Today I want to share with you how to handle gut setbacks and knowing the difference between “sick again” and normal gut functions.

Gut health is trendy right now

Only my prediction is that it’s a trend that isn’t going anywhere. The state of our gut health in America is not good. 

Back in 2013, it was reported that 74% of Americans live with some sort of gastrointestinal discomfort. Even if that number never increased (and even slightly decreased), that’s awful

When I first started passionately discussing this topic a decade ago, people may have been living with GI discomfort; but they certainly weren’t talking about it in the ways we are today. 

Anyways, on my Instagram Stories yesterday I asked for your blog post requests so I could choose one and write today.  

And here we are.

Only I chose two instead of one because they kind of go together.

How to Handle Gut Setbacks

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How did you handle setbacks? Did you start over? And if so, for how long?

How to Handle Gut Setbacks IBS IBD SIBO #ibs #gut #guthealth

Great question!

Here is exactly what I said in The Gutsy Girl’s Bible (day 18) on the topic,

You will get lost, get lost, but you will never accept getting lost as your final destination.

Lest you think I lead a 100% perfectly Gutsy lifestyle, I do not. I am just like you. I have setbacks, too. Life happens. We don’t live in a bubble, even though I find myself attempting it as much as possible. Typically a setback doesn’t happen because of one day or one meal. Setbacks happen when life happens, and you must expect that they will.

When I have a setback, I first recognize that I’ve been setback. And then, because I feel so miserable, my mind tells me that I need a reset. This reset comes in the form of my bubble. I cut everything “cold turkey.” I get back to the basics. I don’t veer from what I know to be my tried, trusted and true courses of action. When you have a setback, there is no “kind-of-sort-of” in getting yourself back on track. In this case, we cannot settle for mediocrity or we’ll never get on our path again.

Think of it like this: If you are driving somewhere and get off path, do you kind-of sort-of get back on the correct path? No, you get out your driving app and you make for dang certain that you are headed in the right direction. Otherwise, you lose time, you become stressed and you likely never reach your destination. If you are an awful driver like me, you do get lost, but you never accept getting lost as your final destination.

Apply this to your setbacks. You know what to do, where you want to go, and the correct path to healing.

Still Sick or Normal Gut Functions?

How to Handle Gut Setbacks gut illness or normal gut functions_ #guthealth #gut #ibs #chronicillness

The second question / thought went like this,

What is the difference between “being sick” / something wrong and your normal gut functions now that you’re healed? I worry that after being sick for so long, once I heal, I’ll have one smelly fart and burst into tears lol!

First, I love this community so hard because we can discuss such serious topics while also squeezing in all the LOL’s.

Personal Experience / How To

You should know that I was constantly in that phase thinking those same exact thoughts almost daily for the first several months. So here is exactly what I would do:

  1. Embrace the thought

    It’s okay, no shame. Meanwhile, really feel into your body. Is this real or is it not? You have to trust your gut instincts here. And by the way, they are usually right.

  2. Mantra

    Tell myself that good old mantra (started this in 2018, and it was one of the top 9 ways I continued healing in 2018), “I am healed. There is no Colitis. The SIBO no longer exists. It’s all gone.” Positive declarations are powerful!

  3. Then, if I truly thought something was off, here are three things I’d do

    1. Dysbiocide. It supports gut healing, microbiome health, and the immune system. If I even feel a little off (and it’s real), I take it for one week, then have three weeks off. Rinse and repeat as needed.
    2. Fast and/or at the very least do longer meal spacing. This might be one of the best and most critical pieces for long-term healing. It’s tricky, though, because if you’ve ever had a past with disordered eating, you must make sure you’re doing it right…..for healing not diet. Huge difference. But when you practice these two things, your digestive system has the chance to rest and fully digest anything and everything you eat. I practice both in a very sane way, and the only time I extend beyond my time limits are when I’m truly feeling off. 
    3. Rest. No workouts, not even really walking. I’ll go to bed earlier, and sleep in later. It’s powerful.

But how do you know if you’re still sick and/or if it’s just regular gut functions?

Unless you re-test for whatever you were diagnosed with prior (i.e. SIBO, parasites, etc.), you can’t know for sure. 

However, if, after you do the above and continue feeling miserable, you can be almost certain that you are not healed.

In other words, one smelly instance does not automatically correlate to “the misery is back.” As I mentioned in the Bristol Stool Chart, on any given day your bowels could change due to these reasons.

Bristol Stool Chart reasons for bowel changes IBS IBD poop #bristolstool #gut #guthealth #IBS

The same is true for your gut in general (i.e. one smelly fart). But again, it might just be “normal,” one instance – even two.

No one – not even the best, most knowledgeable and healthiest gut doctor on the planet – is 100% of the time 100% smelly-fart free. I can promise you this.

How to Know for Sure?

The way to know for sure, though is by asking yourself,

  1. Did this happen just once or twice in the past few days or is it constant? And then,
  2. If it’s constant and my approach for resting the digestive system above does not work, then….
  3. Just get tested so you know for sure!

By the way, the number one tool to help you navigate all of this?

Obviously my 90-Day Gut Healing Journal.


I hope this has helped. And if you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

  1. Start Here
  2. Gut Health vs Gut Healing
  3. Do you smell like rotten eggs?

p.s. On my Instagram blog page, I made this little video.


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