Sometimes the most difficult part of making a positive change for your health is not knowing where to start.
If you find that you have to be careful about what you eat for fear of becoming bloated, nauseous, gassy, or just "off" in general, you're not alone. Your gut health is likely the source of the issue. We covered gut health recently, but many people don’t know where to begin when it comes to fixing things.
Whether you're having issues with digestion or just want to begin feeling better, it's probably time for a reset. It might be as simple as eating healthier - the Mediterranean diet is gut-healthy, for example. Cutting out alcohol and sugar could be the cure.
But to truly learn how certain foods contribute to the way your body feels, consider our 30-day plan that focuses on giving you a healthier gut.
You might think, “Will it really take a whole month to sort out my gut?” It's possible to see changes to your microbiome in as little as 24 hours, but a four-week plan gives you an opportunity to learn as much as you can about your gut.
Not only does this time period allow you to learn how to make better food choices, but it also helps you suss out common allergens and other foods that might be causing digestive troubles.
There is a variety of eating styles and diets to choose from; you just need to pick something that you're comfortable with. Two popular choices here are the Mediterranean diet and the elimination diet.
The Mediterranean diet is known for being gut healthy and has been associated with increased immunity, reduced risk of obesity, and reduced chronic illness. What makes this diet so healing? The staples of the diet - fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and spices - all have powerful health benefits.
If you think the Mediterranean diet is a good fit for you, read our blog on the subject: Mediterranean Diet 101.
For a deeper dive on elimination diets, check out this blog. This diet works just like it sounds. You eliminate specific food items from your diet to identify what is causing you problems.
If you believe your issues are a result of an allergic reaction - you have trouble breathing, pain, diarrhea, hives, or other symptoms of the sort - please see your doctor before beginning an elimination diet.
However, if you're trying an elimination diet simply to see how your body feels when you cut out sugar or another food item, there's no need to check with a physician.
Every diet out there is different, but anything you choose is going to require some healthier eating. Since diets mean you'll most likely be cooking more often, some preparation is involved. If you don't plan accordingly, you're less likely to achieve the desired results.
The first step is to take a look at your pantry and to empty it of any tempting foods that go against your diet. If throwing them out is not an option, then try putting them in your freezer or in another room. Keeping these food items out of sight will keep you from giving into temptations.
After this, consult your new diet and go shopping to re-stock your pantry and fridge. Having the necessary foods and ingredients on hand will make healthy eating easy and convenient.
Speaking of convenience, it might be beneficial to set aside a day for meal prep (Sundays are quite common). When you’re in the midst of your week and you're rushing around, having prepared meals can be a diet-saver.
Your mindset is also very important when starting a new diet. You have to be committed to your diet plan to find success, but please don't be unforgiving. If you put too many limitations on yourself, you'll set yourself up for failure and you'll beat yourself up when you slip up.
Being strict doesn't mean you have to get angry or be mean to yourself if you make a mistake. If you do slip up, vow to be better and go from there. Consistency is definitely important, but there's no need to be overly rigid with your diet.
Building a healthy gut is supposed to help you feel better; beating yourself up all the time isn’t going to help you meet that goal.
Accountability can be difficult when it comes to diets, which is why many people find more success when dieting with a partner, friend, co-worker, or even an online community. For example, Smart Pressed Juice has a Facebook group where anyone can share their diet goals, access tips or advice, find healthy recipes, and support others.
There will be days where you don't feel up to the task. Having a partner or a buddy there to support you is essential for maintaining your healthier lifestyle. Try to surround yourself with encouraging voices and let them know how they can best support you.
Everyone has different motivations, but there’s always a way to maintain accountability.
Your diet will have an impact on the health of your gut, but it's not the only lifestyle habit that plays a role. Stress, sleep, and exercise are all very important for determining the health of your gut's microbiome.
Eating while you're stressed out, for example, can be bad. If you're in the middle of a busy day, lunch can be a stressful time. Eating fast and not chewing properly can exacerbate your issues.
Managing your stress will have a tangible impact on your health. Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and downtime with loved ones all help calm your nervous system and your gut.
Sleep and exercise aren’t much different. If you’re not getting enough sleep, that’s not good for your body. Not only can this increase stress, but you’re more likely to violate your diet when you’re tired. We often think we can get by with a poor sleep schedule, but sleep impacts our lives more than we realize.
Regular exercise has a direct impact on your microbiome. After six weeks of regular exercise, your body will experience an increase in gut microbes that reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, heart disease, and obesity. If you’re trying to improve your gut health, exercise should be part of your plan.
After following a more restrictive diet for a month, you can start adding foods back into your meals. The results of this experiment can be very enlightening because you're able to see what gives you trouble.
Perhaps you don't miss some of the foods you eliminated and you don't want to reintroduce them - that's completely fine! But if you do miss certain foods, add them to your diet one at a time so you can see how it impacts your body.
On your journey to a healthier gut, you’ll need to try out some new recipes to keep you full and feeling good. Thankfully, Smart Pressed Juice has a number of tasty and healthy recipes that are perfect for even the most restrictive diets:
Just so you have a taste of what we offer, here’s a recipe that includes our Organic Pressed Greens. Our greens are perfect for anyone on-the-go who doesn't get enough vegetables. Each glass is like an organic farmer's market featuring over 20 superfoods and ingredients for optimal health. Plus, you'll notice delicious hints of real pineapple, apple, carrots, and citrus.