First 5 Days GAPS Intro

The First Five Days of GAPS Intro Diet

When our family first started GAPS years ago, it was the first five days of GAPS Intro that were the toughest to wrap my mind around…and my family was pretty low energy in those first 5 days also. Now, as a GAPS™ practitioner, I find this to be true (more or less) for many families I help through Intro.

Where people tend to get stuck about the GAPS Protocol is typically the Introduction part of the diet. I put together this 5 Day Checklist and Menu for Intro that can be easily scaled up or down (depending on family size) or spread out over more days if needed.

If you can be completely prepared with everything on hand ahead of time, all the better! You can do this.

Why do the GAPS Introduction Diet?

I dig into this question in my article titled What is the GAPS Diet? However, to put it simply, the GAPS Dietary protocol is one of the best ways to address autistic spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD⁄ADD), schizophrenia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and other neuro-psychological and psychiatric problems.

The GAPS Protocol is my foundational tool, in addition to functional lab testing and nutritional therapy, for addressing these concerns. Please visit my Work With Me page for more information on what that looks like.

In addition to that, the GAPS Dietary protocol can be used for allergies, autoimmune illness, arthritis, gut problems, fatigue, hormonal problems, asthma, and much more.


A video walk-through of the Menu + Checklist

A Note On Meat Stock vs. Broth

I remember years ago when I was transitioning my family to a Real Food diet, making bone broth or meat stock was one of my biggest hurdles. Generation by generation we have simply lost certain food arts, and this was one tradition I couldn’t wrap my head around.

As I finally made my own, I realized, it couldn’t…be…simpler. Soon I was making soups that other people raved about and that nourished the bodies of my family.

This broth & meat stock preparation would become an especially huge part of our diet as we undertook the GAPS™ protocol. Taken in therapeutic amounts daily, it is extremely nourishing and building the digestive tract, bones, muscle, skin…with benefits ranging from stimulating growth hormone to getting rid of cellulite.

Bone broth is essentially made with bones or the carcass of the animal and simmered for long periods of time. Bone broth is used after 30 days of being on the GAPS Introduction Diet.

Meat stock is simply the liquid that you have cooked your meat in and is a shorter period of cooking time. (Which comes in handy when you are doing so much soup making on Intro!)

Meat stock is best for:

Being gentler and less detoxifying, and is used for the Introduction diet. Has less free glutamates, and much less histamines, which can be problematic for some in the beginning. MEAT STOCK IS RECOMMENDED FOR THE FIRST 30 DAYS OF GAPS.

Bone broth is best for:

Being more therapeutic, and should be eased into if you are doing the Introduction diet, especially if you are sensitive to free glutamates, as these will be increased in the longer cooking times for bone broth.

Here is an article that explains the differences further, along with some recipes:

GAPS Diet Bone Broth & Meat Stock


First 5 days of GAPS Intro

40 thoughts on “The First Five Days Of GAPS Intro”

  1. I have just started gaps intro and noticed you have lemon juice with water upon waking. Lemons are not mentioned in the Gut and psychology Syndrome book. Can you explain please?

    1. Hello Deborah,

      Thank you for the comment. Lemon in the morning water is recommended by Dr. Natasha in other places besides the book, like her FAQ. In the early morning water it is good for stimulating digestion and for giving the liver a “jumpstart” in the morning. Her one contraindication is if there is diarrhea.

      1. Hi, my daughter doesn’t like lemon water, so I struggled to give her this. But she can take juice of kraut. Would that work the same?

  2. I’m getting things ready to put my family on GAPS (My seven year old son is on the Autism spectrum and my husband has chronic eczema). I notice in this 5-day plan, you move through the first 3 stages of intro in one week. I was assuming for my family we’d spend 3 days on phase one, about 3 or 4 days on phase 2 and a week each on the rest of the phases. If we could get by with moving through a little more quickly, I’d be thrilled but also want to make sure everyone’s given time properly heal. What do you advise?

