Diary of a Mama on the GAPS Intro Diet – A Protocol to Heal the Digestive System

Ever heard of the GAPS diet? Well, neither had I up until six months ago. Then my life took a HUGE turn and many steps in the right direction. It’s an amazing temporary diet that works to heal the digestive system to cure you of all manners of autoimmune disease. It’s very similar to the Paleo Autoimmune protocol, and based on the original diet, the Breaking the Vicious Cycle

Diary of a Mama Toughin It Out on the GAPS Intro Diet to Heal Auto Immune Disease

I’ve written quite a bit about this unknown, but miracle GAPS Diet, based on the book by Dr. Campbell, Gut and Psychology Syndrome in this post. It is an amazing and comprehensive diet that has cured thousands from auto-immune diseases like acne, eczema, psoriasis, ADD, ADHD, food intolerances, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, seasonal allergies, and even autism and schizophrenia. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. It really works but it takes dedication and hard work as it is probably the most restrictive diet on the planet! You have to eliminate white sugar (only sweetening with honey or stevia), remove all grains (rice, corn, wheat, etc.) and all processed foods.

We Went on the Full GAPS Diet 5 Months Ago

I chose to put my family on the full GAPS diet about five months ago as two of my children were starting to develop eczema and I’ve struggled with it most of my life. I had gone gluten-free six months before that and it was not curing my eczema, plus I was struggling with fatigue, pain all over my body, irritability, depression, major brain fog and anxiety. I was amazed at how after just one week, not only was my eczema much better, but my energy was better than it had been in many years, the pain was nearly gone, depression and irritability greatly improved!

Hit a Plateau

I rode that high right on through the holidays and didn’t even feel like cheating because I was feeling so good, until I reached a plateau and my eczema started flaring back up. Plus, the irritability and depression would sneak right back in with it. I knew when I went on this diet that the intro is the most important part, as it’s the stage where you work on healing the gut lining, as a damaged gut lining allows for leaky gut, which causes all manner of diseases and problems. But I just couldn’t go from eating processed junk food to the intro GAPS diet without feeling extremely overwhelmed, so I did the full diet at first. It was definitely the right decision as now I fully understand the diet, and the importance of eating real food and good fats, soaking grains, and am truly ready for the hardest step. So, I’ve finally been on the plateau long enough that I’m ready to fight the rest of this battle. I need eliminate all potentially irritating foods and figure out what is bothering and heal my gut at the same time.

GAPS Intro BookGAPS Intro Meal Plan Book

I bought the eBook from Health, Home and Happiness, “What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on the GAPS Intro Diet” to help me along, and it has been very helpful. She breaks it down into step-by-step instructions, even giving meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days. It has taken SO much of the stress out for me as I’m having to cook for my family three times a day, so doing a separate meal plan for me also was just making my head spin!

My GAPS Intro Prep

I’ve taken the past two days to prepare for the diet – I took Cara’s advice from the book to buy the veggies like carrots, onions, leeks, cauliflower, garlic and more in bulk, chop them all up, put in zip lock bags, and freeze so my meals are much easier to make. This took about two hours, but I did it after all the kids were asleep last night and watched TV on my iPad at the same time, so it made it much more pleasant to have “Scandal” as my friend. My back and feet ached afterwards, though, but I do think it’ll be a lifesaver so I’m not doing so much work to make meals for my three kids and me at the same time.

Starting Point

Eczema – I wanted to share how I’m feeling and doing before starting the diet, to see if there’s a difference later on. Currently, my hands are covered in eczema. They itch, burn and feel rough. They are in bad shape. I have been cheating lately and had grain like rice, and have had a few organic lollipops (which have sugar and that’s not allowed, even cane sugar). Plus, I had some cheese, but it was raw milk cheddar cheese, which is allowed on the diet. So, I’m not really sure why I’ve flared up again.

Irritable – I’m also feeling very irritable and those sneaky awful feelings of depression are coming back. I notice that always happens when my eczema gets bad, so I know there’s a direction connection between the gut and the brain! I notice I have little to no patience, feel out of control and disorganized, things like that.

Stomach Pain – There have been many times in the last few weeks that my belly’s been distended, hurt and I got a lot of gas after eating even a GAPS approved meal (full GAPS diet, that is). So, there is no doubt in my mind that my gut is still inflamed and not healed. It’s better than before, but not healed.

Anyway, I’m starting off at the worst I’ve felt in five months, so it’s the perfect time and motivation for me to kick this into high gear and get going on doing this diet for real. As I progress, I’ll come back and share how it’s going and if I’m doing better!

So, wish me luck! Any out there who have gone before me? What are your tips and advice?

