≡ Menu

Gut and Psychology Syndrome/GAPS by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (2004/2010): Food list

Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBrideThe Heal Your Gut Cookbook by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. BrackettGut and Psychology Syndrome (2004/2010) is an extreme elimination/reintroduction diet designed as a natural treatment for behavioral and other issues.

  • GAPS introduction diet – 6-stage introduction of basic foods.
  • Full GAPS diet – Restrictive diet for about 2 years or until conditions have healed – unprocessed, grain-free, sugar-free, low-starch.
  • Coming off the GAPS diet – Reintroduction of other foods.

Below is a description of the food recommendations in the diet. GAPS introduction diet  |  Full GAPS diet  |  Coming off the GAPS diet  |  Vegetarianism and the GAPS diet  |  Feeding your baby.  There’s a lot more in the book.

Use this page as a cheat sheet alongside the book. Send this page to friends, family, and anyone else who you want to understand what you’re eating on this diet.

Get a copy of Gut and Psychology Syndrome for detailed explanations of the reasoning behind the food recommendations, suggestions for various medical conditions, supplementation, lifestyle changes, fermentation methods, methods for changing eating behavior, treating eating disorders, detoxification, and recipes.

For more recipes, get The Heal Your Gut Cookbook by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett with a foreword by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

The reasoning behind Gut and Psychology Syndrome

This book claims that a child’s digestive system holds the key to the child’s mental development, and an underlying condition “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” or “GAP” Syndrome” may manifest itself in different children with different combinations of symptoms. Beneficial bacteria in the gut are damaged by antibiotics, other drugs, diet, and not breastfeeding, and a lack of good gut flora or gut dysbiosis means the immune system doesn’t work properly. Yeast overgrowth or alcoholism in either parent can also have an effect. When the immune system is out of balance, it starts to produce antibodies attacking the body’s own tissues. GAPS children often start to have digestive problems after weaning or introducing formula mil, and develop fussy eating habits at around 2 years old, wanting to limit their diet to a handful foods, usually starchy and sweet. A change in diet can address issues and overcome the symptoms – as a child or as an adult.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet plan – what to eat and foods to avoid

Keep a diary through the Induction Diet and further, where you record the whole process of food introduction and your individual symptoms and reactions.

This diet is a modified form of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, or SCD, which was invented by Valentine Haas in the first half of the 20th century

The GAPS introduction diet

Sensitivity Test  |  First Stage  |  Second Stage  |  Third Stage  |  Fourth Stage  |  Fifth Stage  |  Sixth Stage  |  Foods to avoid  |  Dairy introduction

It is extremely important to make sure that not even a speck of anything made from sugar, grains, or starchy vegetables sneaks into the food

For guidelines on sourcing the foods, see Foods to Eat in the Full GAPS Diet

Depending on the severity of your condition you can move through this program as fast or as slow as the symptoms will permit – for example you might move through the First Stage in 1-2 days and then spend longer on the Second Stage. The program often takes over 2 years of hard work.

Following the Introduction Diet fully is absolutely essential for people with serious digestive symptoms: reflux, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, severe constipation, etc. On the First Stage the most drastic symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea will quickly subside. If, when you introduce a new food, you gets diarrhea again, abdominal pain or any other symptoms which started disappearing in the previous stage, then you are not ready for that food to be introduced – wait for a week and then try again.

If you get a tummy bug or any other form of diarrhea, following the Introduction Diet for a few days will clear the symptoms quickly and permanently, usually without needing any medication.

People with food allergies and intolerances should go through the induction diet in order to heal and seal their gut lining / leaky gut.

You may suffer from a detox reaction when you start the detox – symptoms can be very different and can range from headaches and behavior abnormalities to skin rashes and sneezing.

Those without serious digestive problems and food intolerances can move through the Introduction Diet quite quickly. Don’t be tempted to skip the introduction diet and go straight through to the Full GAPS Diet, because the Introduction Diet will give you the best chance to optimize the healing process in the gut and the rest of the body. If you have decided to go straight into the Full GAPS Diet, keep in mind that about 85% of everything you eat daily should consist of meats, fish, eggs, fermented dairy and vegetables (some well-cooked, some fermented and some raw). Baking and fruit should be kept out of the diet for a few weeks, and then be limited to snacks between meals and should not replace the main meals. Homemade meat stock, soups, stews and natural fats are not optional – they should be your staples.

Start the day with a cup of still mineral or filtered water, and the probiotic. Make sure the water is warm or at least at room temperature, not cold.

Sensitivity test

If you suspect a real allergy (which can be dangerous) to any food, before introducing it do a sensitivity test. Take a drop of the food in question (if the food is solid, mash and mix with a bit of water) and place it on the inside of your wrist. Do it at bedtime. Let the drop dry on the skin and go to sleep. In the morning check the spot: if there is an angry red or itchy reaction, avoid that food for a few weeks, and then try again. If there is no reaction, then introduce the food gradually starting with a tiny amount. Always test the food in the state you are planning to introduce it: e.g. if you are planning to introduce raw egg yolks, test the raw egg yolk and not the whole egg or cooked egg.

