…they’re good for your heart.

The more you eat, the more you … start doing things we’re not going to talk about.

Except we are.

Before Joe and I go on a road trip, we head to the library and pick up some audiobooks. Our favorite is a Jack the Ripper investigatory tale by Patricia Cornwell. We’ve listened to that a few times; there’s something about the morbid, macabre, unsolved aspect of it that keeps us riveted. On a different trip, we enjoyed listening to Sous Chef, a memoir about working as a line cook.

Apparently, we like books that involve knives.

KombuchaThis time around, when selecting our audiobook, we went with our guts—literally. We only made it a few discs into The Good Gut before we pulled onto our street at the end of our trip, but we’re hooked. The subject is complicated, however—the complex, living ecosystem that’s within all of our digestive tracts—so I finally broke down and ordered a bound copy from the library so I can actually see the words in front of me while I take it all in.

Long story short, we’ve decided to shift our diet in a probiotic, gut-friendly direction. Our refrigerator is suddenly stocked with yogurt, kefir, real sauerkraut, and kombucha.

We’re feeding our guts while we feed ourselves.

It’s kind of cool, eating to feed the trillions of tiny creatures that live inside of you. It’s a little freaky, to be honest—to think that there are little organisms running around every inch of your digestive tract, waiting to devour whatever you let enter your mouth. But mostly, it’s freakin’ fascinating.

And let me tell you, when your husband brings home the greenest, purest, most un-flavored version of kombucha—you know, the one that tastes like spinach vinegar—it makes it a lot easier to swallow when you remind yourself that you’re giving all your little bacteria babies exactly what they need.

It’s kind of like having a fermented motherly instinct.

We’re about two weeks into this new diet (I cringe using the word “diet”—let’s call it a lifestyle. Oh, but that sounds like a lifelong commitment, and we’ve just started dating. Diet it is.). So many beans and vegetables and grains and bubbly things and hardly any meat or cheese or the usual “fun stuff.”

And yet I’m happy. And I feel healthy and energetic and lighter somehow. And dang it if I haven’t lost weight eating Soba noodle salad from The Good Gutall these freakin’ carbs. I don’t get big swings in my appetite or cravings. I’m more even keel.

Take that, Atkins.

We tried as best we could to ease ourselves into the whole grains and high-fiber foods; it’s not like we ate all that badly to begin with, but this way of eating is major leagues compared to that. It diverges so much from what’s been pounded into my brain for the last 5-10 years or so: Carbs are the devil. Eat lots of meat. This is very different, consisting of mainly vegetables, grains, and legumes. We’re still managing to get tons of protein—I guess whoever said you can’t get enough protein from plants wasn’t eating the right kind of plants.

An unfortunate—but not surprising—side effect: Gas. This diet encourages fermentation, obviously in the foods you eat, but also right inside your very own gut. Eating whole grains, we learned, means that the food isn’t entirely digested by the time it gets to the nether-regions at the end of the digestive tract—meaning there’s still lots for those guys to munch on. All kinds of activity going on down there in what used to be a nutritional ghost town. And all that energy has … output. So let’s just put it this way:

Microbiota-friendly snackLove means never having to say, “Excuse me.”

Another exciting—and much more socially acceptable—side effect: I’m eating a much more varied diet. The microbiota-friendly food combinations are inspiring me to think outside the box in coming up with dishes. The other day, I put yogurt on top of fruit and added some walnuts and basil. It was phenomenal. And before, pre-Good Gut, it would’ve seemed boring. But now that I’m aware of the trillions of mouths I have to feed—it’s all part of the job. A flavorful, delicious, delectable job. And the more I do it, the easier it gets. Just like any other habit, it just takes practice.

I like when my practice makes me feel this good.