GAPS Intro Diet - Stage 1

What Can I Eat on the GAPS Intro Diet – Stage 1?

My good friend reminded me yesterday that what is obvious to me (i.e., GAPS details and nuances) is not necessarily evident to my clients, GAPS Class participants, and audience. 

For instance, the Intro diet stages are very specific and can be confusing, even for seasoned GAPS practitioners and coaches. Also, there have been some updates and changes over the years.

So, with that in mind today, I am going to write an up-to-date post about one of the most basic, and often misunderstood parts of GAPS — what to eat on the GAPS Intro Diet, Stage 1. 

Firstly, a quick refresh on the three parts of GAPS™:

The three main components of the GAPS Nutritional Protocol:

  1. Diet (6 Stage Introduction Diet, Full Diet, Transition Diet)
  2. Detoxification
  3. Supplementation

What does the GAPS Protocol do?

    • Addresses the root issue — healing & sealing the gut
    • Gently cleans up and removes the flow of toxins
    • Removes hard-to-digest foods
    • Corrects nutritional deficiencies 
    • Emphasizes healing foods
    • Restores your immune system

Start with the 6 Stage Introduction Diet first, if you have:

    • Diarrhea (of any origin), abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, etc. Diarrhea indicates that there is significant damage to the gut lining, which needs slow, methodical healing
    • Health issues that aren’t resolving on Full GAPS
    • “Leaky gut” and inflammatory bowel conditions
    • Autistic children, and all children on the spectrum or with learning disabilities, such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc
    • Kids and adults diagnosed with diabetes type 1 or celiac disease
    • Some cases of stubborn constipation (children in particular)
    • Multiple food allergies and intolerances, as the gut lining is very damaged and needs slow healing

What can I eat on the GAPS Introduction Diet, Stage 1?

Meat stock (as opposed to bone broth, consume at least 5-6 cups per day for adults, 3 cups per day for children) and soups made with meat stock and the vegetables listed in this post:

  • Naturally or organically sourced is best
  • Scaled fish
  • Wild game
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Fowl (duck, pheasant, etc.)
  • Reptile
  • Fresh herbs cooked in stock & removed (bouquet garni)
  • Raw apple cider vinegar in stock
  • Unrefined natural salt in stock

Beverages:

  • Herbal teas
  • Mineral water
  • Coconut water – fermented
  • Apple cider vinegar in stock
  • Meat stock for sipping

Ferments (start by trying 1/4 tsp, reduce if reactions occur. Slowly work up to about 1/4 cup per meal of fermented foods or beverages):

  • 24-hr cultured dairy yogurt or whey from yogurt, if tolerated (you can ferment raw cream rather than milk.  This is especially good to do if constipation is an issue).
  • Cultured vegetable brines or their “juice.”
  • Beet kvass
  • Kombucha (long-ferment, all sugar consumed)
  • Fermented garlic

Vegetables – boiled, with stems, stalks, seeds, & skins removed:

  • Artichokes (not Jerusalem)
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Beet tops
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Cucumber
  • Collards
  • Daikon radish
  • Garlic
  • Green onion
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi (& leaves)
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions (red, yellow, white)
  • Pattypan squash
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin (fresh)
  • Radishes (& tops)
  • Ramps
  • Rutabaga leaves
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini

Meats & related:

  • Meats and fish cooked in stock making process
  • Animal fat
  • Organ meats
  • Marrow 
  • Meat close to the bone
  • Certain raw meat (only very clean sources)

Other:

  • Raw, local honey
  • Coconut oil
  • MCT oil
  • Unrefined natural salt

How long should I Stay on GAPS Intro Stage 1?

Most people only need to be on Stage 1 for 1-3 days before adding foods from the Stage 2 list.  For more about Stage 2, see our post here.

Got it. But, What am I Actually Eating During GAPS Intro Stage 1?

So what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Soup, soup, soup!  That is the main component of the Stage 1 menu.  This way you get lots of healing meat stock in your gut, as well as meats and vegetables that are simmered, making them easy to digest.  Here’s a sample day’s menu:

Upon waking- cup of meat stock or herbal tea, optional add coconut oil

Breakfast– GAPS basic chicken soup (simmer a whole chicken in filtered water with sea salt to taste, 3 roughly chopped carrots, 1 chopped onion, and 3 small peeled and seeded zucchini with 1 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar.  Optional, add a bouquet garni of herbs).  Add 1/4 tsp to 1 Tbs fermented veggie brine to your bowl of soup once it has cooled.