First Stage of the GAPS Introduction Diet – what to eat

  • Homemade meat or fish stock/broth (not commercial soup stock granules or bouillon cubes)
    • It is essential to use bones and joints, as they provide the healing substances, not so much the muscle meats
    • Strip off all the soft tissues from the bones as best you can to add later to soups. Extract the bone marrow out of large tubular bones while they are still warm
    • The meat or fish stock will keep well in the fridge for at least 7 days, or it can be frozen
    • Keep drinking warm meat stock all day with meals and between meals. Do not use microwaves for warming up stock, use a conventional stove
    • It is very important to consume all the fat in the stock and off the bones
    • Add some probiotic food into every cup of stock
  • Homemade soup made with your homemade meat or fish stock (recipe ideas are in the book)
    • Bring some of the meat/fish stock to the boil, add chopped or sliced vegetables: onions, carrots, broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, courgettes/marrow/zucchini, squash, pumpkin, etc. Avoid very fibrous vegetables such as all varieties of cabbage and celery, and all particularly fibrous parts of vegetables such as skin and seeds on pumpkins and squashes, stalks of broccoli and cauliflower and any other parts that look too fibrous
    • Simmer for 25-35 minutes. Cook the vegetables well, so they are really soft
    • When vegetables are well cooked, add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped garlic, bring to the boil and turn the heat off
    • You can blend the soup using a soup blender or have it as it is. Add some probiotic foods into every bowl of soup
    • Eat these soups with boiled meat and other soft tissues off the bones as often as you want to all day
    • Once you have made a large pot of soup, it will keep in the fridge for 5-8 days, so you can warm up some of it any time
  • Probiotic foods
    • These are essential to introduce right from the beginning. They can be dairy-based or vegetable-based.
    • To avoid any reactions, introduce probiotic foods gradually, starting with 1-2 teaspoons a day for 1-5 days, then 3-4 teaspoons a day for 1-5 days and so on until you can add a few teaspoons of probiotic food into every cup of meat stock and every bowl of soup
    • Start by adding juice from homemade sauerkraut, fermented vegetables or vegetable medley (recipes in the book) into the cups of meat stock and bowls of soup. Do not add the vegetables themselves yet, as they are too fibrous. Apart from some rare exceptions, juice from fermented vegetables is well tolerated by GAPS people
    • Make sure the food is not too hot when adding the probiotic foods, as the heat would destroy the beneficial probiotic bacteria
    • A large percentage of GAPS children and adults can tolerate well-fermented homemade whey, yogurt or sour cream right from the beginning. However, some cannot. So, before introducing dairy, always do the sensitivity test. For those who clearly react to dairy, see the dairy introduction structure below
    • If you are prone to diarrhea, first do a sensitivity test with whey. If there is no reaction to the sensitivity test, introduce fermented milk products right from the beginning in parallel with juices from sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. Start with one teaspoon of whey (from straining/dripping your homemade yogurt) added to the soup or meat stock. After 1-5 days on one teaspoon of whey per day, increase to 2 teaspoons a day and so on until you are having about ½ a cup to 1 cup of whey per day with meals. In parallel with whey you can try to introduce homemade sour cream (fermented with yogurt culture). When you feel that you are tolerating whey and sour cream well enough, try to add 1 teaspoon per day of homemade yogurt (without straining/dripping it), gradually increasing the daily amount. After yogurt, introduce homemade kefir; in parallel with kefir you can introduce sour cream made with kefir culture.
    • If however you are prone to chronic severe constipation, introduce sauerkraut juice and juice from fermented vegetables from the start, and work on increasing daily amounts of these juices. When the stools start getting more or less regular and happen more or less daily, try to introduce sour cream (fermented with yogurt culture), starting from 1 teaspoon per day and gradually increasing. Once you are having about a cup of sour cream fermented with yogurt culture per day, try to introduce sour cream fermented with kefir culture. The author writes that in her experience people with constipation do well with high-fat dairy such as sour cream, ghee and butter, but not with high-protein dairy, such as yogurt, whey, kefir, and cheese; high-protein dairy can aggravate constipation in more than half of cases
  • Ginger tea, mint tea, or chamomile tea with a little honey between meals
    • See the book for instructions on how to make ginger tea

In extreme cases of profuse watery diarrhea, exclude vegetables. Drink warm meat stock with probiotic foods every hour (preferably whey, sour cream or yogurt; if dairy is not tolerated yet, then juice from fermented vegetables), eat well-cooked gelatinous meats and fish (which you used to make the stock with), and consider adding raw egg yolks gradually. Do not introduce vegetables until the diarrhea starts settling down

Second Stage of the GAPS Introduction Diet – what to eat

  • Continue eating First Stage foods
    • Keep having the soups with bone marrow, boiled meat or fish and other soft tissues off the bone. Keep drinking the meat stock and ginger tea. Keep adding some probiotic food into every cup of meat stock and every bowl of soup
  • Raw organic egg yolks then soft-boiled eggs
    • If you have any concerns about egg allergy, do the sensitivity test first
    • Get eggs from a source you trust: fresh, free range and organic
    • Add raw organic egg yolks carefully separated from the egg white
    • It is best to have raw egg yolks added to every bowl of soup and every cup of meat stock
    • Start with one egg yolk a day and gradually increase until you have an egg yolk with every bowl of soup
    • There is no need to limit the number of egg yolks per day
    • When egg yolk are well tolerated, add soft-boiled eggs to the soups (the whites cooked and the yolks still runny)
  • Stews and casseroles made with meats and vegetables
    • Add stews and casseroles made with meats and vegetables. Avoid spices at this stage, just make the stew with salt and fresh herbs
    • The fat content of these meals must be quite high: the more fresh animal fats you consume, the quicker you will recover
    • Add some probiotic food into every serving
  • Probiotic foods
    • Keep increasing the daily amount of homemade whey, sour cream, yogurt or kefir, if introduced
    • Keep increasing the amount of juice from sauerkraut, fermented vegetables or vegetable medley
  • Fermented fish
    • Introduce fermented fish or Swedish gravlax, starting with one small piece a day and gradually increasing. There are recipes in the book
  • Homemade ghee
    • Introduce homemade ghee, starting with one teaspoon a day and gradually increasing
    • Ghee is usually well tolerated by most GAPS people, regardless of diarrhea or constipation and regardless of reactions to other dairy products. The book recommends that all GAPS people try to introduce it, even if other dairy products have not been introduced yet

