Fixing my gut health made me feel and look ten years younger

Last week, Goop’s former content manager took to social media to denounce “any cleanup”. For Elise Leohnen, it had become synonymous with diet and restriction. “I felt like I didn’t have a healthy relationship with my body…I was always trying to punish it; to master it,” Loehnen explained. She then confessed that since leaving the wellness brand, she’s been “eating like a teenager for two years and enjoying it to be honest.”

Fair enough. Keeping up with Gwyneth Paltrow, 49, the notoriously disciplined and flexible founder of the lifestyle brand, must have been difficult. Not to mention how the pressure to embody the feel-good principles that underpin the Goop brand ethos would wreak havoc on any mortal, especially if you didn’t grow up under the glare of Hollywood like Paltrow did.

I can identify with Loehnen’s sentiment. At my core, I’m a comfort eater, dining like a teenager for periods of time in a thinly veiled attempt to soothe and distract from the rippling hormones and responsibilities that plague women in their 40s. Although, if I’m being honest, “comfort eating” is an oxymoron. Like alcohol, it feels good temporarily but the positive effects are short-lived.

When I indulge in salty fried foods, creamy sauces, and sweet treats, the end result is far from comfortable. Bloating and pain ensue, my mood plummets, my energy levels drop, and fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness appear out of nowhere. Needless to say, this isn’t an advertisement for a beauty editor whose job it is to report on the answers to youthful, healthy-looking skin. In short, when I eat c— I want c—; and my digestive problems testify to it.

Despite Leohnen’s experience, despite trying to prove otherwise, when I eat like a 16 year old I slip into a vortex of bad moods and unwanted weight gain faster than I want to. admit. Eating like a teenager might be harmless when you have one, but when you’re over 40, your gut, skin, and libido will crash.

In my 20s, my stomach could handle anything thrown at it. Half a dozen Cosmopolitans and a late-night kebab couldn’t derail my gut microbiome. Neither could stress. The lining of my stomach was foolproof.

Or so I thought. I was in my 40s when I noticed the change – nutritionist Gabriela Peacock told me that was when the silent gut issues cropped up. At that age, I naturally gravitated towards healthy foods, but at the end of a day of pressing, I wasn’t immune to the takeaway and the occasional glass of wine, which quickly began to lead to intolerable intestinal pain and aggravation of the skin.

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