I received a question recently: “What are the best ways to get back on track with eating and gut health after indulging too much?”. After giving it some thought, I’ve decided to answer this in two ways because covering the complete picture and taking a holistic approach is foundational to my beliefs here at CCH. Before diving into some practical tips, I want to provide an opportunity and encourage you to reconnect and dig a little deeper into your relationship with food. So let’s get into both the mental and physical components to this question.
Mental Health: Relationship with Food
My first thought for how to get back on track after indulging, is wanting to know what your “track” exactly is and why you have it. It’s important to fully understand (for my sake as a health coach but also for you to understand yourself) the parameters you’ve set for yourself and why, and what they allow for in your life as a result of sticking to them. Is this track helping you reach a certain health or fitness goal? Is it prescribed by your doctor? Or maybe it’s a compilation of what you’ve seen others do or heard is ideal? There is no good or bad, right or wrong, the goal is simply to develop awareness and determine what is best for YOUR body and your life at this current time.
Here are some questions to think about and get clear on. I’d recommend grabbing a journal and spending some uninterrupted time with yourself so you can really tune in. Do your best to approach these questions with curiosity, rather than being judgemental or critical of yourself and your answers.
- What exactly is the track you’re on? What does on and off track look like for you?
- Where did this track come from, and why are you on it?
- When you’re “on track”, how do you feel? How does it affect your life?
- When you’re “off track”, how do you feel? How does it affect your life?
- Why do you feel so strongly that you need to get back on track?
- When it comes to food, what does “indulge” mean and what does indulging look like for you?
- Why do you feel the need or desire to indulge or go off track to begin with? What do those things provide that you feel you’re missing when you’re on track?
- In terms of food and behavior around food, what do you label as “good” and “bad” in your mind?
- What would it look like to drop those labels? How would you approach food differently? How would you feel?
- What would it look like and feel like to have the freedom to choose your food based on what makes you feel good in each moment? (physically, mentally and emotionally).
These questions are meant to simply get you thinking, and above all else to reconnect with yourself and your relationship with food and eating. In the journey to becoming a consciously connected human, it’s so important to create a strong foundation of awareness. The answers to these questions will help you better understand if this track you have is supporting your overall health (remember we are more than just our physical bodies), or if it’s feeding into a toxic cycle and there’s deeper healing needing to be done on the mental and emotional level.
Physical Health: Nutrition & Gut Health
After digging deeper and developing some self awareness with the questions above, now let’s cover some helpful tips for getting yourself “back on track”! I am a strong believer that what you eat matters, and can either contribute to a state of health, or a state of dis-ease. First we’ll lay the foundation with some practical logistics, then cover a list of immediate actions you can incorporate to any routine with the goal of supporting optimal physical health.
LOGISTICS: I wouldn’t be a good coach if I just dumped a list of suggestions and didn’t help set you up with a plan. If you want to make sustainable change, you have to take the holistic and complete approach!
- First and foremost: What is your current track? Get clear. Does it need to be adjusted at all after gaining clarity from some of the questions in the previous section? My biggest tips here are to revisit your intentions, your personal values, and your goals. Set a track that supports who you are, how you want to show up, and what’s most important to you. This track can be as detailed and precise, or as broad as you need it to be.
- Identify your needs. What do you need to incorporate into your daily life and your meals to get you back on track and succeed? Maybe you need to sit down every Sunday and make your weekly plan, to eat more of your meals outside without digital distraction, to focus on having protein with each meal, or someone to help hold you accountable and cheer you on. What is it that you need, and what do you need to do to make those things happen?
- Make a plan. You have your track and you have your needs, now make a plan to execute! How will you incorporate new habits and routines into your daily or weekly life? Set yourself up for success. This is also a great time to think about what has and hasn’t worked in the past. I highly recommend involving someone in this plan with you to help keep you accountable and support you. Remember that it’s perfectly ok to make adjustments at any time; expect some trial and error in this process to find what truly works for you.
ACTIONS: Here are some recommendations for anyone and everyone to get back on track. Remember that everything is connected, and it’s not just about what you’re putting in your body.
- Stay hydrated. ALWAYS.
- Focus on real, whole foods. Having your focus and priority be whole foods will naturally nudge out processed foods (rather than having your mindset be restricting or eliminating processed foods). Whole foods will keep your meals healthy and fresh, nutrient dense, and support you in showing up energized and motivated.
- Double check for balanced meals. If you’re focussing on whole foods this shouldn’t be much of an issue, but make sure you are getting plenty of veggies, that you have a protein source at each meal, and are consuming healthy fats. Having balanced meals will help tremendously with cravings and balanced hunger hormones.
- Incorporate a good quality bone broth at least a few times a week. This will help to keep your gut healthy and is a great source of minerals. (Check out more benefits here from Dr. Axe!)
- Incorporate more fermented foods into your daily meals for gut health. Think pickles, kraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, tempeh, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, etc.
- Add in a few green juices a week. This will be a great source of extra nutrients! Notice I say extra, to emphasize that I don’t recommend replacing meals with juices unless instructed by your doctor or health care professional.
- Move your body daily. Even if it’s a nice stretch session or a walk!
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Prioritize your sleep, getting to bed early to get around 8 hours of sleep a night. Good sleep will help keep your hormones balanced.
- Manage your stress. Find ways to destress and calm your nervous system regularly throughout the day. Taking a 5 minute break outside to consciously breathe can do wonders! Keeping your stress hormones at bay will help reduce cravings and promote better sleep.
- Allow room for joy. In both your food choices and your daily life. The less you deprive yourself and the more you fill up your soul, the less you will feel the overwhelming urge to fill those gaps in unhealthy ways.
So there is a very well-rounded and thorough response on how to get back on track with eating and gut health after indulging too much. I hope more than anything this gets you thinking about how to care for your body from a place of self care and love.
To summarize: Make sure your “track” is supporting you and your best self, have a plan and support system to stay the course, and keep your physical body nourished and balanced through food and lifestyle choices.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above, and any feedback you’d like to share after putting some of this into action! Are there any other things that help you get back on track?