Gut Check: 6 non-food ways to get gut healthy

I get excited coming out of the cold seasons into the warm ones for many reasons, and one of them is the availability of local, fresh produce. Going to the farmers market really gets me delighted about food again. And, since I wouldn’t call myself someone who enjoys cooking, it also makes this a more bearable “to do” on my list.

Since I am not into cooking, I often get a little lazy…a pizza here, an order of Chinese there, too many sandwiches and not enough veggies. All of a sudden I wake up realizing that I have been subsisting on cheese, crackers, easy packaged to-go’s like fruit snacks or highly processed food bars and I notice I no longer feel vital.

Vegetables!
Vegetables!

Basically, my head gets foggy-cloggy, my mouth dries out, my digestion overall goes down the tubes (gassy, reflux, constipation – I know it’s gross, but friends, someone has got to be honest about this stuff)…the list goes on. I end up more fatigued, less active and less clear in everything I want to put my mind towards.

That leads to more laziness for me – I start watching crap TV at silly hours and the mental inputs from that are just like eating more garbage. Here’s why I say that: I am of the belief that all information whether it’s food, what I learned in a classroom, the conversations I am having with people and basically everything coming into my eyes/ears/nose/touch as input is food. It’s brain food, tummy food, whatever. All information is a form of nutrition – whether it’s high quality or low quality; what is ‘good or bad’ depends on the unique individual.

When I am in this breakdown, everything around me suffers – my laundry pile, the mail I told myself I would take care of, how nice I am to my family, how tolerant I am of my cat – just to name a few.

A few weekends ago I decided I needed an intervention to reset my food intentions so I could clear out the garbage in my body and my life and get back on track. Over the year’s here is what I have found to be helpful when I need this jumpstart, and it’s not all about probiotics:

  1. Honesty is the best policy: The first step is admitting there is a problem, for real. So, I check my ego at the door, tell the people I love what’s up with my breakdown, get a few good laughs out of it and then I commit to something that will work better. I tell my people what I’m committed too so they can help me get there too. Friends and loved ones are great teammates when we allow them to show up that way for us – tell them what kind of support you need and many will oblige.
  2. No judgement: My inner-judger is an active little shit pretty much daily, I tell this part of me to be quiet regularly because the last thing I need on top of any of my poor habits is judging myself harshly about it – that just has me stagnate instead of creating movement toward addressing the issue at hand. We all have our achilles heel(s), this is part of being human. The best thing I have found for calming my judgement about this is to just laugh at myself. I am good at a ton of really awesome stuff  so I am allowed to laugh at myself for the stuff I am not so good at, and so are you.
  3. Purge the garbage; clean the environment: I find it useful to go through the fridge and cabinets and get rid of the stuff I know leads to further food choice breakdowns. Even if its not yet spoiled or finished I toss it or find it a better home with someone who can better metabolize it. I’ve tried the approach where I just tell myself as soon as I am out of X or done with X I will change my ways…it doesn’t work, it actually lets me off the hook for longer and I keep making poor choices and purchasing junk. After I am done with the kitchen I take care of the house in general (laundry, office, living areas, bedroom) so that things feel freshened up. This cleaned-up and ready space helps stay empowered about making good choices for what is allowed back in and also helps me keep my routine… which leads me to:
  4. Come back to routine: I reinstitute bedtime for myself, look at my daily regimen and make adjustments to get things flowing again. I like structure with flexibility so getting back in the groove of waking up early enough to make breakfast, getting to the grocery store at a reasonable hour and things like this actually make a big difference for me in doing what works instead of doing what’s easy. Plus I find that starting the day off “right” makes it easier for me to keep with that flow and take great choices the rest of the day (yes, take the choices cause I actually do it I don’t just mentally decide). Essentially if I get up early, my clothes are ready to wear, breakfast is easy to make and is healthy and delicious, etc. I tend to make much cleaner choices about my inputs as the day continues. Any of those obstacles in my way (dirty dishes, empty fridge, forgot to buy shampoo) encourages me to just throw in the towel and make junk choices out of ease.
  5. Consume better information: I can binge watch some serious TV. While I generally stick to G-rated sitcoms and some dramas, I still find that the world of television helps me dig myself into a hole. Here’s why: TV makes the daily stuff look easy while playing up the relationship drama of life. Magically all of this delicious food appears looking all fresh and in pretty bowls for whoever wants to eat it, whenever they want to eat it. And that’s just in the program, this doesn’t include all of the commercials expertly selling me on fast food and snacks. In real life it takes a bit of time to eat well, some prep. I become disappointed that an amazing platter of awesome food doesn’t just magically appear in front of me. Then there’s the drama part – even a comedy plays up the crap people are dealing with, and when I watch it, I am eating it. A few days in I find myself wondering why my life is so smooth and I accidentally look for issues and pick fights because I’ve been steeped in whatever I’ve been watching thus my BodyMindSpirit are full of marital spats, money concerns, frenemies or whatever happened on the latest episodes. Hence, I typically find it useful to cut down on my TV time and swap it for art projects, reading or something else more wholesome. And my favorite ways to get better info. are to take a great nutrition class, read a book on food or nutrition, or even watch a documentary (yes it’s on a screen, and for me it’s more wholesome). This time took time to watch Food, Inc. and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Afterward I’m more inspired about the healthy stuff listening to other perspectives is fun so I can go back and see what applies for me personally.
  6. Reconnect with inspiration: It’s important for me to know why I am caring about the thing I am attempting to change or reset. In this case, it’s because I know how badly life goes when I don’t eat well over time – I know what happens to my intestines (they literally swell), my emotional health and even my joints (which become arthritically painful). I want to be alive and vibrant for many years to come, I want to share adventures with my husband until we are old raisins, I want my body to work well for all of this. And I want to be a practitioner who leads by example too. These breakdowns and how I find my way back to my healthy 80/20 again make me a better practitioner – a human one – who can offer ideas and compassion from a real place.

We all have our own ways of getting things back in gear so to speak. I offer these to you from collected years of experience in my own gut health breakdowns and I’d love to hear about how you deal with your breakdowns, gut related or otherwise. When we share what we know we can really make a difference for others so bring it on!


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One Response to “Gut Check: 6 non-food ways to get gut healthy”

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