Five Post-Holiday Tips for a Non-Restrictive Gut Reset in 2023
By Meg Gerber, (RD, LD, IFNCP, CGN).
Revolving around an abundance mindset approach to health, my top five gut health tips for post-holidays are about ADDING holistic nutrition to support the body instead of punishing by taking things away or being restrictive.
Five Post-Holiday Tips for a Non-Restrictive Gut Reset in 2023
1. Break That Fast!
- Breaking your overnight fast by eating a balanced breakfast helps create bodily safety by supporting a healthy cortisol response and in turn, a more stable blood sugar. Fasting often in the context of other stressors can cause a bodily chronic stress response in which cortisol stays high and blood sugar in turn, also stays high. In addition, studies have shown that intermittent fasting could harm fertility; this study showed lower levels of sex hormones and overall libido. Since many of us are coming off of the holidays already recovering from a higher state of stress, pushing your body over the edge with an additional stressor like fasting too long or skipping meals is often too much! This takes the body out of ‘safety’ where it is able to prioritize things like healthy hormone balance and digestion vs. just keeping itself alive.
- My recommendation for gut health: Eat breakfast and allow for gut rest. Allow your body a ‘gut rest’ overnight where you are only drinking water and taking a break from eating to support healthy digestive motility and gut repair. About 12-13 hours is a healthy gut rest goal for most. Breaking your fast with a balanced, protein-dense breakfast like eggs with Bread SRSLY avocado toast is great!
2. Poop Mindfully
- Yep, you heard that right, mindful defecation is what I call this! If you have tummy troubles, when was the last time you pooped with plenty of time to relax, spend the time you needed in the bathroom and without any distraction? So many of us are constipated just because of our rushing lifestyles! Pooping daily is incredibly important for optimal gut health but also optimal detoxification. Pooping is one of the most important ways we rid our bodies of toxins so that we are not walking bins of recycled waste!
- My recommendation for gut health: To poop mindfully, pencil it into your workday in the morning so you’re not rushing. Set your body up for success in the proper position by using a squatty potty or a stool. Avoid straining and forcing; give yourself time but don't spend longer than 5-10 minutes if you cannot go. Avoid reading or cellphones- or any distractions, for that matter! Focus on deep breaths into the diaphragm to relax your body and promote healthy movement of your bowels.
3. Eat Fermented
- Fermented foods can be a wonderful way to support a healthy gut. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut contribute a source of probiotics, or live cultures known as the good-gut bacteria. While the holidays can be a wonderful time, they are generally also filled with alcohol and stress; both of which deplete good-gut bacteria. Following the holidays, it’s important to give your gut microbiota the boost it needs! Work fermented foods into your post-holiday meals to help your body replenish the probiotics it may be missing after all those holiday parties.
- My recommendation for gut health: Work to incorporate 1 T daily of raw, live fermented foods like sauerkraut (go for those that are refrigerated and in a salt brine), kimchi or organic kefir.
4. Get Bitter (With Your Food!)
- Bitter foods are one of my top three food categories to support a healthy gut that I highlight in my cookbook How To Glow Gluten Free. Eating more bitter foods can help reduce acid reflux, support liver detox, improve fat digestion, enhance gut regularity, and diversify your gut bacteria. Studies have shown bitter foods can also even help you better manage sugar cravings. Constipated? One of the best ways to support your gut is by ensuring healthy daily bowel movements (as mentioned above). We have more bitter receptors lining our GI tract than any other receptor, therefore, bitters are immensely helpful at ‘moving things along’.
- My recommendation for gut health: Start by adding one bitter food to at least one of your meals, daily. Then, try to build up to incorporate at least one bitter into each of your three daily meals. What are bitter foods? Radish, endives, radicchio, frisee, broccoli sprouts, watercress, fresh dill, cabbage, kale, fresh/frozen cranberries and citrus peels are all easy and great examples of bitter foods.
5. Pre-Digested Food
- Choosing warm or cooked foods is a great way to help digestion. These foods are ‘pre-digested’ and more bioavailable to your digestive tract than raw foods; they take less digestive enzymes to break down and absorb! In addition, choosing nuts, seeds, and grains that have been soaked or sprouted means that they have become more bioavailable to your digestive tract. This means that the nutrients in the foods are reaped more easily. Fermented foods, like Bread SRSLY sourdough, are considered ‘pre-digested’ food as well. Thanks to Bread SRSLY’s slow fermentation process, the nutrients in the bread are easier to absorb and assimilate.
- My recommendation for gut health: Choose to consume warm and/or cooked foods most often, look for sprouted nuts and seeds and consume fermented sourdough like Bread SRSLY (my favorite is the Seeded Loaf) as part of a your healthy gut plan following the holidays.
Meg is a Functional Medicine Dietitian, best selling author, and the founder of Grounded Nourishment. Meg specializes in working with individuals who struggle with chronic digestive issues. Through her own journey of digestive struggles and autoimmunity, Meg has learned the power of leaning into whole foods, empowering food-science, and sharing education + experiences to build resilience.
Meg’s Functional Medicine practice includes an approach to nourishment and healing that combines individualization and root cause analysis. Moving beyond diets, functional testing and supplements, Meg empowers her clients with ongoing tools for stress management as an integral pillar to sustainable gut health and longevity.
Her #1 bestselling cookbook is available for purchase on Amazon, and her expertise has been featured on multiple media outlets including Dualism With Jon Alba , Any Question and The Daily Flash TV.