Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to Prepare for and Begin GAPS {Stage 1 Information - Part 1}

Just a note at the beginning - the most important part of this post is at the end (the last 2 bullet points).  So if you don't look at all of this, at least go look at the end to get a small glimpse of why and how we do this and to get any speck of encouragement I can give.  Now on to the fun stuff...

Before starting, you will want to have the following in plentiful amounts:

  1. Meat and/or Bone Broth (easy to digest, healing to the lining of the gut, and full of great nutrition and fat)
    1. Meat broth is important in the GAPS diet - some people have difficulty handling bone broth.  We never experienced this problem, but I have heard of many people who are sensitive to bone broth.  Meat broth is just boiling your broth contents (raw chicken on the bone, beef meat bones and 'dog' bones) for only a few hours.  Meat broth is very rich in amino acids (search for 'meat stock' on the GAPS website's Frequently Asked Questions page). 
    2. Bone Broth - Different from meat broth/stock, you put your chicken or beef (or fish, but I've never done that!) bones in cold filtered water, add some vinegar (ACV is best), let it sit for about an hour, then bring to a boil and keep at a low simmer for 12-24 hours to get all the minerals and goodies out of the bones. 
    3. With both broth types, it's good to get marrow out of the bones - this is very healing.  This is very easy with beef bones - you can save it and eat it or just keep it in the broth. 
  2. Animal Fat.  Read about rendering it here.  Same process for beef tallow or pig lard.  That link also has fantastic information about fats that are good for you. 
  3. Vegetables and everything else listed here.  As I noted in that post, that list is not absolutely everything you could ever use on GAPS or intro, but it's everything we used a ton of!
Stage 1 Details:
The creator of the GAPS diet has a wonderful, very simple guide on her website.  There is great information there!  She tells you stage by stage what to eat.  Although I don't provide anything new, I will give you my little list that I have taped up in my kitchen that helped me stay focused during stage 1 - it was all so overwhelming to me!  Having my little list helped me SO much.

Stage 1 Introduction GAPS
  • AM: Warm Lemon water and probiotic 
  • Boiled Meat
  • Boiled veggies – zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, peas, onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes (or glass jar tomato puree or paste with no additives)
  • Meat/Bone broth – beef and chicken – blend remaining soft tissue from making broth to add in to soups – also knock bone marrow out of bones to keep in broth
  • Sauerkraut juice in broth – 1-2 tsp/day for 2-5 days, then 3-4 tsp a day for 2-5 days until you can add a few tsp into every bowl of soup  OR can use homemade yogurt (cultured 24 hours)
  • Include as much animal fat as possible
  • Ginger tea with little honey in between meals
Pretty simple sounding, huh?!  With stage 1, the difficulty comes in making enough food to keep everyone full and making things that taste good and aren't difficult to get down.  So now I will share all my ideas, thoughts, recipes, and randomness that I have about Stage 1.  Keep in mind I am not the most experienced person out there, but I will share what I have learned.

How to approach this:
  • make a plan.  Really.  Plan out what soups you will make, when you will make your stock, when you will prepare vegetables (I strongly advise setting aside time to do large veggie prep sessions!), when you will render animal fat, when you will bake winter squashes, when you will debone chicken, etc.  Look at your week and all you have going on and then fit your prep in around that so you don't set yourself up for disaster.  
  • Consider getting up 30 min - 1 hr earlier every day or a few days a week to do work in the kitchen.  I always find it easier and so freeing to do this stuff in the morning rather than getting to the end of the day and being overwhelmed at the kitchen and all I need to do (giant pot of broth on the stove with 2 chickens in it waiting to be de-boned, veggies that didn't get prepped sitting on the counter, dirty dishes everywhere).  
  • It has worked well for me to look at a bunch of meals I am going to make and prep all the veggies and meats ahead of time.  Then for those meals all you are doing is adding things into pots in a certain order.  Dump your broth in, put in the longer-to-cook veggies, later add the quick-cooking veggies, add in pre-cooked chicken or beef, salt and pepper to taste...It is very freeing to make a giant pot of soup without really doing any work at that point.  
  • Use your crockpot.  Yay for crockpots and not getting scared about exploding or burning the house down! 
  • Don't put pressure on yourself to create the most amazing meals.  It's stage 1.  It's not exciting.  But I do believe salt can make almost anything amazing.  
  • Keep in mind that this is temporary.  This is a difficult season of the diet.  The hardest.  Once you add eggs in, you'll feel like life is so easy ;-).  Well, maybe not easy, but waaayyy easier than stage 1.  
  • Know that you will experience (most likely) hunger, different stomach feelings than normal, changed digestion and 'elimination' patterns, maybe nausea, fatigue, headaches.  People vary widely in their reactions to intro, especially dependent on what lifestyle and eating habits were prior to starting stage 1. 
  • Try and cook very large pots of whatever soup you are making.  It can be disheartening to put work into a soup and then it's all gone in 1 meal.  This may not be possible depending on how hungry everyone is and how many kids you have, but I just encourage you to have a large pot and double or triple a recipe so you have some leftovers for a meal the next day - this will help with kitchen fatigue ;-).  
  • Keep an inventory list of your freezer.  I often lose track of how much broth I have frozen and which cuts of meat I am running low on if I am not keeping my list current.  Do whatever works for you - paper taped to the freezer/fridge, in a planner, in a binder, on your hand ;-).  
  • Above all else, keep in mind the WHY of doing this and the HOW.  Make yourself a mission statement as to why you are doing this - for health, healing, freedom from food that brings disease, your kids' future health, to be able to have a strong body to fight illness and problems well, to clear your mind so you can be the best mom/wife/dad/husband/friend and above all else follower of Christ without being in a 'brain fog' and exhausted all the time...any reason you are doing this.  And then the HOW, which is the MOST important part.  You will do this with the strength, perseverance, wisdom, and joy that comes from the Lord.  He provides.  He is our motivation.  He is our energy and focus, and when you are overwhelmed and frustrated and don't know what to do, SEEK HIS FACE.  Ask, and HE will give you wisdom and leading - with anything, even when to move on to a new stage, what foods to add in, when to ask for help from a friend or your spouse.  Pray.  Listen to music.  Sing and dance with your kids (or by yourself!).  Get outside.  Put your soup in a giant thermos and go to the park or a friend's house to feel 'normal'.  Except for that thermos of soup.  That's not normal.  ;-)  But it's fun not to be normal.  And remember, this food thing, this healing, this is not life and death.  Life and death are settled in Christ.  So live in that freedom and grace.  Rejoice in your weakness as you worship the One who is strong.  Be refreshed by His love.  His water is the only thing that will quench the thirst of your soul.  
  • Use this opportunity to talk to your kids about why you are doing what you are doing.  They understand more than we think.  Let them help.  Teach them.  Let them use straws and dip meat in soups and remember that if kids have die-off and symptoms because of diet change and any nasty little bugs living in them, it might make them crazy, and they might have to pee more often, and they might wet the bed.  But you are doing this for their good!  Talk to them about how what we put into us helps us either be strong and full of life or weak and susceptible to ills - and talk to them about their souls and how Christ makes us strong and full of life if He is in us and His word is in us, but that we are sick and susceptible to sin and evil without His grace.  This is good for you, too, to remember.  Do all we do for the glory of the Lord and to love Him, even something as simple as food.  
So, now that I've rambled in all my randomness, I have decided this will be a 2 parter - next post I will share food ideas and any recipe we have liked for stage 1 intro.  Oh, how God can refresh my soul in the weirdest writing about food.  :-)  


  1. Thank you so much for sharing. I'd like to share this page on my resource page if that's all right?? I just started the GAPS intro diet today and made a blog to share with others what we are doing ... maybe it will encourage others and maybe someone can teach us as well??

    Here is the link if you or anyone else is interested:

  2. This is SO helpful! I've seen many sites out there but none broken down so specifically. The kitchen prep and storage is the most daunting, so your photos were particularly helpful to me. Now I can envision what it is going to be like. Thank you for sharing... continue to be well!

  3. I'm on day 2 of Intro, make that round 2 of Intro after my son was on it 2 years ago. We're back to heal my daughter's dairy allergy (acquired after being on numerous rounds of antibiotics for sinus infections, strep and pneumonia). Your blog has made this go around SO. MUCH. EASIER!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wisdom and encouragement. It was just what I needed after scouring the internet for another soup recipe because the 5 I've made in the past 2 days have been met with turned up noses and utter disdain ;-). Stage 1 is tough to make tasty so I keep telling my children, "This too shall pass." Thank you for your blog, it's at the top of my What to Eat on GAPS links now.

  4. Loving your blog... I was especially moved by your paragraph about leaning on Christ through this healing food journey. As a fellow sister in Christ, I thank you for this perspective and encouragement. Praising Him in all things!!

  5. Love this! God bless you and thank you for sharing sister!

  6. Love this! God bless you and thank you for sharing sister!

  7. Thank you! I'm going to come back to the HOW and the WHY paragraph many times. The thought that God is our strength and partner is powerful reminder. He is the author of our bodies and the giver of healing!


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