I believe that the single most important part of wellness is the health of the gut microbiome. There is no better indicator to me of what kind of day I am going to have than the feeling my innards give me when I get up.
These are some of the feelings that I might have in my belly when I wake up:
- Feeling heavy and bloated from the day before. If I ate too much, or too much heavy food, or the wrong food, not just at night the day before (which is the worst), but at all during the day, then this feeling can linger. This is an issue of quantity.
- Feeling generally off, stiff, groggy, just not quite right…this seems to have to do more with the quality of what was eaten in terms of nutrition than the quantity.
- Waking up hungry. This is usually a reaction to the amount of sugar consumed the day before—the more sugar eaten the day before, the hungrier I am in the morning the next day. Sugar is a demon that needs constant feeding.
- Feeling just right. Feeling light, feeling lithe, having no hunger, and feeling a spring in my step. This is ideal, and how I am to feel most days.
Of the conditions above, while all of them happen, only the fourth one is ideal. And it is easy to achieve but requires some behaviour modification. And by the way, I will eat anything. What changes is when I will eat it and how I will eat it. But refusing myself things I like, including cake and cookies, is not acceptable to me—I want my cake and I want to eat it too. In other words, I want a happy, healthy body, but I don’t want to give up everything to get it.
I love pizza and pasta for example. Here is how I cope with my love of these two foods. First, I deliberately eat a LOT slower when I am. Consuming carbs, giving my body’s satiety mechanism a chance to catch up. I also drink a LOT of water before eating these foods in particular, to help give me a sense of fullness before I even start. And, no matter how yummy it is, I try my hardest to stop eating before I am completely full.
There is one other important trick that I have learned when eating carbs or anything with sugar. BEFORE eating, have a glass of water with a spoon of apple cider vinegar. This is shown to massively reduce the subsequent spike in blood sugar that results from consuming these types of foods/ingredients. That has knock on effects for the rest of your day.
Lastly, I won’t eat carbs and sugar after lunch. Your body doesn’t get enough time to recover if you do, and that means it will affect your slip and how you wake up the next day.
What about feeling heavy and bloated. Every one of us over-indulges from time to time. For me, there is only one way to get back to the good body feeling. Only one way. That means that the next day, and possibly for several days, I won’t eat anything. Absolutely nothing. Not juice, not anything. Not until my body feels good again, and not until my weight on the scales is back well below the trigger point at which I stop caloric intake.
What else? As I come back off of a state of disequilibrium, or just generally, once each week, I focus on feeding my gut biome. Kefir, Kombucha, Kimchi, and foods that are known prebiotics (foods rich in fibre) and probiotics like artichoke hearts, asparagus…
Some people have told me I am too skinny now, people who are used to seeing me with puffy cheeks and a paunch. But I take comfort that my BMI. Is exactly in the middle range, and that after a full round of tests with one of the leading health and wellness doctors in the world, I was told that my fitness, weight and condition was that of someone 20 years younger. I’ll stick with what I am doing.