So, my friend Hannah emailed me the other week and asked me if I’d like a copy of Jeanette Hyde’s The Gut Makeover to review on the blog. I said ‘sure’, without really thinking about it, but then kind of regretted it. I’m not adverse to a healthy eating plan, but I’m not a massive fan of diets. What if I read it and thought it was crap? I definitely wouldn’t be able to review it, and I’d feel kind of bad for taking it in the first place.
But a few things made me think that maybe this would be something I’d like to read. 1) Hannah herself was a case study for the book. She took part in it last September, around her birthday. I remember saying what a crap time of year it was to start it, given that it was her birthday and that as well as various family get-togethers she was going to have, our group of friends were all meeting up twice in the month – once to get drunk and once to eat cake. She said it wasn’t actually that hard to do, and she was enjoying taking part. I wasn’t 100% convinced, but she seemed pretty confident about it.
Then, 2) at the end of last year, I started feeling pretty crappy. My back has always been bad, but it’s gotten even worse. Then the other weekend, I pulled my hip. Like a grandma. Seriously. I feel like my diet has been rubbish, comprised of whatever is quick and easy to prepare. I’ve made some inroads on that since the start of the year, but not as much as I’d like to. Added to that, my skin has gotten terrible, when it always used to be clear apart from a few days each month. And my sleep has been awful. Theo has been mostly sleeping through until at least 5, usually 6, but I’m sleeping like a newborn, up at 2, 3, 4 and then whenever he gets up. I really don’t feel in peak health at the moment.
And then, finally, 3), I read an article in the Saturday Times a couple of weeks ago about Giulia Enders, and her research into the gut area. It was absolutely fascinating, and was the tipping point to make me think maybe I should give Hannah’s book a go.
So I did and… it was a really interesting read. The first part is about the science of the gut, and references Enders and numerous other studies that are uncovering more and more about this part of the body. The bacteria that live inside us has far more affect on our bodies than anyone previously thought. They actually do so much to regulate our bodies that they are now being called an organ in their own right. Eating a varied diet with a focus on protein and vegetables helps the microbiomes living inside us to thrive, which in turn, helps our body to function more efficiently. The rest of the book explains the plan, shares case studies, suggests daily meal plans, and includes a good number of recipes.
The plan itself is very close to the paleo diet, and focuses primarily on protein and vegetables. No gluten, no pulses, no dairy for the first two weeks, no sugar, no caffeine, no booze. After the four weeks, you start to reintroduce grains and dairy products not listed, and you can get a sense of what effect they have on your body. You might have no issues with them, in which case hurrah, or you might realise that having a bowl of pasta stops you from sleeping at night.
Before reading the book, I would have said that the plan sounded kind of mental (actually, I think I did say that to Hannah back in September), but I’ve fully drunk the kool-aid and want to give it a go. I think what makes it seem doable is that there are some very easy and tasty sounding recipes in the back of the book which made me realise how this could be done without necessarily feeling like I was missing out all the time. Also, you can eat sweet potatoes and potatoes, so if I’m ever feeling a carb urge, those will happily work in place of pasta.
I also spoke to a friend of mine, who studied nutrition, to get her take, and she was very positive about it.
SO. I think I’m going to give it a go. It’s definitely going to take a lot of forward planning, but I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of doing that anyway.
I’ll check back in and let you know how it’s going halfway through, and again at the end. I’m not doing this to lose weight or change my body shape, so instead of telling you my before and after weights, I’ll tell you that my score on the test Jeannette includes at the start of the book (where you score your sleeping, body aches, headaches, etc, between 1 and 5) was 47. Hopefully, by taking part in the plan, I’ll see some of those things improve over the course of the month.
I’m starting on the 1st of February, and like any of these things, it’s always helpful to have someone doing it along with you. Anyone fancy giving it a go?
You can get your copy of The Gut Makeover here. As I’ve mentioned, this book was received free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.