Third Stage of the GAPS Introduction Diet – what to eat

  • Carry on with the previous foods
  • Avocado
    • Add ripe avocado mashed into soups, starting with 1-3 teaspoons per day and gradually increasing the amount
  • Pancakes
    • Add pancakes following a specific recipe, starting with one pancake a day and gradually increasing the amount
    • Make these pancakes with three ingredients: 1) organic nut butter (almond butter, walnut butter, peanut butter, etc.); 2) eggs; 3) a piece of fresh winter squash, marrow or courgette/zucchini (peeled, deseeded and well blended in a food processor). Sauté small thin pancakes using ghee, goose fat or duck fat, making sure not to burn them
  • Eggs
    • Scrambled with plenty of ghee, goose fat, pork fat, or duck fat
    • Serve with avocado (if well tolerated) and cooked vegetables, especially cooked onion sautéed in plenty of animal fat until soft, sweet, and translucent
  • Sauerkraut and fermented vegetables
    • Introduce sauerkraut and fermented vegetables. Stat with a small amount, gradually increasing to 1-4 teaspoons of sauerkraut or fermented vegetables with every meal

Fourth Stage of the GAPS Introduction Diet – what to eat

  • Carry on with the previous foods
  • Roast and grilled meats
    • Gradually add meats cooked by roasting and grilling (but not barbecued/grilled or fried/sautéed yet). Avoid bits which are burned or too brown
    • Eat the meat with cooked vegetables and sauerkraut (or other fermented vegetables)
  • Olive oil
    • Start adding cold-pressed olive oil to the meals, starting with a few drops per meal and gradually increasing the amount to 1-2 tablespoons per meal
  • Fresh vegetable juices
    • Introduce freshly pressed juices, starting with a few spoonfuls of carrot juice
    • Make sure that the juice is clear, filter it well
    • Drink it as it is, diluted with warm water or mixed with some homemade yogurt or whey
    • Drink the juice on an empty stomach, so first thing in the morning and the middle of the afternoon are good times
    • These juices need to be consumed slowly, “chewing” every mouthful
    • If well tolerated, gradually increase to 1 cup a day
    • When a full cup of carrot juice is well tolerated, try to add to it juice from celery, cabbage, lettuce, and fresh mint leaves

Fifth Stage of the GAPS Introduction Diet – what to eat

  • Carry on with the previous foods
  • Cooked apple
    • If all the previous foods are well tolerated, try to add ripe cooked apple as an apple puree
    • Mix with ghee, or if ghee has not yet been introduced, add any animal fat (duck fat, pork fat, beef fat, lamb fat, or goose fat)
    • If the apples are too sour, add a little honey to taste
    • Start with a few spoonfuls a day. Watch for any reaction. If there is none, gradually increase the amount
  • Raw vegetables
    • Add raw vegetables, starting with softer parts of lettuce and peeled cucumber
    • Start from a small amount and gradually increase if well tolerated
    • After those two vegetables are well tolerated, gradually add other raw vegetables: carrot, tomato (if there is no reaction to nightshades), onion, cabbage, etc.
    • Make sure that you chew raw vegetables well and watch your stool: if diarrhea returns you are not yet ready for this step
  • Fruit juices
    • If the juice made from carrot, celery, cabbage, lettuce and mint is well tolerated, start adding fruit to it: apple, pineapple and mango
    • Avoid citrus fruit at this stage

Sixth Stage of the GAPS Introduction Diet – what to eat

  • Carry on with the previous foods
  • Raw fruit
    • If all the introduced foods are well tolerated, try some peeled raw apple. Make sure the apple is ripe
    • Gradually introduce raw fruit and more honey
  • Sweet foods
    • Gradually introduce baked cakes and other sweet things allowed on the diet. Fruits should be ripe
    • Use dried fruit as a sweetener in baking

You may be able to move through the Introduction Diet faster or slower depending on their individual symptoms: some people complete the whole Introduction Diet in a few weeks, for others it may take a year slowly moving through the stages

Most indicative are abdominal pain and stool changes – let the pain and diarrhea start clearing before moving to the next stage

You may have to introduce some foods later than in this program depending on your personal sensitivities

After the Introduction Diet is completed and when your main digestive problems are gone, move into the Full GAPS Diet

Foods to avoid in the GAPS Introduction Diet

  • At all stages, don’t eat any foods unless they’re specifically listed as allowed on that stage.

Dairy introduction structure

This structure is for those who have shown an allergy to dairy products on the sensitivity test, and those who have chosen not to follow the GAPS introduction diet but start with the full GAPS diet.

  • Step 1: only homemade ghee (clarified butter) is allowed; this stage lasts on average 6 weeks. If you can’t tolerate ghee, you might never be able to tolerate any dairy product; however it is worth leaving it out for a few months and then trying again to introduce it
  • Step 2: organic butter is added gradually, if the sensitivity test is negative. It is preferable to use unsalted butter. The majority of people are ready for this step in about 6 weeks. Adults may need longer to get to this step than children
  • Step 3: homemade yogurt and sour cream (fermented with yogurt culture) can be introduced, starting with one teaspoon a day and gradually increasing the daily amount. Use organic milk to make the yogurt. Goat’s milk is better tolerated by some people than cow’s milk. Note that some die-off may occur, which is why it should be introduced slowly. If there is any negative reaction, wait for a month and then try again. The majority of GAPS patients are ready for this step in 6-12 weeks after introducing butter
  • Step 4: Introduce homemade kefir and kefir-fermented sour cream starting with one teaspoon per day and gradually increasing the daily amount. Kefir usually produces a more pronounced die-off reaction than yogurt. Use the sensitivity test before introducing this step. Continue with already introduced dairy
  • Step 5: try a mouthful of organic cheddar cheese with a meal. Watch for any negative reaction for 3-5 days, as the reaction may be delayed. If there is no negative reaction, gradually increase the amount. Once cheddar cheese is well tolerated, try to introduce another natural cheese which does not contain whey (see list in Full GAPS Diet below). Introduce this step only after homemade yogurt is well tolerated
  • Step 6: try some commercially available live natural yogurt, sour cream and crème fraîche. Do not rush with this step. The majority of GAPS people are ready for this step by the end of 2 years on the diet