Snack– Chicken stock, coconut fat bomb (mix 1 part raw honey with 2 parts coconut oil, pinch of natural salt)

Lunch– Basic chicken soup with veggie brine

Snack– Yogurt with a drizzle of raw honey

Dinner– Basic chicken soup with veggie brine

Before bed– Chicken stock, coconut fat bomb

That’s it!  You will have gotten through day 1 of GAPS Intro Stage 1!  The next day, you likely can move right along to adding egg yolks to soups- Stage 2.

Individual Needs on GAPS

Above, we’ve shared the official “list” (approved by Dr. Natasha) of GAPS Introduction Diet Stage 1 Foods and a sample menu. Of course, there are variables and nuances to take into account based on your particular need & situation. 

That’s why, in my one-to-one work with clients, we develop a GAPS plan that is unique and specific to them. 

I often work with individuals who are quite sensitive or compromised. This makes it extra important that we reduce their inflammation and reactions quickly, so I use food sensitivity testing alongside stool testing. 

In addition to testing, the information gathered in a comprehensive intake process allows me to determine further what GAPS foods they may need to avoid for their healing progress, as well as what needs to be specifically targeted (and in what order) for their healing improvement. 

To find out more about these options, book a free GAPS Inquiry Call.

Have experiences or questions about Stage 1 you want to share? Please leave a comment!

32 thoughts on “What Can I Eat On GAPS Intro Diet – Stage 1”

      1. What is your thoughts if a person has histamine reactions to certain foods in particular any fermented foods as in sauerkraut or kimchi do you recommend eliminating them at this time?

  1. Hi Melanie,

    I am about to embark on the GAPS diet for the first time. I’m having overactive immune system, inflammation in general, and allergies (new to me in the last year). Would you recommend jumping straight into the GAPS diet or starting with the intro?

    Thanks so much for all of your health info and advice! There’s a lot to take in.

    Best,
    Kate (from Oregon)

    1. Hello Kate,

      Thanks so much for writing in. Yes, there is a lot to take in!

      Not knowing your health history, I’ll tell you what I would recommend in general unless you’re already quite miserable and in pain — I recommend a period of doing Full GAPS first, starting with breakfasts and then adding in the other meals of the day. Then incorporate what truly makes it “GAPS”…daily, therapeutic amounts of meat stock, and whatever amounts of fermented foods or fermented juices/brine you can handle with each meal. You can also tend to your North-to-South digestion via my free Digestive Supplements Mini-class – https://honestbody.com/course/digestive-supplements-mini-class/

      This can initiate quite a bit of healing and strengthening, and then you’ll be more ready to begin the GAPS Introduction Diet.

      For Full GAPS resources, I recommend the 14 weeks of meal plans in my GAPS Dinner Club – https://honestbody.com/gaps-dinner-club/
      And my Fridge magnets can be helpful – https://honestbody.com/product/gaps-diet-fridge-magnets/

      Warmly,
      Melanie

    1. I stated stage 1 – 4 days ago and I’m experiencing very watery, very dark green stools. Is this a normal die off reaction? Is it next to leave vegetables out if my diet till this resolves?

      1. Hi Marie,
        Dr. Natasha explains diarrhea as a detoxification process of the body- so it can be due to die off of organisms which results in toxins to pass, or other toxins your body is getting rid of through the gut. 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.

        Warmly,
        Deanna
        Honest Body Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

    1. Hi Amy,
      Thank you for your question! Organ meats, which are full of nutrition, are recommended on all stages of the GAPS diet. Marrow, liver, heart, tongue, kidney, cartilaginous and gelatinous meats from close to the bone, chicken skin, etc. are all highly recommended. Make sure they come from clean sources and healthy animals. Since organs (especially liver) are so highly nutritious, they can in some cases cause die-off reactions. So if you have a reaction to them, lower the amount that you are consuming and build back up as tolerated. If you do not like the taste, there are ways to hide them in food (sausages, gravies, puree and put into soups and stews, marrow makes a good custard or mashes into cauliflower or pumpkin well). You can also purchase a liver supplement such as this one: https://www.radiantlifecatalog.com/desiccated-liver/?a=97309, or make liver pills yourself: https://empoweredsustenance.com/the-easiest-way-to-eat-liver-no-taste-no-fuss/.

