reaction when introducing a new food or moving on to the next stage, you’re supposed to go back to the last one and try again in a week. I haven’t introduced a new food yet beyond stage one (this is day 4 for me), so I’m not sure if I will notice any reactions, but if not, I will stick with the 30 day plan. I think that most people who don’t have severe digestive problems already are able to move through intro fairly quickly.
Write On, Jana! says
As I mentioned on FB, I AM very interested in GAPS, but terrified to add that additional stress to my current food issues (which are already anxiety-provoking with multiple food allergies including eggs and nuts). I haven’t been able to find the GAPS books at our local library (my only resource for books), but looking over the protocol scares me from a purely logistical standpoint. I will be interested to follow your progress!
Heba @ My Life in a Pyramid says
This is the best post on ‘what one needs to do for GAPS’ that I’ve ever seen. It’s seriously a goldmine of info! I’m not currently doing GAPS, but have taken the time to click on each of the links because I’m in the process of stocking my kitchen with ‘real cookware’ 😉 How’d you find out about the Granite Ware btw? Howcome it’s so cheap, and why would you feel more comfortable with that brand over a 18/10 stainless steel pot for example? Thanks for taking the time to write this up … it must have taken you quite a while to gather all the info. But I learned a lot!! Love your posts!
Do you have any links on the safety of Graniteware? I have been looking for a large canner/pot for canning and broth making, but was dismayed at the cost and weight of high quality stainless steel. Granite Ware would be amazingly cheap and light, it would be awesome if it were good for us!
This is the best post that I read..Thanks a lot for sharing your time to make this kind of post
Erica Johnson says
WOW! BioKult is $10 a month…for ONE capsule per day? The therapeutic dose is supposed to be taken for 6 months and that is 10 capsules a day. Wowzers! That will be the entire grocery budget in itself for a family of 5! hmmm, thinking about trying to mix a few different brands.
Hubby and I are in the final stages of prep to go on GAPS, and I have one question: I need to buy FCLO, but am confused as to whether I should buy the blend (w/ butter oil), or should I save that until after intro and just buy straight FCLO now?
Thanks so much!
Hi Randa, great question! Well, I decided to go straight for the FCLO/BO blend, because the words of Weston Price kept echoing in my mind whenever I was considering just getting plain CLO — that it was “relatively ineffective” on its own, but when paired with the butter oil produced “excellent results,” in his practice.
As far as whether or not it should be introduced during Intro, even if you haven’t yet introduced butter, the butter oil should be fine much in the same way that ghee is fine, since it has the milk solids removed.
Best of luck and please keep us updated on how you do with GAPS! 🙂
Emily W says
Awesome post – so helpful and informative! I am getting ready to go on GAPS intro and this helped me check of some items to purchase. Thanks so much!
What do you think about small amounts of raw grass fed liver on intro, I have a tooth abscess and I’ve just started intro, will it harm my gut or slow healing to take, say, a tablespoon a day with butter oil and fclo?
Meats are fine on the first stage, but they are supposed to be cooked. If you’d prefer to eat your liver raw, I say go for it. If you have any tummy troubles, try boiling it like the other meats. Hope that goes well for you!
This may sound like a silly question but one of the reasons I’m considering doing this diet with my children is because they both have food allergies (nut and egg), eczema and asthma. But how do you follow this diet if you can’t eat eggs (like the raw eggs they suggest) or nuts when the pancakes and other things call for nut butter? Just curious because I really want to try this. I’m tired of my children being on synthetic drugs to help their asthma and allergy issues. Thanks!
No that’s a great question. Many people with allergies such as those have used GAPS to heal from them. You just need to avoid those foods until you build up a tolerance to them, which the diet is meant to help with.
A simpler way to go might be for you to follow The Eczema Cure. It’s a book written by a blogging friend of mine and I really recommend it. You can read my review of the book here.
Hi,been on GAPS diet now seance January.Was already gluten free.So I skipped intro when to bone broth meats and fruits.Now I am reading that if I do not do intro I and kids wont heal 100% But the intro says no sugar/fruits/honey. Do I really need to back track and start intro and what about what it being impotent not to stop sugar as far as fruit and honey while on intro if I do indeed have to back track
Hi Michelle. This is an old post of mine, and I went through GAPS for two months, before doing a lot more research on the subject and as a result, the diet is no longer something I recommend. I believe it should only be used in VERY extreme circumstances (such as a child with autism) and only as a last resort. Restrictive diets like GAPS often do more harm than good.
Wow, I have been trying to gear myself up to start GAPS to help my son with autism and my other son with learning disabilities and finally decided to take the plunge! Bought the book, the recipe book and took notes from your blog and read through all the comments and then …. wham!! You don’t think it is a good diet any more?