Healing the gut after dieting is life changing. If you’re struggling with an upset digestive system caused by the stress of a restrictive diet, you’re not alone. Bloating, constipation, cramping and other bowel problems can really affect your life. I understand, I have been there too.
I noticed that my bowels were much more irritable when I was on a fad diet. There were also inconsistencies with my bowel habits, probably due to increased fiber, protein and diet foods.
Reminder: you can truly enjoy food, steady exercise, and make healthy living a pleasure. Say goodbye to limitations and start healing yourself inside and out. I’ve shared my personal top tips for restoring digestive health after a diet.
How Fad Dieting Is Harming Your Gut
Digestion can be disturbed during dieting. The fad diet mentality often creates a cycle of restriction and overeating that puts stress on the gut. In general, dieting can increase cortisol levels. Too much of it can clog the digestive system and make it difficult to digest and absorb our food. A research study has tested the hypothesis that dieting is not effective because it increases stress and cortisol production. It concluded that calorie restriction increased total cortisol and direct calorie monitoring increased perceived stress. Stress is the enemy of a happy gut.
In addition, fad diets often miss out on important macro-nutrients, such as fiber, which are key to the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Next, add diet foods to the equation, such as soda, artificial sweeteners, and packaged foods, which are not conducive to good gut health and can increase unhealthy bacteria. This is a recipe for digestive upset.
The first step in the journey to healing your gut after dieting is to truly ditch the fad diets. When I finally made the decision to prioritize being healthy over the “perfect diet” or tracking the number on the scale, I freed my poor body from the stress I was carrying. And you know what? Everything felt so much better. I nourished my body and allowed myself to enjoy life with moderate indulgences and gentle exercise.
I made sure to include ALL the important macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. Did you know that protein is so important for keeping the gut lining strong (which means better absorption and digestion) and fiber helps the growth of good bacteria in the gut? My bloating gradually subsided and I started to have more regular bowel movements.
My personal tips for gut recovery
Make sure you practice stress management and relief techniques, such as gentle exercise, breathing, meditation, spending time in nature, talking with loved ones, and journaling. Going to bed at 10pm and getting 8 hours of sleep also reverses stress. This is when the body repairs itself.
Elimination of bowel irritants
Get rid of diet food, processed foods and artificial sweeteners once and for all. Instead, enjoy real whole foods and healthy natural sweetener alternatives like stevia or coconut sugar.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt or coconut yogurt, kefir, and miso can be helpful. Adding a good probiotic supplement to support a healthy gut microbiome can also help. Look for a formula with probiotic strains scientifically proven to support digestive function, healthy bowel function and regularity.
Eating a balanced diet
Eat a healthy JSHealth diet that includes all food groups and helps support and nourish the gut microbiome with a variety of fiber and quality protein. You can find our signature recipes here.
Look up Wheat and Gluten
I like the 4 week gluten/wheat reduction trial that seems to help a lot of people. This can be helpful in healing the gut after a diet. These foods can be reintroduced 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 favorite gut healing supplements include ingredients like aloe vera, turmeric, gentian, zinc, and glutamine to promote healthy digestive function. To get rid of bloating, fennel seed is a useful ingredient that has been proven to reduce abdominal bloating.
Remember that healing takes time, so be kind, gentle, and compassionate on your gut healing journey. It really is so worth it and I support you all the way.
Love Jess x
Tomiyama, AJ, et al. A low-calorie diet increases cortisol, Physchosom Med. in 2010 72 (4). 357-364.