Avoiding FODMAPS is a really important tool for managing the symptoms of fructose malabsorption, IBS and SIBO. BUT… if you want to heal your gut you’ve got to do more than that!
You need to really nourish and support your gut to promote better digestion, so that over time you can start to bring all those foods you miss back into your world again.
We’re always focusing our energy on the things we have to exclude from our diet. I don’t think there’s enough focus on the things that should be INCLUDED! So in today’s blog I’m about to turn this around. I want to keep things really simple and give you my 4 rules for creating meals that nourish your gut and promote the healing of digestive processes. I want to teach you how you can use food as medicine to commence the healing process. Supplements have their place but I believe for true healing to take place, it always comes back to diet.
I want to make one quick point before go any further.. This isn’t about being perfect and never eating a naughty food again. I am far from being the perfect Naturopath that never strays from a healthy diet. Sometimes I eat chips, drink alcohol or eat icecream or brownies. The other day I bought an AMAZING gluten-free chocolate eclair from Gluten Free Foods in Mornington. It was delicious and I didn’t regret it one bit. 😋. If you haven’t checked them out then they’re well worth a visit. The important thing is that 80-90% of the time I follow the principles of a healthy diet, so that my body can cope with these transgressions now and then.
Remember we eat 21 meals/week (that is if we consume the standard 3 meals/day), if we slip up on two meals/week it’s not the end of the world. But it’s about what you consume for the bulk of your diet that matters.
So now that I’ve made that small caveat, lets get started with my 4 rules for creating healthy, gut nourishing meals:
- Make sure you have a good serve of protein (15-30g depending on your goals) in each of your main meals (as well as your snacks) depending on your weight and goals. A nice simple guide is to include a palm sized serve of protein (the width and size of your palm) in each meal. This prevents blood glucose peaks which damage the gut lining and produce excessive inflammation. It’s also required for healthy immune system and helps keeps your energy and mood much more stable. I personally noticed a massive difference when I became much more conscious of my protein intake – particularly at breakfast time, which I find is often the meal that needs the most work.
- Try to include vegetables in every meal. If you consume one serve of breakfast, one serve at lunch and three serves at dinner then that will get you to the bare minimum intake of 5 serves/day. I’d prefer you shoot for 8-9 serves or around 600g of vegetables a day, and a couple of pieces of fruit on top of that. If you want a healthy gut (and body) then this is absolutely critical. You can also think about juicing your vegetables and adding one serve of fruit to the mix to help increase your daily intake.
- Make sure there is sufficient fiber. You should be aiming for 30g/day. I will do a separate post of this soon as it’s harder to achieve than most people think! Fiber helps slow down absorption of any carbohydrates, once again preventing blood glucose spikes, helping us to maintain stable energy levels (and emotions) throughout the day. It also helps keep us full for longer so we’re not constantly snacking. Lastly, it provides food for our beneficial bacteria to help support a healthy microbiome thus reducing the incidence of symptoms like diarrhoea and constipation.
- Be careful of sugar. There are a number of foods that you may have been told to limit in your diet but sugar should be your absolute number one priority. WHO recommends that we consume less than 25g/day of sugar, but to be honest with less is best (I don’t count fruit in that number, but I generally recommend only 2 serves/day). Spikes in blood glucose significantly impair the health of our intestinal lining. It also increases inflamamtion and oxidative stress and depletes many of our nutrients, particularly: B1, B2, B3, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, chromium, vitamin C, zinc. It also feeds the gram-negative bacteria within our microbiome and increases cortisol, leading poor mood and energy levels. Take my word for it, sugar is not your friend.
So how does your diet measure up to these 4 guidelines? If you’re feeling overwhelmed I always start with breakfast – it’s the first meal of the day after all. And what you consume for breaky, often dictates the foods choices you make later in the day.