      Happy eating!
      Deanna, HB Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  2. Hello,
    I have had stomach issues for the last several years. Mostly, I have just felt extreme nausea in the mornings that sometimes lasts all day. I saw a gastroenterologist about 3 years ago, and he diagnosed me with reflux. Since then, I have been on Pepcid, Nexium, etc. At first, those meds seemed to help, but now I am struggling daily. Where should I start on the GAPS Diet? Do I stop taking the PPI’s when I start? When I have tried to stop taking them in the past, I find that I get much sicker. I’m truly feeling stuck right now, and I’m not sure what to do. Thank you for any advice!

    1. Hello Maria,

      For chronic diarrhea, I would definitely recommend Stage 1 Intro (that is specifically what Stage 1 is for) until resolved.

      If that does not resolve it, then try removing any plant foods on Stage 1.

  3. If you have many food intolerances and are starting the gaps diet. When would you add those foods back in? It ranges from veggies, to fruits, to nuts, certain herbs, dairy, gluten, casein, eggs, all grains, because every stage has foods in it I’m intolerant to, and the suggestion meal plans. It seems I bloat with all veggies. How long should I stay on the gaps introduction diet? One vegetable at a time?

    1. Hi MacKenzie,
      The GAPS diet is designed to resolve food intolerances- over time.

      To deal with intolerances (not true allergies) on the Introduction diet, follow the Introduction diet stages and omit the foods you are intolerant to for about 2 weeks (unless the symptoms are severe, in which case you may want to wait 6 weeks or more on Intro). Then introduce foods one at a time and in small amounts, generally following the order in which they would be introduced in the stages. If they still cause symptoms, omit them again for 2-6 weeks (depending on the severity of symptoms) and then try introducing them again, perhaps in even smaller amounts. While the 2-6 weeks is passing, once your symptoms have subsided, you can try introducing the next food on the Intro diet and see if that is tolerated, it is ok to skip problem foods and move on to the next food.

      It’s a bit different with the veggies- which I explain below.

      A couple of other things to consider:
      There is a difference between a food intolerance and a die-off or detox reaction, yet they can have the same symptoms. Highly therapeutic foods on GAPS may cause symptoms, especially meat stock and fermented foods, or highly nutritious foods such as fats, egg yolks, and organ meats. If those foods are causing a reaction, omit them for a few days until symptoms have subsided. Then, try them again in very small amounts (sometimes even just a drop of probiotic brine) and work your way up to therapeutic doses.

      There are a number of allergy and intolerance tests, and some are better than others. If your food intolerance comes from a list from a lab test, it may not be accurate to your situation at present. You can do the sensitivity test at home to see if a food causes acute reactions. If you have a large amount of inflammation that is being caused by foods, it may be a good idea to get some testing done. Melanie uses the MRT test in her practice which is an accurate measure of inflammation caused by a particular food. With this test, she recommends removing foods for 3-6 months depending on the severity of the inflammatory reaction while doing GAPS to heal and seal the gut. Once enough healing has occurred, many foods can be tolerated which were not tolerated before.

      Bloating from veggies is fairly common to GAPS conditions and it is a problem I also suffered from! Remove all veggies for a couple of days until bloating and pain calm down. Then add them in one at a time, starting with non-fibrous, low-sugar veggies such as baby spinach and kale or other soft greens, peeled and seeded zucchini, mushrooms, etc. Simmer them in meat stock until very soft. If a veggie causes bloating take it out and try another one once the symptoms have calmed.

      As for how long to stay on the GAPS Introduction diet- that is individual to every body, but generally people do not need to stay on Stage 1 for more than a day or two. Stage 2 is the most healing stage for severe irritation of the gut lining such as in IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, etc. You may get more clarity from these posts:

      https://honestbody.com/how-to-introduce-dairy-on-gaps/ (includes directions for skin sensitivity test)
      https://honestbody.com/what-can-i-eat-on-gaps-intro-diet-stage-2/
      https://honestbody.com/gaps-diet-basics/
      https://honestbody.com/when-the-gaps-diet-doesnt-work/ (more info on the different versions of GAPS and which to choose, as well as common mistakes on GAPS)

      If you are wanting more individualized support, find out more about working with Melanie here.

