What Is Gentle Nutrition? Taking a Closer Look At The Non-Diet Approach To Improving Your Gut Health

What Is Gentle Nutrition? Taking a Closer Look At The Non-Diet Approach To Improving Your Gut Health

If there’s one thing we want people to know, it’s that you can get a grip on your gut health without swearing off your favorite foods forever or slowly drowning in a sea of supplements. 

All of the conflicting information and misinformation out there can leave you feeling like you have to eliminate EVERY food that could POSSIBLY be a problem and ONLY eat so-called “gut health superfoods.” Plus we get it, sometimes it feels like desperate times call for desperate measures! 

But not only is an extreme approach “not the vibe,” it can even make matters worse (read more on that here). The good news is, there is a simpler, safer, and more sustainable solution: gentle nutrition.

What is Gentle Nutrition?

Gentle nutrition is a key aspect of the non-diet approach. Unlike traditional diets that impose unrealistic guidelines, gentle nutrition encourages a flexible and compassionate attitude toward food choices, promoting balance, variety, and enjoyment in eating. This approach is all about establishing a foundational understanding of nutrition without stressing and obsessing over every tiny detail.  It empowers you to make food choices that honor your body’s needs, your health goals, and your tastebuds without judgment or guilt. 

In practice, gentle nutrition looks like: 

#1 – Making Gradual Changes

Gentle nutrition recognizes that lasting meaningful change takes time and patience. Instead of expecting you to overhaul your entire diet overnight, it encourages making small, gradual changes that are manageable and sustainable in the long term (which means no more “starting over” again and again).

#2 – Practicing Mindful Eating 

Gentle Nutrition places a strong emphasis on mindfulness during meals, urging you to be fully present and attentive to the experience of eating (how does it taste, what do you smell, how do you feel, etc.) as well as bodily cues. This helps you make informed decisions about what and how much to eat, fostering a deeper connection with your body and its needs, rather than relying on external pressures.

#3 – Focusing on Flexibility & Variety

It’s not about rigidly following a set of rules or eliminating entire food groups from your diet. Instead, gentle nutrition promotes embracing a flexible approach to eating, thinking about what you can add, what you really need / honoring your body. Rather than viewing certain foods as forbidden, gentle nutrition encourages you to savor your favorite foods in ways that honor your needs and without guilt  (which means you no longer feel restricted or deprived around food)

#4 – Showing Kindness To Yourself

Lastly, gentle nutrition highlights the importance of self-compassion in food choices. It can help you see just how unhelpful berating yourself for “slip-ups” really is.  Embracing self-kindness and taking a curious-rather-than-critical angle with your food habits can alleviate the stress and anxiety often associated with eating and makes the journey towards improved gut health more nurturing and sustainable in the long run.

Why Gentle Nutrition Is Good For Your Gut

Reduces digestive discomfort

  • Mindful eating helps you slow down your pace of eating. This gives your stomach time to signal to your brain that it’s full before it’s too late! It also helps you tune into your hunger and fullness cues so you are more likely to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re comfortably full, rather than when your plate is clean and your belly is bloated.
  • Stress can wreak havoc on your gut, which is why practicing self-care techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help alleviate digestive distress. Plus, when you are gentler with yourself and not feeling overwhelmed about food, your stress levels improve! 

Supports digestive function

  • Shifting focus away from restrictive diets and toward adding beneficial foods into your diet helps maintain a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria which can improve overall digestive function.
  • Mindful eating practices, such as savoring your foods and paying attention to physical hunger and satiety signals, leads to better digestion.1 Chewing your food well also helps your body break down foods more efficiently.

Improves bowel regularity 

  • Gentle nutrition helps you to avoid cutting out too many foods or undereating, both of which can disturb your digestion. By eating a variety of foods from all food groups and focusing on fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you can have better bowel movements!
  • Adequate hydration is essential for breaking down nutrients and keeping things moving through your gut. Gentle nutrition involves drinking plenty of water throughout the day and consuming hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables.
  • Moving your body can also help with digestion. In a non-diet approach, this often looks like taking short walks after eating, doing stretches that support digestion, and, of course, taking time to rest when your body needs it. 

Gentle Nutrition In Action: How To Support Your Digestion

When getting started with gentle nutrition, the key is to not overcomplicate it! Taking a non-diet approach to gut health is all about starting small, focusing on what you can add to meals, or how you can fine tune your eating for better gut health. Let’s walk through some of the basics together. 

