When I talk to new clients they often remark that they can’t believe how much they’re eating on GAPS™, and they wonder if it’s normal and if they’re going to gain weight. They’re especially amazed when it’s their (formerly) picky kids who are ravenous. Why are the still hungry on the GAPS Diet?
Here are four reasons why you’re always hungry on the GAPS Diet:
1. You just started the diet. In the beginning of the diet it’s common to feel ravenous. Your body is finally getting the nourishment that it needs to heal, and it says “keep it coming.” This is usually most applicable to meats. You might feel like you’re craving so much meat and this can’t possibly be healthy, and it never seems like it’s going to end. This is really common for the first two or three months on GAPS, and then one day it’s like a switch flips, and all the sudden you feel satiated with a normal 3 to 4 ounces of protein in a meal.
2. You’re not eating enough fat. This is usually more apparent when you’ve been on GAPS for a few months. On the GAPS Diet you should aim for 1 to 4 tablespoons of fat per meal. If you’re constantly hungry, or feel like you need snacks, you’re not eating enough fat. Up your amount of added fat until you feel satiated for at least four hours until the next meal. An example of 4 tablespoons of fat in one meal might include a tablespoon of naturally present fat in the soup that you’re eating, a spoonful of ghee, an egg yolk, and a couple slices of avocado.
3. Your kids are growing. When your kids are past the toddler phase there are so many growth spurts that happen. I hear from parents all the time that their kids eat just as much food as they do, and sometimes more. As long as your kids are eating nutrient dense food and you’re aiming to make 85% of it the savory things like meats, fats, veggies, and ferments, just go with it. When we give our kids natural healthy options they become very instinctual about the amounts and types of foods that they need to eat at any given time.
4. Your microbes have cravings. If you feel like you’re always hungry but your cravings are really more for the carbohydrates like fruit, honey, and sweet things, that’s more likely to be your microbes talking. The whole point of GAPS is to get those bugs back in balance. Focus on the ferments and savory foods, and limit the sweeter things to help you do that. You do want to make sure that you’re including enough starches like winter squashes or a little bit of fruit to keep your glucose needs met. Occasionally people feel hungry or out of balance because they’re eating too low carbohydrate, which can be accidental. Be mindful of this to see if a few more carbs helps you feel satiated, or leads you to more compulsive carb cravings.
When you’re hungry, sit down and eat a full meal. I’ve seen people struggle with both gaining and losing weight when they “graze.” On the GAPS Diet, snacks are to hold you over when you truly can’t eat a whole meal, like during travel, or on a hike. As much as possible, honor your hunger by eating nutrient-filled meals, with plenty of fat and protein to keep you satisfied in between.