GAPS Diet & Nutrition,  The GAPS Diet

How we cheat on GAPS

Last week I had a friend from church ask me:

“So, do you ever cheat on the diet, or are you hard-core GAPS?”

I was thinking that would be a good post for all of you. Then today, I saw Cara’s post called GAPS Cheats-what to do if you cheat, how to cheat with minimal harm. Awesome! How fun that we were thinking of the same thing to share! I love what Cara said, and I want to say this too: if you are on the GAPS Intro, do not cheat at all, or you will not see results. My family has been on GAPS for 2 years now, so we’re in “coming off of the diet” mode, so we’re allowing some of the cheats below. Understand, rubberbands? Ok, then let’s move on!

I showed this photo in my post about a GAPS Legal Road Trip:

Store-bought applesauce isn’t perfect–it would be best to cook and puree our own apples. Many store-bought applesauces contain citric acid, sugar, or high fructose corn syrup, so you have to be really careful. Don’t buy “sugar free” applesauce because that usually means it is filled with Splenda, aspartame, or another yucky chemical sweetener.

Another cheat here: Fruit Leather. This is an expensive substitute for real fruit (and these ones are not even organic, which is not great–dehydrated pesticides…mmm… πŸ˜‰ ). I like having these on hand in my purse or in the car for low blood sugar moments. And thanks to GAPS; my low blood sugar moments are now gone, so I don’t carry these around any more at all (I had low blood sugar often pre-GAPS!).

And the cranberry nut bar for my hubby. It was all GAPS legal ingredients, but I believe that the nuts should be soaked to neutralize the phytates and make them more digestible.

No, my kids did not eat the hot dog buns here! They were for the other kids who came to the b-day party. πŸ™‚ But they did have the unsoaked, roasted, Dollar-Tree store peanuts, which are *terrible* for your health. Our daughter developed her peanut allergy immediately after eating these. This was October. In June/July we had purchased some of the Costco snack packs of roasted nuts for quick kid-snacks when we were remodeling and moving. She had done totally fine on those (though, I believe they were possibly creating her allergy). She had these nuts & started wheezing really bad, all day and until the next morning. I brought her in to the doctor & they didn’t catch the allergy. A couple of months later, a friend brought over a peanut butter/honey snack and our daughter ate a 1 inch square piece of it and ended up with severe wheezing and hives. We had her tested, and sure enough, she went from having no peanut allergy (back in June/July) to having a severe, life-threatening, anaphylactic nut allergy. Now we bring an epi pen with us everywhere (and if we forget it on a road trip–like we did a few weeks ago, we spend the $200 out of pocket to buy another one–because who knows when she will accidently get peanuts). Moral of the story? Don’t eat unsoaked, roasted nuts!!

We let our kids play with toys of foods that we would never let them eat. πŸ™‚ This isn’t cheating, I just think it’s funny! πŸ™‚

Once in a while, we drink raw milk, or even make hot chocolate with raw milk and honey. Raw milk is not allowed on GAPS. I love raw milk in my herbal chai tea (from Trader Joes). When we first got our foster kids and there was a lot of stress in our life, I even drank black tea, which is not allowed on GAPS. (HELLO adrenal fatigue! If you find yourself needing coffee or black tea, you’ve got adrenal fatigue!). Our foster kiddos have been acting up again, like they did in the beginning (because they’re having increased birthmom visits and their little emotions are high), and I am proud to say that I am not having adrenal fatigue this time, and not needing any black tea! Wooot, woot! πŸ™‚

I have to admit, that once in a while, in a pinch, I will (GASP) microwave our leftovers. Dr. Natasha says that microwaving “kills the nutrients” and I totally agree. I am anti-microwaving, and especially microwaving in plastic (which I never do–you will barely find any plastic in my kitchen)! On most days, I will stick our leftovers in the oven. Once in a great while, we are in a major hurry and I have 7 starving, whiny children, and they just *need lunch,* so I’ll microwave it.

I used to buy canned coconut milk, which isn’t ideal. Most of the brands contain guar gum (corn), which isn’t GAPS legal. I found one that did not contain guar gum, but it wasn’t organic, and it still had a BPA lined can (fats absorb toxins–it is never a good idea to store high fat foods in plastic or plastic lined containers). They just started adding a chemical preservative to this particular coconut milk, so I’m not buying it anymore. I am not crazy about making coconut milk from shredded coconut–it makes a thinner, less creamy milk and it’s a lot of sticky work (I don’t like sticky jobs ;)). I have 3 coconuts on hand, ready to make coconut milk like Heather did, but that’s even more work. Lately, I’ve been subbing raw milk for coconut milk in recipes, which is not GAPS legal. What is your solution to the coconut milk dilemma?

