10 Reasons GAPS is better than Gluten Free

by brenda on December 5, 2012

 

photo credit: shufgy

We were on the GAPS Diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) for over 2 years, and then we started coming off of GAPS too quickly last Spring. Life got stressful over the Summer, and we stuck to gluten free foods. Now, we’re Day 2 back on the GAPS Intro. Why? Because life is better when we’re on GAPS. Let me tell you why I think this!

10 Reasons GAPS is better than Gluten Free:

  1. Grocery shopping is simpler. On GAPS, you shop down the outside aisles of the grocery store, and you get very few items that are located in the middle of the store (salt, seasonings, and oils). No shopping for gluten free flours, breads, pastas, cookies, crackers, etc. You could actually get the majority of your food from local farmers (buy 1/2 a cow, a CSA share, etc.), purchase oils, salt and herbs online, and never go grocery shopping, on GAPS! Hooray for no grocery shopping! :)
  2. It’s easier to organize a GAPS pantry than a gluten free pantry. Trust me on this one! When we were hard-core gluten free people (pre-GAPS), we lived in a house with a huge pantry. I had glass jars with lids for every type of gluten free flour imaginable. I made my own mixes and had it all organized. This time, we’ve been eating gluten free for only a few months, and I wasn’t willing to invest the time or money into storing everything in special containers. Not only that, we don’t have the space anymore! Instead, my cupboards have random plastic (bulk-bin style) bags filled with various flours, piled on top of each other, falling over. If the twist tie comes undone, there’s a powdery mess to clean up (fun!). Not to mention, cooking with these flours is a lot of work–I have to dig through everything to find the one missing flour. On GAPS, our pantry contained very few canned goods (glass jars of tomatoes, artichokes and olives), oils, and herbs. It looked nice and it was easy to find what we needed.
  3. Meal planning is easier. This one is debatable. If you’re comfortable with gluten free-cooking, meal planning might be a breeze for you! But the thing that makes it easier for me is this: there are less GAPS friendly, grain-free recipes available out in the world (internet searches, cookbooks, etc.). Having less recipes makes decision-making SO MUCH easier. Have you ever printed a stack of awesome looking recipes & then been overwhelmed by the decision of what to cook this week? On GAPS, this anxiety is relieved. :)
  4. It’s easier to set boundaries with other people. Imagine Christmas with your great aunt who thinks that whole wheat equals gluten free. You don’t want to hurt her feelings, but if you eat her dinner rolls, you’re going to get sick.  If you said “I don’t eat grains, or sugar, or ___” or, better yet, “I’ll bring my own food” ahead of time, wa la! No problem. There are so many well-meaning people in this world who really want to make something yummy and gluten free for you, but who have no clue how to do it. Setting up the “GAPS” boundary keeps you from hurting their feelings (and then feeling guilty!).
  5. No package reading involved! On GAPS, you pretty much know that all packaged foods are out! You don’t need to spend time reading the package, wondering “is ____ gluten?” or performing internet searches on your iphone or calling customer service to ask if a product contains gluten. No more! Your time is valuable! Eat GAPS, and avoid this struggle!
  6. Setting “real food” boundaries for yourself is so much easier. When you’re gluten free, you’ve got boundaries, for sure. The problem is, when you go to the Farmer’s Market (like I did, on my Birthday in September) and find 10 different “gluten free” pie, cookie and chocolate booths, you’re tempted to stop at every single one of them and buy something because they are gluten free. Am I right? Ok, at least, for me, I’m right! :) When you’re GAPS, you set up the boundaries like this: I don’t eat sugar, I don’t eat grains, I don’t eat packaged goods, I don’t eat artificial colors, I don’t eat artificial flavorings,” ETC. And you just know what you eat, and you don’t veer from that path.
  7. No wondering “was I glutenized??” If you get sick while you’re on GAPS, one of the following is true: A. you’re in the early stages and you’re detoxing from all of the sugar and chemical containing “gluten-free” stuff that you ate ;) or B. you’ve got the flu or C. you’ve just figured out a food that your body doesn’t like. Yay for you! Leave it to GAPS to help you find these foods–remember when you were gluten free and you felt like this? You just thought you’d accidentally eaten gluten! Since you’re eating so simply on GAPS, it’s easy to figure out what the real culprit is!
  8. Less (or no!) baking involved, on GAPS. You might not like this. You might LOVE baking fancy cupcakes for every holiday (ahem. That used to be me.). No problem–if you LIKE baking, you CAN bake on GAPS (see the recipes on this very site!). But if you don’t like baking, no problem–a GAPS meal is totally complete without bread, muffins, cupcakes, scones, cookies, etc. Make some soup, and you’re set. On GAPS, I’ve found it much easier to make totally filling 1-dish meals. (This morning we had a soup with ground beef, peas, onions, garlic, a really rich chicken feet stock, and some bacon grease. It was super filling and we only ate half the pot–so we had the rest for lunch! Everyone liked it and it was easy–and it didn’t involve ANY baking!).
  9. You will feel better on GAPS. If you’re eating gluten free, and you’re still not feeling well–or if you just kind of feel “ok,” please try GAPS! When I eat gluten free, so many of my symptoms come back. My muscles stick together. I gain weight. I have acid reflux. I have tummy aches (and all of the digestive loveliness that goes with that). I’m tired and I have to take more naps. I feel weak. I get less done around the house and then I feel like a failure. Just TWO DAYS back on GAPS has me feeling awesome again! TRY IT and see! :) :)
  10. Your gut will actually heal on GAPS. Before the 1950’s, Celiac Disease was a “starch intolerance.” There was a doctor who did a study on 10 patients, and he decided that gluten was the culprit. Ever since then, that is what our medical community has clung to–gluten, not starch. The truth of the matter is, if you were to check biopsies of many “Celiac” patients who have been eating gluten free, religiously, their gut will still not be healed. This is because gluten isn’t their only issue…Try GAPS and see what it does for your gut!
Check out Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride’s book Gut and Psychology Syndrome for more information on what The GAPS Diet is all about. For help with the Intro (the most healing part of the diet!), check out Cara’s book, What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days on the GAPS Intro Diet. If you want to try GAPS but you have no clue what to make for Christmas, take a look at my book, A Whole Food Holiday.

Are you Gluten Free? What do you think about trying GAPS? Are you on GAPS? Share with everyone else what your results have been! :)

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  • Renee DeGroot

    amen! I wish more people would say this/realize this. Gluten-free isn’t healing. Starch is so much more an issue (though gluten is an issue, too.) Gluten-free baked goods aren’t very healthy, and it’s so much simpler to just eat grain-free or bake a few things, if necessary, with almond or coconut flour. Many people are still very confused by what gluten is and what grain is, so both terms still need some educating in… Thanks for doing your part!

  • Leah Funk

    Hey there … So glad you re posting here again… I too came off gaps too quickly and saw some bad results… I also tried another diet th last 2months that has helped with weigh issues but not digestive issues I am still having on and off. It has helped to add oats soaked some times and quinoa when I feel low on energy. I am nursing a baby still. But for the most part grain free gaps style is for me … I also use stevia and not so much honey. Just wanted to say how thankful I am for this site Brenda…. It really reaches my heart here in Florida and has helped our family heal.

  • Shabnam Merchant

    You had me till #10.
    If all starches were bad, then one’s auto-immune antibody count should not decline on a gluten-free but not-other-grain-free diet. However, our 4 year old daughter’s count went down from 20 times the norm to twice the norm in 6 months of taking her off gluten. She still eats rice (but no packaged GF products – we cook all our own meals).
    That said – I like the idea of minimizing the intake of grains.

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  • Tracy Lynn

    My problem is that so many of the things that I can have on GAPS I’m actually allergic to, like eggs and dairy. It’s hard.

  • Heather

    I have the same problems. I’m trying the autoimmune Paleo protocol. Good luck!

  • Judy

    Although it may seem more simple to eliminate all grains(and i do realize it is much more healthy), it is definitely not easier for most families. Many people have a hard enough time staying off gluten let alone all grains. People become very bored when they aren’t able to add flavor. Personally as a nutritionist I enjoy being able to cook meals with slight grains from time to time and oils like olive and coconut are very beneficial and can be much needed. I strongly believe in having at least 5 small meals a day, with all consisting of at least one healthy animal bi-product, one healthy carb, and one healthy fat.

  • Judy

    I am completely off of wheat and believe most people should. Most are intolerant to many grains besides wheat. I say eliminate grains as much as possible but keep healthy fats because you’re body needs them.

  • Marit Verwer

    I’m gluten free, rice free, egg free, almond free and cow’s dairy free. I have some quinoa, buckwheat or a little corn at times – would love to ditch that, too. My kids have food intolerances, too. I do feel like we should try GAPS, but it just seems like such a hassle with my kids (3 and 4) and all these food intolerances…

  • Beth W

    I went gluten-free and all of my gut issues went away…then came back after 5 months. Maybe I should try a modified version of GAPS…

  • KC

    We have dairy allergies as well, so not sure GAPS would work for us. :( Plus, not sure my husband would stay on board, or at least support us. I’m really interested in trying it though, to fix some if our issues.

  • Abigail Sch

    Your allergies might be coming from the effects of a gut that is not
    healed. Once your gut is healed (through cutting out refined sugar,
    environmental toxins, man made chemicals AND adding fermented foods such
    as sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir to your diet and if in your case a
    gluten sensitivity is present cutting out gluten and for the time being
    for you personally dairy and eggs) you might find that your allergies
    have subsided beacause your body no longer is in a state of constant
    inflammation and your immun system has calmed down. The same with
    autoimmune dieases.

  • Sara

    Great post! I’m just about to start the diet – I have Dr. Campell-McBride’s book but am trying fit in reading it while taking care of my 3 little kids – hard to do! I’m very anxious to start it fully, but I don’t have all the info yet so it’s making it hard. Ugh. Your website and recipes have been very helpful, though! Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    We do Primal with Dairy (since my husband and I both tolerate it) which sounds a lot like GAPS. I wish we lived on a farm so I can have our own chickens, a cow (for milk), and a garden. We live in a major metro city and there’s no land here to do anything such as that. We do have a local farmer that will butcher meat for us so that’s great, lil pricey and a bit of a drive but oh so worth it!

  • Anonymous

    I feel like I should try this, but it’s just depressing to think that I may have to do it for years. I know my family would never agree to do it with me. That means I will still need to cook other foods for them.

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