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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in Brooke Kaufman Holistic Nutritionist (2)


The GAPS Diet. A Nutritionist's Personal Story.

Brooke Kaufman, Balance Within Nutrition

Written by Guest Blogger, Brooke Kaufman, Holistic Nutritionist

I first learned about the GAPS diet when I ran into an in-depth interview of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (the creator of the GAPS diet) on Dr. Mercola’s website. You can listen to the interview here.


Why I started GAPS

After listening to the interview I was intrigued, and what she was saying about the connection between gut flora and mental health and behavior all rang true to me, and mirrored what I had learned in my studies as a Nutrition Consultant. My interest was piqued, and so a couple of months later when I started noticing that “something just wasn’t quite right” with my digestive system, the GAPS diet came to mind. I started preparing myself and my kitchen to begin the intro phase of the diet using the on-line resources, but decided it would probably be wisest to go ahead and purchase the GAPS book and the corresponding cookbook, Internal Bliss. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything essential in this carefully laid out, gut healing protocol.

Wondering what the GAPS diet is?  Read an introduction.


Healing Medicine for a Long-time Vegetarian

Luckily, I had gotten a pressure cooker from my mom for my birthday, because it is definitely a big help with implementing the GAPS diet, which requires that you pretty much constantly have a big pot of broth or soup cooking on the stovetop. I had never had or made bone broth before in my life. I had been a strict vegetarian for fourteen years, and was just beginning to experiment with adding some small amounts of high-quality animal protein into my diet. Normally, buying grass-fed beef bones and putting them in a pot on my stove would have been a very edgy thing for me…but this was no ordinary pot of bones. This was healing medicine that I was determined to cook up for my inflamed digestive system. There is something sacred and empowering about making medicinal food for yourself, and it is just as magical to make medicine for a loved one. It’s all about bringing the intention of love and healing into your kitchen.


Nourished Without Raw Greens?


I did the intro phase of the GAPS diet for a few weeks, and during that time felt more deeply nourished than I had ever felt in my life. I had to eat several times a day and was constantly making bone broth and soups/stews. I was amazed at how I could feel so nourished while eating absolutely no leafy greens, and eating nothing raw! In my previous way of eating and thinking, I truly felt that if I went even one day without a leafy green or a salad that I was seriously compromising my immune system, and missing out on much needed nutrition. While there is no denying the health benefits of eating leafy greens and raw fruits and vegetables, they are only beneficial to you IF you can properly digest and assimilate their nutrients.


When Can You Best Digest Raw?

Despite the naturally-occurring enzymes that plant foods contain that aid in digestion, some people still become uncomfortably bloated and gassy when eating these foods. Donna Gates, author of the Body Ecology Diet says, “The ancients were well aware that raw vegetables were difficult to digest; in Chinese Medicine, for example, it is well known that raw foods are best eaten by someone with strong “digestive fire.” A major cause of poor “digestive fire” is that our adrenals and thyroid are both poorly nourished and taxed by toxins and daily stress.”

Nourishing and healing the digestive system with gentle, easy to digest, soothing foods and probiotic foods is essential for health and the purpose and main goal of the GAPS diet.


What is Optimal Nutrition?  Perception Shift.

My Experience with the GAPS diet (along with my other experiences and research) completely shifted my ideas about what optimal nutrition really is. It helped me to tune in to what is truly nourishing for my unique body type and genetic predisposition. It was like pressing the “reset button” on my digestive system. After doing the intro diet for a few weeks, my bloating and burping symptoms after meals went away. I did experience some initial detox symptoms (low energy and some dizziness and nausea) for the first week, as bad bacteria in my intestines died off and released their toxins, and as I started to get the hang of the diet…keeping a nourishing soup on the stove at all times, I began to feel stronger and healthier than ever.

I was only able to do the introduction part of the diet for three weeks, and then I went on a road trip which pretty much took me right off the diet, though I did stay away from all grains, sugars, and processed foods.

Join Me & Elisabeth for a GAPS Diet Challenge!

I'll be giving it another "go" with Elisabeth Veltman, owner of The Tender Foodie & The Tender Palate, and with YOU during our GAPS Diet Challenge.  I want to help further heal and seal my gut, as well as help you.  If you are allergic to nuts, which is a big part of GAPS or are sensitive to other foods on the diet, we'll be offering custom phone calls and nut-free options for you.

 Here's how you sign up for the Challenge (click here)!

Or Just Sign Up for Our Upcoming Webcasts Separately!

