Knowing when to move to the next stage of the GAPS Intro Diet is an area that a lot of people get confused about. If this is one of your big questions, I’m here to help.
One of the biggest misconceptions I see is that people think they need to be completely healed of <insert your big issue here> before they move to the next Stage. That is not the case in most instances.
For example, I had a consult with a woman who was staying on Stage 1 of the GAPS Intro Diet, 3 weeks and counting, waiting for her constipation to resolve. This is not the right approach for constipation and I got her moving on to the next stage of the GAPS Intro and pinpointed the root of her issue to get her moving in the bathroom!
There are a lot of variables that determine when to move to the next stage of the GAPS Intro Diet. The quick answer is to try one new food on your current Stage, increase your intake of it for three days in a row, then repeat with all the other foods on that Stage. Move to the next Stage when you’ve introduced each new food.
If you find that you have a reaction to a particular food, just leave it out and move on with the next one. It’s better to keep moving though the Intro Diet to get to the full variety of foods you can tolerate. You can always try the food you reacted to in 6 weeks. Still doesn’t work? Wait another 6 weeks and try again. Your body is your guide to what you’re ready for. It heals in its own order. Just keep trying. In my clients I regularly see it take 6-8 months to get certain foods back in.
Of course, there are other signs to look for to know what’s working and when to move to the next stage of the GAPS Intro Diet and I’ll explain a few scenarios here:
When diarrhea is an ongoing issue for you, your bowel movements are your guide. Stay on Stage 1 of the Intro Diet until it resolves. You may even need to leave the cooked veggies out of your soup at first. Sometimes even well-cooked veggies are too fibrous for people with loose stools.
If you suffer with constipation, it’s better to keep moving through the Stages of GAPS. Constipation can be rooted in a lot of different causes and it usually takes a while to uncover these, and work through them. What are some examples, you ask? You may need to build up your gut flora, support your gallbladder for better fat digestion, detoxify your liver, resolve your magnesium deficiency, or it may be a combination of things that does the trick. Getting to the Stage 4 juicing, or getting back to more “roughage” in the form of raw veggies may help you in the meantime.
If you or your kids don’t have obvious digestive problems, you’ll have to look at your other symptoms to figure out what foods to leave out and when to move forward on the GAPS Intro. Does the new food give you headaches, foggy thinking, result in a temper tantrum, increased stimming, or make you feel angry? Now that you’ve tried it, is it all you want to eat, in a compulsive way? If yes, you’re not ready for it! Leave it out and try the next thing. The biggest culprits I see that people need to leave out longer are nuts and fruits.
If you move too slowly on adding new foods and your gut is still leaky, you run the risk of developing a sensitivity to what you’re eating now. A limited number of foods can allow those proteins to build up in your system. Better to keep moving and find the maximum number of things you can tolerate to have variety in both foods and nutrients.