#028 Intuitive eating – how your nutrition supports your life

Interview with Julia Gruber nutrition and intestinal health expert

In this episode I speak with nutrition and intestinal health expert Julia Gruber. 

You will hear more about these topics:

  • how food can change your way of being
  • golden rules for the start of a healthy nutrition
  • connection of food and mood
  • mood swings and sugar connection
  • our attitude to hunger
  • mindful eating
  • cool food exercises for the family
  • hunger and possible connected feelings
  • how you can support your immune system
  • why you have full responsibility for your health

Julia and I have met a few years ago. Julia Gruber is a nutrition expert her core expertise is the gut. What I love so much about Julia is her undogmatic style to look at the topic of nutrition. She is clear about what is healthy or not healthy but she is not going to extremes, and that’s what I love about Julias approach. 

And why I have invited he, is because nutrition is maybe not the first thing you think about, when you think about intuition, is intuitive eating.

I have watched my children eating very funny things during the day. For example my youngest one is eating lemons and ice cubes and salami. So this was a very funny combination. And when I thought about this and about the intuition of a child, what she’s wanting to eat and and how they’re approaching all this, I thought of Julia. And that’s why she’s here in this podcast episode today.

Thank you so much for being here! 

Could you share how you got to this topic nutrition. How did you find this topic?

Julia: I grew up with parents who always thought that food and eating well  was very important. So my mom was a stay-at-home mom and she always cooked fresh. And that was and still is actually a big hobby of hers. She cooks everyday and always with fresh ingredients, and I guess that is where the love for a food came from. And actually my brother and me we both ended up in the hospitality industry. So he was a chef and a waiter. And I did hotel management school. So I guess, that was also due to that influence of wanting to eat well. Then after having worked in the hotel, I ended up in IT and worked for a foreign IT company.

I didn’t really choose nutrition, it chose me, I guess, because I met my husband and he already had his business, which was a nutrition business, actually based on his Sports career. He was doing blood tests and testing for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. And then putting together vitamin mixtures for his clients. So that’s when I met him. I started to help him out on the weekends. I started writing for him because he’s not such a writer. And also started helping him with his websites.So I got into the the topic more and more. I did also a blood test for myself and got my vitamins and everything. That’s how it all started.

Then he actually suggested, don’t you want to help a little bit more, you could do a nutrition education and then maybe talk about eating with my clients because he was not really into talking about food and cooking and all those things. So that’s how I got started.

I personally never had a problem like overweight or even gut problems or anything like that.

I realized how much my clients changed and how happy they got. It was not only about the weight, their whole being changed. They came back after 14 days of nutrition change and they were so happy. They said, I have more self-confidence, I feel more creative and I sleep better. And that’s when I got  even more interested in the whole thing. 

Observing, how food can really change not only your weight, but really your way of being. 

That is so beautiful to hear. And also when I read your testimonials that there are really people with chronic illness, which have been diagnosed by medical doctors, and their life has so much improved by changing their nutrition. And how much this topic is still neglected by so many people. When they are at a very late stage they start to think about nutrition and the impact food has on our whole being as you say, is just incredible.

Yes. We are literally made of what we ate, and I think a lot of people are not aware of that. 

If the body wants to repair something or it wants to produce hormones, everything that it’s making, like hair or skin. Where should it get the building blocks if not from food?

Yes, and I think the title of your podcast series is so perfect because it’s called gut happiness is that the right translation or what would you call it?

Yes, it is a little bit hard to translate, for me it has a double meaning. So on the one hand it’s happiness, and it’s also happiness of the intestine, but it’s also happiness in your life kind of. 

Yes, that is what you’re trying to teach, that’s your message: that once we realize how important the nutrition is and the health of our gastrointestinal tract influences this being and this vitality of your body. 

You said, food was very important in your family. And if you have clients, which did not have this background or this healthy basis of relation to food. Where do you start? How do you get them into a healthy relationship to food and to cooking?

By just doing it. For me it’s always important to help my clients see, why are they coming to me and why are they interested in changing their nutrition, so what is the end result or what is the goal? And we don’t stop, if somebody says I want to lose 10 kilo or I want to get rid of my diarrhea. That’s not something that’s worth changing your life for. 

