The 5 Components That Make Every Meal Gut-Healing

Photo: Robyn Youkilis

I created my Good Gut Rule of Five to show you exactly what to put on your plate at lunch and dinner. Eating in this way will ensure that you are getting a balance of both macro- and micronutrients, as well as my favorite gut-healing superfoods (which I talk about more in my book, Thin From Within). Aim to include one ingredient from each of the five categories that follow for a complete and balanced meal:

1. Greens:

Kale, collards, arugula, spinach, lettuce...I love ’em all. Aim to have at least two or three big handfuls of greens with most meals. Greens do it all when it comes to gut health and weight loss: They are packed with fiber, which helps fill you up and keep you regular. Plus, leafy green veggies are some of the most nutrient-dense foods, and when you are filling your cells with nutrients (I mean real nutrition, not just calories!), you have more energy and fewer cravings.

2. Healthy fat:

Avocado, olive and flax oils, almonds, butter from grass-fed cows (so the cows have healthy guts too!), and coconut oil all count here. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 to 2 ounces of nuts, or ¼ to ½ of an avocado at each meal for a good dose of flavor and satiation. Plus, fats are essential for proper absorption of most vitamins and minerals. I used to be terrified of fats, but now I include them at every meal and am lighter than I’ve ever been.

Photo: Robyn Youkilis

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3. Protein:

Wild salmon, grass-fed beef, organic chicken, tempeh, sprouted lentils, and canned wild sardines are some examples of great go-to protein options. Protein keeps you full and stabilizes your blood sugar, so you won’t keep dipping into your raw chocolate stash or crash halfway through your afternoon meetings.

4. Fermented food:

Including fermented foods on your plate is the good-gut secret to weight loss through a healthy microbiome (you need all that great bacteria throughout the day to keep your digestion humming!). Examples include raw sauerkraut, fermented beets, fermented carrots or radishes, and kimchi. Try adding 1 to 3 tablespoons at each meal, and feel free to work your way up to ½ cup or more. If you’re not used to the flavor of fermented veggies, try mixing them with avocado to mellow the flavor.

5. Cooked vegetables:

Having a cooked veggie or two with my meal (in addition to greens) always makes the meal feel more grounding and filling. Roasted zucchini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots are all examples of delicious cooked veggies, but this can really be any veggie. I try to roast a bunch of seasonal veggies at least once or twice per week so I always have some cooked veggies on hand and ready to go. If you’re on the run, many takeout spots and fancy restaurants have awesome veggie choices these days.

Want to know the WORST foods for gut health? A doctor weighs in.

Based on excerpts from Thin From Within by Robyn Youkilis, with the permission of Kyle Books. Copyright © 2018.

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