By Dietitian Jill Place
Ever wondered how to change your health for good? Well … it’s not from doing a lengthy, complicated program that you’ll stop halfway through. It’s by doing something like a 5-Day GOOD GUT challenge.
WHY? Well … the secret to GREAT HEALTH is a GOOD GUT. Or as Nancy Mure says …
The human body has a ringmaster. This ringmaster controls your digestion, your immunity, your brain, your weight, your health and even your happiness. This ringmaster is the gut
So the root cause of most of your ills is having a bad gut. But … as I’ve previously said … most programs to heal your gut take a long time … and people have short attention spans these days. And most have a lot of food ideas that are foreign to the average person. AND often don’t speak to individual preferences.
So here’s what I did … I created a totally different way to look at lifestyle change. First, I know from years of working with clients that understanding how they live their lives and honoring that is crucial for making change.
So you can’t just give people a meal plan and expect them to magically do it like most programs do. It just doesn’t happen.
Second, I’ve learned from my years of private practice … and even more years as an actor, coach, and passionate of observer of human behavior … that people don’t change when the information is too hard to do. Or you punish them for their choices.
Instead … it’s best to give them simple concepts. And allow them to figure out how to make these concepts their own.
And third … and probably most important … take action on them. Because it’s been researched that we’re only conscious 5% of the time or less. So in order to access the 95% of your subconscious mind, you have to find a way to get around that sometimes cranky, critical, conscious part that protects your status quo.
Action can do that … taking action on a simple concept that you understand and believe in stimulates the other 95% that is unconscious and on auto pilot to make change.
The State of Our Consciousness
OK … let me recap so that you understand this very crucial concept. We’re only aware of 5% of our consciousness at any one time. So most of our responses come out of the 95% of our unconscious.
Haven’t you made decisions seemingly out of thin air … like going to the 7-11 to get and eat a whole bag of chips at 11:00 at night? Decisions that seem to have nothing to do with your well-thought-out plan to not snack between meals?
To me … it’s because the unconscious part of our brain is working from other decisions that we’re not aware of. Like traumas, habits, and coping mechanisms to name just a few. Decisions that we seemingly have no idea how they got there in the first place … let alone why we’re acting this way.
The concept “Thoughts become Things” is definitely in play here. You CAN influence the unconscious mind … that data bank that’s been pre-programmed over your lifetime.
And You CAN upgrade your programming by continually focusing on and practicing a new way to be conscious. You CAN heal trauma, change your habits, and construct new coping mechanisms.
So taking action on a simple concept that you deeply understand is ultimately what makes lifestyle change successful. But the idea to change … and the way you do … have to come from you and no one else.
Most of us … however … lack the confidence and information to make a new change happen. So we DO need a guide with a plan so that we can be educated on that change. And eventually have enough information and confidence to make it happen.
Does that make sense to you?
The 5-Day GOOD GUT Challenge
With that in mind … the best way to encourage lifestyle change success is to …
- make a clear plan to do a certain thing
- get lots of education so that you can make up your own mind about that thing
- include a stress-reducing mental practice so you’re not overwhelmed by the change
- make it short and easy to do
Here’s my theory. I’ve done many weekend workshops … and some changed my life. And I think they did because it was an intense experience that stimulated my unconscious to forge new neural pathways.
You can read about neural pathways in my article Rebuild Neural Pathways. And … yes … in the article I urged you practice the behavior to cement it into both your conscious and unconscious. But you gotta start somewhere.
So this challenge is NOT a be-all and end-all. Instead … it’s a kick-start.
With the hope that … by starting something that’s all-at-once easy, scientifically sound, and accompanied by a lot of support that you’ll want to do more.
And here’s where we start. With …
There are many ways to heal your gut. But … for this challenge … I decided to start with easy diet changes.
And add mindfulness because it’s one of the cornerstones of my work with clients. Also, it’s almost impossible to make good lifestyle changes while stressed and unaware.
Mindfulness also helps connect you to your unconscious in a profound way. As a matter of fact, any relaxation technique is beneficial for change.
