GAPS Introduction Diet: Stage One

Tomorrow is the day!

Last week, I talked a lot about how we were preparing physically and mentally for starting the Introduction diet.  (See article: “Gearing Up for GAPS Intro”) So you can probably imagine that today I’m going to talk about how I’m making meat stock in preparation for all the broth we’re going to be drinking this week, chopping veggies for soups, checking my sauerkraut reserves one last time…

But that’s not what I’m going to talk about.

I have an attitude problem today.  Just because we’ve been GAPS for almost 2 years now doesn’t mean that I always have a sunny disposition about chicken broth and relish the thought of living on soups and meats and veggies for the next several weeks to come.  I am not always “Susie Homemaker” as some seem to think. 😉

Today, I am drinking coffee like it’s going out of style, because I know that I won’t be having it for some time.  We’re going to cook out tonight around the fire; I’m going to finally try that homemade marshmellow recipe made with gelatin that I’ve been meaning to try, and we’re going to cook some hot dogs (organic, grass-fed, no illegal ingredients).

Now, for most of my friends, you’re probably saying … oooooooh, you’re so wicked!  How terrible that you’re going to eat organic hot dogs!  My point, though, is this:  it’s OK to have a bad attitude occasionally and dread making a diet change, although that you know it’s going to be for the better.  For weeks I’ve been looking forward to doing Intro again, as I remember how good we all felt doing it (especially on stage two), and I’m looking forward to more healing for my boys.  But today, I feel like it’s the last day of our lives before chicken soup prison.

So, while I am making some preparations for tomorrow, I am also going to hang out outside today (last day of 70 degree weather!), plant some spring bulbs, close the pool, take the boys to the library … and drink more coffee.

That being said, here is the outline for the GAPS Introduction Diet: Stage One.  Stage one can last for as little as one day or as long as needed until digestive symptoms like diarrhea have improved.  Usually stage one does not last long, as it is similar to stage two, and often you can spend more time on stage two.  Stage one is wonderful for people with chronic diarrhea.  Often a week spent on stage one is enough to cause their diarrhea to stop.  Our stage one will likely last somewhere from 1-3 days.  My youngest usually tends to vomit on the second morning of stage one, so I usually let the puking pass, and then we move on to stage two.

Stage One

The following foods are included in the first stage:

