The well-known GAPS diet is consistently famous for healing ADHD, autism, depression and bipolar disorder along with many other illnesses but for a teenager it heals emotional outbursts, defiant behavior and acne as well. The problem is getting your teenager to eat GAPS, Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, neurologist and neurosurgeon, is no easy accomplishment, especially if it’s new for him.

There is hope. There are things you can do. There is a path you can take, even if your child is most stubborn and firm in their food choices. 

GAPS starts with healing meat stocks and bone stocks introduced through cups of stock or soups filled with lots of good fats from animals as well as meats and vegetables. 

“But my teenager won’t eat soup. He just wont,” is true for a lot of teens. There are options. There are choices. There is a solution that can help. The optimal situation would be for your child to do GAPS start to finish. In reality when we are dealing with a child who has a mind of his own,  leaves for school where he can swap lunches or eat from a vending machine or runs off to his friend’s house where they mow on Oreo Cookies, a situation can be created where success is achieved while you live in the real world.

The older a child is the harder it is to do GAPS. That’s just a fact. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It also doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel and quit.

If you have a child who could benefit from GAPSI encourage you to start as young as you possibly can, especially if they are a baby. The younger they are the faster they heal. Plus the younger they are the more ability you have with their food selections. For those of us with older children where the choices are limited, follow these steps for success. 

You will only achieve success with real food, eliminating packaged foods it absolutely vital. Real food is food in the form God made it or grew it. Teenagers have amazing skills with this task. They love having control and power. If you buy them real food and tell them they are cooking dinner they will rise to the occasion, especially if you tell them you want to switch your eating habits for your health but you, the parent, doesn’t know what to do with real food. Tell them flat out, “I am not sure how to cook this stuff! I have so much to learn. Will you help me?” Give them leadership, give them encouragement, give them power, give them the control they’ve always wanted.

Eating real food, nutrient dense foods, that do not feed bad bacteria in the gut will make a huge difference. Dr. Natasha Campbell-Mcbride describes the problem as overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Certain foods feed this bad bacteria making behavior even worse. Other foods feed good bacteria which will fight the bad bacteria. It is vital to eat nutrient dense foods to feed the good bacteria but also to remove cravings for inappropriate damaging foods like sweets and flour laden foods. 

Keeping intake of animal fats high will make the biggest reward in behavior. This is true for all ages but especially for young teenagers when their bodies are needing nourishment as they change into an adult. Good animal fats would include grass-fed butter, virgin organic coconut oil, olive oil and home rendered tallow or lard. Teenagers are often always hungry. This is because their bodies are growing at rapid stages. The traditional American diet is weak on the nutrients their growing bodies need. When you switch to the nutrient dense foods linked above they will fell full and satisfied on a normal meal.

My teenager left for a weekend school event, came home and said, “Mom, they served hamburgers and I kept eating them but never felt full. After my fourth hamburger I stopped because I knew it was too much and shouldn’t keep eating but I still wasn’t full. At home I can only eat one of ours and sometimes I have to push that.”

From the nutrient dense food list above allow them to eat what they want.

French fries are a fantastic way to increase the intake of healthy fats – however using potato for the fries in not beneficial. Both white potato and sweet potato are high starch foods that feed bad bacteria in the gut. In an effort to utilize a suitable substitute, choose organic rutabaga. Most squash varieties work well, especially butternut squash.

There are few things more satisfying than a good grass-fed hamburger and french fries. Grass fed meats and pastured chicken should be your stables along with wild caught fish. The nutrient dense food list links many ideas of nourishing foods. To substitute hamburger buns, since flour feeds bad bacteria overgrowth, consider a naked burger or use lettuce, collard greens or cabbage leaves as a wrap.

Fat bombs are another suitable choice.

Lemon Drops, Mint Meltaways and Pina Colada Drops are also fantastic treats.

Marshmallow Fluff surpasses all other choices both by my teen and myself. I prefer it because he is getting a Great Lakes Gelatin source even though it should not be a permanent substitute for healing meat stock it is something that helps and is a food he will happily eat. These make great grab and go snacks that are sweet and satisfying. 

Teenagers and pre-teens can be difficult when they don’t have food challenges or behavioral struggles. When these dynamics are factored into their daily lives the challenge is exhausting. Proper food nutrition makes a vast difference for their growing bodies. There are options. 

When you are eating nutrient dense foods and the behavior is less volatile, more clear-headed praise them like you have never praised them before. Praise them like their lives depend upon it. Do not be fake. Point out specific pinpointed things you see better in them, and in you.

Say things like:

“I have so much more energy on this food!”

“You are getting your work done so much easier/neater. And it looks like it’s easier for you to do.”

“The swelling in your belly is going down it’s looking so flat! Lood at what this food is doing to you! Wow!”

“Your cooking is so much better than mine.”

“I’ve noticed your face looks so much healthier. Like deep within healthier. The color is better, your more full of life – so handsome.”

“I can see your muscled definition since you switched to real food.”

One of the most important things to do is to get the teen, or GAPS person, to reflect inward. Most GAPS people have sensory issues. Their bodies are overwhemed with toxins blocking the receptors that help them feel. This is why GAPS individuals are fine, fine, fine, then melt into tears. Making the GAPS person stop and focus on what is happening to their body makes them see what is happening otherwise they just keep plowing forward. 

To help them get in touch with what their body is telling them ask questions like:

“Do you see the sharpness you have on life right now after eating that lunch?”

“It appears that it’s easier for you to process and think right now, do you see that food is opening your pathways?”

Conversly if there is a food they have eaten that causes them to melt-down, misbehave or show undesired behavior be quick and gentle to point that out, too. “I know this is not your normal behavior, let’s go check the ingredients on the Slushie to see what could be causing this trouble in your body.”

Watching documentaries on real food will help them think for themselves. If you home school make this part of health class where they are required to take a certain number of pages of notes and then write-up a summary on the documentary. Frankensteer is a good place to start. 


*Nourishing Plot is written by a mom whose son has been delivered from the effects of autism (asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder, manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia through food. This is not a newsarticle published by a paper trying to make money. This blog is put out by a mom who sees first hand the effects of nourishing food vs food-ish items. No company pays her for writing these blogs, she considers this a form of missionary work. It is her desire to scream it from the rooftops so that others don’t suffer from the damaging affect of today’s “food”.

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3 Responses to Getting Your Teen To Eat GAPS

  1. Jennifer Dages says:

    My teen daughter (now 16) has been on GAPS for 1 year. The biggest thing we did was I made sure she really owned that she wanted to do the diet. I introduced her to the idea and suggested things like going grain free and then easing into the GAPS diet. At each point she owned it and chose to go forward. Then when she got mad at me I could remind her that it was her choice.
    She does much of her own cooking especially when she was on intro. One challenge is having enough food for her as she has been growing these past few months.
    I also try and have special treats around for her that she can eat and restrict the others from having them (she has 3 siblings) as no one else needed GAPS right now.
    She feels really good and is very glad for this diet. She says she is never going back on gluten or dairy or sugar again.

  2. Amy says:

    I just started following your blog about GAPS. I would like to share info with you about my journey with my son who is 16- hopes, fears and more fears. If you can connect with me via email, that would be terrific. I’d like to “pick your brain”. I imagine you are an INCREDIBLE resource. Thanks, Amy

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