As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm preparing myself to go through the GAPS Intro Diet again. The Intro is so detailed and meticulous as far as what you can eat and is a tooooon of work. By ton of work, I mean I will be cooking for about 2 hours every day, which is about as much free time I have (not including the washing all the dishes, too!). That + work + online endeavors + husband cuddle times + spending time with friends and family makes for a very tired Jill.
So, as I prepare both my mental state and our freezer, I thought I'd share some tips I've collected to make this second round easier.
1. FILL YOUR FREEZER + PANTRY
There are several basic ingredients you will need over and over again: meat stock, bone broth, completed soups, yogurt, fermented vegetables. Filling your freezer, fridge and pantry ahead of time will save you time, make the leap into GAPS much easier, and hopefully will even encourage your non-GAPS family members to eat these nutritious foods, too. Instead of cooking up a storm every time you want to eat, prepare 1-2 batches of stock, broth, or soup ahead of time and store them in your freezer. That way, all you have to do is heat it up on the stove and pour into your thermos or bowl.
I find it easier to freeze ziploc bags of broth flat so they can stack. You can also freeze broth in mason jars! This makes thawing them a lot easier, because it's not all wibbly-wobbly when you thaw it and won't leak, however, it does take up more precious freezer space.
Unfortunately, yogurt, fermented vegetables, and anything else eaten specifically for probiotics cannot be frozen. However, both will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks, and often even longer. And you can even freeze milk, if you think a gallon might go bad before you finish it or you want to stock up.
2. STICK TO RECIPES YOU KNOW
Trying new things is fun, but if you don't know how to cook any of your new staples, well, you will probably get too exhausted to do the whole diet successfully. So try to test most of your recipes out ahead of time, even if they seem basic like juicing.
I once tried to juice greens without a recipe and all 6 cups of juice tasted awful. Luckily, I was able to somewhat fix the horrible concoction, but now I know... just look up a recipe. And really, it's easier than ever, thanks to Pinterest and blogs!
3. PLAN AHEAD
Depending on your preference to plan ahead, this can be either really satisfying or mentally painful. That's ok! Just find what works for you. Maybe you have lots of time to make things spontaneously, or maybe you have a strict schedule and like to stick to it. Either way, you'll still need to organize your grocery shopping. Depending on how detailed you want your plans to be, make a chart or a simple list on a scrap paper showing what you plan on making every day of the week. Monday- start bone broth, Wednesday- make yogurt, Thursday- go grocery shopping, etc. Some people also do all of their prep work in 1 or 2 weekend days. Prep could include cutting vegetables for soup or stock, thawing frozen meat or milk, baking chicken you want to use for lunches or soup, and juicing tons of produce to keep in mason jars in the fridge.
Preparing all of your ingredients on one day can really help sometimes, especially if you work full time and don't mind giving up a day of your weekend. I've never really done this, though, because I find it exhausting and I never really get everything done anyways. Your schedule will determine the flow of homemade food in your household. Since Nate works in the wee hours of the morning but I don't work until later in the morning, I'm planning on doing most of my prep in those hours and on the weekends. Either way, find what works best for you and don't worry if it takes some time to get used to.
4. KNOW YOUR INGREDIENTS
The GAPS Diet can be intimidating for a number of reasons, but one that seems to make it really difficult is all the new ingredients or the lack of your usual ingredients. Coconut flour comes to my mind immediately; if you didn't know, you'd quickly find out that coconut flour soaks up everything. Seriously. It's like a black hole. A delicious black hole...
Anyways, to avoid this, stick to recipes you know, like I said above. You will waste less and make more yummy. Once you get the hang of all this weird food cooking, you can create your own concoctions with gusto. But you absolutely do need to start of with learning other people's recipes. And then, you can share the recipe with all of your real food friends, and they will be seriously impressed and benefited. So there!
Another reason to know your ingredients is that some of them can have mysterious qualities. Take beets, for example. I love beets; speckled in a bright green salad, not only does the contrast please my eye, but the unique flavor and texture adds a depth that I find most vegetables lack. BUT. DO. NOT. EAT TOO MANY. Because beets have this wonderful gift of making anyone-even poor, sad, constipated people!-poop a lot. So.... just be careful.
Similarly, yogurt can worsen your constipation and butter can help it.
Sure, a soup with shredded chicken and 14 different types of vegetables, all finely chopped, is a beautiful thing. But If it's going to stress you out to spend 2 hours chopping everything up, just simplify your recipe to 2-5 vegetables. You're still getting nutrients, and for your next meal, you can vary your veggies to get different nutrients.
Make a point to simplify your schedule, too. Adding on hours of work to your daily schedule is taxing, and most people will probably have to drop a few activities. Maybe your spouse can take more of the housework, or you can let the garden go for a week or two while you get the hang of things. You could even consider hiring a babysitter to come during the day, or put a more permanent pause on all your tv shows, or put your etsy shop on vacation. You get the gist. Even doing this just for the first week is immensely helpful, and then you can gradually add activities back in, once you get into a routine.
6. KEEP TRACK
Some people find it very helpful to track what, when, and how they eat, poop, exercise, and sleep, especially if your symptoms are fairly new and don't know what your possible allergies could be yet. Keep a simple journal, write a note on the fridge, or make a chart in Google docs- whatever's easiest.
7. HAVE A DISHWASHER
We don't have a dishwasher. And honestly, this is a huge problem when I do the GAPS Diet. It turns out that making stock, broth, yogurt, fermented veggies, and juice every day causes your sink to overflow after approximately 2 meals.
If you can't get a dishwasher, consider paying one of your children to wash extra dishes. If you don't have children, consider bribing your spouse. Another option to consider is kidnapping a stranger walking by your house and forcing him to wash all your dishes or else. Ultimately, this will help in the long run, and after you gain GAPS powers, the police won't be able to catch you, anyways.
8. DON'T STRESS
You might be slightly intimidated now.... but don't worry. It's only going to get
worse better. You'll get the hang of things, and if you don't, just slow down and rethink what you absolutely have to do. Do you need to have 2 sides with every meal? Nah. Can you eat chicken 4 days in a row? Totes! Unnecessary stress from trying to force yourself to be perfect with everything GAPS is pretty counter-intuitive to the healing process. And guess what? Healing is a process. It doesn't happen overnight.
You're going to do well, and be well.
Leave a comment if you learned something new from this or simply want some human interaction. I'd love to hear your tips on how to survive the GAPS Intro Diet!
P.S. Why I'm doing GAPS.
P.P.S. Butter fried bananas.