Raw milk should not be introduced until the GAPS person has gone through the Dairy Introduction Structure.

After two years on the diet a lot of GAPS people find that on an occasional basis they can have any natural dairy product without any apparent problems, including cream and cheeses off the allowed list. Limit these for occasional use, although raw milk can be consumed more often at that point

The Full GAPS Diet

Foods to eat  |  Foods to avoid

The Full GAPS Diet needs to be followed for about 2 years. Some people with milder conditions can start introducing non-allowed foods in about a year, others have to adhere to the diet strictly for many years.

Foods to eat in the Full GAPS Diet

  • Make sure you carry on with the soups and meat stock at least once a day after you complete the Introduction Diet
  • All foods should be bought fresh, as close to the way Nature made them as possible, and prepared at home
  • Starting the day
    • Start the day with a glass of still mineral water or filtered water with a slice of lemon or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. It can be warm or cold to personal preference
    • If you have a juicer you can start the day with a glass of freshly pressed fruit/vegetable juice. A good juice to start the day is 40% apple, 55% carrot, 5% beet (all raw). Generally try to have 50% of therapeutic ingredients; carrot, small amount of beet (no more than 5% of the juice mixture, celery, cabbage, lettuce, greens (spinach, parsley, dill, basil fresh nettle leaves, beet tops, carrot tops), white and red cabbage; and 50% of some tasty ingredients to disguise the taste of the therapeutic ingredients: pineapple, apple, orange, grapefruit, grapes, mango, etc. You can have these juices straight or diluted with water. Don’t buy juice from stores, as it has been processed and pasteurized
    • From about 4am-10am, eat fresh fruit and drink water and freshly pressed juices to assist in the body’s process of cleaning up and detoxifying – don’t lead the body with food at this time as it interferes with detoxification. It is better to have breakfast at around 10am when your body has completed this detox stage and ready for feeding – at this point you usually start feeling hungry. Children may be ready for their breakfasts earlier than adults
  • Breakfast
    • Eggs cooked to personal liking and served with sausages and vegetables, some cooked, some fresh as a salad (tomato, cucumber, onions, celery, any fresh salad greens, etc.) and/or avocado and/or meat. The yolks are best uncooked and the whites cooked. Use plenty of cold-pressed olive oil as a dressing on the salad and eggs. Mix a tablespoon of pre-soaked or sprouted sunflower seeds and/or sesame seeds and/or pumpkin seeds with the salad. Sausages (full fat) should be made of pure ground meat with only salt and pepper added (you can also add chopped onion, garlic, or fresh herbs). Make sure that there is not commercial seasoning or MSG in the sausages. Find a local butcher who will make pure meat sausages for you to order
    • Avocado with meat, fish, or shellfish, vegetables raw and cooked, lemon and cold-pressed olive oil
    • If diarrhea is present, vegetables should be well cooked and the person should not have seeds at this stage
    • Serve a cup of warm homemade meat stock as a drink
    • Homemade soup with sour cream and meat
    • Pancakes made with ground nuts; weak tea with lemon, ginger tea, or mint tea
    • Home baked goods: muffins, fruit cake, or bread
  • Lunch
    • Homemade soup or stew with sour cream and meat/fish
    • Avocado with meat, fish, shellfish, and raw or cooked vegetables. Use olive oil with some lemon squeezed over it as a dressing. Serve a cup of warm homemade meat stock as a drink
    • Any meat/fish dish made with vegetables and probiotic foods
  • Dinner
    • One of the dishes from the lunch or breakfast choice
  • Snacks
    • Fruit, nuts, and home-baked products
    • If you want something before bed, have a cup of homemade yogurt, kefir, or sour cream with a bit of honey or Russian custard (recipes in book)
  • Proteins
    • Meats (fresh or frozen) – beef, lamb, meats, pork. Include organ meats – eat some liver on a regular basis, especially if you are anemic. Meats cooked in water are easier to digest for a person with a sensitive digestive system. Alternate between different meats to provide a whole spectrum of nourishment. Avoid lean meats, as our physiology can only use meat fibers when they come with the fat, collagen, and other substances that a proper piece of meat. GAPS people need plenty of animal fats, so cook pieces with a good fat covering on them
    • Poultry (fresh or frozen) – chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, quail, turkey. Eat the skin and the fats as well as the meat
    • Game (fresh or frozen), pheasant
    • Fish – fresh or frozen, canned (in oil or water only). E.g. herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines. Eat the skin as well as the meat
    • Shellfish (fresh or frozen)
    • Eggs, fresh – free range, organic. A GAPS child should consume 2-6 uncooked or lightly cooked egg yolks per day (with or without the whites); adults should have 4-8 egg yolks per day (with or without the whites)
    • Yogurt, homemade (the book also indicates that homemade sour cream can be eaten)
    • Cheeses – Asiago cheese, blue cheese, brick cheese, brie, camembert, cheddar, Colby, cottage cheese (dry curd/uncreamed), edam, gorgonzola, gouda, Havarti, limburger, Monterey jack, muenster, parmesan, Port de Salut, Roquefort, Romano, stilton, Swiss cheese (note there are also many cheeses which cannot be eaten, see below)
  • Vegetables
    • Organic vegetables are better than non-organic
