How to Heal Your Gut Naturally
A woman's guide to post-holiday gut wellness
January detoxes and cleanses
It’s that time of year- all those tempting quick fix New Year’s detox and post-holiday cleanse ads designed to make you feel like the only way to see relief from bloating is to basically starve yourself while you exist on expensive (and gross) cleanse smoothies.
If you struggle with bloating, constipation, or other gut troubles you are likely looking for relief and your instincts might be telling you that you need to give your over-taxed GI system a rest. Trust your instincts, but let’s not fall for those super restrictive, miracle-promising-cleanses, and ultimate weight loss schemes.
All you actually need to heal your gut naturally is a good nutrition plan.
Post holiday weight loss
Even if it feels like you gained 40 pounds since Halloween, odds are it’s more like two or three pounds. The good news is that when you return to your normal healthy-ish lifestyle those 2-3 pounds are going to melt away as effortlessly as you put them on.
Your body is pretty cool like that, a few weeks of indulging can be made right again by a few weeks of being mindful and intentional.
Bloating, sluggish digestion, and constipation can feel like weight gain, but they are very different, no matter how similar they feel. Fortunately, these are temporary conditions, and you can course correct by getting rid of the foods and behaviors that are the most likely culprits.
Bloat inducing culprits like an abundance of sugar filled- low fiber foods, caffeine and alcohol-based drinks, and the tendency to eat just because it’s there are the most gut destructive habits. Add in some bad sleep, a ton of stress, and a whole bunch of food- it’s no wonder you feel heavy and weighed down. Getting back on track starts with figuring out where you fell off course.
Check your habits
It’s time to shed those fall-festive celebrations for some nourishing and restorative habits. While it can be great to indulge a bit during the fall holiday season, now that winter has arrived it’s time to give your body a break. Begin to give your body a rest by chipping away at the unhelpful habits that you’ve picked up along the way, and don’t be tempted to be an over-achiever and do a 7 day fasting cleanse- that’s just more stress that your body doesn’t need.
Getting started is actually pretty simple, all you need is awareness. Take a look at your day and notice if you have any habits that aren’t in line with your usual healthy eating plans- things like grazing instead of eating regular meals. Find yourself ending every meal with a sweet treat, or skipping your workout because it’s way too cold? Focus your mindset on what actually feels good, even if it’s a little tough to get started.
Trust me, it’s better to shed these habits now than it would be if you wait until May when you pull out your golf skort for the first time in months only to realize it’s snug in all the wrong places.
Spend two to three days writing down every thing that you eat and drink plus your sleep and activity- what you find out might be eye opening, at the very least you’ll have an idea of what habits you lost and what you picked up while you were in “worry about it in January” mode.
Check out this handy checklist to help you get started.
Heal your gut naturally
After you check in it’s time to begin the healing. Your body is an amazing and magical phenomenon with the ability to heal a lot of imbalances all on its own. Start providing the raw materials, and let your body do the rest! What are these three magical elements for natural gut healing? I bet it surprises you…
Here are the top three materials for natural gut healing:
Whole plant foods. This seems simplistic, and it is. Start with adding in more whole plant foods without a lot of processed stuff and your gut will have what it needs. Before you know it you’ll be regular, have less bloating, and feel lighter. Not sure where to start? I help women get the healthy food from meal plan to table in my new Mindful & Balanced community. (If you’re a DIY kind of gal, simply start with adding more veggies and whole grains like oatmeal and leafy greens.)
Water. Again, simplistic but powerful. Dehydration can be at the root of bloating and sluggish bellies, and in the colder winter months it’s even harder to get in your daily water quota. Start your day with a glass of water before your morning coffee, and then keep the herbal tea flowing all through the day and in-between meals. Teas with ginger and citrus are especially soothing for a bloated belly so sipping a nice ginger blend between meals can be helpful.
Space. By space I mean between meals, during meals, and between inflammatory foods. If you want to heal your gut naturally, the best thing that you can do is to give it time. Try spacing out your meals to 4-5 hours and skipping those in-between snacks and see how it feels. It might be challenging at first, but after a couple of days you’ll notice how much lighter you feel.
When you do sit down for that balanced meal try to make space for digesting by making it a mindful meal. Shut down distractions for at least 20 minutes and be present with your food.
Lastly, make space between those inflammatory foods. When you do indulge in those left-over cookies do it less often that you have been, try once a day, then every other day, then every three days to start. Before you know it cookies will once again be a treat instead of a necessary way to mark the end of a meal.
It is possible to heal your gut naturally and you don’t need a complicated detox or expensive cleanse. All you need is a bit of intention and mindfulness.
Looking for some whole food ideas to inspire you to shake up your winter meals? Subscribe to meal plans and get customizable weekly plans to help you get back on track.
Are you part of the Nourished Mindfully community? It’s my free community for women (off social media) where I host Wellness Wednesday’s to help you heal your gut and balance your hormones through mindful eating and evidence based nutrition.