Gut-healing changes with diet form the first four elements of the challenge. We want to add 1 fermented food, 2 fruits, 3 vegetables, and (after day one) a Gluten Free food into our lives for each day of the challenge.
So you’d have to go buy those if you don’t already have them. If you’re doing the plan with me on my Facebook page … I give you menu suggestions and fermented food and Gluten Free options during our Day O together.
Then I give you lots of reading options because … as I’ve said previously in this article … education brings confidence to change.
If you want, go to Your Good Gut Blueprint … there are links in it to ALL the articles related to the “READ!” part of this challenge. Finally … planning is a is a BIG part too. I will furnish you a planning sheet if you do the challenge with me.
It’s really important on this day that you make a plan … at least for tomorrow and possibly for the whole five days. Because … besides the reading and the planning … you can do exactly the same thing with the fermented food, fruit, and veggies for all five days.
It probably would be better if you mixed it up but … since I live alone … I tend to eat just a few things like this weekly. For example, I buy salad kits and divide it in two … that’s two days of my veggies.
I love berries … and that’s great for me as I wash them, store them on paper towels to keep them fresh in a container in the fridge, and eat them either in-hand or on top of my own Paleo granola.
So … that’s Day O … it’s about planning for Day One … which is when we REALLY start this challenge.
DAY ONE (and instructions for most of the challenge)
OK … WE’RE ON! All of this should take you about an hour altogether every day.
So spend at least 10 to 15 minutes on each of the six (or seven) things above. In other words, find a way to fit one fermented food, 2 fruits, and 3 vegetables into your life.
If that’s not something that you do on a regular basis … and most of us don’t … how do you DO that? And do it EVERY DAY?
Think … do you need a recipe … do you just want to eat them one at a time for snacks … do you need other foods to add to them … like a putting them in a salad (the easiest way to get more veggies in your life).
So … do you need a dressing … a dip … some whipped cream … some salad crunchies (I love tortilla strips, crushed-up Paleo chips, or seeds and nuts)? The big question is … how are you going to make this work for you?
Oh … and you’re probably thinking … what IS a 1 fermented food? Anywhere from a fork-ful of sauerkraut to a cup-ful of kombucha.
And 2 fruits … two medium and 1 cup cut-up … and WHOLE FRUIT not juice. You can eat a lot more melons and berries … about 1 cup per 1 fruit.
Veggies … 3 cups or 1-1/2 cup cooked. You can definitely mix it up … I like half-and-half lettuce and raw or cooked veggies for my salad meal … I try to do at least one a day. And dressing … whatever you’d like … we’re just focused on getting more veggies into your life at this point.
Oh … and french fries are NOT a vegetable. Please enjoy them … just don’t include them in your veggie count.
Then take five minutes or so to do some mindfulness. I’ve included audios for each day … and the skills build sequentially on each other. But … if you want some variety and easy-to use phone apps … I like Buddhify ($30 a year) and Insight Timer (free!).
READING … take 10 to 15 minutes and read one of the articles in Your Good Gut Blueprint. Or take more time if you want. Make this whole thing fit YOUR time frame.
And make it comfortable for you. That’s why it’s short in duration and doesn’t take a ton of time. So that you’ll DO the whole five days … which is the goal.
DAY TWO (adding Gluten Free)
Day Two is exactly the same as Day One … some fermented food … even a fork-ful of anything suggested in the Fermented Food Magic article. Buy some sauerkraut, yogurt (make sure it has “active cultures”), pickles … whatever you’d like.
Then get your fork out. Fermented foods give you good gut bacteria. WITHOUT expensive pills.
But this is the day to start adding Gluten Free foods. If you sign up for the challenge, you’ll get a whole list of Gluten Free products to download and print out for reference.
But there are lots of ideas in the the article, Eating Gluten Free too. For this day’s challenge, choose a Gluten Free bread and eat it. There are tons to choose from these days.
When I started getting off gluten, there was only this rice bread that literally crumbled if you didn’t toast it. UGH!
But now you can get ciabattas, baguettes, rolls for your burgers and dogs … just about every kind of bread you’ve eaten before. MY fave … everything bagels … as crunchy and delicious as the gluten kind.
