10 Healthy Habits You Do Every Day Wrecking Your Gut, Hormones & Metabolism

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Written By

Rhea Dali

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Newsflash: Diet culture and conventional wisdom are not always aligned with your best health and healthy habits.

10 Healthy Habits You May Be Doing Everyday That Are Actually Wrecking Your Gut, Hormones & Metabolism

Even if you eat healthy and exercise already, you may have certain habits you think are healthy, but that are actually not supporting your gut health, like these 10 Healthy Habits You May Be Doing Everyday That Are Actually Wrecking Your Gut, Hormones & Metabolism. See if any of my client’s stories sound familiar (and find out what to do instead).

“Healthy Habit” #1: Skipping Breakfast

Healthy Habits - A Woman Skipping Her Breakfast

Client Example

Melissa believed in order to be ‘healthy’ and conquer her cravings, intermittent fasting was the answer. At least that’s what diet culture told her. Out with breakfast! In with her first meal was at noon…followed by  feeling super hungry the rest of the day. Bring on an entire plate of cookies, Skinny Pop Popcorn, Shake Shack, or chicken, sweet potatoes and broccoli! The cycle repeated daily, along with the fatigue, extreme hunger and bloating. 

New Habit

Intermittent fasting is so hot right now, however, research shows intermittent fasting is really not the panacea people claim it to be. Skipping meals can actually create dysbiosis, slow digestion and metabolism, and set you up for more blood sugar imbalances and hypoglycemia throughout the day—with symptoms like low energy, binging, feeling hangry, brain fog, and obsessing over food.

For Melissa, we established 3 ‘normal’ eating times during the day, starting with a protein-based breakfast within the first 1 to 2 hours of waking to set the tone for her blood sugar and metabolism for the entire day! Her digestion, metabolism and energy improved, and the binge episodes ceased.

“Healthy Habit” #2: Drinking Coffee to Go #2

Client Example

Phoebe was constipated. A lot. In order to go #2, she found her panacea: Coffee! As long as she had her cup of Joe she could at least do a little doo.

New Habit

Coffee is not innately a “bad thing”, however, if you’re relying on coffee to go #2, Houston, we have a problem.  Coffee is a natural “bitter” that stimulates the gallbladder to help you poop. But this totally misses the bigger reasons why you’re  constipated in the first place: dehydration and stress! You need more water and minerals…less caffeine!

For Phoebe, we upped her water intake to at least 8 to 10 cups of filtered water, along with some minerals to help her body absorb her water in order to hydrate her tissues and improve “motility” (ability to go #2).

Voila! Golden poo!

“Healthy Habit” #3: Eating Healthy Meals & Working Out Daily…(Without Taking a Breath!)

Client Example

Karen was “doing all the things.” Eating a clean paleo diet. Doing CrossFit 3 to 4 days per week. Taking supplements. But, for some reason, she was still bloated 24/7, her periods were all over the place and couldn’t lose those last 10 pounds for the life of her.  We did a breathing challenge—counting the number of breaths she took in 1 minute and she calculated 48! 48 breaths! Normal breath rate at rest SHOULD be 4-7 breaths per minute. Karen’s body was stressed! 

New Habit

Your body does not know the difference in running from a bear versus “oh my gosh, I am 10 grams of carbs over my limit!” It sees all sources of stress the same. Karen was stressed in multiple areas of her life without realizing it.

To help her initially, I challenged her to be present at meal times. Before she ate, I cued her to pause to take 3 to 5 deep breaths in through her nose, out through her mouth, and chew her food really well until fully liquified. Eat undistracted. The result? Bloating gone. Completely.

“Healthy Habit” #4: Eating Chicken & Broccoli Every Single Day

Client Example

Michelle adopted a healthy lifestyle several years ago. Swapping out gluten, dairy, sugar (you know, the “usual suspects”), for “clean foods” like chicken and broccoli—which she ate every single day for lunch and sometimes dinner, without thinking twice about it. So when she came to me wanting to figure out her food intolerances and heal her gut…I saw the problem…

New Habit

Eating the same meals every single day is not part of the healthy habits which destroys your gut bugs! A healthy gut thrives off a variety of foods—when we feed our gut bugs the same things every day, we can create dysbiosis—gut imbalances—because we develop only the gut bugs that eat chicken and broccoli. I instructed Michelle to “mix it up.” No, not every meal needs to be a party in your mouth, but little changes can make a BIG difference (like chicken, beets and kale one night, then chicken, roasted carrots and chard the next). Michelle’s diet gradually began to expand along with her gut tolerance of a wider variety of foods and food freedom in her life.

“Healthy Habit” #5: Going Meat or Carb Free

Client Example

Riley and Susan came to me with similar symptoms: Bloating, constipation, hormone imbalances, anxiety, hair loss, dark circles under their eyes and skin issues, and a “slow” metabolism. However, they were following two entirely different diets. Riley was a vegan—eating only plants. Susan was a carnivore—eating only meat. What gives?! 

