gut health

Like most things related to nutrition and health, it’s not what you do on occasion that matters, it’s what you do consistently. Getting a few habits right on a regular basis is the ground work for any gut health investigations you might undertake with a dietitian or your GP.  

So, if you are looking to improve your baseline gut health, reduce bloating and get a daily BEEP (big evacuating enjoyable poo) or figure out if you have an intolerance, these are some really practical habits you can focus on, on a daily basis: 

  1. Drinking 1.8 – 1.6L of water  
  2. Getting 2 serves of fruit  
  3. Having vegetables with lunch and dinner  
  4. Taking a probiotic  
  5. Moving your body 

While you read through these, you may be thinking

“I know I need to do this, but I don’t know how to make it happen”

To make something a habit, you need to repeat it until it’s automatic. To be able to repeat a behaviour on a consistent basis, you need these four things:   

  • Make it obvious – Make the behaviour impossible to forget or miss.  
  • Make it attractive – Make the behaviour something you want to do. If you hate doing something, you’re not going to stick with it.  
  • Make it easy – If a behaviour feels easy, we are more likely to do it. If it feels hard, we’ll avoid the possibility of failing.  
  • Make it satisfying – Make the behaviour something that give you a pleasant after taste, so that it’s rewarding and makes you want to come back and do it again.  

Drinking 1.8  2.5 Litres of water per day  

We know that drinking enough water helps keeps your poo moving through rather than getting blocked up and uncomfortable 

Here are some ways you can boost your fluid intake consistently:  

Make it obvious 

  • Fill your water bottle at night and put it in your bag for tomorrow 
  • Put a glass full of water on your bedside table for 1st thing in the morning  
  • Put an alarm on your computer to fill up your bottle at a particular time of day 
  • Put a water jug and glass on the table at home or work 

Make it attractive  

  • If you like water cold, add some ice  
  • If you like water hot, have a herbal tea 
  • Add some flavour to your water like our infused water jugs 
  • Try some infused mineral water which have natural flavour added  
  • If you know there’s a time of day you struggle to drink, add some diet cordial to make it more appealing.  

Make it easy 

  • Use a smaller glass so that it feels easier to drink in one go  
  • Put a marker on your bottle for where you want to get to by a particular time 
  • Get a bottle that easily fits into your bag 
  • Don’t expect to get to 2.5 litres straight away. Set a smaller goal to increase  

Make it satisfying  

  • Tick a box for every time you finish a glass or bottle of water  
  • Use an app to track your fluid intake 
  • Track how frequently you can get to 1.8 litres  
  • Use an accountability buddy you can tell when you hit your goal

Having 2 pieces of fruit  

Fruit is loaded with fibre which helps to keep everything moving through your GI tract efficiently. 

Here’s how you can make it happen: 

Make it obvious  

  • Have fruit out on the table  
  • Chop fruit and store it at eye level in the fridge 
  • Pack fruit in your lunch each day  
  • Get your kids/family to remind you  

Make it attractive  

  • Choose fruits you actually like the taste of  
  • Make it part of your sweet treat for the day  
  • Pair it with something you do every day – e.g. eating a banana in the car on the way home from work 
  • Having chopped apple while you prepare dinner  

Make it easy

  • Add little bits of fruit into your breakfast and snacks  
  • Add fruit to smoothies as a snack 
  • Nibble on a bit with your kids 
  • Start by consistently eating 1 piece of fruit every day.  

Make it satisfying 

  • Tick it off a habit tracker each day  
  • Tell your kids what fruit you had at the end of each day. It’s great modelling 
  • Play fruit bingo each week to get a range of colours  
  • Attach a reward to getting through the fruit bowl each week.  

What does your poo say about you?

Having vegetables with lunch and dinner  

Vegetables is essential to good gut health, but most of us don’t get close to our vegetable needs each day. Getting veggies in with lunch AND dinner is a simple way to boost your daily fibre intake.

Here’s how you can do it:  

Make it obvious  

  • Plan and write down what veggies you are going to have with lunch and dinner for a few days ahead of time 
  • Store vegetables at eye level in the fridge in clear containers 
  • Use plates that have a divider line for ½ plate of vegetable  
  • Pick a few vegetarian meals each 

Make it attractive  

  • Add sauces and flavours that you enjoy (pesto/aioli/mint jelly 
  • Coat your veggies in spice mixes (taco seasoning/harissa /Moroccan seasoning)  
  • Blend veggies into pasta sauces  
  • Use lots of different coloured veg so your meals look appealing  
  • Choose veg you like the taste of, even if it’s only a few. Volume is more important than variety to begin with.  

Make it easy.  

  • Cook the vegetables the same way you’re cooking the other parts of your meal (roasting/pan frying etc) – it saves on clean up 
  • Use pre-chopped salad and stir fry veggies 
  • Use frozen veg  
  • Chop veg in the morning (or at lunch if you’re working from home) – one less thing to do in the evening 

Make it satisfying 

  • Use a rainbow chart to tick off as many different coloured veg as you can in a day 
  • Report what veg you have had today to your family 
  • Tick off a habit tracker for getting ½ plate of veg with lunch and/or dinner  

Taking a probiotic  

Make it obvious  

  • Put the bottle/packet next to something you use every day (milk in the fridge/coffee mug in the cupboard)  
  • Pair it with a regular meal like breakfast or dinner  
  • Pair it with other medications 
  • Put an alarm in your phone or on your computer  

Make it attractive  

  • Pair it with something you enjoy doing (a sweet treat or checking social media)  
  • Have it with a favourite drink (morning coffee/small glass of juice or cordial) 
  • Choose a probiotic that doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth

Make it easy 

Make it satisfying 

  • Tick off a habit tracker for getting ½ plate of veg with lunch and/or dinner  

Moving your body  

Make it obvious  

  • Get your active gear out the night before  
  • Pack a bag and put it in your car the night before  
  • Put a reminder in your phone for your lunch break  
  • Book it into your calendar 
  • Put it on your to-do list 

Make it attractive 

  • Choose a form of movement you really enjoy   
  • Pair it with something you enjoy. For example: listening to a podcast, watching your favourite show, catching up with a friend, playing a game or listening to your favourite tunes 

Make it easy 

  • Pick a form of movement you enjoy – it doesn’t have to be strenuous to be helpful to your gut. For example: walking, dancing, swimming or yoga
  • Put a time limit on it. If 5 minutes feels easy, you are more likely to do it. If you feel you have to do a full 30 minutes or 1 hour then it definitely won’t be (or feel) easy.  

Make it satisfying 

  • Tick it off your to-do list for the day  
  • Get it done early so you can relax for the rest of the day 
  • Tick it off a habit tracker 
  • Reward yourself for being consistent with things that keep you coming back (new workout gear/new equipment)  

You may have noticed that I have mentioned using a habit tracker several times as a way to make the habit satisfying. This is mostly because I personally LOVE ticking things off a list and if I have a list of habits, I definitely want to tick as many of those off as I can.  

Luckily, I have created a very simple Monthly Habit Tracker as a template to build habits for good gut health.  

You can download a copy here.  

If you want to learn more or need help, then get in contact with our team at The Healthy Eating Clinic.  

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