Hit reset for your eating habits
A few weeks ago, I had asked readers not to deprive or restrict themselves during festivals. I hope everyone had a great festive season, indulging or vacationing at one’s dream destination. Now that you have returned to routine life, some of you could be feeling guilty because of all that unrestrained indulgence. Instead of feeling down, it’s important to remember the good vibes as we slide into regular mode. Let’s look at some simple ways to swing back into action while feel lighter, brighter and happier.
Have the festivities left you with any of the following?
- Lacking in energy or feeling sluggish
- Headaches or migraine
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Joint or muscle aches and pains
- Acne or skin rashes
- Swollen, watery or sticky eyelids
If you are experiencing more than two or three symptoms, you need to draw up a recovery plan, which has three components — nourish, hydrate and cleanse.
Nourish: Vitamins and minerals — micronutrients — are essential and are depleted when our body has to cope with stress. Sleep debt coupled with being on your feet all day and drinking alcohol, can drive your body into stress mode, which causes micronutrients to deplete. Further, our festive favourites are normally laden with sugar, fat and salt while being low on micronutrients. The first step: Refeed and nourish the body with nutrients. Start eating foods that are dense in nutrients and micronutrients, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean proteins. We need natural, fresh and nutritious food to replenish and rejuvenate our bodies to face the daily grind.
It’s also important to understand that if one starves to lose weight (gained during festivities), we would feel more tired, sluggish and depressed, so the answer lies in nourishing, not starving. The micronutrients will not only help your body get rid of toxins but also tap into the energy from different food items. If you are feeling exhausted, taking a multivitamin or vitamin B complex may help.
Hydrate: Greasy and salty foods leave our bodies dehydrated. Moreover, if you have consumed alcohol daily, you have added to your water woes. Not only will water re-energise but also help in flushing out toxins, which you may have accumulated through unhealthy eating, alcohol, pollutants, smoke and so on. We must, however, remember that our cells require electrolytes to absorb water efficiently. So add a pinch of salt and a squirt of lemon juice to water to get hydrated correctly. Water will not only boost energy and uplift you but also salvage your hair and skin, making it look great again.
Cleanse: Bloating, gas, acidity and constipation are common post-festival complaints. Good bowel movement helps you clean the system and aid in proper digestion and absorption of food. Festive foods are generally low in fibre, causing constipation. The best way to clean out the system is by drinking an adequate amount of water and getting enough fibre to keep your digestion regular. Fruits and vegetables clean the alimentary canal and rid undesired bloating and gas. Fibre supplements can also be consumed. Consuming probiotic is probably the best step you can take to make your stomach feel better. Adding probiotic (the good bacteria) to your diet, found in yoghurt, idli, soft cheeses and paneer, is a great way to improve digestion. It will boost your beneficial gut flora, which is good for your overall health. It also amps up immunity.
For those who want to take things further and detox, you need to understand that you don’t need some special supplement or go on a liquid diet. Our bodies are perfectly capable of removing toxins on its own. But what we need to do is support those natural detoxification processes and enhance it through right foods and lifestyle factors, such as exercise, sleep and relaxation.
You can detoxify your body the natural way in a week by adopting the following...
Sweat it out: Engage in any physical activity for at least 20 minutes a day to increase blood circulation and encourage perspiration. Toxins are released through sweat too. But remember to start with light exercises, like yoga and pilates to relax and loosen up. Don’t exercise too hard, such as interval or strength training, because your muscles may still be tired and dehydrated. This will lead to pain and soreness.
Stop the addiction: Completely stay away from alcohol, smoking and chewing paan masala and tobacco.
Focus on sleep: Lack of sleep can lead to a build-up of toxins. Adequate and good quality sleep will help recover from exhaustion and fatigue. Go to bed early to catch up on lost sleep and to get the natural detoxification system working.
Bunk the junk: Stay away from foods high in fat, sugary drinks, sweets and ice cream and pastries for at least a week, so that your body can flush out toxins.
Be natural: Cut down highly processed and refined foods. You can include whole grains, such as whole wheat, brown rice, amaranth, jowar, bajra and quinoa, instead of their refined cousins such as maida, polished rice, noodles and pasta made from refined grains.
Water in plenty: Drink at least two-three litres of filtered water to flush out toxins through urination, breathing and sweating. Proper hydration is vital for detoxification.
Go herbal: Swap your regular caffeine-laden beverages with herbal concoctions. Excess caffeine interferes with proper liver function. Hence, if you have quenched your thirst with fizzy colas while pandal-hopping, drank numerous cups of coffee or tea, refrain from caffeine-rich beverages now. Opt for herbal alternatives. Ginger and tulsi tea are great to clean the body.
Drink aloe vera: Aloe vera juice is a great all-round tonic for boosting the cleansing process in the digestive tract. You can also drink carrot, apple or watermelon juice.
Fill up on fruits and veggies: Maintaining the right acid-alkaline balance in the body is extremely important to the detoxifying process. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables help maintain the right pH balance and prevents the body from becoming too acidic. Eat fruits and vegetables in abundance, like juices, salads, soups and stir-fries to keep toxins at bay.
Flower power: Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprout, cabbage, radish… they are rich in nutrients called glucosinolates, which support the detoxification process in the liver.
Need for seed: Munch on seeds like watermelon, sunflower, flax and pumpkin instead of fried snacks because seeds are high in vitamin E and high in antioxidant minerals zinc and selenium. These antioxidants can disarm the toxins in your body.
Forget fries: Deep-fried items produce free radicals, which infuses our body with toxins. Avoid hydrogenated oils or food containing them, like margarine, biscuits, chips, crisps or any deep-fried items.
Hena Nafis is a consultant nutritionist and the owner of nutrition and lifestyle clinic Nutrience, and the health cafe, Eat Good Food