1 year on the GAPS diet!

Today marks my 1-year anniversary on the GAPS diet. I started eating this way to control my SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). It’s been quite a ride but I couldn’t be happier with my results:

  • no more bloating
  • no more abdominal pain
  • no more problems with my bowel movements
  • no more skin rash
  • no more headaches
  • better mood (no more depression)
  • more energy
  • better sleep
  • better concentration (no brain fog)
  • improved PCOS (regular menstrual cycle, less PMS and other PCOS symptoms)
  • better blood sugar regulation

I still can’t eat dairy (besides butter and ghee) and still have to be careful with fruits and some vegetables, but I can tolerate a bit of chocolate, nuts and honey once in a while. A year ago, I was feeling so bad every day. I knew there was a connection between the foods and I ate and the way I felt but couldn’t figure it out. My dream was to have a list of safe foods to eat and a clear list of foods to avoid. I now have that. It took a few months, but the GAPS diet protocol helped me figure out what my body wants and what it doesn’t like.

I don’t really consider myself on the GAPS diet or any kind of diet anymore. It’s just the way I eat now!

Here’s what I eat on a daily basis:

  • non-starchy vegetables (all kinds, including most high-FODMAPs!)
  • butter, ghee, coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil
  • homemade bone broth (1-2 cups daily)
  • animal protein
  • unrefined salt and other seasonings
  • green tea
  • fermented foods (raw sauerkraut)

and once in a while:

  • raw vegetables (cucumber, cherry tomatoes, lettuce)
  • dark chocolate (85%)
  • a few slices of prosciutto (just a little since too much nitrates trigger headaches for me)
  • coconut butter, coconut chips, almond butter, a bit of honey or maple syrup

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59 thoughts on “1 year on the GAPS diet!

  1. Congrats, that’s fantastic – and very promising, as I’m about to start the GAPS intro next week! (But I’m basically on the full GAPS diet already.) We seem to have similar intolerances – I can’t have dairy and nuts either (not yet at least) – so it’s reassuring to see that you’re faring so well on GAPS. What kinds of probiotics have you been taking? I probably won’t be able to have fermented vegetable juices at the beginning because of histamine intolerance so I’m thinking about giving water kefir a try. Another option would be a supplement but it’s difficult to find one without fillers as well as bifidobacteria (as I’ve read that you’re not supposed to take the latter in case of SIBO). But oh well, maybe I’ll just start the intro and then figure out on a day-to-day basis how to move forward.

    • Good luck with your GAPS diet! I have been alternating my probiotic sources in the last year. I started with non for the first weeks, then had S. Boulardii. Then homemade raw sauerkraut juice and then the raw sauerkraut itself. THen I had different brands of probiotic supplements from my naturopathic doctor. Now taking PB8 because it is cheaper. Some of them contain inulin or FOS, but if the aomunt is small and if your have had some times to correct your gut dysbiosis, it should be fine. Bifidobacteria are not necessarily bad for SIBO, although Elaine Gottschall (SCD diet) doesn’t recommend it. I think it is highly individual and that you need to experiment with different things. If you can do dairy, homemade yogurt/kefir with cow/goat milk is also a great way to get your probiotics. Keep me posted!

      • hmmm…I think citrate. I have tried both though, and no help. My main problem is that I have d. every morning, but am still very constipated ( as shown in x rays). The Lactulose was the one thing that builds bulk and makes me feel like i have gone fully and completely.

      • I have tried both and no help. The only thing that has helped with the C is the lactulose. My problem is that I was having D every day (part of the SIBO I bet) but was not going fully, so always felt constipated.. It is the only thing that helps me have a formed stool!

  2. Cheers to you! I’m one month away from my one year anniversary on the SCD for my SIBO, which I strongly believe is gone since I don’t have anymore of the nasty symptoms. I did the round of antibiotics in the beginning, along with the diet for healing. I plan to continue eating paleo though, which is essentially how I eat right now minus the scd illegal foods that are allowed on paleo (i.e. sweet potatoes, cocoa, etc.). Healing with food is a beautiful thing!

  3. Not even lactose-free dairy like hard cheese and such? I’m concerned that I’m having too much dairy on the low-FODMAPs diet, but I feel like there’s nothing I actually CAN eat sometimes and get stuck in a rut.

  4. Hi Aglaee,

    I haven’t posted before but was so relieved to read your website and hear that you have healed considerably from SIBO. Although not formally diagnosed with SIBO, I was diagnosed with Post-Infectious IBS after contracting Blastocystis hominis in August 2010, probably from a dodgy meal in Las Vegas with raw food imported from ?Mexico likely. I live in New Zealand. I had heavy antibiotics from the Centre fro Digestive Diseases in Sydney which cured the B. hominis but left me feeling as bad as ever so I then had FMT X 2, the last in July. Still no relief, so started GAPS one month ago. Has been week on, week off ever since with much more constipation (often nothing in 4 days) but I have read so many testimonials of success, particularly yours, that I am not going to give up. I am a non practising doctor but have completely lost faith in allopathic medicine. NO DOCTOR HAS EVER TALKED ABOUT DIET WITH ME. I have had a life of eating heavy whole grains, including 6 years as a vegetarian, and I suspected it was upsetting my digestion but, being out of touch with my body, I blindly continued with life as normal until this crash hit me so hard it derailed my life and left me feeling debilitated daily with abdominal pain and wind discomfort. I’d love to get back my vibrancy and thank you for telling the world how you achieved that. My diet is very similar to yours right now accept for carrot juice and CLO (Weston Price version) in a.m (but still not much action in BM, any tips please?) and I’ll try raw goats milk yoghurt tomorrow after having less joy with raw cow’s milk yoghurt. Excellent to know that others struggled with dairy. And I also did a home test for Candida where you spit in water and it was positive – not sure how accurate it is but oesophageal thrush was seen on my gastroscopy 2010 so I think it is still positive. Hence I have cut down on carrots, pumpkin, beetroot and not started honey or fruit yet. Please keep your fingers crossed for me and thanks again, looking forward to continuing to hear your story.

    Cat

    • Hi Cat,

      I am glad my story inspires you. Please keep me posted with your progress. About the constipation, you could try supplementing with magnesium or probiotics? Do you eat enough fat? Fat can help stimulate bowel movements too. Castor oil packs, abdominal self-massage and relaxation can also help. πŸ™‚ GOod luck!

      • Thanks Aglaee,

        I think I’ll try magnesium as soon as I finish the intro diet when I can start supplements and that’s when I’ll do digestive enzymes too. I eat a lot of fat, especially the fat from my homemade beef stock (I crave it) for frying swede or turnip chips, my potato stand-ins. I’m trying the castor oil packs but think I need a higher dose as the flannel isn’t really soaked (I started with a small 50ml bottle and poured it all onto a dry flannel – should I use more?). I eat small quantities of whey fermented foods (a la Weston Price) at every meal and started goat’s yoghurt today (1tsp). What happens to you symptom wise when you eat dairy? I’ll look out for adverse reactions but feel fine now 2 hours later. I don’t think the constipation is painful over and above my regular “bowel moving too much” and gassy pains but maybe it is all part and parcel – I may just “carry on” and I’m very hopeful. You didn’t mention eggs as part of your diet – are they off? Thanks.

      • Hi Catherine,

        Regarding the castor oil pack, you need to be generous with the amount used. Better buy a larger bottle!

        I had eggs as part of my diet on and off. I try to rotate them because they seem fine for a few months, but then I seem to react to them at some time. I don’t eat them at the moment, but will try again in a few weeks if I feel like it.

        And I don’t know how I would react to grains, I have been off grains for almost 2 years now. I did have a few grains of rice once (I was eating out and they were a few mixed with my Korean meals). It didn’t seem to have caused any problems, but again rice is gluten-free and the amount was probably less than 1 tbsp.

        Good luck and keep me posted!

  5. Hi πŸ™‚ I recently found your website and have been following your SIBO diet and I have a few questions:
    * Do you eat bacon ? That is bacon that doesn’t have added sugar..
    * Have you tried Riafixamin and if so did it help with your symtoms ? πŸ™‚
    * Did you battle with edema or water retention ? My face gets so swollen I can hardly open my eyes sometimes…
    * Do you think 1-2 cups of black coffee daily can feed the bacteria ?