Week 1 Update

Cara’s book has been a godsend, truly. I made boiled meat patties at the beginning of the week and have used those as quick snacks to grab when I get hungry. Plus all the veggies I cut up and froze have been super easy to make soups with, which is a big part of this diet. I’ve also combined some things the Specific Carbohydrate diet allows, one of which is homemade jello with water, gelatin, and fruit juice (from manufacturers who do not add sugar or use concentrate). That has been my favorite snack by far! Plus, I’ve noticed I’ve had to drink more water and am thirsty, which is an indication that I need more carbs. One major improvement was my energy is back up and my irritable bad attitude is gone, my whole family thanks me for that (poor schmucks!).

Anyway it’s going very well so far. It’s not nearly as hard as I thought it’d be. I think it’s because I’ve already been on the full GAPS diet for 5 months – I really don’t feel like I’m being deprived. And I’m already SO used to not cheating – I’ve really disciplined myself these past five months that temptation isn’t worth it anymore. My eczema has improved only slightly in three days, but I did go off my probiotics as it is recommend to do.

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About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.


  1. Wow, I feel for you……I am not totally GAPS but have changed everything…….I started in January, reading your blog and threw everything out of my cupboards toxic…..then I gave up diary, then pop and sugar, then with no eczema relief even then, was out of my mind! Then after more research, started on enzymes and probiotics. Then, started watching the alkaline/acid foods……I am now doing much better (knock on wood). I feel much better everywhere else also, no heartburn, no stomach issues really and of course have lost some weight. I hope we can both lick this! And, I thank you for all you put out there information wise!

  2. A modified GAPS diet and vitamin/mineral supplementation tailored specifically for my son based on his bloodwork rid him of his ADHD diagnosis. I say “rid” and not “cured” because I never believed ADHD was a neurological disorder caused by faulty wiring in the brain (despite the repeated claims, it has never been proven); it’s a topic I personally researched for nearly 20 years. I knew his symptoms were a manifestation of something else going on beneath the surface. So glad I went with my gut (wink wink) and did not listen to our mainstream doctors who simply wanted to prescribe dangerous psychotropic medication.

    My daughter has gut issues as well due to candida overgrowth; been having a hard time getting a handle on that, particulary headaches and eczema flareups. Thanks for sharing, and continued luck!

    • wildcherry65 says:

      As far as the candida overgrowth….oh do I know!

      I found that using Agrisept, a combination of tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit seed extracts, 15 mins before I eat has helped TREMENDOUSLY!!!! It also helps my digestive issues somewhat. I use it to soak my veggies for 25 minutes. It can be used on meats and fish (spray it on) to rid them of any bacteria.

      It has been PROVEN to kill herpes, candida, streptococcus, staphylococcus, E.coli, influenza, parasites, fungus, salmonella, tourista.

      I use it for sore throats…just a few drops in a little water…gargle. No strep throat this year, no tonsillitis either!!! I did NOT get sick this winter, when EVERYONE around me did. Not even a cold. That is amazing considering my throat, belly, and lungs are my weak spots and I used get strep, tonsillitis, stomach viruses, and bronchitis at least once a year.

      It is good for gingivitis, skin and nail fungus, athlete’s foot, warts, poison ivy, dermtose. It can also be used to rinse veggies, and spray on meats and fish, in fish aquariums, in pet bird’s water, and also for drinking water…especially if you are traveling out of the country and don’t trust the water.

      BACK TO YEAST OVERGROWTH..You have to avoid yeast…that means bread and pretzels, etc, and you can’t eat ANY sugar. Today just about EVERYTHING has sugar in it. And other things break down into sugar. It is not an easy thing to do…avoiding all the JUNK that flares it up.

      I use Stevia for my sweetener. I also have leaky gut BAD…REEEEEEEEAL bad. I am down to being able to eat on TWO veggies that don’t have me bloated and gassy. I have so many food intolerances I can’t eat anywhere but home. With that and allergies….fatigue, aches, migraines, thyroid and adrenal issues, ulcerative colitis, and now I am ITCHY all over ALL the time and I feel like I am being bitten by fire ants at times (now that I stopped taking Zyrtec D due to side effects) ….time to go GAPS!!!

      Thanks Sara, I will be buying the books and “going there”. I am at the point I am so fed up and feel like a pile of dog doo most of the time. I was a very high energy person and over time I am feeling like a slug. I can’t get movin til afternoon (Cortisol levels are backwards) And I am a newly wed…married only over a year….I have a LIFETIME ahead of me…I want to ENJOY life with my wonderful husband!!!!

      • Thanks so much for sharing your story! When we share, it helps anyone who might be suffering from the same things we do. I have never heard of Agrispet, definitely going to have to check that out. Is it natural? Does it have chemicals or preservatives? Stevia is a great option as a sweetener, I use it, too, but it’s not nearly as good as raw honey in my opinion. It tastes like aspartame to me, which I find to be weird!

