Does it feel like your gut is unpredictable from day to day? You can't quite pinpoint why but you also can't predict what might be setting off your sensitive gut. This can make your whole day and week feel unstable.
But there is a good starting solution to overcome this unpredictability: a well-crafted daily routine. A supportive routine is the first step to create space to not only heal your gut but to also allow it to grow stronger and healthier.
The biggest mistake I see my patients make when it comes to their gut health is discounting the power of our simple daily habits. When you are experiencing the BIG symptoms like bloating, pain, gas, and erratic poop patterns, it feels like the small stuff just can't be strong enough to help.
This couldn't be the furthest from the truth. So let's delve into the art of creating a routine that supports a stronger & healthier gut, one step at a time.
And remember, the key is not perfection, but progress.
Less is More: Simplifying Your Approach:
When it comes to managing IBS and sensitive guts, less is often more. Instead of overwhelming yourself with a complex routine, start with a few foundational elements that are easy to implement and maintain. This approach prevents burnout and makes it more likely that you'll stick to the routine over the long term.
So pick 1-3 things that help you feel good and start there. Once those habits are in place, you can build on your routine IF you need to.
Not sure which things to prioritize? These are my top 3:
1. Prioritize Sleep for Gut Health:
Sleep isn't just crucial for your energy levels; it's also essential for maintaining a healthy gut. We have many night-time specific functions that happen in the gut while we sleep. They set us up for more functional days but we can't complete them if we don't sleep.
Set a wind-down time for your day that allows you to get the elusive 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Whether you struggle to sleep or wind down for the day, a relaxing bedtime routine can set you up for a better night's sleep and by extension a better functioning day.
A calming routine should include dim lights, screen-free time and stress-regulating activities like reading, meditation, journaling or stretching.
2. Consistent Meal Times:
Your gut loves consistency, and establishing regular meal times can help regulate digestion. Aim for three main meals and a couple of snacks if needed.
Focus on the consistency first then the specific food second. The most helpful gut specific food focus is making sure you're eating protein with each meal. Don't forget to stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the day.
(Psst... consistent meal times is one of the principles of eating hygiene you can find in my free guide: The No-Bloat Checklist)
3. Embrace Daily Movement:
Movement is crucial for a strong gut and for reducing uncomfortable symptoms by promoting healthy digestion and reducing stress. You'll notice I said movement and not exercise because it's more important that you move than becoming a gym fanatic if that's not your jam.
Engage in gentle movement like walking, swimming, dancing, chores, or yoga. Our eventual goal is 30 minutes of movement most days of the week, but remember that any amount of movement is better than none. I often start with 10-20 minutes 3x/week and build from there.
Navigating Setbacks: One Day at a Time:
It's important to remember that setbacks are a normal part of any journey, especially one as nuanced as managing IBS or a sensitive gut. If a day doesn't go according to plan, don't let it derail your entire routine. Instead, acknowledge the challenges and make a conscious effort to get back on track the next day.
The Baseline Principle: Routines as Your Anchor:
Routines are not rigid schedules that must be adhered to at all costs. Think of them as supportive baselines that you can return to, especially during times of stress or unpredictability. They provide stability and comfort in the face of gut reactions and IBS fluctuations.
Keep the following key principles in mind:
1. Flexibility within the Routine:
Allow yourself room to adapt your routine as needed. If you're experiencing a flare-up, it's okay to adjust your meals, skip intense workouts, or prioritize rest. The key is to maintain the essence of your routine while accommodating your body's needs.
2. The routine fits your lifestyle; not the other way around:
In the world of social media, it's easy to get glimpses into the routines of people and influencers around you. That is great for them but it might not be great for you.
If you can't keep up with your routine, it's likely not working in your life. This should signal that you are either prioritizing the wrong things or you have too many things in your routine to keep up with. Remember our starting lesson: less is more.
3. Patience and Progress:
Remember that healing takes time. Celebrate even the smallest victories along your journey. Whether it's a day with minimal symptoms, sticking to your routine, or trying a new recipe, each step is a step toward a healthier gut.
Final Thoughts and Next Steps
Crafting a routine to support you, your mental well-being and a healthier gut is a powerful act of self-care. The fact that you are here reading this means that you are recognizing something needs to change. Getting the learning and knowledge is always the first step towards action.
Along the way, remember that setbacks are normal, and routines are meant to be flexible baselines, not strict rules. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your progress, and embrace the journey toward better gut health.
As always, remember that you do not need to do this all alone. Support makes everything easier, whether it comes from your friends & family, an online support group, or a trusted pro.
If you're ready for more support, here are two ways I can help
1) If you are someone who NEEDS to understand before taking action and you're tired of the never-ending internet spirals and conflicting advice, I have the solution.
I've created an info-packed, evidence-backed course called the IBS User Guide to help women just like you navigate their IBS and start thriving. Find all the details here
2) If you are ready for a higher level of support and you want a plan that is personalized to YOU, then let's work together 1:1. I always leave a few spots each month to take on new patients who are ready to leave the digestive distress behind and start living fully again.
Book a free discovery consult here and let's chat about what this journey can look like for you!