My friend recently told me about a tradition that her Dad has to welcome in the New Year. On New Year’s Eve he gets a broom and sweeps all the way from the front to the back of the house and out the door. It’s a way of sweeping out all of the old ‘stuff’ from that year and making way for all the good things of the year ahead. I think it’s such a lovely way to welcome in the New Year.
The New Year is a time of resolutions, new starts and very often a healthier lifestyle. Studies show that 38% of New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight. Most people will approach this by cutting calories or eliminating fat from their diets. While this does get results, all too often it’s short term and 95% of the time people will regain the weight that they’ve lost. My feeling on this is that, when we ‘diet’ we usually feel that we are depriving ourselves of foods that we like and being human, this can only last in the shortterm.
When I see clients for weight loss, I like to get them to look at their overall health status with weight being just one marker. Things like energy levels, good skin, bright eyes, hormone balance, immunity and good digestion are just as important indicators of health. We design an eating plan that helps to promote good health in all it’s forms in the body. When the body is healthy, using health-promoting foods, a healthy weight will follow naturally. It’s a much more positive outlook than stepping on the scales every morning.
One of the best things that we can do for our health is to ensure that we have a diet that promotes good detoxification. Our bodies are superbly designed to naturally deal with all of the toxins that it ingests on a daily basis. However, we need to make sure that we are feeding it the nutrients that it needs to do this efficiently. ‘Crash’ detox diets that promise significant weight loss in a few days are not the ideal way to do this. Ongoing support of the detox organs like the gut, the liver and the kidneys is a much better approach.
Keeping detoxification systems clear helps weight loss, improves energy levels, better mood and helps to make your mind sharper and clearer among many other benefits.
The key tips for this are :
1) Drink 6-8 glasses of still water daily. This helps to flush toxins from the body and reduce water retention.
2) Eat a diet that is high in plant fibres like wholegrains (brown rice, wholewheat, oats etc), fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. These fibres bind to toxins assisting their removal from the body. They also encourage daily bowel movements which means that toxins exit the body quickly and not hang around damaging organs or giving you headaches or joint pain. Having a daily bowel movement is probably the most important step to a healthy detox.
3) Eat a “rainbow” of fruit and vegetables. The different coloured fruit and vegetables all provide different nutrients that help to neutralise toxins and support the liver and the immune system. Smoothies (made from whole fruits, not juices), fruit salads, freshly pressed vegetable juices, stir fries, vegetable soups and salads are all really good ways to increase fruit and veg intake.
4) Have a mixture of raw and cooked vegetables every day. They both provide different benefits. Fruit salads, fresh juices, vegetable sticks with hummous, salads with a good mix of vegetables and homemade salad dressings are good ways to do this.
5) The liver proccesses most of the toxins that pass through our bodies. Foods that help to support the liver are garlic, onions, green leafy vegetables, eggs, avocado, walnuts and all fruit and vegetables. Eat plenty of these foods in your diet every day.
6) Add fresh herbs to your diet where possible. Coriander or cilantro is excellent to remove heavy metals from the body. These can be added to salads, soups, stir fries, juices, curries etc.
7) Have plenty of good quality protein in your diet. Vary protein from animal sources with legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils etc), nuts, seeds, tofu and wholegrains. Vegetable sources of protein are also high in fibre and vitamins and minerals that are missing in meat products.
8) Reduce caffeine (tea, coffee, cola, chocolate) to once a day or even better eliminate it completely. Replace with herbal teas or hot water with a dash of fresh lemon juice. Nettle and dandelion teas are great for detoxing. But I think that it’s more important to enjoy the taste of the tea. Ginger is great for circulation and warming you up if you feel the cold, fennel and peppermint are really good to soothe digestion and berry teas are great if you like a fruitier flavour.
9) Reduce or eliminate sugary and processed foods. Sugar reduces levels of vitamin C inthe body and vitamin C is vital to detox.
10) Cut out high fat foods. You’ll find as your body clears, so will you palate and you’ll enjoy fresher, lighter foods that are easier to digest.
Finally, enjoying the food that you eat is a really important part of eating healthily longterm. Over the next few weeks, I’ll add some recipes that taste great and are also super healthy.