Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Day in the Life - What a Gut Healing Diet Looks Like

Aka what the heck can I eat!?

Seems like so far in this blog I've written about what's wrong with my tummy and what I can't eat! But after the initial information onslaught, eating a gut healing diet isn't all doom and gloom. I thought to demonstrate my point I'd share my daily eating habits, tips, tricks and essential pantry items. 

All my meals are interchangeable and I eat lunch and dinner stuff for breakfast (which took a while to get used to) and when I snack it’s still based around what looks like a balanced meal.

I currently avoid nightshades, fruits, vegetables high in FODMAPS, eggs, chocolate and am trying my very best to avoid coffee! I eat this way due to having leaky gut which I've mentioned here. Recently I’ve also dropped starches (even though I'm a BIG fan of sweet potatoes) because of SIBO which I've written about here. I don’t use weird flours, eat paleo treat foods or expensive pre-packaged meals. I keep it real and simple.

I’ve been eating paleo for about 6 years on and off and pretty consistently the last 2 years prior to arriving at this point. I’m an ex vegetarian, vegan and raw fooder over a period of 10+ years, this diet was never right for me and is why I’ve chosen to continue on my new primal based path, making ethical food choices along the way.    

These are the foods I currently base my diet around:

Fats – Coconut oil, ghee (homemade), duck fat, olive oil (if I could find a good source of lard or tallow I’d use them too).
Proteins – Chicken: drumsticks, thighs, maryland, tenderloins, mince, breast. Beef: fillets, rounds, steaks, mince. Lamb: cutlets, leg steaks, mince. Pork; is it bad that I only like bacon!? Free range and natural of course. Fish and seafood. I try and get my protein grass fed, pasture raised, free range or wild caught as much as possible.
Vegetables  Carrots, spinach, silverbeet, asian greens, zucchini, green beans, cucumber, lettuce and occasionally broccoli and pumpkin.
Herbs Dillweed, oregano, chives, basil, fresh coriander, thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, bay leaves, parsley, tarragon and saffron.
Seasonings Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, sea salt, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and very occasionally coconut aminos and 100% natural fish sauce.
Misc - Bone broth, occasional high quality coconut water, herbal tea, fermented cod liver oil, L-Glutamine, probiotics, vitamin C powder and magnesium. 

Things I'd like to add to my diet are organ meats, fermented vegetables, gelatine, sardines, kombucha and potentially homemade keifer and yogurt when my stomach settles a bit. Things I'd eat if I didn’t react to them would be homemade coconut milk, coconut flakes, homemade mayonnaise and olives. If you don’t have trouble with small intestinal bacteria overgrowth you could add sweet potato, bananas, blueberries and oranges in moderation. You could also add other vegetables if you aren't sensitive to FODMAPS                                

Meal Ideas Proteins:
Meat Patties (made from any kind of mince)
Baked Fish
Pan Fried Fish

Shrimp Stir-fry
Chicken/Vegetable Soup
Chicken/Vegetable Stew
Beef Stew
Lamb Stew
Lamb Cutlets, Pan Fried
Baked Chicken Drumsticks
Baked Chicken Thighs
Chicken Stir-fry
Beef Strip Stir-Fry
Beef Steak, Pan Fried
Leg of Lamb, Roasted
Whole Roasted Chicken

Meal Ideas Vegetables:
Roasted Carrot Wedges
Carrot Mash
Carrot/Ginger Soup
Roasted Zucchini Rounds
Sautéed Zucchini ribbons
Steamed Green Beans
Sautéed Spinach
Steamed Broccoli
Steamed Pumpkin
Roasted Pumpkin
Pumpkin Mash
Pumpkin Soup
Basic Salad

Then you mix and match with the herbs and fats to create meals:
- Chicken meatloaf with spinach and coconut oil roasted zucchini rounds with dillweed
- Beef patties made with 3 herbs served with green beans drizzled with olive oil
- Sea salt and thyme pan fried lamb cutlets with duck fat roasted carrot chips
- Lemon baked salmon with ghee mashed pumpkin
- Pan fried white fish with steamed broccoli drizzled with olive oil
- Chicken thigh stir-fry with turmeric, spinach and zucchini
- Pan fried steak with zucchini ribbons and steamed pumpkin
- Tuna Salad with lettuce, cucumber and chives with olive oil and apple cider vinegar
- Chicken Salad with lettuce, cucumber and chives plus homemade mayonnaise
- Baked chicken drumsticks sprinkled with sage served with ghee mashed carrot
- Beef stir-fry with asian greens and green beans
- Roast chicken with roast pumpkin and sautéed chard

You get the idea - Protein + Vegetable + Fat = Every Meal. I eat my vegetables well cooked and as you can see from my examples, usually limit ingredients to about 5 per meal (yes, the examples above are as easy as they sound).