New Habit

Meat and carbs are not the enemy! Complete elimination of an entire food group—be it meat or carbs—may be okay as a short term therapeutic intervention, however, humans are ultimately omnivores. Physiologically, we all require carbs, fats and proteins. When we miss out on any one of these essentials, we run into road blocks. Sure your body can extract protein from broccoli but is broccoli the #1 source of protein? Nope. Likewise your body can make ‘carbs’ (glucose) from chicken. But is chicken the top source of carbs? Nope.

As Riley began incorporating fish, collagen peptides, pasture raised and some condiment-sized servings of animal protein as if it was a “supplement”, magically her hair stopped falling out, the dark circles went away, her energy doubled (without espresso), her period normalized and her bloating resolved. Similarly, as Susan began incorporating vegetables and some prebiotic fibers and starches, like potatoes and cooked and cooled rice, her bloating also resolved, and her stools and periods normalized.

“Healthy Habit” #6: Running or Doing Intense Workouts Every Day

Client Example

Every morning, Hayley hit a 7 mile run, Orange Theory or spin class without fail. Some sort of cardio—rain, snow, sleet or shine. She loved it. But for some reason, her gut health and metabolism did not seem to agree. 

New Habit

Hardcore cardio or other forms of intense workouts (even intense lifting sessions every day) puts lots of strain on the body and delivers the same shock as other kinds of stress, like running from a bear. Training with too much intensity also causes leaky gut. I encouraged Hayley to establish balance with her exercise routine: To do things she enjoyed, but not push her body over the edge. (Basically any activity where your veins pop out of your head or you’re feeling obsessed about it should be a “no”).

Hayley’s new routine incorporated a combination of yoga and pilates, hikes and walks, power packed HIIT circuits, shorter jogs—not marathon runs, and strength training.  As a result her leaky gut resolved, her digestion improved and she actually needed more calories—not less—to support her boosted metabolism.

“Healthy Habit” #7: Starting Your Day Off & Ending Your Day with a “Growth Mindset”…In Instagram

Client Example

Cameron loved getting workout and diet inspiration from Instagram influencers…the thing is, she had PCOS, hypothyroidism and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Instagram “Fitspo” couldn’t help.

New Habit

Blue screens scream “May day! May Day!” to the brain and HPA axis (stress). Hello fast heart beating and short breathing as you scroll through Instagram or news or emails! Not to mention the fact that most diet culture advice out there do NOT consider the REAL health issues most women struggle with (like gut issues, hormone imbalances, low energy, etc.).

I prescribed one new habit for Cameron: Establish a phone free morning and bedtime routine (at least no email checking, social media scrolling or texting), telling her:  “You happen to the day vs the day happening to you!” And as we worked together on addressing the root causes behind her PCOS, hypothyroidism and SIBO, her body healed without Instagram workouts or diets required.

“Healthy Habit” #8: Eating Salads for Lunch

Client Example

“Chicken salad with the dressing on the side please”—a common request by Becky most days for lunch. But her gut health didn’t seem to reflect her healthy choices: IBS, bloating, constipation. You know the drill.

New Habit

Lots of raw veggies—especially salads—can be tough for our digestive systems to break down. I coached Becky to try “warmed” salads—wilted greens, roasted squash or carrots, steamed green beans or broccoli, along with a protein and even a cup of bone broth on the side. Ahhhh…much better digestion.

“Healthy Habit” #9: Taking Random Supplements from Amazon or an MLM Company

Client Example

“What do you think of this multivitamin…and this protein powder…and probiotics?” Heather asked me. One look at the ingredient list in each product revealed about 20-50+ different ingredients and explained her skin breakouts and bloating.

New Habit

Supplement land is a “Wild Wild West.” Meaning: No two supplements are created equal. Nor do they live up to their claims and touted benefits. Less is definitely more and customization is king. Upon a custom consult, I gave Heather a handful of practitioner-grade, customized formulas that were best for her skin, hormone and gut challenges. Her skin cleared up, energy went up and bloating went down.

“Healthy Habit” #10: Swearing Off “Bad Foods” Completely

Client Example

Katie was a classic “yo-yo” dieter. She could follow a plan for 7 to 30 days, only to go right back to her “old ways”—wine, popcorn, sugar, fast food, chips. You know the “good stuff.” Super defeated, she same to me wanting to do the same thing—get a plan for “getting on the bandwagon.”

New Habit

80/20 balance is the name of the game (ie. No perfection). 80% of the time, eat “real” whole foods that your body was meant to thrive upon. 20% of the time, let life happen. When in Rome, try the pasta. On your birthday, eat the cake. In a given day, incorporate 1 to 2 “gut love treats” (ie. Non-perfect foods). This supports the “hygiene hypothesis”—You know the immune theory that the “cleaner” and more sanitized we are, the sicker we actually get? Well, the “cleaner” we are with food, the more food intolerances and sensitivities we may develop, not to mention a funky relationship with food. With renewed permission, Katie was able to sustain a balanced lifestyle  beyond 30 days!

Summary

Want to get to the root cause of your personal health challenges or figure out exactly what your body needs to feel optimal and develop healthy habits?

Let’s connect! Apply to our clinic today and let’s help you go from “good” to great!

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