      Kindly,
      Deanna
      Honest Body Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  4. Hi Deanna,

    I have RA and Hashimotos. I have been on a strict paleo diet for 2.5 years. Would you recommend full GAPs or to do the intro for someone like me? I have no constipation or diarrhea issues. Thanks!

    Laura

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thanks so much for your question! Not knowing all the medical details about your conditions, we can’t say for certain. Usually, we recommend people start with Full GAPS, unless there is significant pain or digestive problems that would prompt Intro first. So, you could start on Full GAPS and work towards consuming the therapeutic amounts of meat stock (5-6 cups per day) and homemade probiotic foods (work your way from 1 tsp to 1/4 cup with each meal, you can keep increasing after that but that’s a good amount). I would start incorporating generous amounts of animal fats and organ meats as well. Once you have that going, you can see how you are feeling and decide whether Intro might be necessary for you!

      Warmly,
      Deanna, GAPS Coach and Honest Body Assistant

      Warmly,
      Deanna
      Honest Body Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  5. Hi there. I have a lot of foods that affect my sinuses, I had testing over a decade ago and have had improvement ones those foods were removed. I am very reluctant to try introducing those foods again as I’m afraid the pain will return (don’t want to go there again!) However, I’m noticing more often than not anymore I have a lot of gas/bloating/general uncomfortableness in my lower abdomen. I also deal with several chronic pain issues that cause additional inflammation.
    All that to ask: two of the foods I tested positive for are chicken and turkey. Yes, really! What would you recommend I use instead?

    1. Hi Anna,
      Thank you for your question. I do believe you that chicken and turkey tested to be an issue! Everyone is different in their sensitivities. You can really use any other meat, fowl, or fish you like to make meat stock. Beef, pork, perhaps cornish game hen if you tolerate that, white fish such as cod, etc. After a while on GAPS, you may decide you want to try chicken and turkey again and see if enough healing has taken place for you to tolerate them.

      If your testing was over 10 years ago, you may want to update that to see what your current sensitivities are. Testing has evolved over the years, and our sensitivities can change as well over time. Melanie uses the Mediator Release Test from Oxford Biomedical. If that’s something you’re interested in you could contact Melanie or talk to your health care practitioner:)

      Warmly,
      Deanna
      Honest Body Assistant

    1. Hi Amanda,
      You can still ferment dairy that has been pasteurized (just not ultra-pasteurized) for GAPS 🙂 Try to get a vat pasteurized or just pasteurized organic or grass-fed, whole milk. Sourcing directly from a farmer will still be more beneficial than store-bought, although store-bought is ok too.

      I’m not sure if this article is still up-to-date, but you might check it out: https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/how-to-get-raw-milk-in-canada/

      Consuming ghee from Stage 2 on (see our recipe here: https://honestbody.com/how-to-make-ghee/) is another great way to include dairy on GAPS.

      I’d love to hear how it goes!

      Warmly,
      Deanna, HB Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  6. I came to Gaps from LCHF and carnivore trying to help my intestinal pain both small and colon. Most pain started when food I have eaten gets to my colon, starting about midnight until 5am. I am now at week 4 of Stage 1. I have tried introducing egg 3 times, one week apart and colon pain is terrible when the egg arrives there. I tried kraut juice and bio-kult, the burning in my legs is beyond belief, I am assuming histamine. I can barely tolerate 1.0ml of kraut juice once per day. As I became more and more constipated over the 4 weeks I tried an enema with bio-kult, this caused my body to go into severe sweating during the night with extreme leg burning. I consume a large bowl of jelly broth, its meats with veggies being carrot, zucchini and butternut pumpkin, if I introduce bokchoy, the pain is over the top with gas, bloating and fatigue from lack of sleep. My coach says not to stress and continue slowly. I have perhaps 2 days per week where I can function on auto pilot, the remainder of the time I am wasted and confused with fog and fatigue/tiredness. I have not eaten gluten, sugar, processed foods, inflammatory oils and inflammatory listed foods or anything but home made for many, many years. Life is not what it should be.

