Mindset can play a huge role in both managing your gut symptoms and learning to love your body. I want to help you decrease your anxiety around food and find your happy gut place. To kick start your journey I want to chat about 4 mindsets to let go of for a happier gut.
4 Mindsets To Let Go Of For A Happier Gut
1. All or nothing mindset.
I often see people who think they need to follow their meal plans or ‘diets’ perfectly otherwise everything is ruined. But my friends, life is not perfect. Mistakes happen and striving for perfection is not going to do your gut any favors. In fact it will probably wind up making you super anxious and you’ll find yourself crying in the supermarket.
The reason most people don’t get sustainable results it’s because they try to follow unsustainable methods, and mindset patterns! Try instead to focus on eating for how you FEEL, vs. how you think you SHOULD. Did you eat a breakfast that left you sluggish? Try something different tomorrow. Take it meal by meal.
2. Staying on a restrictive diet when symptoms aren’t improving.
People with gut issues often get stuck in the restrictive diet trap – where they continue to restrict their diet or remove more foods when their symptoms aren’t improving. The person might start by going gluten free, when that doesn’t work they remove all dairy products along with gluten, then go egg free or tomato free, and then add the low FODMAP diet on top of removing these other foods.
(or maybe that was just me that spent years doing that…?)
The issue with this is that the person often ends up on an overly restrictive diet that isn’t needed to manage symptoms. If removing something from your diet doesn’t help reduce symptoms then it’s okay to add it back into your diet (the exceptions here are if you have coeliac disease, a food allergy, or have been asked to remove a food by your doctor). So if removing egg from your diet for 2 weeks doesn’t reduce your gut symptoms, then you likely don’t need to continue to restrict it.
Also remember that there are a range of different factors that can affect our gut symptoms from food, stress and anxiety, sleep, hydration, exercise, and daily habits like how we eat our foods. Often you’ll need a mixture of strategies to get good long-term symptom management.
3. Labeling foods good or bad.
Hands up if you are guilty of this – we definitely are. It is so easy to get into the trap of labeling foods good or bad for our health. The issue with this mentality is that it can increase food anxiety and encourage binge eating patterns. At the end of the day if the food contains fat or no fat, sugar or no sugar, carbs or no carbs – it’s all food.
I find that people do best when they include a variety of foods in their diet. It’s okay to incorporate treats or takeout meals into your eating habits providing you are eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. There are no food police here and you don’t need to feel guilty.
4. Focusing on the numbers.
If you are obsessed with the scale in the bathroom or the kitchen then it’s time to take a break. Focusing on the numbers can lead to unhealthy thought patterns which can increase your risk of disordered eating. Here’s what we suggest you do instead:
Listen to your body and eat to your hungry cues (make sure you don’t confuse these with being tired or emotional)
Include lots of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes you tolerate in your diet.
Be gentle on yourself. When you look in the mirror instead of picking at your flaws think about the things you like or admire about your body and appreciate what it does for you every day to keep you alive
Remember that while portion size is important an extra blueberry or cherry tomato isn’t going to ruin your progress. Being a few grams over the recommended portion size is okay for most foods.
Letting go of these mindsets takes a bit of work but it’s well worth it to develop a healthier relationship with your food and body. Also remember that you are not alone in this journey.