GAPS Q’s – Deb

Here are some GAPS questions that Deb has been asked at GAPS workshops or by email.

What is the starch test?

Use this if you have doubts about whether a food has starch in it eg. fruit that may have been picked before it was ripe. Get some liquid iodine from the chemist. Place a drop of it on the food you’re checking. If it stays the same colour – a golden brown – there is no starch. If it goes dark brown or black, it has starch in it and isn’t GAPS friendly.

Can you do GAPS if you are vegetarian?

It depends what kind of vegetarian you are. If you were vegan, it would be impossible to do GAPS, as the bone broths are one of the most important foods.

If you were comfortable eating fish stocks you could do GAPS. If you could also eat fish, eggs, cod liver oil and later on some dairy, you could do it fairly comfortably. Coconut oil would be an important fat for you.

I have done a high protein diet before and I got extremely constipated, I think especially red meat and eggs. How will it be different on this diet?

High protein diets are not good if they are not accompanied by adequate fat. This is meant to be a moderate protein diet with plenty of fat. Fat eases constipation. Also you can still have as many non-starchy veges as you like, which will give you lots of fibre. By gradually easing into GAPS and repairing the gut at the same time, you should be able to ease your body into having less fibre from grains. If you need extra help at the start, ground flaxseed and prunes are two things that will help. If you have constipation in the Intro phase, I have a list of trouble shooting ideas.

Also when I was on this high protein diet I felt extremely weak. So what will give me the energy on the GAPs diet?

Carbs aren’t restricted on GAPS, just starches. So you can have carbs in the form of fruit. Also, your body can use fat as fuel, and will switch over from burning carbs. But it will take a little while to learn how to do that, which is one of the reasons we recommend building up to doing the Intro diet, not launching straight in.

So would I start with the Intro diet? Where would I get the information to do that for a few days? Then is it straight to the GAPs main diet?

We recommend easing into it with the steps on the handout. Introduce the broth and sauerkraut and gradually reduce the starches over the holiday period, then do the Intro later in Jan, or early Feb. Then you reintroduce the foods in a specific order. We will go over this in the 2nd evening, but the info is all there on the GAPS website.

Most of the diet seems easy enough to follow, but the bone broths and sauerkraut, seem like they would be hard to make? Probably because I have never made them before. But the knocking of the bones – wouldn’t really know what I was doing! Is it all easy to do?

These are the most important part of GAPS and what makes it different from other exclusion diets. These are the foods that will heal your gut, so you don’t have to be on GAPS forever. Yes, it is fairly easy to make. There are recipes below. When you take a cooked bone out of your stock, you will see the marrow in the middle of it, so you will be able to see when it’s been knocked out.

I can’t remember what she said re starting kids – was it 1/2 c broth and 1/4 c sauerkraut juice each meal?

Yes, ½ cup broth. But for the probiotic foods start with just 1 tsp a day and work up.

The probiotic I have is the inner health one, is that an extremely effective one? If not which one is? Also I started having one capsule a day and now I am having two a day. Should I just stay taking that? Also do you take a probiotic the whole time you are on the GAPs diet?

The Inner Health one is fairly good strength, but it doesn’t have the full range she recommends. So it is probably best to use one with a wider range, or rotate between brands. Yes, you will need to take them all through GAPS, and maybe forever. Humans used to eat a lot of probiotic foods and now we don’t. So it is important to keep replenishing the good bugs.

She said digestive enzymes are a temporary crutch, would it be beneficial for me to start on those at the beginning, because I am prone to constipation?

In the book, she explains (in much more detail) how taking the HCL breaks down proteins in the stomach and then triggers the release of pancreatic enzymes. She has found that taking digestive enzymes isn’t that helpful for most people, but the HCL helps a lot more. But if you want to try some, they won’t do any harm.

Where would I get my omega 3, 6 and 9 from? Is flaxseed oil okay to have? Is that only omega 3?

Flaxseed oil is ok, no more than a tsp per day. But cod liver oil is better for most people, as it also has Vitamins A & D. You will get plenty of 6 & 9 from the nuts and vegetables. And if you get one of the fermented cod liver oils we have, it also has 6 & 9.

Cod liver oil? Have never taken one before, how will this be good for my conditions?

That is your source of Omega 3. CLO is also the best natural source of Vit A & D which many people are deficient in these days. Vit A is vital for the children with autism, and among other things is vital for healthy skin and eyesight.

Can you have raw milk on GAPs? Would I be able to start off having dairy, or have to introduce later? I am already having butter and have been for ages and doesn’t seem to have any side effects.