It's essential for me to eat 3 meals a day all with enough protein and fat to keep my hunger at bay and energy steady. As soon as I stray from that I notice a massive increase in cravings and this way of eating starts to feel really hard. If I eat regularly with all the right nutrients, have 1-3 cups of bone both and 1-2 cups of herbal tea a day it seems 'easy' and I feel balanced. At the start smaller meals more often were helpful and I also needed probiotics as well as digestive enzymes to help restore my gut. After my vegetarian shenanigans, then doing low fat treaty paleo, I had to get my tummy used to eating real food at every meal.     

If I need to snack its bone broth, soup, left over patties or meat loaf or I just have a small meal… I won’t lie though, it’s taken me about a year to let go of the 'why me' mentality and make this way of eating feel natural and unrestricted. I’m also at a point where eating otherwise causes me discomfort and flare ups of symptoms… so that’s extra motivation to stay on track.

Tips to make it work:

Pantry watchkeep all treats out of the house, if a partner or flatmate brings something you just can’t resist into the house ask them to kindly eat it within 24 hours (for example my boyfriend and raw chocolate).
Fully stocked – make sure you always have good food in the fridge and left overs for emergency hunger attacks.
Plan ahead – I try to have an idea of what my next 3-4 meals are, all the time and have the ingredients on hand or know when I can get to the store and exactly what I need to buy when I get there.
Cook once, eat twicewhenever I do anything in the fry pan I double up, some for breakfast some for lunch for example… this is a great technique if you need to have food “on the go”. Also, just great to put the second batch aside for a left over meal to have in the fridge.
Batch cook – Whenever I have the oven on I throw in some meat loaf or meat patties for snacks and quick breakfasts.

Stress management, rest and relaxation, movement, connecting with friends and nourishing myself are also essential components. I try to get enough of these daily to stay truly nourished. I've learnt the hard way that no matter how well you eat, if you’re a stress junkie too paranoid to leave the house, too busy to get fresh air or wander along the beach or take the time to chill on the couch with a book or even some bad television... You’ll never get to a full state of wellness.  So now my diet’s pretty much dialed in, these things are my focus. 


  1. Thank you for your blog! really helpful!

  2. Interesting and helpful. My diet is similar but different as have healed some.

  3. What would u say is the breakdown of your diet in terms of percentage/grams of carbs, fats, protein?

    Also, many people with gut issues also have issues with their wt (either difficulty gaining or losing wt). How has your gut issues and your diet affected your wt?

    Any supplements that helped your gut too?

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Both Aglaee and the guys at SCD lifestyle recommend meals as per the image in the blog post:
      - 115-170 grams or 4-6 ounces of quality grass fed protein (if you're a guy or of a larger build you could probably get away with up 220 grams or 8 ounces)
      - 1-3 Tbsp of high quality fats
      - Approx 1C of well good vegetables (depending on tolerance)
      3-4 meals a day with bone broth in between
      Key is to keep enough fat in each day to avoid hunger and fatigue. Hope that gives you a better idea.

  4. Thanks for the love guys :-D

    I find it best to start with your ideal protein intake, then see how many veges you can handle and on a diet like this you need at least 50% of your calories from fat. I'm not a nutritionist, yet, so I'd highly recommended checking out Aglaee Jacobs book Digestive Health with Real Food. It's brilliant! And The Paleo Moms site is genius!

    Diets are so personalised and I'm still in the process of finding the perfect one...

    Aside from the supplements I listed in the article, fermented cod liver oil, L-Glutamine, probiotics, vitamin C powder and magnesium... I also need to take digestive enzymes and HCL. Anything else you'd have to see a naturopath for to get specific help depending on your issues. The guys over at SCD Lifestyle have some great info on supplements.

    I'm already small, I lost 2-4kgs at the start of this journey a year ago but have levelled out at a weight I'm ok with but my boyfriend (and others) thing is on the leaner side. I gave myself a bottom weight and have done my best to not drop under that. I have adrenal fatigue also so being underweight is not at all helpful for that. I can't really advise if the situation is opposite... Except addressing food allergies and emotional eating...

    I'd highly encourage you to explore the links above to those peeps more educated then me and hopefully get some more answers :-) There is more info and links you might find helpful in these 2 posts: