The first time we went through the GAPS diet we didn’t have kids. It was fairly straight forward and we didn’t have to worry about what we were going to feed a picky child.
Fast forward 5 years and we are now going through it with our son. Our three-year-old son.
There were definitely moments of pause when we first started contemplating doing the GAPS diet with him at such a young age. While we have always eaten a great diet, James is still used to having einkorn products and honey!
But we needed to make it happen.
After a 48 hour round of constant antibiotics the moment he was born (due to a medical mix-up), his gut health has not yet recovered. Even with fermented foods, daily bone broth, and more!
So we knew we didn’t have a choice – we were going to make GAPS happen for his sake!
GAPS Diet with Kids
For the past 2 years we’ve been finding ways to help our son adjust to the new foods on the GAPS diet. Here are some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned during that time!
Don’t Force it All At Once
Even Dr. Campbell-McBride (the author of the GAPS diet) understands that you will likely not be able to jump in with both feet to the GAPS diet when you’re dealing with a child.
They have a different palette and things need to be introduced slowly if you have a picky eater.
Instead of setting a hard and fast cut off date for non-GAPS foods, slowly introduce new foods until the old way of eating just falls away.
That may mean a few tablespoons of bone broth with their french fries, but eventually their taste buds will change. Also, the body actually craves healing foods, so it won’t be long before they are willing to eat more and more good food, with just a little bad food mixed in.
And before you know it, they will be eating full GAPS!
Be Firm But Understanding
Keep in mind that as hard as drastic diet changes can be on an adult, they are many times worse for a child.
Children are still forming their ideas of the world and how it relates to them. They have routines and expectations that they don’t know how to let go of.
So when you ask them to eat something completely outside of their normal way of eating, there will likely be tantrums. Understand that this is a normal childhood reaction to their world changing.
If you get angry it will only increase their feelings that too many things are changing. You need to stay calm and in control of your own emotions so that they can come to grips with what is going on.
In reality, it doesn’t take too long for most children to accept some new foods – just be willing to give it time.
Be Willing to Compromise
In the GAPS Diet book, Dr. Campbell-McBride talks about using your child’s favorite food as an incentive to get them to eat a little good food.
A 1 for 1 bite compromise to start (1 bite of chocolate for 1 bite of bone broth), and then moving onto more good food for less old food.
I use this as a last resort and try to reason with my son before offering old food habits. For the most part, this was very simple and painless, and within about 5 days he was eating full GAPS with zero compromises!
NOTE: If you can make full GAPS treats like this chocolate cake as a “compromise” for bone broth or whatever, then so much the better! Try full GAPS treats before old food option if at all possible!
Remember the Long-Term Benefits
But no matter how much you need to compromise, or how many tears are shed, it’s important to keep in mind the real reason you are starting the GAPS diet with your child(ren).
Gut healing is important to their long-term mental and physical help, and it’s worth the effort and compromises to make it happen!