June 14, 2013: The Gut / Brain Connection wtih Toni Fairman, NTP, Certified GAPS Practitioner

June 21, 2013: The Art of Supplementation & Detoxification

June 28, 2013: MINDFUL MEDITATION - Dealing w/Change & the Emotional Issues of Eating with Carol Hendershot, Mindful Meditation Instructor 


Why Many People Do GAPS

Doing the GAPS diet for many people is motivated by their desire to help heal their child’s digestive and/or behavioral issues. For parents doing the diet for and alongside their child, I applaud you and admire your willingness to take the health of your family into your own hands. Although it is not easy at times, dedicating several weeks or months to healing is a small price to pay in comparison to years of struggling with illnesses and disorders for which the western medical doctors have no cures for; only prescription medications that are temporary surface solutions to underlying long-term issues. There are resources and solutions in the GAPS diet book, and on-line for strategies to successfully do the diet with your child.


How I Got Started


Whether you decide to do the diet on your own, work with a GAPS Practitioner, or join our virtual support group (The GAPS Challenge), its really essential to buy the book and read it. Our challenge helps break down the more difficult concepts of the book, and helps guide you through the gobs of information the book provides, but there is no substitute for using the book as a reference.


The first thing I did in preparation to begin the GAPS Introduction diet, was to go to my naturopathic doctor’s office and purchase a medical grade probiotic supplement. It was a little pricey (around $40 for a month’s supply) but definitely worth it. Some people advise that if you have severe digestive issues, to wait till you’ve completed the intro phase of the diet to begin taking the probiotic. I decided to begin taking it right away, though began with only one pill a day and didn’t increase to two pills per day for a couple of weeks.

Read "Hidden Allergens Abound in Supplements & Medication" (If you are really sensitive / allergic to dairy, see recommendations in the article)


The next thing I did was make a grocery list of the foods that I would need to buy at the store to keep myself properly nourished. The list of ingredients was short (there’s not much you can eat during this phase), and I seriously underestimated the quantity of food I would need to buy, which was fine because I prefer to shop frequently anyway for meats and vegetables so that my ingredients are always fresh.



To help make life a lot easier, use a meal plan. I've created & curated a meal plan for 3 weeks during the challenge for your GAPS intro diet adventure. We'll post a few recipes along the way for everyone to try, as well. Start with the bone broths below.



Then I began making a big pot of bone broth. This was my first adventure into the world of bone broth, which I found to be quite fascinating. I was taught in my nutrition studies how deeply nourishing bone broths were, especially for those who are recovering from serious injury or illness. I found a way to make a rich bone broth that was very palatable to my tastes (smooth, rich and not too strong of a meaty flavor). You can see the recipe here.

You can find more information on how to do the introduction to the GAPS diet here:

Once you are going strong on the Introduction phase of the GAPS diet, you can begin to test more GAPS-approved foods. To test a food before introducing it to the diet, do the Sensitivity Test.

Here are some bone broth recipes:

Nourishing Bone Broth (pressure cooker)

Nutrient Rich Beef Bone Broth (slow cooker / crock pot)

Tip: Roast Your Beef Bones Before Making Broth



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 at bedtime.  Let the drop dry on the skin, then go to sleep.  In the morning check the spot: if there is an angry red reaction, then avoid that food for a few weeks, and then try again.  If there is no reaction, then go ahead and introduce it gradually starting from a small amount.

If there is no symptom with the sensitivity test, then you continue to introduce more and more foods from the list of allowed foods, until you are doing the full GAPS diet. A list of allowed foods can be found here:




Healing the Gut with GAPS – An Introduction

What is the GAPS diet?

The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet is a gut-healing protocol developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to help heal her son’s autism, and later to help hundreds of other children with multiple food allergies and many overlapping psychological and immune disorders.

She discovered the SCD Diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and changed it slightly to fit the needs of her patients. It was actually her patients who coined the term “GAP Syndrome” or simply “GAPS”. The diet that she prescribed for them became known as the GAPS Diet.

More Than One Condition - Always

In her book titled “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Dr. Campbell-McBride describes how after years of working with children in her Cambridge clinic, she hardly ever met a child who presented with only one condition.

“Every child has two, three or more of these health problems at once. For example, a child would present with allergies; at the same time the parents would describe a couple of asthmatic episodes and eczema and then would talk about their child’s extreme clumsiness (dyspraxia) and learning problems.…many autistic children have severe allergies, asthma, eczema, dyspraxia and dyslexia.”

Gut First

She further illustrates how the underlying condition of all of these disorders lies in the digestive system. She feels that the gut must be healed if any of the symptoms are going to be fully addressed.

Here’s the thing: knowledge about the connection between gut health and brain health is still not in the mainstream. Interesting, huh?

Does Insanity Lie In the Gut?

In 1807, the Father of modern psychiatry, French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel concluded:

“The primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines.”