    Looking forward to hearing from you! πŸ™‚
    – Disa

    • Great questions!
      * I can occasionally have bacon or prosciutto but only in small amounts (even without sugar). I believe I am sensitive to the nitrate/nitrite.
      * I haven’t tried Rifaximin but have seen many people be successful with it. I don’t need it because my diet has allowed me to control my SIBO. But Rifaximin can help you speed up your recovery combined with the right diet.
      * Yes, I get puffy if I have a reaction.
      * Coffee won’t feed the bacteria but it WILL irritate your gut. Plus it will increase your cortisol levels and interfere with healing. I do NOT recommend caffeine for people with digestive problems. Try switching to rooibos or green tea.

      • Thank you for the answer πŸ™‚

        I seem to be reacting to eggs, red meat and carrots too so my diet is extremely limited but hopefully I will tolerate more foods soon! I am so happy I found your website it truly gives me hope that one day I will be cured and can live a “normal” life again… This has been such a struggle for me for the past 4 years because no doctor could figure out what was wrong with me. I am only 23 years old and this is affecting my life in so many ways. I am excited and hopeful that your SIBO diet will help me and thank you again for sharing your journey to health!:)

      • If you really focus on healing your gut, you should be able to improve your food tolerance. I would consider taking Rifaximin if you really have SIBO and want to speed up your recovery. πŸ™‚ Good luck and keep me posted on your progress!

      • Hi, Cat here. I just wanted to comment for Disa that I tried Rifaxamin and other antibiotics and they didn’t work. I wasn’t on the diet and wish I had tried it first and been patient as the antibiotics just wiped out my good gut flora and made me worse so I chose to have Faecal Microbiota Therapy (FMT) to help rebuild my depleted beneficial gut flora. I did not have a spectacular response to this but I am gradually getting better and am so thankful for the progress I have made, especially on GAPS. Of course I’ll never know if I am recovering slower because of the antibiotics or not but I just wish I had never had antibiotics before trying the diet for a good year or so – I was ill informed and just accepted allopathic medical advice. I have read that for a lot of people who use Rifaxamin it works at first but then they get a recurrence and get locked into using antibiotics long term. I want to address the underlying reason why my gut flora are overgrowing which I think is my intolerance (life-long but only vaguely recognised) of grains. Good luck with your journey.

      • This is also in reply to Disa, I took the Rifaxamin with the other two recommended antibiotics (erythromycin and neomycin) and this combined with the specific carbohydrate diet worked for me. The SCD was recommended by my naturopath for at least one year, and I actually still strongly adhere to it. October will be one year, but I plan to follow it through the end of the year and then adhere to just a regular paleo diet. One thing that’s nice about these antibiotics, unlike others, is that they don’t get into the bloodstream, but stay localized in the gut rather. Dr. Allison Siebecker’s website http://www.siboinfo.com is a very helpful resource in case you haven’t seen it. My ND actually worked directly with her for my treatment. Let me know if you have any questions about my experience!

  6. @Catherine @Paleoinpdx Thank you for replying! I’m going to give the antibiotics a try and I’ll be following the SCD diet as well, for how long I don’t know. My dream is to be able to eat high Fodmap veggies, nuts/seeds, eggs and dark chocolate again!

    I am so happy I’ve found people that understand what I’m going through and that all these symptoms are not “my imagination” as so many doctors have told me.. Thank God I didn’t give up and there is hope! πŸ™‚

    • Happy to help, Disa! There’s a phases chart in the scdlifestyle book that’s really helpful, and additionally, their website is a really valuable resource. I have the a pdf of the phase charts specifically and would be happy to send them your way. My naturopath gave them to me when I was just getting started. Also have you read Breaking the Vicious Cycle? This book is a great resource as well.

