I want to set the record straight on what you can expect during the first week of the GAPS Diet. You might have different ideas about this depending on the stories you’ve heard from others, or what you believe will happen to you, based on your current symptoms. I find that people either expect that they’re going to feel absolutely fine, or that they’re going to feel absolutely terrible.
If you’ve been suffering with a severe debilitating condition for a long time, the first week of GAPS isn’t going to be a picnic. Healing reactions happen, and they’re not always pleasant. I don’t want you to feel unnecessarily worried, but I do want to give you an honest look at what you can expect on both the negative and the positive sides of beginning the GAPS Diet.
Feeling under the weather is the most common thing I see reported. When you begin the GAPS Intro Diet you might think you’re coming down with a cold or flu. You might be feverish, achy, have a bit of a sore throat, or feel generally yucky. This “under the weather” feeling might last anywhere from 3 to 10 days.
Constipation. It might not set in during the first few days, but don’t be surprised when it does. On the Intro Diet you’re likely eating less food and significantly less fiber then you’re used to, and your body has lost all the ‘crutches’ that allowed you to go to bathroom easily before (maybe too easily?).
Brain fog or mental fuzziness. You’ll experience this when you’re having symptoms of a die-off or detox reaction early in GAPS. It may be that toxins are circulating, or it may be that they’re actually being pulled right out of your brain, and this can make for some fuzzy thinking.
Feeling emotional. Early on the Intro Diet you’ll get ‘hangry.’ You’ll be hungry for everything that you can’t eat and angry because you don’t want to eat anything that’s allowed on GAPS. If other people in your life aren’t following GAPS you’ll be jealous and resentful towards them. You might pick a fight with them to relieve your tension. Expect that this is just part of the process and it will pass, so don’t make any rash decisions during this period of time. Maybe warn your loved ones in advance.
Nausea and Vomiting. These don’t happen to everybody, but don’t be surprised if they happen to you. They can be due to a drop in blood sugar, or the inability to digest fats well. If you suspect it’s a blood sugar issue, mix up a few tablespoons of coconut oil with a small amount of honey and carry the jar around with you. Have a teaspoon here and there as you need it, to help keep your blood sugar stable during the first couple weeks of the diet. I promise you won’t keep eating this forever.
If you feel like too much fat is the problem, then you’ll likely need some type of fat digestion support like ox bile if you don’t have a gallbladder, or Beta-TCP if you do have your gallbladder. You can skim the fat from your broth and avoid adding any extra fat for now. If you add fat, do so very gradually and slowly until your supplements arrive. Drinking beet kvass will also help with fat digestion over time.
Fatigue. Being tired, sleeping more, and not having the energy to work out are nearly universal. Listen to your body and honor this feeling by taking time for rest and relaxation. Hopefully you’ve planned for this in advance so you can nurture yourself during this time. In no time at all you’ll bounce back with more energy than you had previously.
Stomach pain disappears. You’ve removed pretty much everything that causes food reactions and you’re adding in healing agents through the broths and fermented foods. This all adds up to a beautiful feeling belly in the early stages of the Intro Diet.
Diarrhea improves. For most people this disappears during the first week. Since the GAPS Intro Diet is low fiber, that source of irritation is gone. If you’re still having diarrhea within a few days, you can remove cooked vegetables for a short period of time. That’s right – you’ll only eat meat, fat, broth, and sauerkraut juice or fermented dairy. When your digestive tract heals, you’ll be able to tolerate veggies again. When you’ve had an issue with diarrhea for a long time this will be incredibly freeing because you won’t have to be near a bathroom at all times and you’ll likely get much better sleep because you won’t have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom!
It’s easier to get to sleep. For some people this is simply because of the removal of coffee, other caffeine, and sugar from the diet. But for others, it’s actually the addition of the broth and the neurotransmitter balance that it brings. This happens very quickly in children, especially for those that are on the autism spectrum.
Hopefully you’ve gained a little peace of mind by knowing what you have to look forward to. I don’t want to scare anyone about the first week of the Intro Diet, but I do want you to make a realistic plan for how you’ll feel, and to also realize that it’ll be temporary and you will get through any difficulties. The vibrant health that’s awaiting you on the other side is absolutely worth it, so keep your eyes on the prize!
Have you been through the GAPS Intro Diet? Do you have other things that you’d like to share for people to look out for? Please tell us in the comments below!