    1. Hi Silvio,
      So sorry to hear about your struggles! I would work with your coach and a GAPS Practitioner, following their advice. In your place I would probably continue on Stages 1-2 but avoid foods that cause pain, common culprits being fibrous veggies (perhaps the bok choy is too much fiber for you) and higher-sugar veggies (squash and carrots for example are a problem for some). I might also try avoiding eating in the few hours before sleeping if the digestion problems are interrupting your sleep. Here are some resources that might be some help: GAPS and Histamine Intolerance – https://honestbody.com/gaps-diet-with-histamine-intolerance/ ; Tips for Constipation on GAPS – https://honestbody.com/how-to-end-constipation-on-the-gaps-diet/. You can schedule a free consultation with Melanie here: https://honestbody.com/gaps-services/ or ask your coach for a recommendation for a practitioner if you do not already work with one. You are doing well to avoid the processed foods- having faith in your body’s healing process can be such a help in difficult times, even when it is difficult or slow.

      Warmly,
      Deanna, HB Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  7. Hi. I’m currently on intro stage 2. Trying to heal many food sensitivities and eczema on hands.
    I have been consuming butternut and spaghetti squash but have just found out Dr N says to avoid squash until full gaps. I’m confused. Do I keep having it or leave it out? I feel fine other than headaches, fatigue and eczema flare-up…

    1. Yes! It has been a bit confusing since some changes were made to the recommended foods by stage, and squash was one of those changes! You can do as you feel is best for you. In your place, I might cut the squash out for 2-4 days and see if the headaches, fatigue, and eczema improve. Squash is a higher starch and higher sugar vegetable that can cause symptoms. Pumpkin is allowed because of it’s lower sugar and starch content. So you can use pumpkin in place of the butternut and spaghetti for GAPS pancakes or soups. Then try reintroducing other winter squashes and see if you have more negative symptoms. If so, leave it out again until full GAPS or for a couple of weeks and try again:)

      Warmly,
      Deanna
      Honest Body Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach

  8. Hello! I am considering starting after about a year of trying to recover from a horrible infection in my colon. I am a major coffee drinker, is coffee allowed? I fear the headaches of removing this from my diet.

    1. Hi Alicia,
      Weak (transparent), freshly-brewed coffee (no instant coffee) is allowed once symptoms have cleared and one is on full GAPS. I also am a regular coffee drinker. So when I start GAPS Intro and I know that I will cut coffee out for a time, I begin to reduce the amount of coffee I drink for at least a couple of weeks beforehand. Gradually reducing your caffeine intake should prevent headaches. I usually would go from my customary 2 cups to one cup for a few days, then 3/4 cup for a couple days, 1/2 cup for a couple days, 1/4 cup for a couple days, then eliminate the coffee altogether. You are wise to consider this, since starting GAPS can have it’s own set of discomforts so avoiding caffeine withdrawal is a good thing to do!

      Warmly,
      Deanna
      Certified GAPS Coach and HB Assistant

  9. Hi, I am starting on this to heal my gut which I assume is causing the acne that I’ve dealt with my entire adult life. I do deal with soft stools in the morning, pretty regular bloating, and stomach pains sometimes, but the thing that causes me the most grief is the acne. Should I start with introductory diet or full gaps?

    1. Hi Jocelyn,
      Thanks for your question. Generally, Melanie recommends that people start on Full GAPS unless there is a lot of digestive discomfort- you can read more on when to start with full GAPS Here: https://honestbody.com/what-can-i-eat-on-full-gaps/.

      What I would do is start on Full GAPS, and if your digestive pains and bloating or loose stools get worse or do not improve, then plan to start Intro to resolve those issues. The acne may be the last thing to clear, as skin conditions usually are caused by detoxification reactions, overgrowth of yeast, or other microbiome imbalances that are corrected over time on the diet:) Remember to eliminate external sources of toxins to support your skin- you might check out our personal care and household cleaners article here:https://honestbody.com/body-care-and-household-products/

      Take heart, start where you can!

      Warmly,
      Deanna
      Certified GAPS Coach and HB Assistant

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