The Gut Instinct® Food Template: Nourishment For A Healthy Body and Mind
There is no one size fits all diet.
Your body, mind and nutritional needs are unique. This is called bio-individuality and it is essential on your path to wellness. In fact, I find it quite fascinating and marvel at the uniqueness of each person I work with. I love to dive deep with you as a health detective to understand the root causes of difficult symptoms. We work together to find nutritional and holistic solutions for transforming your health, so you can live in vibrant well-being.
The Gut Instinct Food Template is a starting point for that health detective work.
It is a way of eating that deeply nourishes the digestive system. Because of the gut brain connection, it also supports brain health and, in turn, balanced emotions and mood.
Here are the Basics of The Gut Instinct® Food Template. We'll start with what I recommend you include daily:
- Ample Vegetables: Eat LOTS of non-starchy “above ground” vegetables, especially dark leafy greens. Fill your plate or bowl with veggies! Think of them as really being the bulk of what you eat, and that they provide the fiber to fill your belly so that you feel full at the end of your meal.
- Moderate Amounts of Good Quality Animal Protein: Getting plenty of protein is vital for lowering inflammation. Meat, seafood and eggs are the most nutrient dense way to get your protein. Vegetarian sources of protein like beans and grains can be difficult to digest and so the actual absorption of protein from them can be limited. You need ample protein for balanced blood sugar, stable mood and energy levels, and for lowering inflammation in the gut, brain and elsewhere. There is a big difference between commercially produced factory farmed animal protein and quality sourced grass fed beef, organic chicken, wild caught sustainable seafood and organic, pastured eggs. Go for the good stuff! It's way better for you, and our planet!
- Beans and Legumes: I know I just said that beans can be hard to digest, and this is true. However, I guide my clients through a therapeutic gut repair process, once the gut is working well, it can do a better job breaking down and absorbing nutrients from beans and legumes, then they can be relied upon more as a protein source. In the meantime though, it's still important to include some beans and legumes, not so much as protein, but as food for a healthy microbiome, your inner ecosystem of beneficial bacteria in the gut. It's important to prepare your beans and legumes well by soaking, rinsing and cooking them until tender, to improve digestibility. Learn more about that in my article, "Eat Beans Without Getting the Toots!"
- Moderate Amounts of Starchy Vegetables and Fruit: Your body needs carbohydrates but how much varies from person to person. I recommend small portions of carbs with each meal depending on your activity level and blood sugar stability. Good sources of carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, beets, winter squash and fruit. Curious about your carbohydrate tolerance? This is something we can focus on together. Book a Discovery Session to learn more.
- Plenty of Healthy Fats: Your body, and especially your brain, need plenty of fat to run smoothly, (contrary to what we were taught by the low fat craze that was preached in previous decades). Fat is a long burning fuel providing great energy that lasts. It's also super important for absorbing fat soluble vitamins from food, like vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin K which are important for bone health, the immune system and cognitive health. Organic unrefined coconut oil, avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil are wonderful sources of healthy fats. See below for more about which fats are dangerous and should be avoided. It might be different than what you think!
- Superfoods: Some of my favorites, which help nourish the gut and the brain, include bone broth, fermented vegetables, pumpkin seeds (raw and sprouted), herbs like parsley and cilantro, and high mineral salts like Celtic and Himalayan pink salt.
And then, of course, there are the foods that commonly trigger inflammation and dysfunction in the body, acting as a driving force behind symptoms like anxiety, fatigue and digestive problems. They are:
- Gluten: This is the protein found in wheat and a few other grains. I recommend being 100% gluten free, especially if you are dealing with any digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, mood problems or an autoimmune condition. Learn more about problems with gluten here.
- Dairy: Dairy is a common allergen and trigger food for many. However, if you are not sensitive to it, it can be a nourishing. If you are incorporating it into your diet, I recommend going light on it and thinking of it as a condiment. Learn more about how to know if dairy is good for you here!
- Grains: While I recommend cutting out gluten containing grains like wheat completely, I also recommend going light on non-gluten grains. This is because they can be hard for the digestive system to break down and process, adding extra stress there. Also, grains are high in carbohydrates. If you are also including starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, as well as nutrient dense fruit, then eating lots of grains will typically make carbohydrate consumption too high. This can cause problems with blood sugar, metabolism, insulin, and inflammation in the gut and brain.
- Industrially Processed Seed Oils: Common cooking oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and soy oil all have inflammatory effects. They can oxidize in the blood and cause free radical activity which can damage tissue in arteries, the gut and the nervous system. We've previously been taught that these types fats are healthy, however, new research shows that this is wrong and that these oils should be avoided for optimal health. Avocado oil is a great replacement for canola because it is neutral tasting and can be taken to a high heat.
- Processed Sugar: Refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup do a real number on the body and brain. They feed pathogenic microbes in the gut and trigger cycles of inflammation that affect mental-emotional well-being and energy levels, along with a host of other problems. I recommend doing the best you can to avoid them. Nutrient dense sweeteners like raw honey, coconut sugar and the sweetness found in fresh fruit are healthier options for the body and mind.
I hope you enjoy this template for healthy eating and that it can provide a foundational approach for how to nourish your body and brain.
Remember though, YOU are the best authority on your health and diet, and as a unique person, with bio-individuality, your body's needs are not the same as someone else's.
I believe symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, sleep issues and brain fog are messages, and that when we tune into them we can gain deep understanding of the true needs of our body and mind–nutritionally and otherwise.
Would you like to learn how to understand your body better, how to decode its symptoms and messages? Would you like to understand how to really nourish yourself, for a deeper experience of energy, digestive comfort and calm in life? If so, book a free first time appointment, a Discovery Session, with me today.
And now, I'm curious, what are your questions and experiences with nourishing foods? Leave a comment below!