Starting the GAPS Diet with kids can feel daunting. Common hesitations that I hear from parents are:

The truth is that you won’t know unless you do it. It might have been easier when they were younger, or during summer vacation, or before your divorce, but the next best time is now. You don’t have to do everything today, but the five steps to starting to GAPS Diet with kids below will help you gain momentum towards your goal.

Ellen’s family

Ellen knew in her heart that the GAPS Diet would really help her kids, but she thought there was no way her kids would eat the food because they were sooo picky! Her son, Noah, was on the autism spectrum and only ate 5 foods. Her daughter, Ellie, who had asthma, eczema, and anxiety that was interfering with school, loved nothing more than eating pancakes or macaroni and cheese for every meal.

The first week of the Intro Diet was really rough as the kids cycled through tantrums, refusing to eat, vomiting, lethargy, constipation, and bedtime meltdowns. By the end of the 3rd day Ellie realized that these foods were here to stay and started eating the soup with less protest. Noah held out longer, but accepted meatballs cooked in stock on day 6.

Starting the GAPS Diet with kids is rarely smooth – but the results are worth it. Once you make it through the rough patch during that first week of the Intro Diet, it will get easier.

Here are 5 steps to starting the GAPS Diet with kids:

  1. Decide what needs to change. Pick three symptoms or behaviors that you want to see change in your kids. Write them down in a journal and include a number to represent their severity. Come back and look at this list after you’ve been on GAPS for three months. Ask yourself how GAPS is working for you, and what’s changed? It’s easy to get caught up in the immediate issues, so reviewing where you started helps you clearly track your progress.
  2. Add in some GAPS foods now. Before you start the full-blown GAPS Diet you can incorporate some GAPS recipes into your day-to-day meals. Start with the ones you think your kids are most likely to eat, even if that would just be the sweet stuff like fresh-pressed juice popsicles, homemade fruit gelatin, or coconut flour muffins. Then offer them homemade chicken soup, celeriac sautéed in butter (a potato substitute), or a small bite of fermented ginger carrots. Trying these new foods gives your kids’ taste buds a chance to adjust. It also helps you gain confidence in the new cooking skills you’ll develop for the GAPS Diet.
  3. Start GAPS when both parents are on board. I can’t stress this point enough. Time after time I’ve seen mom start kids on the GAPS Diet without dad being a true believer in it. There’s something about that skeptical energy that keeps the kids from accepting the foods and starting to experience the benefits. The first week of the Intro Diet is no picnic. It’s important that both parents understand GAPS and have the strength to stick with it. The same thing goes for other adults in your household.
  4. Choose your GAPS Intro Diet start date carefully. There’s never a ‘perfect’ time to start the GAPS Diet, but some times are better than others. The easiest time to begin with kids is when they’re on a school break or summer vacation. It’s ideal to start when both parents can take a week off of work so you can give each other a break when things get too emotional. Choosing a start date in advance will give you time to stock your kitchen and learn a few recipes before you jump into the Intro Diet with both feet.
  5. Lean into the types and textures of food your kids will readily eat. Understanding their texture and temperature preferences will give you a starting point to sneak in other GAPS foods, if they won’t eat them readily. For example, Noah liked mustard on everything, so Ellen stirs a little bit of stock into it each time. If your child will drink just about anything out of a sippy cup or through a straw, serve meat stock that way. If your child doesn’t like liquid textures of any type, add meat stock to all their meats, veggies, eggs, and casseroles. Then gradually aim to include some thicker stews or bites of blended soups to help them acclimate their taste buds.

If your family needs the GAPS Nutritional Protocol you will find a way to get your kids to eat. The most important thing you need is to be 100% committed, and never give up. Taking these steps to starting the GAPS Diet with kids is the beginning of a many-month journey. Take the time to plan ahead and gather the support you need to succeed, but take one step today.

If severe picky eating is an issue you need to overcome, check out my book, From Mac and Cheese to Veggies, Please, for comprehensive guidance.

P.S. If you’re stuck marinating in the ‘what-ifs?’ – it’s a sign that you should begin GAPS by yourself first.


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