You’re doing everything right to “feel good,” “eat right” and “improve” your bad digestion.
- You drink lots of water
- Cut out gluten and dairy
- Discovered eggs and tomatoes don’t sit well with you—so you avoid those too
- You take a probiotic and occasionally drink some kombucha
BUT your gut health and digestion still gives you trouble:
Bloating. Constipation. Gas. Skin breakouts. Seasonal allergies. Thyroid issues. Hormonal imbalances.
It seems like your damned if you do (eat well) or damned if you don’t.
I too have been on the struggle bus—after years of not treating my body well (processed foods as a kid, chronic dieting in my teens and early 20’s, forced large meal plans for healthy weight gain in eating disorder treatment, medications doctors prescribed, etc.), I NOW treat it well…but that darned “gut health” is a long time coming.
I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times before: 75% of Americans struggle with some sort of digestive issue every day—from constipation and bloating to “underlying” dysfunction (like autoimmune conditions, allergies, ADD/ADHD and pimples). And even though bloating, gas, constipation and zits seem like they are “normal”, guess what: They are not.
It was not until I went through nutrition school that I realized the power that good gut health has on our overall health and well-being…and I realized just how poor my gut health was.
Even though I have healed tremendously through some proper supplementation (probiotics, digestive enzymes) and understand more about what foods do and don’t agree with my body (for instance: Crystal Light made me feel foggy brained; eggs make me feel nauseas; and nuts make me feel constipated; BUT I actually CAN eat butter and ghee—a fear food for years—and my body loves it; and “fatty fish” like salmon or dark meat chicken thighs are way more delicious than I gave them credit for)… “healthy eating” or “taking probiotics” sometimes aren’t “enough” to heal your gut.
Perhaps for you this looks like:
- Weight gain or plateaus—when it seems everyone else is “seeing results” on a “clean eating” or “real foods” approach
- Hormonal imbalances—no period, even though you are eating more healthy fats and exercising less
- Bloating and constipation after meals—even though you chew your food really well and eat proteins, veggies and fats
- Loose stools—no matter what you eat!
- Years of a Hashimoto’s diagnosis or other autoimmune condition that doesn’t seem to go away—no matter how “Auto-immune Paleo” you are
Whatever the case may be, you may not be 100-percent in touch with your body.
Here are 6 tips and tools for helping you take your gut healing a bit further (past just “clean eating”):
- Mix up your probiotic. Probiotics provide your gut with a punch of good bacteria. But the thing is, if you stick to the same brand every month, you may be giving it enough of ONE strain in particular, but not another. Mix it up each month—or when you run out. A few of my faves include: Prescript Assist’s soil-based formula and Garden of Life’s Primal Defense ULTRA.
- Watch the fermented foods. Fermented foods—like sauerkraut and kombucha—do a body good…unless you have Candida or bacterial overgrowth. If you consume these regularly and still find you have GI issues, consider trialing a time without Fermented foods contain sugars that bacteria LOVE to feed on—and if you already have a more negative bacterial environment (than positive good bacteria), fermented foods can do just that—ferment in your gut. On the flip side, if you are NOT consuming fermented foods, these foods could be part of a missing piece to take your gut health to the next level. If you don’t have Candida or a yeast infection you are aware of, consider adding a medicinal dose of sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented yogurt or kimichi to your daily diet.
- Food Allergy & Sensitivity Testing 101. Did you get one of these and it told you all the foods you absolutely “can’t” eat—the foods that you are allergic to? Chances are, you still may be sensitive to some other foods. Most food ALLERGY tests, reveal allergies (histamine reactions—like swelling or hives) to certain foods, but you may still be SENSITIVE or INTOLERANT to foods (the more silent foods that lead to GI issues, low immunity, seasonal allergies, skin rashes and breakouts and more). Be aware of how foods make you FEEL. In addition, if you did get a food sensitivity test, most of these tests ONLY assess the antibodies of foods in the raw form (raw eggs, raw tomatoes, raw chicken, etc.). In other words, even if tomatoes didn’t show up on your sensitivity test, and you’re still having gut issues—it could be because you are eating the COOKED versions in things like pasta sauce or chili. Keep a “feeling” food log for a week to test this theory—reporting how food makes you feel throughout the day (side effects and all).
- Too Much. Digestive enzymes and HCL (hydrochloric acid—i.e. stomach acid enhancement) do a body good—but sometimes too much of a good thing is not a good thing. We can pound an already sensitive and weak gut with too much acid or enzymes—and continue the wear and tear on our guts. It is beneficial to work with a knowledgeable nutritional therapist or other healthcare provider to help you find your “Goldilocks’ dose” (just right).
- Don’t Overload Your Digestive System AND Eat Enough. I fell into this trap: Eating super big meals three times per day. It worked for a time efficiency standpoint, and I can easily go for 5-6 hours between meals without dips in energy or blood sugar, BUT my digestive system could only handle so much. By changing this up to 4-5 mid-sized meals and a couple snacks during the day, my body has been able to process and digest my meals a bit more easily. In addition, if you are not eating enough (read: chronic undereating), then your body can also easily fall into poor digestion (it kinda forgets what it needs to do!).
- Don’t Overthink It. Stress is the NUMBER ONE underlying factor (and cause) of all disease. So it totally makes sense when we are hyperfocused on our gut health and how we feel, we can easily feel more sensitive to particular foods. This is not to undermine the IBS, constipation or bloating you experience on the daily, but try a few of these mentality tricks to see if they make a difference:
- Before you eat, take 1-2 minutes to get into “rest and digest” mode—just breathe and relax your body.
- Speak words of affirmation over your food: This food is nourishing my body and providing it with sustainable energy.
- Give thanks. Saying grace gets you into that mind-body connection state of being. Instead of fearing the food (will it hurt or not?), you embrace it with a heart of gratitude and love—not fear.