    1. Melanie Christner

      Hello Arlene,

      Thanks for the comment. The 5-day plan is simply a starting point, to give some context for how a family could move through Intro. With more severe cases, more time will need to be taken on each stage and each new food re-introduction. It depends on the digestive symptoms present.


  3. This is so helpful! Thank you so much. We’ve never eaten anything remotely close to this way before and I know I’ll have to be patient as we both work full time. Our kids are all grown now, so should be somewhat simpler.

  4. This may be a shocking question, but I am wondering if there are any meat broths/ stocks that can be purchased initially. This would be very helpful for our very tight budget and a huge time saver. We currently us Trim Healthy Mama 100% all natural beef gelatin for some recipes now. Is that appropriate? We are just beginning our GAPS journey. Thanks you so much.

    1. Melanie Christner

      Hi Gabriele,

      Hemp & chia are allowed on Full GAPS, when there aren’t digestive complaints anymore.


  5. I am in my second week of the Intro diet, and I have found that the only vegetable I can tolerate so far is carrots. Everything else I have tried so far (onions, zucchini, chard, spinach, green beans, cauliflower) causes digestive distress, i.e., stomach cramps, bloating, burping, gas. I think I am doing ok with a tsp of avocado per meal, but it’s hard to say, because I am still experiencing some gas. Egg yolks are fine, so I guess I am technically on stage 2. Help! Do you have any suggestions?! I dont know how to move forward from here.

      1. They are common to me. I’ve had a hard time digesting vegetables for a while now, especially cruciferous vegetables. I do take 2 tsp of Apple cider vinegar before meals and an Hcl with Pepsin when I eat. I’ve been doing the vinegar for a long time, to help with the bloating and gas.

        1. I am also wondering if this should affect how quickly I move through the Intro Diet. And should I avoid the vegetables that give me a lot of trouble, i.e. onions? If so, for how long? THANK YOU!

          1. Melanie Christner

            Hi Kristen,

            You may need more HCl than one.

            I would suggest continuing through the stages but avoiding your most problematic vegetables. You can try them again periodically, for example, 3-6 weeks.

            Based on your symptoms, I wonder if looking into SIBO might be a consideration for you. If you want further help you might be interested in my Adult program –


  6. Alison Van de Pol

    I have tried Gaps intro twice and only made it through the second day. I feel so discouraged when I read about so many people succeeding with it. I have a supportive husband (who is willing to single-parent our 3 yr old!) and a good understanding of the diet and I STILL cave! By Day 2 I feel like I’m going to vomit if I have to eat one more bite of chicken or cooked vegetable. When does it get easier? (I’m doing this for pretty sever food intolerances as well as thyroid and adrenal issues. Any advice??

    1. Melanie Christner

      Hi Alison,

      Have you tried backing into GAPS slowly? For example, beginning with Full GAPS first for several weeks before starting Intro?

      The vomiting is likely a symptom of low blood sugar and is fairly common, especially if beginning Intro “cold turkey”. There are a couple of remedies to try for that…tiny amounts of fresh pressed carrot juice w/ lemon, or a little bit of cooked applesauce, or a little bit of ghee with honey.

      Hope that helps,

  7. with the first stage in gaps, when I make the stock, and separate the bones and meat for later on stages, when I strain the stock do I eat the vegtables now or do you save them for a later stage also?

    1. Melanie Christner

      Hello Ellen,

      As long as the vegetables aren’t high fiber vegetables, they can be eaten with the meat and stock from the beginning.


  8. I have been on Stage 1 for 6 days, some days only the broth, but continue to have severe diarrhea with bleeding.

    How can I stop this? It has been going on for 2 1/2 weeks, and I have lost 15 pounds. I am very weak, and so need to get it under control.

    1. Hello Sonia,

      I would recommend you get in to see your doctor about what you are experiencing. I can give some general ideas of what other GAPS people have done in your situation, and you could book a Puttering Session to talk about them, but severe diarrhea with bleeding sounds concerning and I would recommend getting some medical assistance.


