When it comes to dealing with SIBO, most of us are too focused on working on the main aspects like cause and treatments. As a result, we tend to overlook the critical lifestyle factors that play a massive role in our recovery.
Choosing a lifestyle that supports your health is fundamental to your journey to living well with SIBO and avoiding relapse. Your lifestyle can help or hinder your journey back to health and influence how quickly you overcome your condition.
So it’s crucial to assess your daily habits and ask yourself, “Is my lifestyle helping me recover from SIBO or is it hindering my health goals?”
If you need help improving your lifestyle, I’m here to guide you. Read below for lifestyle changes to help you live well with SIBO and beyond. Plus, some helpful tips on how to do them.
5 lifestyle changes to help you manage your SIBO
Start meal planning
Planning what you eat throughout the week is essential to make your SIBO journey easier. It gives you some control in your life, reduces stress and helps you become more organised.
When meal planning, make sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Aim for 40+ plant-based foods per week or 200 plant-based foods per year. Doing this ensures your body gets a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
I know this can be challenging, especially if you’re not currently eating many vegetables. The trick is to start slow and incorporate one new vegetable at a time. Before long, you will be making your way to 40 different plant based foods each week. A handy trick is to transform your vegetables into a tasty soup. For example, if you don’t like eating raw tomatoes, you can roast and purée them, then add some basil for extra flavour to create a yummy dish like my roasted tomato and basil soup.
Check out some of my soup recipes here for more inspiration.
Manage your stress
Dealing with stress is expected when you have SIBO. However, you can avoid this and reduce anxiety by making simple lifestyle changes.
Start by doing something every day that makes you feel good. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as listening to a podcast, taking a nature walk or watching your favourite TV show.
You also need to make sure you’re practising self-care. Think about the things that will make you feel better and ultimately improve your overall well-being. For instance, try changing your current wardrobe if you’re not comfortable with it. Your clothing can either make you feel good or feel worse. Investing in loose-fitting clothes or clothing that allows you to move comfortably and not press on a bloated belly is essential.
Check out my article here to get more tips on how you can manage stress.
Choose the right exercise
Movement is a critical part of our digestion process as it helps strengthen the bodily functions used to pass food through the gut. Regular exercise also helps alleviate bloating and other SIBO symptoms. It stimulates blood flow and helps release endorphins that make us feel good and energised.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle and want to start an exercise routine, you can begin by doing 20 minutes of gentle walking daily. But remember, don’t push yourself too much. Break this into 5-minute segments if necessary, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. As your health improves, you can increase the duration or intensity of your walking. You can aim for 10,000 steps, breaking it up over a day. You can also try doing yoga. It’s an excellent exercise to help you relax and increase your energy, plus there are many exercises that can work the digestive system, such as twists and bends.
Whatever your goal or your intention for your movement, always remember this is a process. Build up gradually until you achieve your objectives.
Exercise can be a stressor on the body. High intensity exercise, while great for a healthy body, can provide unnecessary stress in a SIBO body. If you feel exhausted rather than energised after exercising, ask yourself if that type of exercise is right for you, right now. If you have been a runner but find running fatigues you, walking or a gentle yoga class may be more beneficial. As your health improves, you can work towards more high intensity exercise when your body has the capacity for it.
Ensure you’re getting quality sleep
Sleep is another vital component of a healthy lifestyle as it helps restore and revitalise our system. Our immune system is already compromised when we have SIBO, and lack of sleep can worsen it. Poor sleep can also lead to weight gain, increased perception of pain, depression and impaired memory. SIBOers often already experience these symptoms so we don’t want to exacerbate them by being sleep deprived.
To improve your sleep routine, start by having a consistent bedtime schedule. Set alarms on your phone to remind you to get ready for bed. During this time, you can do your night rituals such as brushing your teeth, taking a bath and evening skincare routine.
If you’re still having difficulty sleeping, you can use a mobile app for sleep meditation. There are a lot of apps that have guided breathing exercises and calming music to help you fall asleep. There are also apps that help you monitor your sleeping patterns, which can be useful as you continue to improve your sleep.
Stay connected with your loved ones
Creating meaningful connections with your family and friends helps make your journey back to health more manageable. So make sure to spend time with people who understand your diagnosis and can give you the support you need to overcome your SIBO.
Just remember that not everybody is sympathetic or interested in SIBO, nor is everyone interested in supporting a healthy lifestyle. We are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Are you spending time with people who work towards, or away, from health? This is why assessing your relationships with the people around you is essential. The people in our lives can also provide the greatest amount of stress to us. If there are people who make you feel anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed, try to limit the time you spend with them.
Choose to be with people who bring joy, happiness and positivity to your life. Surrounding yourself with family and friends willing to support and help you navigate your condition is highly beneficial to your SIBO journey.
If you want to learn more about the importance of lifestyle and my 5 Key Pillars to Health, sign up for Living Well with SIBO: 5-Week Challenge (On Demand) today.
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