  7. Hi Aglaee,
    We worked together last spring and some of the advice you shared, especially adding magnesium, have made a huge difference in my life!
    I’ve been taking xifaxan for to treat SIBO for a month now and ready to experiment with GAPS, hoping the gastroparesis challenges won’t get in the way too much. I’ve done a lot of research on SCD/GAPS and curious about the use of probiotic foods when using these diets to treat SIBO. Did you use them when following GAPS the first year? Also, did you avoid FODMAPS then too? Thanks for all you do, you are such an inspiration πŸ™‚

    • Hi Stephanie! πŸ™‚
      Probiotics are a very tricky question. They work wonders for some but appear to worsen symptoms in others. I think it might be best to not rush too much in trying to introduce probiotics and go very gradually. Different brands and different doses can yield different results in different persons… Make sure you don’t introduce new foods when you introduce probiotics to be able to tell how YOU tolerate them. I avoided high-FODMAP foods at first, but slowly reintroduced some of them. My tolerance improved over time. I hope this helps! πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Aglaee,
    I love your site and all of the wonderful info you provide. I missed the train on the sugar detox, but hope to do it soon. I just got the definitive diagnosis for SIBO on Friday, and I am super frustrated since I already do a combo of SCD/autoimmune paleo (I have celiac, hashimotos, and colitis too) and I still am in pain all of the time. I get scared to go totally starch free, because that exacerbates the constipation that I already deal with. I drink lots of bone broth, take CLO butter blend (green pastures) and follow low FODMAPS. I still am reluctant to giving up butternut and other squashes as a source of my carbs, but know that my gut is still super funky. My GI doc has been having me take Lactulose as a medication to help with the constipation, but now I am worried to take it because it is a pure sugar and I don’t know if it is building more gut bacteria. Ideas? Should I sadly rid myself of my squash addiction? πŸ™‚ I am a health coach and therapist who helps people with autoimmune issues and GI problems and I am jealous that everyone else is feeling so great!
    Thanks for the amazing work you do!

    Ali

  9. Agalee! I love your blog. I get really scared when reading about SIBO on the internet, your site gives me hope I can do this without antibiotics! Thankfully I have a mild case and only get a bloated and hard stomach. A low-fodmap diet works to eliminate my symptoms, but after 3 months I have found I can’t introduce anything with FODMAPs in it without getting the bloat back. I have decided a la Chris Kresser to try a biofilm disrupter and some enteric coated peppermint oil. I guess that is what he uses in his practice for SIBO. Have you heard of this working? I also take supplementary HCL as I am very low. How long were you on the low-FODMAP diet before you started re-introducing foods? I hate it, because I am also on the limited autoimmune protocol… I am tempted just to do a ketogenic diet but I have heard they are awful for those of us with thyroid problems (I have Hashimoto’s).

    Anyways, thanks for all that you do!

    • Dear Mickey! I know it’s a long and sometimes discouraging process. In addition to eliminating the foods that cause your symptoms, it’s also important to incorporate food, lifestyle changes and sometimes supplements to promote healing. Otherwise, things just stay the same and you’re just managing your symptoms without correcting the underlying issues. Have you been tested for SIBO? Have you been treated for it? Another possibility for your lack of improvements would be that you still have a parasite or other form of gut dysbiosis. I really suggest you get a Metametrix DNA stool analysis to rule this out because this could really be getting in the way of your progress.

      • Hey Agalee!
        I have had a stool analysis (no parasites or infection), but haven’t been tested for SIBO. I have a flat belly until I so much as think about a FODMAP – then I become magically pregnant. I am not convinced my naturopath is well versed in that sort of thing – but she has been a miracle in treating my Hashimoto’s, so I am hesitant to find someone else. I do have leaky gut, due to two autoimmune diseases. I am sure that doesn’t make things any better.

        Thanks for the help πŸ™‚

        Mickey

  10. Agalee- how long do you recommend staying strict low carb no sugar after antibiotics? I am also on autoimmune paleo, so feeling super restricted stinks! I started taking oil of oregano pills as a natural antibiotic, but not sure if that is overdoing it after finishing rifaxamin. I feel so lost after my doc gave the prescription- she seems to think any time it flares I can take the med again, but I am hell bent on not taking more antibiotics!

  11. Agalee- If you think it will be of benefit, I would do it. I just feel like I know what to do (ie I am not eating starches, dairy, gluten, etc. and doing everything i “should do” )and I am doing it, I just have a lot of questions along the way, and little tweaks I could use some help with. let me know if you think the group could be of help. Thanks!