So make a sandwich for lunch with one of the breads, crown your burger, serve a roll with dinner … whatever you’d like. You can do one of two things … cut out bread entirely and substitute Gluten Free bread. Or just have this once during the day. Up to you.
And don’t forget your fruit, veggies, mindfulness, reading, and planning for DAY THREE, All these … however … should only take 10 to 15 minutes each … maximum. Plus … if you do the challenge with me … my daily Facebook LIVE in the private Facebook group to answer questions and provide support to get you through the day.
But … you CAN do this yourself. It’ll just take you a lot more time to get it all together.
DAY THREE (hump day)
You doing it … and we’re halfway done! We start the day with a Facebook LIVE (you can also view it later) … again … to provide support, answer questions, and motivate you to go on.
Again … this is an easy transition … just have one fermented food, 2 fruits, 3 veggies, one Gluten Free food … pasta this time … five mindfulness minutes … read another article … and plan for tomorrow.
DON’T make it complicated! The purpose is to just DO this with the idea that it’s a way to kick-start you to health. And possibly be the beginning of a lifestyle change for you.
Again … find some pasta that you’d like to try … there are TONS now … and almost all the shapes you’ve loved as a kid. Even wheels and alphabets. Grab some jarred sauce, open up a bag of meatballs (some are Gluten Free, like Ian’s, Rosina, Cooked Perfect, and Aidell’s) and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Or you can even go out to eat … many Italian restaurants within 10 miles of me have Gluten Free pasta. I just don’t eat the bread … but waiters are still silly enough to offer it to me anyway.
However you want to structure this day … just make it work for yourself.
DAY FOUR (we move on)
You’re almost done! Is this getting easier? It should be. That’s the whole point.
And planning is probably easier now too. Because you now know what to do. And maybe new ideas are percolating about new stuff to try. Like going to the store and getting some yogurt.
Or trying something new … like milk kefir or Culturelle (a fermented milk product). Or something even more exotic … like coconut yogurt or kombucha.
This is also the day where you’re thinking about quitting (if not yesterday … or even DAY ONE). Since most people quit any type of diet within a week … you’re covered!
If you make it until tomorrow … YOU’VE DONE IT! So just hang in there.
The way to make it through today. Plan … try something new … treat yourself to a spectacular dinner. AND BREATHE!
Today might be a good day to start doing mindfulness when you eat. And it’s no coincidence that TODAY is the day we’re trying a Gluten Free sweet.
Cookies, cakes, chocolate, cinnamon rolls … whatever your fancy. My advice … buy it … we’re into easy and finishing here …
More advice … try something you usually eat … or a guilty pleasure (actually … I hate that phrase … no food should make you guilty). And … FYI … there’s even Gluten Free twinkies and chocolate cupcakes … Katz makes them.
The important thing is to do what you planned yesterday. And just get through the day. And breathe when you need … that’s why we do mindfulness.
We’re really good at maintaining the status quo. We innately DON’T want to change … our auto-pilot unconscious sees to that.
And our … the Buddhists call it “monkey mind” …chatter will try to sabotage us. DON’T LET IT!
DAY FIVE (almost done!)
So today just get through it. Allow yourself to enjoy this last day.
For the Gluten Free food … you might want to eat the one you most loved the last four days. Or … this might be the day that you do EVERYTHING Gluten Free. Again … up to you …
And … if you’re doing the challenge … don’t miss the Facebook LIVE today! Because this is the day we plan for something else.
Obviously … if your gut isn’t working right … this was just the beginning! But a really good beginning … one where your unconscious mind is probably percolating with new ways to try fermented foods, fruits, veggies, and Gluten Free stuff.
Maybe you’ll even try a recipe someday … my website is full of them.
So … if you’re open … there are many options. Food sensitivity and Functional testing for gut integrity, nutrient deficiencies … even parasites.
I can look at a timeline of your whole life and figure out where you went wrong … and we can fix it together. Or you can just continue on this path … it’s a good one …
Oh … and you CAN do this without joining my challenge. But you’ll miss the support and community. And … remember … half abandon even well-crafted plans in a week or less …