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Ask Bonnie: “My girlfriend is starting GAPS. What can I do to show her I care?”

People email me questions. I write them answers. So Jesse thought, why not make it a thing?

Here is the first installment of that thing.

QUESTION

Armando asked me, “My girlfriend goes on GAPS next month. I used to take her out to dinner to make her feel special– what kind of food stuff can I do now to support her and show her I care? I don’t even know what she can eat day to day.”

(Yes, friends, this guy actually exists. No, you cannot have him. But you can print this out and leave it around the house…)

ANSWER

Major props to you for asking.

Everyone needs different kinds of support on GAPS (or any healing protocol).

While she gets through the intro phase and figures out what’s on the menu, it might be better to focus on non-food caring (like drawing her an Epsom salt bath, or giving her a nice jojoba oil massage…more on this in a later post).

But I like that you’re focused on still being able to eat together, and making sure she doesn’t feel alone food-wise. So, here are some ways you can stay involved.


 

TIPS

  1. Educate yourself. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give her. GAPS Guide 2 wasn’t out when I was doing GAPS, but I’ve heard great things. Honestly, the big yellow GAPS book can be really intimidating. This is a kinder, gentler way for you (and her) to understand what she’s doing when, and why.
  1. Start a conversation with her before she starts GAPS, that lets her know you’re there for her. It might go something like, “Hey, I know I might not always be able to keep up with what you’re eating at the moment. I promise I’m going to try and stay up to date. If I’m making dinner for us from a GAPS recipe, is it ok if we have a conversation beforehand, to make sure all the ingredients will be ok for you? That way, it won’t be a surprise, but if I make you something, I’ll know you can eat it, and you won’t have to make all your meals yourself.” This might seem simple, but it sets the stage for her to know that you’ll be trying your best, and she’s not alone.
  1. Is there any prep stuff she hasn’t done yet? That might be a clue that she’s feeling overwhelmed. Consider giving her a gift. This includes buying cookware, food containers, and cookbooks. Rather than asking her why she hasn’t done it yet, why not offer your help? Involve her in any major decisions or purchases, but if you’re feeling gifty, some GAPS cookbooks might help her both feel more oriented and ready to start. I’ve included some suggestions below. Note: there’s kind of a taboo around buying food prep stuff for lady friends as gifts. I think this situation is an exception, but it’s probably a good idea to communicate verbally “this is so we can do food stuff together,” and then follow through by actually doing it.
  1. Make sure your house is GAPS-friendly. This can get overwhelming. But why not do something really easy, like buying some unscented Dr. Bronner’s soap for all your sinks (kitchen, bathrooms) and the shower?
  1. Make some tasty broth. No matter what, GAPS people need broth in the house. If she doesn’t do vinegar, omit it or use lemon juice. But this is a really, really safe bet.
  1. Be gentle and respect her boundaries. A lot of people (myself included) will delay starting a healing protocol. It seems irrational. It is. It’s very, very emotional. A lot of people will have false starts, or go off-plan a little as they figure out what to eat. If you can get really clear with her in the beginning about what your role is (support, not enforcement or expectation), and then stay in your lane, it will go further than any night out at a restaurant!

GIFTS

Cookbooks

I think that one of the things that makes healing protocols so scary and unappealing (and why we resist them for so long after we hear about them) is that most media we encounter gives us pictures of foods we can’t eat. So, having supportive media around counters that a LOT. It makes us feel more normal, held in the space, and supported. (Less like an outcast, eating weird food, alone).

Why not go ahead and make a recipe from the book you buy her? That way, it’s clear that the underlying message isn’t, “Here are books for you to cook from.”

GAPS cookbooks

These will all have GAPS-appropriate recipes.

Internal Bliss was the first GAPS cookbook. It’s a super-basic, poorly-organized, ugly little spiral-bound book. It’s also the single cookbook that got me through 18 months on GAPS.

Nourishing Broth is all about broth. It’s a great book to have around, because there’ll be broth every day on GAPS. Broth.

Recover with GAPS is approved by the creator of the GAPS Diet, so it’s credible and stress-free to use.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook wasn’t out when I did GAPS, but I’ve heard some great reviews from people. And it’s pretty.

GAPS Guide 2 is another one that wasn’t out when I was doing it, but I’ve heard great things. Honestly, the big yellow GAPS book is a monster that can be really intimidating. This is a kinder, gentler way for you (and her) to understand what’s happening.

Other Healing Protocol Cookbooks

Ok, so… GAPS is different than AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) and SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet), but they have a ton of similarities. And most AIP/SCD cookbooks will be mostly useful.

AIP cookbooks

AIP has even more rules than GAPS, so most AIP recipes are GAPS-safe.

Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s “The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook,” is great.

Mickey Trescott’s book “The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook” has the most encouraging, real-talk forward I have ever read.

SCD cookbooks

There’s more dairy in SCD than GAPS, and some more starchy carbs. If you feel comfortable avoiding those when scanning for recipes:

I’ve heard from friends on SCD that this Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet book is great.

Kitchen Tools

#1 tool: Slow Cooker.

It makes broth. It makes dinner while you’re at work and then keeps it warm til you get home. It’s magical. I call it my cooking robot.

You want a lead-free one with a “keep warm” automatic setting after a cooking cycle. And Crock Pot brand cooks too hot for a long broth simmer, so I avoid them. I like Hamilton Beach (with or without lid clamp), VitaClay (may be a little tough to clean for sticky stuff like braises and roast chicken; I’d use this for broth), or Cuisinart. A lot of GAPS people have 2 crock pots: 1 for broth, 1 for everything else. In Manhattan, I didn’t have that kind of space, so I made do with one.

Utensils:

Very important to have silicone or plastic or wood utensils– no metal tongs or ladles or forks in the slow cooker! (Scratching the glaze may expose you to lead and other stuff in the stoneware. Really really important because slow cooking leaves a lot of time for such leaching). I recommend having 2-3 pairs silicone tongs, at least 1 plastic meat fork, and a wooden ladle or two (preferably unsealed, like this one)

Fridge Containers:

You’re also gonna need fridge containers for leftovers, because cooking 3 meals a day with a busy lifestyle on a budget is only possible if you cook in bulk. I really love Glasslock OvenSafe because they won’t leach plasticizers into the food, you can roast things in them, and the rectangles are a great shape for maximum use of fridge space. I recommend having at least 7 of the big ones, if you batch cook your emergency veggies for the week on Sunday, and 5 medium size ones for proteins.

And aside from the slow cooker, casseroles will save your ass. These casserole dishes make life better, and have lids so that leftovers can go straight to the fridge.

Lunch Containers:

All of these Lifefactory glass travel containers are great for packing lunches.

I adore LunchBots. They have a ton of options where no plastic even touches the food.

These little snapwares are essential for bringing snacks, sauces, and dips, which are SO IMPORTANT to feeling like a human when you bring your lunch everywhere. If you’re overwhelmed by all the different colors/sizes of the little ones, I like the Wean Green cubes for sauces/dips on the go. They have the benefit of all being the same size. And these 6oz round ones are great for snacks.


 

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