Transitioning off GAPS 5-4-3-2-1


Transition off GAPS 54321

“The majority of GAPS people do not have to adhere to a special diet for the rest of their lives: once the digestive system starts functioning normally, they can gradually introduce most wholesome foods commonly eaten around the world.” Gut and Psychology Syndrome, page 156

Once a person feels stabilized on GAPS (not highly sensitive to whatever they were sensitive to before and without any digestion issues) they often will want to transition off GAPS.  Dr. Natasha explains how to do this in her book, in various places.  Foods are introduced in order of how easy they are on the digestive system.

“Introduce one food at a time and always start with a small amount: give your patient a small portion of the new food and watch for any reaction for 2-3 days.  If there are no digestive problems returning, or other typical-for-your-patient symptoms, then in a few days try another portion.  If there are no reactions, gradually increase the amount of the food.  These are starchy foods, so do not forget to serve them with a  good amount of fat to slow down the digestion of starch.  Do not rush with the introduction of these new foods, it may take several months to do it properly.” Gut and Psychology Syndrome, page 155

5.  Cream.  Cream is lower in lactose than milk (even raw milk) due to its higher fat content. The fat in cream is often welcomed by GAPS people as it is highly nourishing when it comes from milk made by cows that are grazing on pasture.

“After two years on the diet a lot of GAPS people find that on an occasional basis they can have any natural dairy product without any apparent problems, including cream and cheeses off the allowed list. I would only make an exception for alive raw milk.”  Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p 125

5.a.  Raw milk. Raw milk is a favorite among traditional foodists.  Being able to drink raw milk straight, without having to turn it into yogurt or kefir first, is exciting!

“GAPS patients need to go through the dairy introduction structure (see the GAPS book) before trying raw milk: Once all homemade fermented raw milk products are well tolerated  and cheese has been introduced, many GAPS people can start drinking raw organic milk” Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p 127

4.  Potatoes.  Potatoes are starchy, but less difficult to digest than grains are.

3.  Fermented Buckwheat.  Fermenting the buckwheat breaks down the phytic acid and pre-digests the starches to make it easier to digest for a GAPS person.

2.  Soaked Rice and other gluten free grains. Once buckwheat is going well, you can introduce other soaked and sprouted gluten free grains.

“If your digestion is normal you can have potatoes, sourdough bread, and whole grains cooked at home in moderate amounts.  Remember that all these carbohydrates must be consumed with good amounts of natural fats… let people say about you: “she likes a bit of bread with her butter!”  Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p 347

1.  Gluten containing grains, occasionally.  A GAPS person who has had their digestive system healed will be able tolorate gluten containing grains occasionally.  In our house we keep mostly gluten free, other than occasional sourdough.  When we go out, it’s amazingly freeing to be able to eat gluten without any noticeable effects.

“Your patient will never be able to go back to the typical modern diet full of sugar, artificial and processed ingredients, and other harmful “foods”.  Gut and Psychology Syndrome, p 155

What we did

We did GAPS primarily for my daughter, who had autism.  When she had been on the diet 18 months we experimented with some lactose by using occasional store-bought plain yogurt (GAPS requires 24-hour yogurt, which has used up all the lactose).  Lactose is the first more complex carbohydrate allowed on GAPS as you are transitioning off.  After a few months that were fine with increasing store bought yogurt, we added in raw milk, which contains even more lactose.

Then we tried potatoes, which were fine in small amounts but any more than once a week would produce some fogginess.  We tried buckwheat, but that didn’t go over well (skin rash) so we had to take it back out.

At 2 years while she was continuing to do well on occasional potatoes and raw milk, she wasn’t making progress with anything else so we tried some alternative treatments as well.  She had also been stuck on reacting to simple sugar (fruit, honey- both of which are GAPS legal) and that was cleared up with traditional Chinese medicine.

GAPS is fantastic, but it doesn’t always fix everything. After the TCM, she was able to tolerate more foods. Not everyone will need treatments other than GAPS; my son and I (healed eczema and a long standing dairy protein allergy respectively) just did GAPS intro for about 3 weeks, full GAPS for another 3 weeks, and then transitioned off quickly using roughly the guidelines in this post.

Want help planning gluten free menus?

Check out these by Holistic Squid!

I find menu planning to absolutely make or break whether my family gets nourishing foods on a regular basis.  If you’re transitioning off of GAPS and don’t need to be completely grain free, these menu plans from Holistic Squid are exactly what you need! Click here!


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  1. says

    Cara, thank you for showing this in clear steps. It’s so helpful to know it’s doable — we just have to be patient. My 17 yo son will be transitioning off GAPS in a few months. He’s been on it for almost 18 months to heal severe ulcerative colitis. He’s done remarkably well on the diet. He’s so disciplined. He inspires me. The rest of the family tries to eat according to Nourishing Traditions for the most part, but I have gotten lazy about not soaking grains and buying ready made bread products lately. It will be nice when we can include oldest brother in the potatoes and rice dishes we have often as a family.

    Thank you for modeling it for us!

    • Nancy says

      Hi Julie, if you make it back to this posting, I have Ulcerative Colitis as well. How long did your son spend on the Intro Diet? It’s nice seeing that somebody with UC has been able to move on with the Intro. I have only just started to be able to introduce raw vegetables. I spent nearly 4 months with not even being able to eat the well cooked veggies in soups! UGH!

  2. Alexis says

    Many people who have gluten intolerance also do not tolerate dairy because of the casein (protein) in cow’s milk. I would highly recommend that those who have followed the GAPS diet undergo genetic testing (Entero Lab) for celiac disease and gluten and dairy intolerances. If you carry the genes affiliated with these conditions then it is best not to eat these foods.

  3. says


    I have read that it is good to stay on GAPS for 6 months after symptoms go away… do you find this to not be the case? My son and I have been on GAPS for 2 months (we did the Intro for 20 days)- all his symptoms are gone and my eczema is almost all gone… I think we will continue for another couple months at least… Any thoughts?

  4. Brendan says

    Hi, I’ve been on GAPS for quite a while now — actually was thinking about trying to reintroduce some of the things you’ve listed above — and also have had some issues with reactions to simple sugars (though they’re thankfully more minor now). Anyway I was wondering, what did the traditional Chinese medicine that helped your daughter with her simple sugar issues involve?


  5. Sara says

    if I’m understanding this correctly, when coming off gaps that first thing to introduce is cream? Is it supposed to be raw? Or can it be organic & lightly pasteurized?


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