Healing the gut after dieting is life changing. If you are struggling with an upset digestive system caused by the stress of restrictive dieting, you are not alone. Bloating, constipation, cramping and other gut issues can really impact your life. I understand, I’ve been there too!
I noticed my gut was much more irritable when I was a fad dieter. There were also inconsistencies with my bowel habits – probably due to the lack of fibre, protein and the additions of diet foods.
A reminder – you truly can enjoy food, sustainable workouts and make healthy living a pleasure. Say goodbye to restriction, and begin to heal yourself inside and out. I’ve shared my personal top tips for restoring digestive health after dieting below.
How Fad Dieting Harms Your Gut
Digestion can be compromised when on a diet. The fad dieting mentality often causes a cycle of restricting and binge eating that puts stress on the gut. Usually, being on a diet can elevate cortisol levels. In excess this can shut off the digestive system and make it harder to digest and absorb our food. A research study tested the hypothesis that dieting is not effective as it raises stress and cortisol production. It concluded that restricting calories raised total cortisol, and simply monitoring calories increased perceived stress. Stress is the enemy of a happy gut!
Also, fad diets often leave out important macro-nutrients such as fibre, which is key to supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Next add to the equation diet foods such as soda, artificial sweeteners and packaged foods that do not support good gut health and can increase non-beneficial bacteria. This is a recipe for digestive distress.
The Healing Path
The first step on the journey to healing the gut after dieting is to truly quit fad dieting for good! When I finally made the decision to prioritise being healthy over chasing a “perfect diet” or number on the scale, I relieved my poor body from so much of the stress that I had been putting it through. And you know what? Everything felt so much better. I was nourishing my body and allowing myself to enjoy life, with indulgences in moderation and gentle exercise.
I made sure I was incorporating ALL of the important macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fats. Did you know protein is SO important for the gut lining to stay strong (which means better absorption and digestion) and fibre helps good bacteria grow in the gut? My bloating gradually became less, and I began to have more regular bowel movements.
My Personal Tips to Rebuild the Gut
Make sure you are practising stress management and relief techniques, such as gentle exercise, breathwork, meditation, spending time in nature, talking to loved ones, and journaling. Going to bed by 10pm and sleeping for 8 hours is a game changer too for stress relief. This is when the body repairs itself.
Removing Gut Irritating Foods
Get rid of diet foods, processed foods and artificial sweeteners once and for all! Instead enjoy real whole foods and healthy natural sweetener alternatives such as stevia or coconut sugar.
Fermented foods can be helpful, such as sauerkraut, yoghurt or coconut yoghurt, kefir and miso. Adding a good probiotic supplement to support a healthy gut microbiome can also be supportive. Look for a formula with probiotic strains scientifically proven to support digestive system function, healthy bowel function and regularity.
Enjoying a Balanced Diet
Consume a healthy JSHealth diet that incorporates all the food groups and helps to support and nourish the gut microbiome with diverse fibre and quality protein. You can find our signature recipes here.
Look at Wheat & Gluten
I do like to do a 4 week trial of reducing gluten/wheat, which seems to help so many people. This may be helpful while healing the gut after dieting. These foods can be re-introduce over time if tolerated.
Consider a Gut Support Supplement
Sometimes a little helping hand from a quality vitamin and herbal supplement formula can work wonders. My favourite gut healing supplements include ingredients such as aloe vera, turmeric, gentian, zinc and glutamine to support healthy digestive function. For relief from bloating, fennel seed is a go-to ingredient, which has shown to reduce abdominal bloating.
Remember, healing takes time – so be kind, gentle and compassionate on your gut healing journey. It truly is so worth it and I’m backing you all the way.
Love Jess x
Tomiyama, AJ, et al. Low calorie dieting increases cortisol, Physchosom Med. 2010; 72 (4): 357-364.