First, make sure you’re eating enough. 

Underfueling can slow down gut function! If your symptoms are out-of-control and keep you from eating, it’s time to get support. Reach out to us using the link below!

Next, work on eating in ways that are digestion-friendly: 

When it comes to gut health, we’ve already highlighted how you eat can be just as important as what you eat. There are so many strategies you can use, but here are three we like to start with:

  1. Slow down and chew thoroughly

💡Tip: aim to chew each bite about 20 times before swallowing.

  1. Have meals at regular intervals 

💡Tip: try to fuel with a protein source paired with a carbohydrate at least once every 4 hours during the day. 

  1. Practice mindful eating

💡Tip: take a moment to appreciate your food’s appearance, smell, and texture. During the meal, focus on the taste and how each bite feels. This sensory awareness can enhance your enjoyment and satisfaction.

Then, gradually add foods to support gut health! 

Start by choosing 1-2 areas to focus on. Once you’ve got the hang of that, focus on a new category! 

  • Fiber-rich foods – adding fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can promote digestive comfort and regularity. 

💡Tip: Look for foods that contain 4g or more of fiber. Most people need between 25g and 35g of fiber daily for optimal digestive health. If you’re eating three meals a day, that’s about 10g per meal! 

  • Probiotic-rich foods – incorporating probiotic-rich foods such as live-culture yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi introduces beneficial bacteria into your gut, which can improve digestion and boost immune function. 

💡Tip: For the most benefit, consistency is key! Try having these foods a few times each week. Kefir makes a great base for a smoothie! 

  • Omega-3 fatty acids – adding omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts can help reduce inflammation in the gut. 

💡Tip: A good place to start is having foods that are rich in omega 3s twice weekly. Try adding some walnuts and chia seeds to your yogurt. 

  • Antioxidant-rich foods – including antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and colorful vegetables can protect the gut lining from oxidative damage, reduce existing inflammation, and support gut barrier function. 

💡Tip: Write a list of the foods you already eat in this category and the foods you want to add in. Try a fun “weekly challenge,” checking off when you eat a food from this list and pat yourself on the back for all of the creative ways you got your antioxidants in.

  • Hydration – getting enough fluids is crucial for maintaining healthy digestion. Boost your hydration by adding water, herbal teas, and hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables to your diet. 

💡Tip: Aiming for at least 64oz of water each day is a good place to start, though it’s possible your body needs more than that! If you struggle to drink water, try to make it fun! Add your favorite fruit to flavor your water or drink it out of a “fancy” glass. 

And don’t forget…

The key here is not to restrict, cut out food groups, or feel guilty over what you do or don’t eat. The goal is to honor cravings and preferences while also supporting your body’s physical needs. 

You may have certain limitations or deficiencies that you need to address through nutrition. Take those into account! The beauty of gentle nutrition is it’s flexible and adaptable to your body and needs, unlike traditional diets.

For example, we work with many clients who can’t tolerate raw vegetables, but we know their body needs the nutrients. So, we get creative! Whether it’s experimenting with cooked veggies, smoothies, or anything else, we make it work for their needs.

You deserve the best of both worlds! And with gentle nutrition, you can have it.

Next Steps & Personalized Support

In conclusion, gentle nutrition offers a refreshing alternative to restrictive dieting and can be a powerful tool for improving gut health. If you’re struggling with digestive symptoms and ready to embrace a non-diet approach, it’s time to set yourself free from the stress of strict diets and take the next step toward sustainable results. 

Here you’ll be met with compassionate, weight-inclusive, expert guidance to help you manage your GI symptoms and improve your relationship with food. After all, we’re not your typical gut health nutritionists! 

Connect with us today by filling out the form linked below. 

Fill Out The Form

Have questions? Send us an email! 

Email Our Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    allied nutrition care team of dietitians oklahoma

    Meet the Allied Nutrition Care Team

    We are a group of dietitian specialists based in Oklahoma offering virtual nutrition therapy for digestive health and disordered eating recovery.

    We love working with individuals who are ready to find relief from gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and embrace a more positive relationship with food and their bodies.

    Latest blog posts

    Offering virtual nutrition counseling services in Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and other select states.

    follow us

    Copyright 2024 Allied Nutrition

    Privacy Policy | TOS | Disclaimer

    Website by Declet Designs