  • Homemade meat or fish stock.  (See a recipe for meat stock here). You can use meat from fish, beef, chicken and other birds, turkey and lamb.  “Meat and fish stocks provide building blocks for the rapidly growing cells of the gut lining, and they have a soothing effect on any areas of inflammation of the gut.  That is why they aid digestion and have been known for centuries as healing folk remedies for the digestive tract”. – Gut and Psychology Syndrome, page 145.  Chicken stock is especially soothing for the digestive system and is a good place to start from.  Get used to drinking and eating soups made with meat stock!  This is a fundamental piece of the GAPS Nutritional Program.  Without adequate amounts of meat stock, it is very difficult to properly “heal and seal” the gut lining.  Meat stock should be homemade, not bought in the store or made from bouillon cubes.  Do NOT use a microwave to reheat your meat stock; reheat it using the stove or cook it in the crockpot.  This meat stock can be eaten with cooked vegetables and meat as a soup or drank plain throughout the day.  On stage one, consume as much meat stock as you can, anytime that you are hungry throughout the day.  This is one reason why I like doing the Introduction Diet in the fall or early winter, as this is the time of year that I crave soup.
  • Homemade soup made from meat stock.  Add vegetables to your meat stock to make nourishing soups.  You can use vegetables like onions, carrots, broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, beets, bok choy, brussels sprouts, collard greens, eggplant, French artichokes, green beans, kale, peas, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, turnips and watercress.  Avoid very fibrous vegetables like cabbage and celery.  Remove skins and seeds from vegetables and the hard stalks from broccoli and cauliflower.  You really want to consume the parts of the vegetables that are not very hard and fibrous.  Cook the vegetables in the meat stock for 25-35 minutes.  When the vegetables are soft and well-cooked, add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped garlic, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat off.  You can blend the soup to puree it or eat it as is.  Eat this soup throughout the day; it keeps in the fridge for 5 to 8 days, so that you can reheat it and eat it again at any time (reminder: do not reheat in the microwave).  I will be including recipes for stage one and two soups as we work through the Introduction Diet (you can check my recipe page for a complete listing of recipes on my blog).
  • Meats cooked in broth.  You can eat beef, pork, lamb, goose, pheasant, turkey, shellfish and chicken meat that has been boiled in stock or filtered water.
  • Animal fats.  You can add tallow, lard, goose, chicken or duck fat to your recipes.
  • Coconut oil.  This can be added to soups or mixed with a little honey and taken a little bit by the spoonful throughout the day.  This is helpful especially in the beginning to help control sugar swings, vomiting and extreme die-off symptoms.  Do remember, though, that coconut oil is a powerful antifungal and antimicrobial oil itself, and large amounts of coconut oil will actually increase the amount of die-off you are experiencing.
  • Seasonings.  The only seasonings that should be used at this stage are sea salt and peppercorns.  You can add the peppercorns to flavor your soups, but you should not eat the actual peppercorn at this stage.
  • Probiotic foods.  You should introduce these right from the beginning.  Introduce them gradually, starting with 1-2 tsp. a day for one to five days, and then increase to 3-4 tsp. a day for 1-5 days and continue to increase until you add a few teaspoons of probiotic food into every cup of meat stock and every bowl of soup.  Add the probiotic food to soup that is WARM not hot, as the heat will kill some of the beneficial bacteria.  For probiotic foods, start with adding the juice from your homemade sauerkraut or fermented vegetables; do not add the vegetables themselves yet, just the liquid part.  You can also start to introduce whey from your homemade yogurt at this time, again starting with just 1 tsp. and slowly increasing as noted above.  If you have had issues with dairy in the past, it is a good idea to do a skin sensitivity test prior to introducing dairy.  Take a small amount of the whey and place it on your wrist at night before you go to sleep and allow it to dry.  If the skin is itchy or red in the morning where the whey had been, avoid dairy at this time.  You can repeat the test in the future after more gut healing has taken place.  (Also, see pages 147-148 of Gut and Psychology Syndrome for more instructions about how to introduce dairy products like whey, yogurt, sour cream and kefir.)
  • Ginger tea, mint or chamomile tea.  You may drink these teas with a little honey between meals.  To make ginger tea, grate some fresh or frozen ginger root (about 1 tsp.) and pour boiling water over it; cover and let steep for 3-5 minutes.  Strain by pouring through a small sieve; add a little honey and enjoy.  The herbal teas should be loose leaf (not in tea bags).
  • Lemon juice mixed with warm filtered water.  This is especially good first thing in the morning.
  • Raw honey.  This can be taken in small amounts in your tea or mixed with coconut oil to help stabilize blood sugar.
  • Plenty of filtered water.

** A special note about those prone to chronic profuse diarrhea:  Exclude vegetables at this time.  Drink the warm meat stock with probiotic foods like whey, sour cream and yogurt; add gelatinous meats and fish.  Do not introduce vegetables until the diarrhea starts to improve.  See pages 147-148 of Gut and Psychology Syndrome for more instructions.

This is the basic outline for the first stage of the GAPS Introduction Diet.  Expect to feel fatigued, achy, nauseous as your body begins to heal and clear toxins (feels almost like you have the flu).  Bad bacteria and pathogens in your body will be dying, and as they do so, they will be releasing toxins into your system.  If die-off symptoms become too much to handle, slow down with how much probiotic foods you are adding in.  At this point, this is not a case of more is better.  Die-off can be too extreme.  You may need to stop taking probiotic foods for a couple of days until the symptoms stabilize, and then very slowly increase again.  Some people are more sensitive than others.

Remember to drink plenty of water and rest when needed.  Taking daily detox baths is also important in aiding the removal of toxins from your body.  This is a good time to start working on listening to your body.  Many of us have lost this in our modern way of living; our body tells us that it is tired, it’s overworked, it’s stressed … we just gulp down another Red Bull and keep going.  No more Red Bull now!  When you’re body is tired, rest.  You’ll be amazed how much better you will start to feel as you learn to listen to what you really need.

Over the coming weeks, I will be including several recipes for stage one and two foods.  I will also be intermittently posting recipes that are acceptable at different stages of the diet for those of you who are not currently on Intro or who are on a different stage of Intro.  I hope that this will help you as you work through the stages of the Introduction Diet.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  I look forward to hearing from you!

~ Alicia

Information from this post was obtained from the books “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and “The Heal Your Gut Cookbook” by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett (with a foreword by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride).  The information contained in this article is not a substitute for medical advice; feel free to contact your medical professional prior to beginning any new diet program.  I am not a medical doctor, nutritionist or dietician and do not claim to be such.  I do not diagnose, treat, or offer individualized diet treatment plans.  This information is for educational purposes only and serves as a guideline according to the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet as outlined by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition).

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