1.  EAT LESS CRAP. The bad bacteria in your gut goes hog wild for refined foods like white bread, white rice, white pasta and refined sugar (all my old favorite things). Loading up on processed food is like laying out a buffet for the bad guys in your gut. That processed food feeding frenzy promotes problematic overgrowth of bad bacteria over time (see why you DO NOT want this here). Instead, focus on maintaining the delicate balance in your microbiome by feeding the good bacteria with healthier stuff. You can do this if you....
  2. EAT MORE REAL FOOD. The SAD (Standard American Diet) is so loaded with "frankenfoods" that have been altered in so many ways that our bodies just don't know what the MF to do with 'em. Put down the Little Debbie snack cakes and incorporate more whole, unprocessed foods into your diet.  Even doing this a little bit at a time will have big results. Your body will thank you for the powerful in-tact nutrients found in nature's miracles: whole fruits and vegetables, unprocessed nuts and seeds, tubers like yummy sweet potatoes and parsnips, wild caught fish like salmon and game and/or sustainably farmed meats. Don't know where to start? Try these easy swaps:  
    • Instead of boxed sugary cereal for breakfast, have steel-cut oats with a dollop of unsweetened yogurt and fresh berries on top. Or a Misfit Wellness smoothie!
    • At lunch, instead of a sandwich on white bread, try a salad with fresh veggies, salmon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar OR roasted veggies and chicken on a bed of brown rice.
    • At dinner, try filling half your plate with greens like kale, Brussels sprouts, green beans, Swiss chard, spinach or any of your favorite veggies steamed or sautéed in olive oil with a little salt and pepper. If you start there, you're already on your way to a healthier, happier gut! 
  3. WATCH ALCOHOL AND SUGAR. I know, booooo. But most alcohol and excessive sugars of any kind are inflammatory, taxing on your system in general and are no bueno for your gut. But, it's not all bad news folks. Red wine has actually been shown to be beneficial to the gut, so swap your martinis and cocktails for red wine in moderation and you've taken another step in the right direction! (You're killin' it btw.)
  4. EAT PRE- AND PROBIOTIC FOODS. These foods promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, which is essential to our overall health. You'll want to slowly, mindfully incorporate them in any or all of the below ways because ironically enough, many probiotic and prebiotic foods can be tough work for the digestive system - especially for those with compromised gut health. Try one of the below at one meal per day every other day in the beginning and increase from there. Note if you experience more gas or digestive discomfort than is normal for you and play around with your intake to find what works for you. I couldn't even LOOK at anything with cabbage or onions when I began my gut healing journey, so take it from your MF girl, and go slow to avoid awkward moments in yoga class. 
    • Cultured aka fermented dairy: If you can tolerate dairy, unsweetened yogurt, kefir and soft fermented cheeses like Swiss and gouda are excellent sources of probiotics. If you're dairy-free like me, there are some excellent coconut and nut milk yogurts and cheeses out there now. With all of the above, pick something free of additives, preservatives and added sugars. Just because a brand caters to food allergies does NOT mean they're peddling good, clean food. Read the labels :)
    • Pickled aka fermented vegetables: Kimchi and sauerkraut are the most popular options in this category and are widely available, but you can also try pickled onions on tacos, pickled carrots or green beans as a yummy snack, or pickled radishes which have a boatload of other health benefits in addition to the probiotics. Regardless of what you choose, be sure to select a product that uses lacto-fermentation to make sure you're getting the probiotics. Local and artisan producers are usually a safe bet, although they are often more expensive. Womp.
    • Oral probiotic supplements: You want to select a probiotic that has multiple strains of bacteria and bare minimum 5 Billion CFU. Another buying tip: electing from the refrigerated options that have also been cooled in transit ensure you're getting what you pay for in live, active cultures that are beneficial to your gut.  
    • Kombucha: A naturally effervescent ancient tea rich in probiotics, kombucha is a delicious, refreshing way to hydrate and love your gut. Watch out for brands with loads of added sugar and choose from selections flavored with fruit puree or herbs and spices. GT's is my favorite brand and I always go for the Trilogy or Ginger-aid flavors that are low in sugar. 