There’s always a reason behind it. So why do you want to get rid of your diarrhea? I had a client who works at an insurance company so I had to go for lunches often with clients and he had diarrhea especially when he ate. So he was not comfortable taking clients for lunch because he had to go to the toilet like three or four times during the lunch. So he was very embarrassed. And that for me is so much stronger, that you think, okay I can take my clients confidently to a restaurant, knowing that I will be fine. So that’s for me is a good starting point, to really be willing to try it out. 

For me it’s always easier to give them a few rules and say it’s just do it for 14 days and see what happens.  I’m pretty confident that for really most people I would say 95% during 14 days you will have a result, if you are strict and if you follow the rules. 

Strict two weeks start

So I’m not a big fan of really strict rules in general, but when you want to change your nutrition and when you want to check, whether there is an impact of food, I’m a big believer in doing it quite radically at the beginning. 

The more radically you do it at the be beginning, the sooner you can actually change it up and make it easier. But the first two weeks is always a very good idea to be very strict and then the probability that you will have a good result is way higher. 

And if people after fourteen days come and tell me: my diarrhea stopped or I sleep better or I have more energy when I wake up or I just have a better mood. Then that is for me the proof and they can feel the proof in their own body. And then I don’t have to convince them anymore because they can feel the difference.That is my approach.

That is great, you let them find out by themselves. They are probably surprised if it only takes two weeks to feel better without medication.

Yes, it sometimes only takes a few days actually. I think that the record holder is is a young woman who told me after one day that her brain fog was gone after one day.

When you talk about these strict rules for the first days. Are they all the same for everybody or are they tailor-made for individuals?

When talk about gut health they are all the same for everyone, the way I teach it. Not because I don’t think they are individuals, but because we leave out everything that could potentially harm. So I do the same for everyone. And I have been criticized for that also by doctors. They tell me, you cannot treat everyone the same. I say, later on of course you’re not going to treat everyone the same and it’s different if somebody has a chronic illness or somebody else just wants to get rid of his floating or something. That it’s not the same of course, but at the beginning, everyone can follow the same rules. It’s more like a detox or reset or something like that.

You said it, like a reset button and then there is some place to start from. 

Exactly.

When you say, they realize that their mood changes. You talk to many different experts, so you know the proof of that. Can you share some knowledge from that insight. 

There is the gut brain axis, so there is really a connection between the gut and the brain. And there are certain hormones or neurotransmitters that are actually produced in the gut and not in the brain. So the serotonin is one of them. Serotonin is something that the many people know under the name of the the happiness hormone. People tend to think that is produced in the brain, but it’s actually for a very big potion produced in the gut. So there you can already see, that when you a balance out your gut. You can also produce more of the serotonin, which helps you to have a good mood. So that could be one explanation.  

Leaky brain

There are so many connections like fatty acids that we have in the brain. Or they say for example, a lot of people have heard of leaky gut. That is as if you had little holes in the gut. And they say that there is also something like leaky brain and it is connected to the gut. There are certain things from foods, that can get into the brain and cause damage there, like certain anti-nutrients, I just heard one expert talk about that. There is a direct connection between what we eat and our brain. And also Alzheimer’s for example, that’s not about mood but it is still about the brain, is said to be Diabetes Type 3. So yeah there is a connection between what we eat and how our brain works.

Intuition or gut feeling

I just thought about this serotonin and we say I have a gut feeling. And me calling this podcast intuitive. Of course many people say intuition is something like a gut feeling 

What I personally have realized, that by leaving out certain nutrients, probably similar to your detox my gut feeling, or my intuition, my sensitive senses, have improved a lot. Because, as you said from a customer this foggy head or messy thinking, it’s a lot clearer when the nutrition is clear, when it is fresh when it is not industrialized and so on.

Could you share your strict rules? I think you have like five things which are really important to detox or do this restart. I would say it will be good for many people, or for anybody to try it out and just see what it makes with your own senses even and what happens. 

Yeah well so it’s for the 14 days I suggest that you completely cut grains from your diet. So no grains at all it’s not the only gluten, but it’s all grains. No sugars and alcohol of course. It’s like no industrial food only real food. No dairy. I think the biggest things and only eat three times a day. So no snacking or grazing. Drinking enough water is important. Eat slowly, chew well.  No legumes and also no soy. 

And when you say no sugar do you mean fruit too?

You can have fruit. I wouldn’t recommend to eat too much fruit anyways because fruit has a lot of sugar like one apple has ten gram of sugar.  So we’re genetically programmed to 30 grams of sugar per day. With three apples we are already at the 30 grams.  Let alone if you drink smoothies or juices. Or even an orange juice that you freshly press has the same amount of sugar like a coke. So I think a lot of people are not aware of how much sugar they actually consume.

Talking about moods by the way, I think for a lot of people these mood swings are actually due to sugar levels spiraling up and down. And they even call it HANGRY. I really like that term, which is a combination of hungry and angry. When you get that, you are getting angry because you need to eat something and you are getting in a bad mood because you don’t have anything on you. That is a very clear sign that you have a sugar problem.

That is interesting. I used to have that. I was getting very unpleasant when I was hungry

Yes, because a human being can be without food for a day, even more, but easily for a day. Anyone can go without eating for a day. Unless, if you are always in that sugar roller coaster you cannot go, not even one day without eating. 

Could it be that our attitude to hunger is strange?

You know we’re having this discussion about not snacking. And already our children are trained to have their snack in between meals. And I had big discussions with my husband because he doesn’t like snacking too. So I thought I have to give the kids a snack. otherwise they are the only ones who are not eating. Is it also okay for kids?

Kids, as you said, usually when they’re small they still have that intuitive eating, so they know when they need something.Unless if you give them too much sugar. Sugar is really going to override these signals. And you know, then they always want to have something sweet. They could ask you every 30 minutes I guess. If you don’t give them sugar. You can pretty much be confident that they will eat when they are hungry. 

And it’s a little bit difficult in our society. Maybe they are in kindergarten or somewhere and they have to eat at 12 and at nine o’clock in Switzerland there is the Znüni. As you said, it’s probably difficult, if all their friends have something to eat and they don’t. And they may look weird and they don’t belong. But if all those societal things were not there, and if you would let you kids just eat whenever they are hungry. I’m pretty sure, they would not eat all the time. I mean I don’t have kids so I can’t really speak from experience, but I can maybe speak from when I was little. First of all we didn’t have snacks all the time. I really can’t remember. I was not somebody who always had an apple. And I remember that there were times when I was reading or playing or doing something, I completely forgot about time. I was not hungry. 

Sometimes I see parents kind of almost forcing their kids you have to eat now. Of course you have dinner time and lunch time and everything, but in between. Why would you even want to force something to eat on your kids? I don’t I think that’s necessary, because if they wanted to eat, they would ask for it. There’s no need to eat all the time and if you think about our genes or our genetic making, we were not eating all the time because there was no food all the time.  

That’s what I mean with the hunger feeling. We were brought up maybe this in this belief, when you’re hungry you have to eat. Just to watch what happens once you are hungry, maybe even what your own moods and how they might change once the hunger starts. I like this intermittent fasting, I think its quite interesting to watch myself what happens. And that I usually have more energy when I do it, even when I give less nutrients to my body, that the energy is still quite good. That’s maybe also the reason why I wanted to talk about this intuitive eating, to like be more aware and be more mindful about what I eat and also how often. And what happens to myself and my body when I have eaten, and maybe also find out which nutrients are not doing well for me. All these small signals maybe, but still be aware of it and just decide for yourself what you want to eat or what’s the consequence of things I am eating.

Yeah there’s a fun little  exercise that your listeners can try at home. Just pick 5  different breakfasts for 5 days of the week. So maybe one day you eat a muesli, one day you eat yogurt with fruit, one day you eat scrambled eggs with vegetables. Pick 5 different things for the 5 days of the week and then just observe yourself directly after haven eaten it.

How do I feel? Am I full? How is my stomach? And two hours later and right before lunch. And ideally you write it down or you talk about it, you show them how to observe. 

It helps us to realize, am I satisfied with what I ate?

Hunger can be a sign of I am bored, or I am sad or I am angry. 

So whenever you feel hungry, ask yourself is it really hungry or what did I just think or what did just happen? And often times it’s not even hunger and also wait for a few minutes. I’m not saying you have to stay starving or something. But let say you feel hungry, wait for two minutes or three or four, if I do something maybe do something pleasant and then observe: are you still hungry? Because it may very well be that you are not hungry anymore.

That was a very important point. Food has been, I think, for a long time a compensation tool for all these emotions which we tried to suppress, we couldn’t read them and did not want to feel them. So food can give a lot of layer over that and you make your body work other ways instead of transforming these emotions, and letting them out and feeling them. Sometimes it just hurts too much, so that was the impulse we get to eat instead of feeling.

Would you say that this is also a question of generation? Maybe our parents or the people after the war had more food and could treat themselves to more food. 

There are studies that show that people were very healthy after the war. Diabetes went down and a lot of things went down, because we just did not have this overeating. And I think in former times there was just not the same availability of food. You did not have food everywhere. Now, you have the little shops, the vending machines, and there are like sweets and candy and stuff that’s like wherever you go, everywhere you find these things. 

Why do you have to make food so available and visible everywhere? So I think that is a difference. And also you know that portion sizes have gotten way bigger. When we were small, when you bought chips or crisps they were small packages. Nowadays these small packages don’t even exist anymore. I’m pretty sure that our parents and grandparents, they just had smaller portions also in restaurants. 

The interesting thing is, I have a program, that I don’t do that often anymore, but I still do sometimes. And there also, the first 14 days you have a very strict eating protocol. And the portions are really small. So the interesting thing is, that people first when they see, they say this can never be enough, and they realize it is enough. So that’s also really interesting. Our eyes tell us, this cannot be enough, but when you eat it slowly and you enjoy it and if it’s good quality food also – it is enough. 

If we talk about intuitive eating, what is really important is, are you really enjoying your food? Are you cooking it in a way that it tastes nice? So a lot of people think yeah healthy food is just healthy, but it is not nice. But if you use herbs and spices that make food taste delicious. Then you are much more satisfied and you don’t need any sweet after it. So there’s like so many things that play into it. And eating slowly and chewing are so important. How many people are just gobbeling their food down without even enjoying it. And the chewing part is really very important and I know it sounds very boring. 

Fun chewing exercise 

That’s also an exercise that you can do, also with your kids. Just have one meal together where everyone has to chew their food until it’s liquid, before they are allowed to swallow it. Who swallows first loses. It is not that easy not to swallow because we have that reflex to swallow. But when do that, I did that once, actually it was really interesting. I did it in a public place, in a Migros restaurant, where everyone is eating very fast and I really chewed my food really well. And the interesting thing was, I was not able to finish my food because I was full before. So that’s also very interesting experience and I invite everyone who listens to it. Just try it out for once. Really chew your food well and you are probably going to notice that you are not able to finish the whole potion.

That’s so interesting and you reminded me of the book: Darm mit Charme (GUT, by Julia Enders). She said the digestion starts in your mouth and many people forget this. And so the whole chewing, biting process is so important too, because there it really starts. And being a vet and watching the cows regurgitating and chewing again it’s very clear that this an important part. 

One last thing I would like to emphasize or to shine light on. Now in all these discussions about the situation we are in, about coronavirus, we both agreed that the immunity and how we could strengthen our immunity and support our own immunity and vitality is neglected. Do you have a few insight how we could support through our nutrition our immunity?

So if you eat a gut healthy diet and I think I already explained a little bit, how that would work, you are strengthening your immune system. 80 percent of our immune system lies in the gut. By eating real food, cutting out sugar and avoiding processed food, and leaving out gluten, dairy, because all those foods are inflammatory and we want to eat anti-inflammatory. And I read that somewhere, that there is a connection between the severity of Corona and having inflammation in the body. So anything that you can do to reduce inflammation in your body will help your immune system. So eating well has a direct influence. 

Cut out sugar

We both know Jim Fortin, he has a coaching program and he works with a shaman. And I met with that shaman twice and he also talks about nutrition and the importance it has for our well-being. Jim asked him what can we do against Corona and one of the things that the shaman said, is to cut out sugar. There are connections. It would be easy. Unfortunately nobody talks about it and you can really do a lot. 

Raw fermented food

If you want to actively actually take something to enhance your immunity little bit more, I would say probably fermented food would be a good idea, like kimchi sauerkraut. Ferment your own food or buy it, but it has to be raw, raw fermented food. Because as soon as it’s pasteurized or cooked or anything, the bacteria is dead. The bacteria, that is actually doing the fermentation is also helping your gut and therefore helping your immune system. 

Vitamin D

And another thing would be vitamin D. I would really highly recommend everyone should check their Vitamin D levels. And if they’re low, take vitamin D.