Dr. Pinel had been working with mental patients for many years, yet his knowledge has been virtually ignored by modern psychiatry. Dr. Campbell-McBride refers to Pinel’s work when she discusses that digestive symptoms begin at the time of weaning and when formula is introduced at infancy. Symptoms then increase as more and more foods are introduced to the already compromised digestive system.

As a nutritionist, and as someone who has used this diet to heal her own gut, this is very interesting to me. The success of this diet shows us how much more education is needed around how to care for our own health and the health of our children. What did our ancestor’s diets look like before modern “conveniences” existed like infant formula, pasteurized dairy or refined grains? Every traditional diet contains fermented foods…what are the fermented foods that your ancestors used to maintain good health year round?

The Purpose: Heal & Seal

The purpose of the GAPS protocol is to “heal and seal” the inflamed and irritated digestive system. There is an intro phase to the GAPS protocol that can last as long as one needs in order heal the gut. Fermented foods and a probiotic supplement aid in the colonization of good bacteria in the gut; while vegetable juice is used to help the body to eliminate toxins. The second phase of the GAPS protocol is a systematic re-introduction of foods that are on the list of GAPS approved foods, which includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, gluten-free grains, and fermented dairy products. If there are symptoms present when a food is reintroduced, then you go back to the intro diet until symptoms subside and another food can be “tested”.

Six-Stage Protocol (to Follow Diligently)

There are six stages of the GAPS diet. This is not a quick-fix, by any means. The diet takes time and dedication. If you don’t follow the healing protocol carefully and diligently then you won’t get the full benefit. You must remove all starches and grains, and purchase a very high quality probiotic supplement. You must also maintain a constant supply of bone broth/soup, which is time consuming (much less time consuming if you have a pressure cooker!) but which is a key ingredient for success. It can also take a good amount of time to heal the gut, since in many cases the damage has been done over a period of many years, although immediate improvement in many symptoms may be noticed on the GAPS diet.

What You Can Eat & Why

In the GAPS intro diet meats and fish, eggs and non-starchy vegetables are allowed. Bone, meat and fish stock soups are the staple of the intro part of the diet. They are soothing and healing for the inflamed gut lining and help aid in digestion. Probiotic foods are also very important during the intro and full GAPS diet, such as raw sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. Raw egg yolks can be added to soup if no egg allergy exists.  This provides excellent nourishment and protein.

After the intro phase of the diet, fermented dairy like homemade kefir and whey, yogurt and sour cream are gradually added if there is no adverse reaction and you are not allergic to dairy. Homemade ghee is also gradually added into the diet, again, if not allergic to dairy.  We can find alternatives for dairy allergies.

What to Avoid

  • All grains and anything made from these grains (both gluten-containing and gluten-free grains): wheat, rye, rice, oats, corn, barley, millet, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.
  • All starchy vegetables and anything made out of them: potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, cassava, arrowroot, etc.
  • Sugar and anything that contains sugar.
  • Starchy beans and peas: soybeans, mung beans, garbanzo beans, bean sprouts, fava beans.
  • Lactose and anything that contains it: milk, dried milk of any type, commercially produced yogurt, buttermilk and sour cream, processed foods with added lactose.

There is a cookbook that goes along with the informational book that is excellent if you are going to be taking on the GAPS diet and are determined to heal your and/or you child’s gut. The intro diet is pretty straight-forward (though challenging!), but as you begin to heal the gut and are able to introduce more foods back into the diet, you may want to get the cookbook which I personally found to be a valuable resource.

Get Started with Bone Broth

If you aren’t ready to dive into the full diet, get started by changing a few habits (like giving up soda, or better, all processed sugar) and adding foods from the allowed list.

Here is my own personal recipe for a deeply nourishing bone broth, which can be used as a rich base for any soup. Bone broth is a key part of the GAPS diet. Give it a try, and enjoy!


To learn more about Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and the GAPS diet, please visit the official GAPS website.

For a full list of foods to avoid, see the book:  Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia by Natasha Campbell-McBride


About Brooke

Brooke Kaufman is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant who creates customized meal plans for her clients with multiple food allergies and intolerances, and for those who are on the GAPS diet. She enjoys helping people eat nourishing food that is easy to prepare and tastes delicious. She believes that having food allergies and intolerances can be a positive challenge that inspires creativity, and brings a higher level of awareness when it comes to what you put in your body. Brooke believes that when we deeply nourish ourselves inside and out, we can attain optimal health…which includes healing our damaged and inflamed digestive systems.

Brooke received her nutrition education at Bauman College, and has learned through her own personal experience with food intolerances, she also works as a cleanse coach for Cleanse Organic, a 28-day, guided whole food based cleansing program.

Find her at:  Balance Within Nutrition