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7-Day Gut-Healthy Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan, Created by a Dietitian – EatingWell

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While the gut’s main function is to break down and digest the food we eat, growing research links a healthy gut microbiome to improved overall well-being. A 2019 review linked a less healthy and less diverse gut microbiome to a potential increase in health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heart disease and even certain cancers. Having a healthy gut and consuming a high fiber diet may even be an important piece of healthy aging. A 2020 journal article found that gut health can inhibit or decrease inflammation in the body, depending on the makeup of the gut microbiota. If the makeup of the gut microbiota promotes inflammation, it increases the risk of developing health conditions such as asthma, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries due to plaque build up. Inflammation and gut health are co-dependent—a healthy gut with diverse bacteria can help reduce inflammation but an unhealthy gut may increase it. 

In this 7-day meal plan, we combine forces by mapping out a week of meals and snacks that focus both on improving gut health and reducing inflammation. We include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, such as dark leafy greens, deeply pigmented fruits and plenty of healthy fats from salmon, tuna, chia seeds and nuts. To support a healthy gut, we include at least 30 grams of fiber each day. Fiber is an important nutrient with a slew of health benefits but unfortunately 93% of Americans aren’t reaching their fiber goals. To further support gut health, we include plenty of yogurt and kefir—two foods rich in probiotics that help diversify the gut microbiota. 

Related: Poor Gut Health Might Be the Reason You’re Not Losing Weight—Here Are 4 Things You Can Do About It

While this isn’t necessarily a weight-loss meal plan and everyone can benefit from eating more anti-inflammatory and gut-healthy foods, we recognize that many people follow meal plans for weight loss. We set the calories for 1,500 calories per day, which is a level where many people will lose weight. For those with other calorie needs and goals, we also included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories per day. As with all meal plans, it is not necessary to follow this exact routine. Make substitutions as desired and remember the core goal is to increase fiber and incorporate more gut-healthy and anti-inflammatory foods into your meals. 

Strategies to Improve Gut Health:

  • Eat More Probiotic Foods: probiotics are found in fermented foods and can help improve the gut microbiota by increasing the good bacteria present. Foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and miso.
  • Increase Prebiotic Foods: prebiotics are fuel for probiotics and the bacteria in our gut, which helps increase healthy gut bacteria. Prebiotics are found in fiber-rich foods, such as raspberries, garlic, onions, artichokes, whole grains, beans, lentils, pears and apples. 
  • Reduce Inflammation: reducing inflammation may help strengthen the gut’s barrier, which helps prevent harmful substances from passing through. Reduce inflammation by focusing on nutrient-dense foods, getting enough sleep, de-stressing and improving gut health.
  • Eat More Fiber: fiber is the cornerstone nutrient for gut health. Eating more fiber-rich foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes helps support a healthy gut by improving digestion and fueling gut-healthy bacteria.

Related: 5 Things You Should Do Every Day for Your Gut Health, According to a Gastroenterologist

Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Focus On: 

  • Fruit (berries, cherries, pomegranate, apples, pears, citrus fruits, plums and more)
  • Nonstarchy vegetables (dark leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes and more)
  • Starchy vegetables (such as potato, sweet potato and winter squash)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds, including natural nut butters (just nuts and salt in the ingredient list)
  • Fish, specially higher-fat fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
  • Whole grains (quinoa, whole-wheat, bulgur, freekeh and more)
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs and spices

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make Garlic Hummus to have as a snack throughout the week
  2. Prepare Pumpkin Spice Energy Balls to have as a snack throughout the week
  3. Make Ginger-Chicken Stew with Greens to have for lunch on days 2 – 5 

Day 1

Breakfast (317 calories)

A.M. Snack (193 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter

Lunch (430 calories)

P.M. Snack (66 calories)

  • 1 ¼ cup sliced strawberries

Dinner (508 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,514 calories, 87g fat, 85g protein, 106g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 1,252mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: omit almond butter at A.M. snack, change lunch to 1 serving Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Olives & Feta and reduce strawberries to ½ cup sliced strawberries at P.M. snack

Make it 2,000 calories: add 1 serving Berry-Kefir Smoothie to breakfast and ⅓ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds to P.M. snack

Day 2

Breakfast (247 calories)

A.M. Snack (245 calories)

Lunch (388 calories)

P.M. Snack (241 calories)

  • 1 large pear
  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir

Dinner (398 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,517 calories, 56g fat, 103g protein, 154g carbohydrate, 31g fiber, 2,138mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: change A.M. snack to 1 medium orange and omit pear at P.M. snack

Make it 2,000 calories: add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds as an evening snack

Day 3

Breakfast (308 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain strained Greek-style yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds
  • ½ cup blueberries

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Lunch (388 calories)

P.M. Snack (291 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter

Dinner (401 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,519 calories, 74g fat, 82g protein, 142g carbohydrate, 31g fiber, 1,823mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: change A.M. snack to 1 plum and omit almond butter at P.M. snack

Make it 2,000 calories: add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted pistachios to the A.M. snack

Day 4

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Julian Hensarling, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle


Breakfast (247 calories)

A.M. Snack (245 calories)

Lunch (388 calories)

P.M. Snack (152 calories)

  • ⅔ cup raspberries
  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir

Dinner (450 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,480 calories, 72g fat, 77g protein, 141g carbohydrate, 37g fiber, 2,189mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: change A.M. snack to ¼ cup blueberries and omit raspberries at P.M. snack

Make it 2,000 calories: add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds with 1 plum as an evening snack

Day 5

Jason Donnelly

Breakfast (308 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain strained Greek-style yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds
  • ½ cup blueberries

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Lunch (388 calories)

P.M. Snack (154 calories)

  • 20 dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Dinner (524 calories)

Meal-Prep Tip: reserve two servings Lemony Lentil Salad with Feta to have for lunch on days 6 & 7

Daily Totals: 1,505 calories, 70g fat, 114g protein, 108g carbohydrate, 30g fiber, 2,015mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: omit almonds at breakfast, change A.M. snack to 1 plum and change P.M. snack to ½ cup blueberries

Make it 2,000 calories: add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast, ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted pistachios to A.M. snack and 1 clementine to P.M. snack

Day 6

Caitlin Bensel

Breakfast (247 calories)

A.M. Snack (245 calories)

Lunch (375 calories)

P.M. Snack (303 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain kefir
  • 25 dry-roasted unsalted almonds 

Dinner (356 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,523 calories, 66g fat, 74g protein, 172g carbohydrate, 39g fiber, 1,776mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: change A.M. snack to 1 plum and omit kefir at P.M. snack

Make it 2,000 calories: add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and 2 Tbsp. almond butter to the apple at lunch

Day 7

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

Breakfast (308 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain strained Greek-style yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds
  • ½ cup blueberries

A.M. Snack (155 calories)

  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs

Lunch (375 calories)

P.M. Snack (144 calories)

  • 1 medium orange
  • ¾ cup low-fat plain kefir

Dinner (517 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,498 calories, 71g fat, 78g protein, 158g carbohydrate, 37g fiber, 1,386mg sodium

Make it 1,200 calories: omit almonds at breakfast, apple at lunch and kefir at P.M. snack

Make it 2,000 calories: add 1 large pear to A.M. snack, 2 Tbsp. almond butter to the apple at lunch and ¼ cup dry-roasted unsalted pistachios as an evening snack

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