In Which I Worry About the Financial Impact of My New Diet Plan


May 9, 2011 by Leah

I’m supposed to start the introduction part of the GAPS diet on Sunday. I think I’m getting a little nervous, because in the past twenty-four hours I have eaten both a sesame bagel and a Cold Stone waffle cone containing: “cake batter” ice cream, brownie, fudge, and rainbow sprinkles. (I ordered a small and had to eat it over the course of two days.) I hadn’t had a bagel in over six months, and I can’t remember the last time I had sprinkles. Aaron’s birthday last July, maybe?

The first portion of the GAPS diet could basically be called the chicken soup diet (although you can use beef and beef stock as well), and as things progress you start adding back in more varied vegetables, eggs, fermented foods (including homemade yogurt), and whatnot. A lovely blogger posted a chart about what you can add in what stage that I think will be quite helpful (it was part of a 5 Ways to Make Intro Easier post, which I keep re-reading). I also downloaded the “Gapalicious” app, which I haven’t played around with yet.

The only things I regularly eat now that will be verboten on GAPS for some time to come will be grains, some types of legumes, starchy veggies like potatoes, and beer. (Oh, no – Gjetost cheese made the “avoid” list, as did several other types of cheese, and anything processed or preserved including meats. Aaron, whom I doubt will be doing this along with me, would be alarmed to know that neither chocolate nor soft drinks are allowed. Good thing I have a meat grinder for my stand mixer – homemade sausage, here I come.)

Wait a minute. I RELY on grains and starchy veggies. I almost ALWAYS serve potatoes or some kind of grain or pasta with a main meal. Part of this is just how I learned to cook (although my mom was always really creative when it came to rebelling against her meat ‘n’ potatoes childhood), part of it was having the USDA food pyramid hammered into my mind at an impressionable age, and part of it is financial. A slice of my homemade sourdough bread costs somewhere in the range of 8-10 cents. Bulk organic steel-cut oats cost 89 cents a pound. Organic quinoa is like, $1.69 per pound. Potatoes are what, $1.25 per pound?

A three-ounce portion of fresh, wild-caught Alaska salmon would run me about $5 – more if I could bring myself to buy the glistening cuts of Copper River or white king that have been on offer lately. The same portion of grass fed steak, depending on the cut, would be closer to $3.50, while bison liver would be $3. Chicken is quite a bit cheaper – even buying the truly pastured chicken I hope we will be sticking with from here on out. I think I ordered three 3.5 pound birds for $15 each. Some very brief reconnaissance says that anywhere from 40 to 70% of the weight of a whole (cooked – the same cut of meat weighs less once it’s cooked) chicken will end up being actual meat, so that would put a three ounce serving of chicken at $1.50 or above.

OMG. Am I being completely irresponsible? Wait, let me review the goals of this diet: 1. fix faulty immune system without drugs, 2. make sure I have lots of good bacteria in my body before bringing forth any new lives. And, when you look at the nutritional value of stuff like grains and potatoes, it pales in comparison to that present in meats, fruits, and veggies. No wonder I (and everyone else in the country) use grains and starchy veggies as “filler.” They’re cheap, and we’re hungry people. (I’m not saying there is NO nutritional value in grains and starchy veggies, just that other stuff is a lot more “nutrient dense.”)

That said, it’s going to be hard to stretch a dollar while eating only high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. There are all kinds of recipes for GAPS-friendly baked goods (I’m not all that interested in baking, so I can’t say this excites me) but even if I decide to go that route, everything is made from coconut or nut flour, which is WAY more expensive than even organic whole-grain wheat. We’ve managed to make some of the changes we’ve already made precisely because grains are cheap. I guess it will help that I won’t be able to make impulse purchases of chocolate or ice cream, but I’m going to have to be making a lot of stock and eating a lot of soup to stay full for the first bit.

One saving grace is our beef CSA delivers tomorrow. Another is that I finally bit the bullet and pre-ordered the perfect pastured chickens so as to force myself to drive into L. A. on Sunday to pick them up. Another is that meaty bones are about the cheapest cut of an animal you can buy ($4.50 to $5.50 a pound at the grass fed bison booth at my regular farmers’ market), so it’s not like I’m going on an all-oysters and champagne diet (although, if I could find a quasi-medical reason for doing so, I don’t think I’d mind). Speaking of shellfish – clams, which I love even more than mussels, are only $6 per pound in the shell on Sundays, and are one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there.

Okay, so, if I’m ONLY eating expensive chickens and some veggies (onions, garlic, and carrots to start, all of which are also in various stages of growth in my garden beds), that might not actually be too bad, financially. The order I made from Healthy Family Farms included three whole chickens, a pound of chicken feet, two pounds of chicken necks, a pound of chicken livers (pate, mmm), and a pound of lamb stew meat for $80. Maybe I should just give the rest of the food budget to Aaron and tell him to fend for himself.

Actually, I wouldn’t be that mean. I’m planning on making a couple of different stews or casseroles or meat pies for him every week if he doesn’t want to join me on this soup odyssey. He, after all, doesn’t have any weird health problems, nor will he be carrying our future children. (And, if I left him to his own devices, he’d revert to eating PB&J or spaghetti every night, which probably WOULD lead to weird health problems.)


5 thoughts on “In Which I Worry About the Financial Impact of My New Diet Plan

  1. Thanks for the mention! I’m spending about $75 per week on the intro diet, if that helps you any. My usual shopping list for a week is two whole chickens, 1 lb ground beef, various vegetables, eggs and starting this week, avocado, a small winter squash and some nut butter – this time I splurged and bought the raw stuff that I think has been soaked first. It’s from a raw foods company, so it almost has to be! Oh, and ghee. That’s pretty bare bones, but so far it’s not totally breaking my bank. Good luck! If you haven’t already, please look on for a post about intro blogs, where Baden is keeping track of everyone’s GAPS journey.

    • leahkathlyn says:

      Your ballpark budget and shopping list make me feel much better! Thank you!! Also, while I’d been on, I’d half given it up as being confusing, so thanks for pointing me back there, as well. (BTW, I love your blog.)

  2. David G says:

    For sausage recipes check out Hot Links and Country Flavors by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly. It is where I get most of my recipes from and it is very easy to make excellent sausage the first time.

  3. Kathy_A says:

    Leah, Good luck with the diet, it sounds healthy! I’ve done a no-white-carbs diet many times over the years, and I definitely feel better while on it. I have more energy, I think clearer, I weigh less, and I nap less. I’d do it for life, but I’m married to someone who thrives on carbs and feels less well when eating protein. Kinda like Jack Spratt and his wife, except that they licked the platter clean. Oh, and he bakes yummy homemade (no machine) bread 3 times/week. I’m a goner once I smell that fresh-out-of-the-oven bread! Current approach is to limit self to 2 small pieces when it’s still hot, leaving him to finish the rest of the loaf.

    • leahkathlyn says:

      Thanks! I can’t wait to see if it helps. Also, I just came across the following on the blog of the doctor who developed the GAPS diet and cracked up, because it seems to describe the difference between you and Patrick perfectly:

      “We all have different heredity and constitution. If your predecessors were Vikings or Eskimos, then chances are that you will generally need to eat lots of fish, meat and fat. But if your predecessors came from a Mediterranean culture or some tropical area of the world, then you will probably need more carbohydrates in your diet.”

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