    • Prebiotic foods: Garlic, onion and leeks are my personal favorite probiotics, but they are all things that can be tough on many people's digestive systems. See my tip on increasing intake above, especially with these items!
  5. INCORPORATE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SPICES AND FATS: Start using anti-inflammatory spices and herbs like turmericginger and rosemary on a regular basis. Turmeric is de-lish sprinkled on cauliflower, carrots and sweet potatoes (try lightly coating any of these in virgin coconut oil, sprinkling with turmeric, salt and pepper and roasting on a foiled cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes). I drink this tea daily to get both turmeric and ginger into my regimen. Ginger is also great in smoothies. We love mixing rosemary, lemon and garlic for a yummy chicken or pork marinade too! Almonds, walnuts, olive oil, avocados and salmon all have lots of gut-loving anti-inflammatory fats. Have a small handful of nuts for a quick snack and try working salmon into your meals even once each week. 
  6. BE GENTLE: Most of us have pretty nutty eating habits. Any of this sound familiar? Eating on the run, eating while standing up and doing 10 other things, eating in the car while talking on the phone and yelling at your kids, eating in your sleep, eating too much or too little or too often, eating at your desk while stressed to the limits, eating your feelings (that one is my favorite). Chances are you're not chewing your food enough and/or allowing your digestive enzymes and system to do its job peacefully or properly. If you do nothing else on this entire list, try a few of these things and I'll bet your gut will thank you for it in no time:
    • Try the 12-hour window. This is up top because it has had more impact on my digestive health than any other lifestyle choice. I used to be (and occasionally still am) a big night grazer. With my last bite around 10 pm sometimes and my first bite as early as 5 or 6 am, I was only giving my body 7-8 hours to digest and detox. After doing the Clean Program for the first time about 5 years ago, I noticed maintaining a 12 hour window between my first and last bite DRASTICALLY decreased bloating and digestive discomfort in general. I strive to maintain this as much as possible now and it's the first thing I recommend to people with digestive issues because it's super simple adjustment that pays off big time. 
    • Have one meal a day where you do nothing else but focus on your food. Pay attention to the colors, smells, texture, taste and chew it slowly. Enjoy it. Savor it. Eat it like a real human being. (Don't feel bad, I remember to do this like twice a week.  But hey, trying.)
    • Eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Under-eating AND over-eating cause cascade effects in your body that start with hormones going haywire and end with gut imbalances which loop back to wacky hormones. (Also a big offender in this area.) In addition, eating often and just for the sake of eating puts your digestive system in overdrive and drains energy from other important functions (like detoxification).
    • Move your body, even a little, after you eat. This helps digestion a great deal, especially at the end of the day. Get up and go for a 10 minute walk, do the dishes, do a little stretching, make love, dance around the living room, get weird. Just move a little!
    • Try digestive enzyme supplements. Compromised gut health? This one's for you. If you're a big offender in the chew too little and eat on the run arenas, this will help make up for the enzymes you're not giving your mouth a chance to secrete. If you're naturally lacking certain pancreatic enzymes like I am, these babies are lifesavers especially when you go on vacation in Italy and have little control over what you eat. 
    • Start your day with an easy-to-digest smoothie or smoothie bowl to extend the time you're allowing your body to put energy into restoring and regenerating. If you start the day with a big breakfast loaded with foods that are difficult to digest, your food may be draining your own energy instead of increasing it. 
  7. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, ESPECIALLY YOUR BUM. Most people don't want to make diet and lifestyle adjustments because as humans we're creatures of habit, increasingly set in our ways as we age, and change can be hard as hell. But if you're having to run to the bathroom every time you eat your beloved baked brie or getting awful pains and cramps from your morning toast, you need to listen to the signals your body is sending you. Take it from me, if you don't listen, the signals will only get louder, stronger and more bizarre as your body tries every way to get you to respond to its calls for help!  
  8. MANAGE STRESS: This is a really hard one for all of us. I could go on and on about this one because I don't think any of us understand exactly how deeply stress effects our bodies and lives, but since this post is already too long, I'll just say this: if managing your stress seems like an insurmountable challenge, just try taking three breaths with your eyes closed when you sit down to eat. Put your hand on your belly and focus on the breath inflating and deflating your abdomen. This will at least drop your stress level for a few minutes while you're eating :)