  12. Hey! I think our safe foods list could date. Mine is single, hope yours is too! Lol. Your list is what I’m eating now and I feel better just after a few days. I got to get the hang of making broth instead of buying it at my organic meat shop.

  13. I have been doing a limited version of full GAPS (I did not start with Intro) for about 8 months now after being diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption. I cannot tolerate nuts/seeds, coconut butter or coconut milk, dairy (other than 24 hour fermented yogurt), brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions, fruit, winter squash, sugar in any form (including honey). I am starting to suspect that SIBO is the underlying cause of my fructose malabsorption. Most of my symptoms have gone away in the past 8 months, but the one that remains is a horrible rash on my hands – they turn bright red, get really dry, flaky and very painful. They usually react this way within 1-2 hours of eating any of the offending foods. I can feel them starting to hurt w/o even looking at them to see the redness. Recently I had started taking Biokult probiotic (had worked my way up to 6 capsules/day) for about a month and realized it was causing the rash to stay constantly and never clear. Could this be dieoff? I stopped taking it and the rash immediately started to improve. Should I try a different probiotic? My food list is about the same as yours, except I’m afraid to try the high-FODMAPS just yet. After 8 months, I’m so tired of eating the same things over and over again. But every time I try something new, I seem to have a reaction. I could really use some encouragement!

  14. Thanks so much for documenting your experience.. it’s much appreciated! I am on Day 27 of the gaps intro and almost ready to go in to the full diet. I have been doing really well and enjoying the improvements. I too have PCOS and I also have hashimoto’s, so to lose 5-8 lbs in the first few weeks was really awesome! I’m not doing it for the weight loss (doing it for lots of stomach/digestive issues), but it was still encouraging πŸ™‚

    I was wondering how long it took for you to see your bloating go down. That’s the symptom that I just can’t fully get rid of yet. It was better at first, then worse, then improved when I began taking Betaine HCL, and is just still there. How long did it take for you to say that you don’t get bloated anymore?

    Thanks so much for your input, I really appreciate it!

  15. Hi there! I’ve just been diagnosed by my nutritionist with “leaky gut syndrome” and am starting the GAPS intro diet TODAY!! it’s all very over whelming and i am excited to get my belly on the mending journey, but am not looking forward to the amount of sacrifice and effort it seems to be in the beginning! Can you supply me with any good broth/soup ecipies or suggestons? The one i made for my first day is so oily and fatty and just the thought of it is making me ill! Do you get very hungry on the intro diet? and have you noticed any weight gain/loss?

    Any help would be wonderful as i am feeling quite alone in this!

    Thanks

    T

  16. Hi, if this thread is still open I was wondering how everyone is getting on? I posted in 2012 but since then have had a rocky road and been diagnosed with methane-producing SIBO. I am waiting to talk to Dr Siebeker in 2 weeks as have not tried any “kill” method since being diagnosed. The antibiotics I have had in the past do not treat methane producing organisms. I have not got better on SCD alone so realise now that a kill method plus prokinetics are probably the way to go. My symptoms are very bad so I can’t tolerate just waiting 3+ years on SCD (have been on it 1.5 years already). Please let me know how you are getting on, specifically Ali.

    • Catherine- My suggestion is STICK WITH THE DIET! I did one round of rifaximin, and then followed Aglaee’s advice to a t. Her real food groups are great and the book is awesome. I have reintroduced TONS of foods (but still mostly paleo), and no SIBO still. Good luck!

      • Thanks so much for your advice. I have been working with a naturopath since before the SIBO diagnosis but, while he has helped me correct some underlying nutritional deficiencies (zinc, ferritin, Vit D and iodine) he doesn’t understand SIBO and suggested I try rice and colonics which sent me spiraling into this current bad flare. I am just so happy to hear people are recovering from this. Next stop is antibiotics for me, whichever are recommended by Dr Siebecker when she sees my hydrogen breath test results. I would love to get your book Agalee. I’m sure it would be stricter than I am right now as I am on nuts, eggs, small amount of coffee and tiny amount of 24 hour yoghurt. Where can I buy it in NZ?Β 

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