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'Gutbliss': Let food be your medicine to beat the bloat

In "Gutbliss," Robynne Chutkan illustrates a 10-day plan to realign your diet and cleanse your system in a manner that is quick, healthy and effective. Here's an excerpt.


Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut—and he was right. A clogged, unhealthy digestive system doesn’t just bloat you; it weighs you down in so many other ways, affecting your mood, energy level, libido, and overall sense of well-being. Autoimmune diseases, inflammation, allergies, and even cancer often start in the GI tract, when toxins gain access to the bloodstream through a damaged intestinal lining, poisoning the rest of the body.

The 10-day Gutbliss Plan isn’t a diet. It’s a commitment to making a few simple but significant changes for a relatively short period of time that will help you banish bloat, flush toxins, and dump your digestive baggage—the healthy way. It has helped thousands of women tighten their tummies and end their discomfort, as well as boost their energy and mood by optimizing levels of serotonin, the feel-good hormone located in the gut.

Food as Medicine, Food as Bliss

“What should I eat?” is the question I’m asked the most by patients. It’s also the question I wrestle with the most myself. I don’t endorse any particular way to eat, other than increasing the things that are good for you and decreasing those that aren’t, cooking most of your food yourself, as well as trying to be an ethical consumer. Some days, fruits, vegetables, beans, healthy grains, and a little animal protein seem right; on others, a gluten-free vegan diet makes me feel best. I’ve learned to stay flexible and listen to what my body wants and also not to drive myself crazy in search of an idealized notion of the perfect diet. I designed my plan to be adjustable enough to fit your busy life and your individual needs. For those of you who like a more structured approach, My Gutbliss 10-Day Meal Plan takes you step by step through what ten days of my own blissful eating looks like.

Gutbliss Guidelines

Food is medicine for your body. But keeping up with the latest nutritional science can feel like a full-time job, and eating is also about simple, beautiful ingredients and pleasure. That’s why my Gutbliss Plan focuses on bliss, not perfection. Below are some general guidelines to keep in mind.


My plan doesn’t involve counting calories or calculating net carbs. Food is much more than just its constituent parts. Forget about how many grams of protein something has and think about whether the food you’re eating is helping you or harming you, whether it’s just filler that’s not making a difference either way, or whether it’s even food at all.

Simply fill your plate with food that’s as close to its natural state as possible: potatoes instead of potato chips, apples instead of applesauce. Avoid packaged products with long ingredients lists and extended shelf lives, and beware of marketing masquerading as science. Remember my basic definition of food that doesn’t require a calculator or advanced degree to figure out: something that nourishes you. I recommend that you strive to eat the absolute best food you can get your hands on, every day, because although it won’t be perfect, it really is your best medicine.


The gastrointestinal tract has an amazing capacity to recover and heal, and it wants to be healthy. The bloating you experience is its way of communicating with you, giving you critical feedback that something isn’t right and asking you to make a change. What you eat and how you live have a much greater impact on your digestive health than anything else, and this is exactly what we’ll be focusing on with the plan.

The Gutbliss Plan is based on the initiatives I’ve found to be the most effective for bloating and digestive distress in my patients. Some are things you might already be doing, but I encourage you to follow all the steps of the plan, as you’ll see the best results if you do them together. It’s incredibly rewarding to have patients tell me how much better they feel after implementing these changes, and I’m excited to share this program with you.


While you’re on the plan, there are a few foods you’ll need to eliminate completely, others I’ll ask you to limit, and some I’ll recommend you go out of your way to include on a daily basis. There’ll still be plenty to eat and lots of opportunity to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant or with friends.

What can you eat on the plan? Real food, and plenty of it—especially nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and some whole grains.

High-quality animal protein is allowed but not required.

What should you avoid? Processed foods, chemicals in food, and foods that are notorious for producing bloating.

At the end of the ten-day period, you can continue all of the changes, or just the ones that made the most difference for you. They all lead to better health. What about life after that? I recommend the 80 percent rule: try to stick to the principles behind the plan 80 percent of the time. That’s enough to maintain the digestive advantage you’ve created, while also allowing you to live in the real world.


As part of your new blissful lifestyle, dip into the Gutbliss Spa recipes for skin and hair care that are literally good enough to eat. Other lifestyle recommendations in the plan involve nourishing mind-body practices and any exercise that helps you sweat out your toxins. We’ll even talk about how to “turn around and take a look” as part of achieving stool nirvana—something few diet gurus discuss but which is a crucial part of banishing your bloat. Since you’re not under my care, I can’t give you specific medical advice, but I’ll share some important information about medications that could be contributing to your bloat and a few products that might improve it.

Reprinted by arrangement with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Robynne Chutkan, 2013.