    • Artichoke (not Jerusalem artichoke), asparagus, avocados, beans (haricots vert, string beans, lima beans, properly prepared), beetroot/beets, black radish, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, collard greens, cucumber, eggplant/aubergine (if tolerated), garlic, kale, lettuce (all kinds), mushrooms, nettles, onions, peas, peppers, pumpkin, spinach, squash (summer and winter), swedes/rutabaga, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, zucchini/courgette
    • Seaweed (fresh and dried)
    • Pickles, without sugar or any other non-allowed ingredients
    • Juices freshly pressed from permitted vegetables, tomato juice without any additives apart from salt
    • If you are sensitive to nightshade foods (tomatoes, eggplant/aubergine, peppers), then initially avoid them. After you complete the introduction diet, you may find that you do not react to them any more
    • All vegetables should be peeled, deseeded, and cooked – until diarrhea has completely cleared. After that, raw vegetables can be slowly introduced with meals or as snacks
    • If diarrhea is not present, raw vegetables should be a normal part of every meal
  • Fruits
    • Apples, apricots (fresh or dried), bananas (ripe only with brown spots on the skin), berries (all kinds), blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, cherimoya/custard apple/sharifa), cherries, dates (fresh or dried), elderberries, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi fruit, kumquats, lemons, limes, mangoes, melons, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapple (fresh), prunes (dried without any additives or in their own juice), raisins, redcurrants, rhubarb, satsumas, strawberries, tangerines, ugly fruit, whitecurrants
    • In some cases, when the digestive tract is too sensitive, you have to remove seeds by putting cooked berries through a sieve
    • Juices freshly pressed from permitted fruits
    • Dried fruits should not contain sorbates, sulfites, sugar, starch, or anything else added
    • Frozen fruits are acceptable, as long as nothing has been added to the fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
    • Freshly shelled nuts, all kinds, not roasted, salted, or coated. E.g. almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts (fresh only), coconut (fresh or dried only, without any additives), filberts/hazelnuts, peanuts (fresh or roasted in their shells), pecans, walnuts
    • Seeds, e.g. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds – these are best soaked in water for about 12 hours or slightly sprouted, which makes them easier to digest and more nourishing. Fermenting nuts and seeds with some whey in water will also help them more digestible
    • Seeds should not be used until diarrhea has settled
    • Nut and seed butters, e.g. almond butter, hazelnut butter, peanut butter, pumpkin seed butter, tahini
    • Nut flours, ground nuts, and nut meals, e.g. almond flour, ground cashews, ground pecans, ground walnuts
  • Fats and oils
    • Butter, ghee (homemade)
    • Pork drippings, beef fat (lard), lamb fat, goose fat, duck fat, chicken fat
    • If you can find natural non-hydrogenated coconut oil, you can use it for cooking and baking
    • Cold-pressed oils such as virgin cold-pressed olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil – these should never be heated
  • Herbs and spices
    • Herbs, fresh or dry (without additives) – e.g. bay leaf, cilantro, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary
    • Spices, single and pure without any additives – e.g. black pepper, white pepper, red pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fennel, ginger root, mustard powder, mustard seeds
  • Condiments and pantry
    • Capers, mustard without non-allowed ingredients, tomato puree, vinegar (cider vinegar or white vinegar, as long as there is no allergy)
    • Cellulose in supplements, citric acid
  • Beverages
    • Water – an adult on average should drink 1.5 liters (6 cups) of water a day. Don’t drink tap water unless it’s filtered – it is best to drink mineral water or filtered water. Adding a slice of lemon or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar ACV is beneficial. Don’t drink a lot of it with meals
    • Herbal teas, made from fresh single herbs and not from commercially available herbal tea bags
    • Freshly made ginger tea
    • Meat stock – homemade, drink warm with meals
    • Fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices
    • Black/green tea, for adults – weak, freshly made, not instant
    • Coffee, for adults – weak and freshly made, not instant
    • Milk replacements – homemade almond milk and homemade coconut milk
    • Fermented probiotic beverages such as kefir or yogurt whey, beetroot kvass, kvass from other fruit and vegetables, probiotic tomato juice
    • Alcoholic drinks – these are best avoided by people with GAPS syndrome as they add more toxicity for the liver to deal with. On rare occasions these are permissible: wine (dry, red or white); gin, scotch, vodka
  • Sweeteners
    • Honey (natural)
    • In the initial stages of the diet try to limit all sweet things, including honey, because they may encourage growth of Candida albicans in the gut
  • Less-starchy legumes
    • Dried white beans, navy beans, dried split peas, haricot beans, lentils, lima beans
    • Beans, lentils, and other legumes are generally very hard to digest, so don’t rush to introduce them. They should not be introduced until diarrhea and other digestive symptoms have cleared completely. When you feel you are ready to try them, introduce them first in a fermented form – after soaking for 12 hours minimum and rinsing, cover the beans with water and whey and leave to ferment at room temperature for 4-5 days. After rinsing, they will be ready to cook
    • Do not use commercially available bean flours, as the beans are not usually presoaked before grinding them into flour