    • I know what you mean about the mainstream doctors wanting to hand you a pill for everything. That is what they have learned so I try not to be to hard on them but it’s tough. I’ve been ill for most of my life and I had tests done in Jan through a homeopathic clinic and I have all kinds of food allergies and sensitivities as well as my thyroid was basically non functioning, but my mainstream doctor always told me that I was within the “normal” range with my tests, guess what I already knew but couldn’t get any doctor to listen to me? I knew that their “normal” range was not my “normal” range. I’ve also been fighting fibromyalgia for about 30 years and found out through the tests that I had done in Jan. that I have high levels of mercury and lead in my system. The mercury was from my dental amalgams, which are 50% mercury, so over time this has caused a lot of problems for me and I didn’t even know they contained mercury until about a year or so ago. I finally was able to get the amalgams out and am now chelating to get the mercury and lead out, but that will take a couple of years or more. Good to know why I’ve always felt “off” and not like I belong anywhere. That mercury does some awful stuff to a persons body and mind. I also have leaky gut and like I said I’m allergic to a lot of different foods, things like garlic, potatoes, cabbage, strawberries, grapes and the list goes on. Even black pepper! I ate some garlic last night and I paid for it dearly with distended tummy and just feel lousy today even, no more cheating for me it never pays off. This is the first I’ve seen GAPS and I haven’t had a chance to read much about it yet but if it allows garlic and other foods I can’t have then it’s probably not for me. But if your still getting hurt tummy then it may be that you are allergic to some of the foods on the GAPS diet. Good luck and I hope you all get better soon!

    • Hi Dani! Thanks for sharing your story. So glad the diet worked for your son. I wish the modified version had worked for me, but it didn’t. I’m on Day 2 now and sticking to it okay.

  3. I used the swishing technique with coconut oil and started it at the same time as you did but I continued it. I guess I am wondering why you did not continue doing it and are now using a GAPS diet for your symptoms. I also swallow coconut oil daily which is beneficial for lots of things. Just wondering if coconut oil swishing did not help you.

    Good luck with the diet.

    • Hey Diane! Oh, I haven’t stopped oil pulling. I’m still doing it almost daily! I didn’t mean to imply that in the post. It has worked well for me, it’s just that when I cheat, I get a very bad outbreak of eczema on my hands that even the oil pulling doesn’t help with. It really helped that first week, so I’m gonna keep at it.

  4. Thanks for sharing, I will be looking into this further. I have the symptoms as you do and was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Disease. I wasn’t given any advice on how to deal with it but I believe diet plays an important role.

  5. Believe it or not while most people are ok with rice there are some people that can be allergic to it. I find that GAPS is a very restrictive diet and you may not need to go so far to get better. The diet was initially created to help autistic children but also showed positive results for people with eczema, autoimmune and other conditions. That said eczema may improve with a less restrictive approach and there are other options that you could try before GAPS.

    The elimination diet can be very effective in helping you to find out what foods you are allergic to and if they are causing your flair ups. After that the next step would be to heal leaky gut syndrome and then slowly re-introduce foods that you were allergic to back into your diet and see if you can tolerate them again. Most of adult food allergies are not forever and go away after you heal leaky gut syndrome.

    There are other practitioners that have easier and not so restrictive approach to healing leaky gut and they also use a modified SCD. I could recommend to check this one http://outsmartdisease.com/karen-brimeyer-leaky-gut-syndrome-cure/

    I hope this helps you!

    • Great tips, Marina! I thought the same as you at first – that I didn’t need to do the entire diet to heal, but for me, it didn’t work as I mention in the post. I don’t have major digestive issues nor ever have and doing the full diet still hasn’t worked for me so I think I still have leaky gut that has healed part way, but not completely. The elimination diet is basically what the intro diet is – you eliminate all starchy and sugary foods and slowly add them back in. But I’ll check out that link, very cool!

  6. Fuego Azul says:

    Wow! I’m so sorry to hear you have to deal with this…But good for you for taking action to improve your situation!
    This information is incredibly helpful & has been shared. Thank you for writing about your GAPS diet & for recording your process!

  7. Hi Sara,
    I came back to your blog for your wonderful raspberry stitch cocoon and then accidentally found all of your food stuff too! I was wondering how budget friendly this GAPS diet is, as things are kinda tight but we know something needs to change. I believe diet will help my husband and I immensely and just don’t know where to start. Last fall my brother-in-law set us up on a cleanse, but my husband couldn’t stick with it as he likes meat too much and I couldn’t stick with it because my syncopy was acting up pretty bad (I work with infants and passing out is never good). It was specific fruits and veggies, 1C of each for each meal, with 1 cup of packed salad for our big meal and 64 ounces of water (at least). However, we did notice that on the cleanse we had tons more energy and our “bowel habits” (sorry for the TMI) were more friendly. If GAPS isn’t quite budget friendly, what do you recommend for us to start on?

    • Hi Arina! So glad you found the stuff on food, that is one of my major passions. Well, the intro diet is very budget friendly as you don’t buy much variety. To get the cheapest prices, I suggest your local farmer’s market if you have one. Otherwise, you can do it without doing everything organic (just get the dirty dozen organic as they are grown with the most pesticides).

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