I think one of the reasons, why this is not shared that much, is that you can’t earn that much money by telling people that they should cut out sugar. 

I don’t know. That is probably one of the reasons. There are so many responsible people who like to help others and not even they are talking about it. It is just not a popular subject. 

Strengthen your immune system

I was even told that it was a conspiracy theory suggesting that you can strengthen your immune system with food. And I can assure you, this is not conspiracy theory. If we had an immune system that was working well, we would not have to fear a virus, lik Corona or the seasonal flu. I we are honest, the seasonal flu is just as dangerous, in terms of how many people die every year of the seasonal flu. People tend to forget, but it’s super dangerous actually. That’s why it’s so important to strengthen our immune system.

It feels like it’s like the root of the tree to like be healthy and and keep healthy. And to grow from there. It is not just the basis of health, it’s also of happiness and of development. You say people get more creative, their mood changes and with that, their whole life changes. For me the got is also the symbol of the root of the tree and from there we can strengthen and grow. 

I absolutely agree with you saying that we are made to cope with those viruses, also the flu and there are many deaths with the flu too. I agree that it is our own responsibility to take care of ourselves and to take care of our health. We can’t relax and wait for somebody to cure us or whatever. 

That’s what I like about your approach. It feels like taking your health again into your own hands and doing something with it, by looking at the nutrition and what food does to us and how it can support our life.

Yes, everything depends on how well you are feeling in your body. Because everyone knows, if you are in pain, if you are tired constantly, if you cannot concentrate. Are you really going to tackle those projects that are important to you? Probably not. 

You are maybe go to work and do what has to be done, but all the things that make your life so special, the things you are passionate about, those are always the things that suffer first. 

That are not done, because you don’t have to strength for it. You don’t have the energy for it.

That I really think is a pity because you are not living your potential because your body is keeping you from it and it is not your body, it’s the way you treat your body. 

Would you agree, that this is also like an act of self love, to like take this care? And even if it’s maybe at the beginning, it’s a bit strange to change some habits, which have been done for generations or whatever, it’s tradition and all that. To like take this responsibility back to yourself and see I will go my way. Which way this will be I don’t know, but I will check it out and find out what does me good and which nutrition fits my life.

Yes for me that is the ultimate goal of eating healthy. It is not, I want to look slimmer, younger or whatever. It’s, I want to be able to live the life that I always wanted to live and that only works if my body is strong and if I have enough energy and if I am happy, because otherwise I’m not going to do it.

That’s great! I’m so happy for this! We agree on this both and if you’re inspired by the words of Julia and if you want to learn more. Her homepage is in German and she also has a podcast, Darmglück. Julia has also a course called Darmglück. It is all in German, but I know I have listeners, who are German speaking too.

I have two things that I can offer an English. One is a nutrition program that I was talking about. The other thing is the intestinal analysis, if somebody really has problems with their intestine. It is like a stool test and the results will come in German, but I can explain it in English, so that wouldn’t be a problem to do that in English.

Great thank you so much! Do we have anything to add? Would you like to have a final word?

I just want to encourage everyone listening: 

Treat your body well and take responsibility for it and don’t delegate your health to somebody else. 

You’re the best expert when it comes to your body and just claim that  responsibility and act accordingly.

Wow, so good, I can’t agree more. It’s really about taking this responsibility and feeling what happens to me and how do I want to live. It’s your life, it’s your decision, whatever you do. And you have a right to lead a healthy life and a life where you can follow your dreams and you have enough energy for that. 

Thank you so much for being my guest in my podcast and have wonderful day!

Thank you, you too, bye!

Here you can find out more about Julia and her offers: 

Homepage: https://www.gruber-ernaehrung.ch/

For a coaching session: https://training.gruber-ernaehrung.ch/coaching-stunde/

For a microbiom analysis: https://www.gruber-ernaehrung.ch/gesunder-darm-angebot/

The gut happiness online course we talked about is in german: https://www.darmglück.com 

If you are interested in the other program, which could be offered in english, please contact Julias support team: info@gruber-ernaehrung.ch

My 1:1 coaching offer intuitive spark can be booked here: https://calendly.com/brycebarbara/intuitivespark

Do you have any questions? Or feedback? Just leave me a comment on: https://barbarabryce.com/en/contact/

Take care!

Barbara