Foods to avoid in the Full GAPS Diet

  • Processed foods
    • E.g. breads, pastries, pre-prepared meals, chips/crisps, snacks, chocolates, ice cream, cookies/biscuits, cakes, take-out/takeaway meals, condiments, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Proteins
    • Meats – processed, preserved, smoked, and salted, including bologna, ham, hot dogs, sausages (commercial), turkey loaf
    • Fish – preserved, smoked, salted, breaded, canned with sauces
    • Milk from any animal, buttermilk, dried milk, acidophilus milk – in the body of GAPS people, casein often does not get digested properly and turns into a substance with a similar chemical structure to opiates
    • Soy milk, rice milk, canned coconut milk
    • Cheeses which contain lactose – processed cheese, cheese spreads, chèvre cheese, cottage cheese (note this is listed as okay if it’s not creamed), cream cheese, feta cheese, gjetost cheese, gruyère cheese, mozzarella cheese, neufchatel cheese, primost cheese, ricotta cheese
    • Sour cream and yogurt – commercial
  • Vegetables
    • Starchy vegetables – corn, parsnips, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, yams
    • Okra, bitter gourd, Jerusalem artichoke
    • Algae
    • Aloe vera (can be introduced once digestive symptoms are gone)
    • Canned vegetables, preserved vegetables
  • Fruits
    • Apple juice
    • Canned fruits, preserved fruits
  • Grains
    • All grains, including barley, bulgur, corn, oats, rice, rye, spelt, triticale, wheat, wheat germ – in the body of GAPS people, gluten often does not get digested properly and turns into a substance with a similar chemical structure to opiates
    • Pseudo-grains, including amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa
    • Cereals, including all breakfast cereals
    • Pasta of any kind, couscous
    • Sago, semolina, starch, tapioca
    • Flour made from grains
    • Starch
  • Nuts and seeds
    • Salted, roasted, and coated nuts (and seeds)
    • Chestnuts and chestnut flour
  • Fats and oils
    • Cooking oils, vegetable oils, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated oils, shortenings
    • Cream
    • Margarines and butter replacements, and foods cooked with them; spreadable butter
  • Condiments and pantry
    • Arrowroot, baker’s yeast, baking powder and raising agents of all kinds (pure sodium bicarbonate / bicarbonate of soda is okay), balsamic vinegar, bouillon cubes or granules, carob, cornstarch, cream of tartar, ketchup (commercial)
    • Chocolate, cocoa powder
    • Processed salt
    • Preservatives and other additives
    • Acesulfame, agar agar, carrageenan, cellulose gum, lactose, pectin, whey powder or liquid
  • Beverages
    • Beer
    • Liquors, brandy, sherry
    • Instant coffee and coffee substitutes, Postum, chicory root
    • Instant tea
    • Cordials
    • Soft drinks / soda
  • Sweeteners
    • Sugar or sucrose of any kind
    • Agave syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, molasses
    • Aspartame/Nutra-Sweet, saccharin
    • Anything made with sugar or sweeteners
  • Sweet foods
    • Ice cream (commercial)
    • Jams, jellies
  • Starchy legumes
    • Baked beans, black-eye peas, butter beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas/garbanzos, fava beans / faba beans, mung beans
    • Soy beans, and soy in any form
    • Bean flour and bean sprouts
  • Other
    • Astralagus, bee pollen
    • Chewing gum
    • FOS / fructooligosaccharides

Coming off the GAPS diet

What to eat  |  Foods to avoid

You should have at least 6 months of normal digestion before you start introducing foods not allowed on the GAPS diet. Do not rush with this step, which may take several months to do properly.

Foods to eat coming off the GAPS diet

Introduce foods in this order. Introduce one food at a time and always start with a small amount, then watch any reaction for 2-3 days. If there are no digestive problems returning, or any other typical-for-you symptoms, then in a few days try another portion. If there are no reactions, gradually increase the amount of the food. As these are starchy foods that are being reintroduced, do not forget to serve them with good amounts of fat (butter, ghee, olive oil, any animal fat, coconut fat, etc.) to slow down the digestion of starch.

The majority of GAPS people do not have to adhere to a special diet for the rest of their lives: once the digestive system starts functioning normally, they can gradually introduce most wholesome foods commonly eaten around the world. Some people achieve this target in 2 years, some take longer – it depends on the severity of the condition and the age of the person: children generally recover more quickly than adults.

  • New potatoes and fermented gluten-free grains (buckwheat, millet, and quinoa) – the recipe section of the book explains how to ferment grains. Note that if you are sensitive to nightshades, you should try introducing tomato, aubergine/eggplant, and peppers first before trying potato
  • Once new potatoes and fermented grains are introduced, try to make sourdough with a good quality wheat or rye flour. You can make pancakes or bread with the sourdough. See Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig for recipes. Once sourdough is well tolerated you may be able to buy commercially available good quality sourdough breads
  • At this stage you may find that you can digest buckwheat, millet, and quinoa without fermenting them prior to cooking
  • Gradually you will find that you can introduce various starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes/beans
  • When the GAPS program has been completed, traditional fermented soy products can be used: natto, miso, and soy sauce. Make sure that the soy beans they were made from are organically grown and not genetically modified

Foods to avoid coming off the GAPS diet

  • Make sure that the foods are reintroduced in order
  • You will never be able to go back to the typical modern diet full of sugar, artificial and processed ingredients.

Vegetarianism and the GAPS diet

The author says she has yet to meet a healthy vegetarian. In the process of evolution, humans have evolved to be omnivores, eating plants, eggs, and meats.

Plant foods are generally hard to digest and are low in useful nutrition. Traditional cultures have developed methods of food preparation to extract more nutrition from plants and to make them more digestible, such as fermentation, malting, sprouting, and special ways of cooking.

A large percentage of girls and boys who develop an eating disorder start from a vegetarian or vegan type diet. Vegetarian and vegan diets are a major cause of mental illness in young people.