Our local New Seasons makes pepperoni that is almost GAPS legal. Almost, because it contains nonfat dry milk powder, which is not GAPS legal and not healthy. Nonfat dry milk contains oxidized cholesterol, which clogs arteries. Butter and egg yolks will not clog your arteries, nonfat dry milk powder will (and it’s in just about every single “low fat” or “nonfat” dairy product in the grocery store dairy section, so most people are getting *a lot* of it).

This coconut flour pizza crust is in my GAPS Lunches Cookbook (and also on the back of my business card, so if we meet in person I can give you one! ;)). The cheat here is the sausage. Before we raised our own pigs, we were buying sausage from another local farmer. We ate it several times before I noticed that it had SUGAR in the ingredients. Yikes! I had assumed that farm fresh = no sugar, but apparently the butcher shop added some. We stopped buying that pork, but our family ate probably 20 lbs of it before we realized it!

And since I showed you that we cheat with raw milk, why not cheat with raw cream as well, mix it with some honey, some bits of homemade chocolate love bars, and create a yummy raw milk ice cream? πŸ™‚ Once in a while, this is a very nice treat!

I love sour cream. No, let me emphasize that again: I LOVE SOUR CREAM! Since I don’t make it with raw cream every week (I should), I end up buying it. I am in love with the Wallaby cultured sour cream. It is thick, and creamy, and wonderful (but not GAPS legal), and honestly, I would scoop on a lot more than this photo shows (and I’m not overweight in the slightest). πŸ˜‰ Fat does not make you fat, in fact, just the opposite! Pigs are fattened on skim milk! (the fat slows down the sugar in the milk & helps your body process it instead of storing it)

This is what we use to start our homemade yogurt. In very busy times (like when we moved, and when we took in our foster kids), we just ate store-bought yogurt. It is not ideal, not cultured long enough, not GAPS legal, and it made my “glue ear” come back. Homemade yogurt is best!

When I am out and about, I am not a Starbucks coffee drinker (though, The Farmer doesn’t exactly make his coffee weak like Dr. Natasha says, I guess that’s a cheat too!). I am drawn to these smoothie-type drinks–that is my “Starbucks.” πŸ™‚ This one contains “Natural Flavors,” which could really be anything. The Odwalla Strawberry Smoothie contains added synthetic vitamins, which will make your pee turn bright yellow and do very little in the way of actually adding nutrients to your body (and may cause harm, we’ll have to watch for future studies).

When I have gone to Starbucks (which is not often), I will order the black iced tea with “no classic” and honey added to it. Not a GAPS legal drink, but better than most of the other options at Starbucks. πŸ˜‰

We have ordered gluten free pizza a handful of times since being on GAPS. Farm Princess 1 had it on her 4th Birthday at the American Girl Doll Bistro in Washington. (See her “twins” in the background? She wanted one that looked like her brother (our bio son), and one that looked like her! She is so cute! ;)).

We’ve gone swimming in chlorinated pools & our kids took swimming lessons. Chlorine messes up the gut flora and is toxic to the body. It’s mostly been the kids getting into the pool. One time, The Farmer and I swam also, and I was weak and shaky and had autoimmune symptoms for the next 2 days. My body does not like chlorine!

And the worst of all of our GAPS cheats: juices that are not fresh-squeezed. We (the adults) drink Izzes when we go to Chipotle (another cheat–I always order sour cream there), and on road trips or camping trips we will buy these other types of juices. We don’t get them with added sugar, but still, this is a sure-way to make sure that all of the fruit sugar goes straight to the blood stream! Not good! The Farmer and I crave Izzes when we are stressed–since we don’t drink alcohol, this is our vice. I suppose it’s better than alcohol, but it’s still not great for us. I don’t buy them often (we’d drink them too often!), but we do get them occasionally (and admittedly, when we were remodeling our home I bought a lot of them…good thing that’s not a regular habit!).

There you have it. Now you know all of my secrets. πŸ˜‰

Are you on GAPS? Do you cheat? If so, how?


  • Thea

    Wow, apparently I have been cheating and didn’t even know it. I thought that raw milk is allowed on full GAPS if well-tolerated. Also didn’t know that guar gum is made from corn πŸ™ That might explain my stuffed up noses. I was at a loss to know what was causing them. I guess I will have to special order coconuts from my co-op.

    My understanding is that the list that’s in the book is really for GAPS intro. If you read the website Dr. Campbell-McBride says that you can expand your repetoire a bit, with things like chocolate. I also found a recipe the other day that claimed to be GAPS legal and contained baking soda. Didn’t sound right to me.

    Thanks for posting this. It’s helpful.