  9. Hi Melanie, I am on full gaps now and planning to move to intro diet. question I have is are we allowed to take Kefir in intro ?? Can we eat sauerkraut .. I am not getting much of sauerkraut juice ..any suggestions on it.

    1. Hello Sarala,

      Thank you for the question. Typically, small amounts of fermented vegetable juice and kefir are introduced right from the beginning of Intro. 1-2 teaspoons for the first 5 days, then double until you’ve worked up to a regular serving.


  10. Aimi Justinussen

    Hi Melanie,

    I have been on full GAPS for over a year now. My issue before GAPS was constant constipation. When I initially started the diet, I had very runny and pale stools. Now I do not have constipation, but I have pale, floating stools.
    I do not have any discomfort though, and my health is much better. I got rid of gout and rosacea on the diet. In the beginning I lost too much weight, and became under-weight. However now I gained a few pounds and am in the normal weight-range for me.
    How do you suggest I resolve the issue with pale and floating stools?

    Warm regards


    1. Hello Aimi,

      Thanks for the question! Not knowing your full situation, I can only give you a generic suggestion…but it sounds like you need support for your liver/gallbladder and fat digestion. I would suggest going through my free Digestive Supplements mini-class to find out more. You can find that here –
      Beet kvass & Biotics Beta TCP are supports that I think of initially…


  11. Hi Melanie,
    So for people who do not have severe digestive issues is it recommended to just do one day on Stage 1? Do you have some examples of digestive issues where longer periods of time on Stage 1 would be indicated? Thank you so much for this wonderful free resource and the video explaining how to use it!

  12. Hello Melanie,

    Thank you for such a helpful article. I have been diagnosed with leaky gut and so I am prepping for the 1st stage of the Introduction to GAPS. I am inquiring specifically about the meat/chicken/fish stocks. Am I supposed to eat all of the connective tissues, organs, cartilage, skins, etc. ?

    Thank you!

  13. Hello Melanie,

    Thank you for such a helpful article. I have been diagnosed with leaky gut and so I am prepping for the 1st stage of the Introduction to GAPS. I am inquiring specifically about the meat/chicken/fish stocks. Am I supposed to eat all of the connective tissues, organs, cartilage, skins, etc. ?

    Thank you for you support!

    1. Hi Kianna,
      Thank you for your question! Yes it is beneficial to consume the skin, organ meats such as tongue, liver, giblets, heart, etc., bone marrow, and the gelatinous and cartilaginous (meats close to the bone). Some people find it works best to take all these parts and blend them, then add them back into the soups or stews for a creamy stock.


      Deanna- Honest Body Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  14. Paula Drummond

    Hi Melanie. I just started Stage 1 phase of the GAPS diet and am following the Heal Your Gut Cookbook by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Bracket. They mention a good coffee substitute is something called Dandy Blend, but the ingredients have rye and barley in it. Is that okay to consume on the GAPS diet and on Stage 1? Or is there another coffee substitute you can recommend? Do you also know if I can consume fresh homemade coconut milk on Stage 1? Thank you!

    1. Hi Paula,
      Thanks for your question. And great job starting Stage 1!

      Dandy Blend has been GAPS allowed- on Full GAPS, in the past. Some changes have been made to the lists in the last few years but I have not seen whether Dandy Blend was removed. Even though the ingredients contain barley and rye, there are no substances left from them that should cause a person on Full GAPS (who has digestive symptoms mostly resolved) trouble. See this post for more: I would try it once you are on Full GAPS and digestive symptoms have subsided and see if it works. Nourishing Plot has this recipe for an alternative if not:

      The Heal Your Gut Cookbook is wonderful! It is not completely up to date on changes made in the last few years to the lists of allowed foods by stage. For updated lists see our post on each stage on the GAPS Basics page.