She strongly advises that parents don’t impose their beliefs on their GAPS children.

Feeding your baby

Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of your baby getting GAPS. The book contains additional non-food suggestions.


  • Both parents contribute to GAPS – parents of GAPS children often have chronic health conditions which indicate that they don’t have normal gut flora (from poor diet, antibiotic use, and contraceptive pills), and both parents can contribute to abnormal vaginal flora
  • If there are no serious digestive problems, allergies, chronic fatigue, lethargy or any other typical GAPS symptoms in the partners, follow the full GAPS diet for 4-5 months prior to conception
  • If there is pronounced GAP Syndrome in any of the parents, particularly in the mother, follow the whole GAPS Nutritional Protocol until you are much healthier and feel that you are ready to conceive and go through pregnancy. This will lower the toxic load passed to the baby


  • If you are already pregnant go straight into the Full GAPS Diet. However, read carefully the section on the Introduction Diet and follow the recommendations for introducing fermented foods, as they need to be introduced gradually if you have never had them before (they are not optional during pregnancy)
  • Religiously avoid all processed foods (all packets and tins), soft drinks, sugar and food additives
  • Avoid eating out. Make fresh food at home from fresh ingredients
  • 85% of everything you eat on a daily basis should be savory, made out of fresh meats, fish, eggs, good quality dairy, vegetables, and natural fats. Sweet things: baking (with nut flour and dried fruit), honey and fruit should be limited to snacks between meals
  • Consume homemade meat/bone stock/broth on a daily basis as soups, stews, or hot drinks. Drinking warm meat stock (with some live yogurt, kefir, or sour cream added) will help with morning sickness during pregnancy
  • Pay particular attention to the fats you consume, as they are the main agents that balance our reproductive hormones. Consume only natural animal fats (butter, cream, fats on meats, and animal fats you rendered yourself), cold-pressed good quality olive oil or coconut oil; consume more fats than usual as your baby will need these fats very much. The majority of fats you consume should be animal fats
  • Do your best to find raw organic dairy products from a local farm. If you cannot find unpasteurized organic milk, do not drink milk at all – instead every single day consume plenty of organic butter and fermented dairy
  • Eat liver and other organ meats regularly. Liver is the richest source of folic acid (not to mention many other nutrients) and will prevent many common problems
  • If your digestion is normal you can have potatoes, sourdough bread, and whole grains cooked at home in moderate amounts. These carbohydrates must be consumed with good amounts of natural fats to slow down their digestion and improve their nutritional value
  • Vaginal birth is recommended

After birth / breastfeeding

  • Feed the baby breastmilk, especially colostrum in the first few days after birth, for the appropriate population of the baby’s digestive system with healthy microbial flora. If you cannot do it yourself, try to find a wet nurse or breast milk donor. Again, a healthier mother with normal gut flora will provide better quality breast milk
  • Sometimes the baby reacts to foods the mother/feeder is eating, such as dairy foods
  • If you have no alternative but to feed your baby formula (even supplemented occasionally with breast milk), add good quality probiotics into every bottle feed right from the start
  • If you have mastitis, this infection from your breast is one of nature’s best ways of maturing your baby’s immune system. It creates a very high temperature in your body, which allows the body to dissolve blockages in the milk ducts in the breast. Your baby suckling will remove those blockages
  • If you have antibiotic treatments, make sure to take probiotics and eat plenty of fermented foods while on the antibiotic treatment
  • When you stop breastfeeding, you stop providing antibodies which protect the baby – this is a time when ear infections, digestive problems, eczema, etc. can start if the baby’s own immune system has abnormal gut flora and the baby has not developed any protection against it