Later in GAPS. The lactose and casein are hard to break down in the early stages, but once your gut has settled, you reintroduce dairy step by step. First ghee, then butter, then fermented foods and raw milk last of all. Pasteurised milk – never! The thing is, when you’re in the middle of it, you can’t always tell what is doing what. But once you’ve done the Intro and had a bit of a clean out, then you can really tell what each food does when you reintroduce it. But you’re fine to keep having butter during the pre-Intro, but start weaning off the raw milk a bit before you start the Intro.

Can you buy tallow, lard, chicken or duck fat?

I have seen duck fat in Moore Wilsons, but it is quite expensive. You can buy lard in the supermarket, but it is refined. The easiest and cheapest way to get them is to make roasts and save the fat. A duck will give you heaps of fat and last ages.

Is the Rangitikei Chicken you can buy in Moore Wilson’s OK, or do I need to buy full organic?

One concern about non-organic chicken is whether antibiotics have been used.

But they say: “No Antibiotics or growth hormones are used in our Rangitikei Chickens. In New Zealand no Growth Hormones can be used in poultry products. Further information regarding this can be found at”

Where can you get sausages made the GAPs way?

Some of the brands in Commonsense have no starches but you need to check each one. From memory, Harmony is ok, and I think a new one called Stonycroft Farm or something like that.

What could be the one recipe book I could buy to make lots of GAPs food?

There are lots of recipes on the websites listed above. But if that’s not enough, the best would be her book. But Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall or any other any book that has recipes suitable for SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) will also be helpful. There is a NZ book available in the library – The new IBS low-starch diet / Carol Sinclair. There is a lot of helpful info in it, but you need to remember she isn’t coming from a whole food perspective, she JUST eliminates the starch. So some of her recommendations made me cringe – though I can’t remember exactly what they were now.

Would you be able to list what a typical day of the GAPs diet would be with a couple of different options to choose from?

On the Intro, it is broth for every meal. But once you’ve eased onto the full diet: Start all meals with some broth and something fermented, then some options are:


  • eggs, mushroom cooked up in a good fat, fruit salad
  • Smoothie made from diluted coconut cream, a raw egg yolk and some berries
  • Berry pudding made with nut or coconut flour


  • big salad with meat or fish and some soaked, dried nuts
  • make the whole meal from broth: a vege soup with some meat in it, and some ghee or other allowed fat


  • any combination of meat/fish/poultry with cooked non-starchy veges and/or a salad.

If you want a dessert or snack:

  • fruit, coconut ice cream, baking made with nut or coconut flour

Again, there are lots of ideas on the other websites.

Can you have raw cocoa? I know you can’t have cocoa, but raw cocoa hasn’t been heated?

It’s not the heating that is the problem with cocoa, but the structure of it that is hard to digest. After a while of being on GAPS, when you are stabilised on the core foods, you could cautiously try it.

Is agave allowed?

No. Even though it’s largely fructose, it isn’t “legal”. I’m also not convinced it is a better sweetener than other whole food sweeteners, even after GAPS. It seems to have become very popular as a healthy sweetener, but I prefer to avoid fructose as a sweetener.

Why do you consider fructose worse than glucose? I thought fructose is good in so far that it does not get as fast into the bloodstream.

This article talks about fructose It is specifically talking about high fructose corn syrup, and of course agave is not the same. But in general, I think it is better to restrict even natural sweeteners carefully, and avoid those high in fructose. Fructose in fruit and honey is different as you are having the whole food, but still only small amounts of honey are best.

Are bananas and coconut allowed, as they are not local?

Coconut isn’t high in starch, so the local rule doesn’t apply there. So coconut products are fine.

Technically bananas are on the GAPS-friendly list, as long as they are very ripe. But as they are not local, some people may find they need to avoid them – unless you are on holiday in the Islands! A friend who has been starch free for some years told us that he has found that even very ripe bananas don’t work for him.

What were the other foods he said were on the OK list, but he couldn’t tolerate?

Cashews, and cooked carrots. But raw carrots are fine. Remember that the GAPS-friendly food list is a guide. Everybody has to listen to their own body for individual foods.

Do you know where you can get preservative free wines from? To add later…

Some of the organic and health shops are now stocking preservative wines. Otherwise, just look in the supermarket. You probably won’t find one that is completely free of sulphites, but it is preservative 220 that seems to cause people the most problems. A friend of mine reacts to 220, but can drink other wines with sulphites including these Chardonnays: Old Coach Road, Mud House, St Clair Vicars Choice, Mission, Boatshed Bed by Goldwater.

What about Kava? I am trying to have it about once every 3 nights, it really does help me relax and sleep a bit better, but is it harmful for my gut in any way?

It isn’t specifically listed, so I don’t know for sure, but I suspect not. But keep using it in the buildup, eliminate it during the Intro, and reintroduce after a while and monitor how it affects you.

Is Chlorella a good thing to have?

It’s not allowed on early stages of GAPS, but may be helpful later on for detoxing.