      Homemade coconut milk is legal from Stage 4 of the Introduction diet.

      Deanna, Honest Body Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  15. Hi Melanie–I am starting back on the gaps diet after 7 yrs. i went on it then due to severe diaherria and candida overgrowth. I was stage 4 then but worked it down to stage 2. I’ve been off eating right for the last 7 months due to a lot of things all my fault of course but 4 weeks ago the water diaherria started again with a vengeance. No upset stomach or nausia, just water diaherria. haven’t been able to get it all the way under control but then i remembered what I did back years ago and am trying to start again. It’s like I’ve forgotten everything. i got the list of foods to eat but have some questions. with the diaherria do i start morning with lemon juice in water? Also I took a candida cleans every year but haven’t taken one for last 2 years. I can tell it’s back but can’t remember if I took it while on the gaps diet or waited awhile first. Any thoughts on that please? I’m 73 and it’s not so easy as before. i get tired easily now.

    1. Hi Becky,
      With persistent or severe diarrhea Dr. Natasha recommends removing all plant foods for a time until stools begin to solidify. Usually this means people are on Stage 1-2 of Intro but without vegetables in soups for a couple of days. So just meat stocks, meats, and egg yolks in soups. Usually, you can still flavor the stock with celery, carrot, and so on, but just discard the vegetables before consuming the stock and meat. While diarrhea is present, she doesn’t recommend that you consume sauerkraut brine. Many people find that homemade yogurt or whey from making yogurt will soothe the gut lining and help firm up stools as well. Once stools are more firm, brine from sauerkraut and boiled, non-fibrous veggies can be tried once more. I would only try the lemon juice once stools have firmed up.

      Hope this helps!

      Deanna, HB Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  16. Hi,
    I have chronic Lyme and IBS. On my last day of stage 1 I tried cooked peeled carrots and my bloating and stomach pain came back. I added egg yolks today and am in lots of pain. I’m not sure if carrots cause bloating or not before. But I’ve never had a problem with eggs causing this much pain. I’m wondering if it’s because it was already irritated by the carrots and maybe eggs are okay if I give it some more time of not eating carrots? I used to juice carrots before I started the Gap diet then it did fine on my stomach I’m not sure what’s going on. Should I stay in stage 1 or should I move on to stage 2 but avoid carrots?

    1. Hi Brie,
      I would omit the carrots and the egg yolk until things settle down, then try the egg yolks again and keep moving forward, omitting carrots for a couple of weeks. It is fairly common for higher sugar vegetables like carrots, beets, and winter squash to cause bloating due to pathogenic microbes feeding on the sugars. Sometimes those symptoms are not obvious prior to starting the protocol, and they are “unmasked” once healing begins. Or, perhaps you have more of a reaction to cooked carrots since they have a higher glycemic index than raw carrots such as you had been using in juicing. Actually carrots were a vegetable that I could not tolerate for quite a while as I was going through the Intro diet.

      Great work noticing those symptoms and taking care of yourself!
      Honest Body Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  17. Can you have Tamari sauce on any stage of the GAPS diet – or the Full diet? I can’t find where Dr Natasha addresses this.

    1. Hi Elaine,
      Great question- it took me a while to find your answer! Here it is- Soy should only ever be eaten in a properly fermented state, and it must be organic and non- GMO (even for non GAPS people). That can be hard to find. You can try it on the Full GAPS diet, once your digestive symptoms are all cleared. Some GAPS people say this works: It does contain wheat (though it is aged and fermented for a very long time) so if you have a very high gluten sensitivity it may not work for you. Many GAPS people find that coconut aminos work for them once on Full GAPS as well: And, there is this recipe for a mock soy sauce that you could try: If using balsamic find a true grape must balsamic with no added ingredients- that would be legal from Full GAPs. If using lemon juice it would be legal from stage 5, if you omit the dried spices and use fresh ginger it would be legal from stage 1.

      Hope this helps!
      Certified GAPS Coach and HB Assistant

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