Introducing solid foods

  • For a bottle-fed baby, introduce solids from the age of 4 months. A breastfed baby can often wait until 6 months of age, unless she is a very hungry baby and you have to introduce solids earlier
  • Solids should be introduced gradually, starting with just one very small meal a day. The rest of the meals should be breast milk or, if your baby is formula fed, her usual formula with some probiotic added
  • Before introducing any food, particularly at the beginning, do the sensitivity test. Take a drop of the food in question (if solid, mash and mix it with a bit of water) and place it on the inside of your baby’s wrist at bedtime. Let the drop dry and let your baby go to sleep. In the morning check the spot – if there is an angry red or itchy reaction, avoid that food for a few weeks, and then try again. If there is no reaction, then go ahead and introduce it gradually, starting with a tiny amount. Always test the food in the state you are planning to introduce it; e.g. if you are planning to introduce raw egg yolks, test the raw egg yolk and not the whole egg or cooked egg
  • First week: start with homemade meat stock (start with 1-2 teaspoons before feeds and gradually increase it), then 1 or 2 teaspoons of freshly pressed homemade vegetable juice (within ½ hour of pressing) mixed with some warm water between means
  • Second week: continue with the previous foods, gradually increasing daily amounts. Start adding probiotic foods to the meat stock (homemade whey or juice from homemade fermented vegetables – ½ teaspoon to start with then gradually increase, moving on to homemade yogurt and soured cream). Start making vegetable soup or puree from peeled, deseeded, and well-cooked vegetables. Add different fats and oils on different days
  • Third week: carry on with the previous foods. Start adding boiled meats. If your baby is on formula milk, keep replacing it with the soups and vegetable puree with meat or fish. If breastfeeding, carry on topping up with breast milk after every feed. Increase the amount of homemade yogurt and sour cream, and continue adding sauerkraut juice in soups and stews. Introduce ripe avocado, starting with a teaspoon added to the vegetable puree; gradually increase the amounts
  • Weeks 4 and 5 – carry on with the previous foods. Start adding raw organic egg yolk to the vegetable puree, after a sensitivity test. If all the previous foods are well tolerated try adding cooked apple as an apple puree (don’t microwave)
  • Weeks 6 and 7 – carry on with the previous foods. Increase the amount of homemade yogurt or sour cream to 3 teaspoons with every meal. You can start adding it to your baby’s juice and water in her bottle. Gradually increase raw egg yolk to 2 a day, added to your baby’s soup or cups of meat stock. Increase the meat intake, particularly gelatinous meats around joints and bones (well cooked in water). Stop milk formula completely – if breastfed, then carry on
  • Weeks 8 and 9 – carry on with the previous foods. Add pancakes made with nut butter (almond butter or hazelnut butter), zucchini or squash (peeled and blended) and eggs, starting with one small pancake a day and gradually increasing the amount. Sauté them gently in ghee, coconut oil, or any animal fat which you rendered yourself from fresh meat. Increase the amount of freshly pressed juices; add some yogurt to the juice. Try to add some fresh apple to the juice mixture. Add raw vegetables starting with lettuce and peeled cucumber (blended in a food processor and added to soup or vegetable puree). Start with a tiny amount and gradually increase if well tolerated. After those two vegetables are well tolerated, gradually add other raw vegetables: carrot, celery, soft cabbage, etc., finely blended
  • Week 10 and onwards – carry on with the previous foods. Try to give your baby a bit of egg gently scrambled (or an omelet) with generous amounts of raw butter, any animal fat, coconut oil or ghee. Serve it with avocado and raw or cooked vegetables. Try some ripe raw apple without the skin. Try some ripe banana (yellow with brown spots on the skin). Fruit should be given to your baby between meals, not with meats. Introduce homemade cottage cheese, starting with a tiny amount and gradually increasing. Try to bake bread using recipes in the book; start with a tiny piece of bread and gradually increase the amount. When your baby is on the full GAPS diet, you can start adding small amounts of natural salt into the food. This means that you will not have to cook for your baby separately, but can use the meat stock and other GAPS foods you have cooked for your whole family
  • You may have to introduce some foods later than in this program depending on your baby’s sensitivities. The best indication is your baby’s stool – if she gets loose stool or constipation, take it as an indicator that she is not ready for the newly introduced food. Remove it from the diet, wait a few weeks, then try to introduce it again. Another common reaction is any new skin rash or eczema flare-up
  • When weaning your baby, be confident and relaxed. If your baby has refused a particular food now, try an hour later or tomorrow. Choose times when you are not in a hurry and can be happy and relaxed

Health benefits claimed in Gut and Psychology Syndrome

The diet in this book claims to reduce the risks for: alcoholism, allergies, anorexia nervosa, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ADD/ADHD, autism, benign paroxysmal torticollis BPT, binge eating disorder, bipolar disorder, blue breath-holding attacks, bulimia nervosa, candida, colic, compulsive overeating, concentration difficulties, constipation, Crohn’s disease, depression, developmental disabilities, diarrhea, digestive problems, dyspraxia, dyslexia, ear infections, eating disorders, eczema, epilepsy, failure to thrive, fecal compaction with an over-spill syndrome, feeding difficulties, flatulence, food allergies, food intolerances, fussy eating, gastrointestinal disorders, glue ear, hay fever, hyperactivity, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, inflammatory bowel disease IBD, irritable bowel syndrome IBS, leaky gut, learning disabilities, mal seizures, malnourishment, manic depression, mental health problems, narcolepsy, neurological disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder OCD, pallid syncopal attacks, paroxysmal choreoathetosis, paroxysmalvertigo BPPV, pellagra, pseudoseizures, pyroluria, reflux, schizophrenia, shuddering attacks, startle disease/hyperekplexia, strange posture to relieve abdominal discomfort, substance abuse, thyroid dysfunction, tics and spasms, ulcerative colitis, vasovagal syncope,  vomiting

As always, this is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical diagnosis or treatment for a medical condition. Consult your doctor before starting a new diet. This page describes what the authors of the diet recommend – Chewfo is describing the diet only, not endorsing it.

Recommended links

The book’s website is http://www.gaps.me. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s website is http://www.doctor-natasha.com; she’s on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Doctor_Natasha and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GAPSDrNatasha.

The author recommends these sources of recipes in her book: www.gaps.me, www.scdiet.org, www.breakingtheviciouscycle.com, www.pecanbread.com, www.uclbs.org.

For dairy farmers producing milk conscientiously, see www.westonprice.org and www.realmilk.com.

Get a copy of Gut and Psychology Syndrome for detailed explanations of the reasoning behind the food recommendations, suggestions for various medical conditions, supplementation, lifestyle changes, fermentation methods, methods for changing eating behavior, treating eating disorders, detoxification, and recipes.

Buy now from Amazon
For more recipes, get The Heal Your Gut Cookbook by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett with a foreword by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

How has this diet helped you? Please add a comment or question below.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Ann March 28, 2016, 5:04 pm

    I cannot believe you said that you have never met a healthy vegetarian. There are tons! Im only talking about cutting out meat…. not eggs and everything. You are very wrong to say such things as a balanced meat free diet is truly healthy. You are telling me that meat is ok on the digestion and the colon? Please!!

  • J C August 2, 2016, 11:28 pm

    Could you tell me when stevia is allowed? I’m assuming it’s re-introduced before the sugar alcohols (which are not sugar, nor alcohol) such as erythritol.

    • Penny Hammond August 21, 2016, 5:43 pm

      I can’t find any mention of it in the book – as it’s actually pretty processed, and may confuse the body by giving sweetness without calories, I’d assume it wouldn’t be introduced until full health or close to there.

Leave a Comment