  • Heather Finotti

    Baking soda is ok for baking on GAPS, baking powder is illegal :). This was updated info in the second edition. For the homemade coconut milk, I’ve been making it with storebought organic coconut flakes instead of shreaded coconut (they look like someone took a big fat veg peeler to a coconut, so the pieces are far larger than the shreds) and I like the outcome much much more. I don’t know if you’ll find it to be as good as I have, but it’s worth a try! Definitely easier than cracking open coconuts each time..

    Heather F.

  • Heather @ Mommypotamus

    Funny to think of swimming as a cheat! But yeah, I guess it kind of is. We use vitamin C tablets to neutralize chlorine/chloramines in the bath/shower but it doesn’t help with fluoride. Argh!

  • Anonymous

    We were super strict for the last year on GAPS (we did a super slow intro and have gone back to intro several times), but have started loosening up a little. Our daughter is going to a birthday party tonight where lasagna with mozzarella cheese and rice noodles and gluten-free cupcakes from a gluten-free bakery will be served. I know that everything in the lasagna will be organic and BPA free. Since she doesn’t have celiac (negative bloodwork and negative genetic screening), we worry less about her than we do her brother. So we’ve decided to let it go and let her have a “cheat night.” We might have to put her back on soup for a week due to the carbs and whatever funkiness is in the cupcakes (xanthan gum, anyone?), but it’s not the end of the world for her.

    We definitely don’t give our celiac son any foods not prepared at home or even foods from bulk bins, though, due to cross contamination. We pack all of his food with his own dishes (yep, he got glutened from a friend’s handwashed plate a few months ago) when he’s outside the house and constantly nag him to wash his hands before he eats. Sometimes his old symptoms show up and we have no idea where they came from. We’d love to just let him be a “normal” gluten-free kid and indulge in some gluten-free crap (pardon the expression) on occasion, but the consequences are so great when he does get glutened that we just can’t.

    I know what you mean about the coconut milk! What an annoying chore to make it and it’s really only good for drinking, not cooking. Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk is organic and comes in BPA free cans, but has guar gum (why? why?!). Two out of three ain’t bad, right? I needed real coconut milk for Caramel Apples. It was worth it to give our son a sense of normalcy at a friend’s Halloween Party, since he has an especially hard time feeling different from other kids.

    I know New Seasons carries it if you want to get it locally, but Amazon has the better price. There have been some issues with inferior coconut milk from Sri Lanka coming in the same cans as the better stuff from Thailand, so make sure to read the label.

    Not all of our health “problems” have been resolved completely (just most of them) with GAPS and maybe they would be if we strictly adhered to it forever. But we’re only human.

    Here’s my confession: I have my strong coffee with raw cream, drink raw milk, eat conventional Tillamook cheddar cheese, and sometimes eat potatoes. I recently had a dalliance with a bag of salt & vinegar Kettle Chips (hello, rancid vegetable oils!) and I’m still standing. I accept my humanity.

    Love love love your photo of Farm Princess 1!

  • Angi C.

    I was just going to ask you a question about raw milk, so , timely post!

    We drink raw A2 milk, which is not generally terribly harmful to the gut of most people. Do you know if GAPS folks have studied (or considered) the difference between A1, which makes up most of even raw milk, versus A2?

  • J.

    Interesting post! I think though, as someone commented below, that one point might be incorrect that you mentioned. I believe Dr. NCM says in the book that raw milk is OK on full GAPS if you can tolerate it. She says as far as dairy products she makes an exception for what she refers to as “alive, raw milk,” so, this isn’t really a cheat!

  • Cgreen

    One alternative to canned coconut milk may be Aroy-D Coconut Cream (in a tetra pack) – I believe that if you water it down a bit it would be the same consistency as canned coconut milk. The price seems fair foe the amount especially if it is watered down a bit – however it is not organic ( Also Trader Joe’s coconut milk is in BPA-Free cans but alas they only carry “light” coconut milk and we all know that full fat coconut milk is the way to go :). Maybe you could add coconut oil to it?

  • Cgreen

    One alternative to canned coconut milk may be Aroy-D Coconut Cream (in a tetra pack) – I believe that if you water it down a bit it would be the same consistency as canned coconut milk. The price seems fair foe the amount especially if it is watered down a bit – however it is not organic ( Also Trader Joe’s coconut milk is in BPA-Free cans but alas they only carry “light” coconut milk and we all know that full fat coconut milk is the way to go :). Maybe you could add coconut oil to it?

