This post is a small excerpt from a class I like to teach called Tending Your Inner Garden. If you would like to book me to speak at your event or for more information about how I work with clients to heal their gut and rebuild a strong and vibrant physical container, please email me or use the contact form on this site.

As an herbalist, I often look to nature to give me clues as to how to take care of myself and help my clients. Nothing I do feels complete without using plants in some small way (even if it’s just drinking a nourishing tea every day or recommending herbs to use in your kitchen), however, the place I most often begin with clients is by looking at the gut.

One of my teachers likes to say, the gut is the gateway to health. The gut is the place where we actually come into contact with foreign bodies and process them, digest them, assimilate them or eliminate them. It is your inner garden, an internal ecosystem that helps you interface with the outside world and requires the same love, care and attention that you would give to any external garden you maintained.

Think about it. If you were a gardener and your plants were dying, you’d attempt to identify why and would make changes to the environment to provide a healthier area for the plants to grow and thrive. Maybe you’d use an anti-bacterial agent like neem to get rid of some powdery mildew, or you’d add nutrients to the soil to encourage better growth. The same approach must be taken with your gut.

To best support yourself and gut health, you need an individualized approach. The “soil” and “plants” in your garden are not the same as your neighbors, best friend’s or favorite Instagram celebrity. Your gut is unique to you and so to heal it or take care of it, the best first step is to listen, learn and tend to it like a good gardener attends to their garden.

If you have major gut issues or have been suffering from long-term chronic conditions, it’s best to work with a practitioner to heal your gut and get to the root cause of your illness – I have a 6 Phase Program that I do with my clients that is tailored to their individual needs. However, here are some basic guidelines you can follow to keep everything in good shape.

1. Figure out the best, least restrictive diet that works for you and then follow it 80% of the time

2. Eat the foods that make you feel good (body, mind and soul) regardless of what other people (or the media) tell you

3. Eat to reduce inflammation and control blood sugar

4. Eat 2 – 3 meals a day, snack when you’re truly hungry

5. Eat all the tastes – bitter, pungent, sweet, salty, sour

6. Eat a variety of whole, minimally processed foods with a focus on green veggies, healthy fats and organic or grass-fed proteins

7. Figure out what your carb tolerance is and stay roughly within that, most of the time

8. Ideally, fruits and veggies are in-season and pesticide free

9. Ideally, processed & inflammatory foods & refined carbs are kept to a minimum

1. Spend time with your friends and community, laugh a lot, live a life full of heart

2. Follow your passions, do things that bring you joy and cultivate gratitude, wonder, curiosity, self-acceptance & peace

3. Sleep is critical – get at least 6 – 8 hours a night of quality sleep

4. Spend time outside, in nature, every week (preferably every day)

5. Get adequate sun exposure without sunscreen (but don’t burn)

6. Learn to be kind to yourself – treat yourself like you would a baby bunny, say kind things to yourself every day and adopt daily routines and practices that bring you joy and are self-compassionate

7. Reduce stress through meditation, baths, long walks, etc.

8. Exercise regularly – do both weight bearing and cardio exercises, don’t overdo it

9. Use natural, non-toxic cleaning and self-care products

As I tell my clients, don’t be crazy. If you chose to follow these guidelines, do it pretty well most of the time. Don’t forget that part of life is having fun, making mistakes and learning to have compassion for yourself when you’re not perfect. Above all, cultivate joy, courage and compassion (and if that means having a slice of super glutenous cake on your birthday, then by all means, get after it and take care of yourself afterwards).

For more information about how to heal your gut or what supplements and herbs to take to support homeostasis and general health, book your first session with me.