  • Shanea

    Aluminum free baking soda is permissible in moderation on full GAPS as it is allowed in the SCD diet. Dr Natasha does not recommend it. Most GAPS patients have low stomach acid. Soda is a strong alkali and will neutralize the stomach acid further, thus potentially slowing or impeding digestion. Be aware that the stomach must be very acidic for the proper digestion of proteins and fats. If you are needing HCL supplementation or digestive enzymes, baking soda should not be present in the diet. It would be counter-productive. That being said, when you have regained strong digestion, restored adequate stomach acid production, then a bit of soda in your baked goods while maintaining the soups, meat stock, fermented foods, etc as the base of your diet, should not be a problem.
    Raw milk is full GAPS legal. If you have not gone through the Intro Diet, you must follow the proper Dairy Introduction Structure. Dr Natasha says that you can try drinking raw milk once all fermented dairy products are well-tolerated and you have introduced cheese.
    Many of our raw milk dairies in the US are becoming aware of the A1 versus A2 cow concern. A1 cows, our most popular dairy Holsteins for example, have mutated beta casein with a insidious little peptide that wreaks havoc in the body. My little nephew seemed to have a severe intolerance to any dairy with raging flare ups of eczema, but proved to be perfectly fine with brimming glassfuls of Grandpa’s fresh, full fat, raw Jersey milk. Old world breeds, Jersey and Brown Swiss for example, are typically A2 cows without the mutation in their protein. Some dairies are going the extra step to test their cows and building only A2 herds. This produces the healthiest milk possible. This is important for those of us on GAPS Diet. Dairy intolerance may be due to the A1 cows’ problematic peptide that is more highly absorbed through a compromised gut lining. It is worth trying fermented milk from a different cow!

  • Susan

    I just started the GAPS diet and at first was a little overwhelmed, but this post made me feel better that we all can’t be 100% all of the time! I buy my coconut milk by the case from Wilderness Family Naturals and they come in a box, like a juice box. There is nothing added, only 100% coconut milk and it is delicious! I use it to add to soups, smoothies and substitute it for milk in lots of recipes. Right now, I am staying away from coconut, but hope to add it back to my diet soon. I met you at the Wise Traditions conference and you helped motivate me to do the GAPS diet, which is something I should have done a long time ago!
    Thanks, Susan

  • Susan

    Well, I guess I spoke too soon, because I just looked at the coconut milk box and it does have xantham gum in it!! Is that GAPS legal? Why can you have coconut flour but not coconut milk?
    Thanks, Susan

  • Jeff

    Real Raw Milk is NOT cheating. Page 125… “I would only make an exception for alive raw milk.” Page 127 “… once all homemade fermented raw milk products are well tolerated and cheese has been introduced, many GAPS people can start drinking raw organic milk.”

  • Summoora

    1. As Jeff said, raw milk is totally GAPS-legal as long as you don’t have an allergy. It digests itself. And once dairy has been introduced (for most, after like a week of intro…), raw cream, yogurt, cheese, whatever you like is allowed. Pasteurized ORGANIC milk is even legal at this point, though raw milk is strongly preferred.
    2. Black tea is not illegal. Instant tea bags are illegal, but loose tea is fine. Tea has about half the caffeine of coffee, so drinking coffee much more applies to adrenal fatigue than tea, especially if your tea is light.

    I’m still making coconut milk from shredded coconut (until I run out >.>), but you could try getting the fresh coconut meat things they sell in whole foods refrigerated. Those haven’t been defatted and would be more creamy. I think.

  • Rashell

    Sorry about your daughter in regards to her peanut allergy:/ I thought GAPS was suppose to seal the gut so that there should be no worries about food allergies. In fact, I thought it should heal food allergies? Your daughter was on GAPS for two years prior to the allergy?

  • Tera

    I know that corn is not allowed but what are your thoughts on organic non gmo corn tortillas chips as a “cheat” every so often? I just miss chips :/ I have been on gaps for almost 4 months now- still a newbie. Thanks!

  • orcadragon

    What do you buy at Chipotle that is on the diet? I couldn’t think of any restaurants that would have food for me if I went on GAPS. I was also wondering if a Hamburger wrapped in lettuce would work in the Full GAPS diet stage. Because there is a Elevation Burger in town, and they have organic pasture fed Hamburger. They offer them in lettuce wraps. There is also a Salad place, I could try later on. In the Full Diet is it okay to have raw lettuce/spinach? Sorry I don’t have the book yet, so only know what web searching has brought me to.

  • Margot P

    Actually, guar gum is not made from corn, it’s made from guar beans, completely unrelated to corn. It’s a legume: It’s not really listed on the GAPS website as being illegal or legal, but it’s a polysaccharide so it’s probably not encouraged. One other thing, Thrive Market (you can order online) carried coconut milk without guar gum in it. You can also order it in bulk on Amazon. This is the brand you want: Native Forest Organic Simple Coconut Milk.

    Simple is the keyword in the name. The Simple variety is the one without guar gum.

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