Nutritional therapist Sanna Anderson of Sanna Health explains the sensible, gentle and inexpensive way to detox and help your liver recover from the excesses of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The beginning of the year is a time to start recovering from all the festive eating and drinking. You might still feel a bit bloated and sluggish as your body is still processing and detoxifying the extra alcohol, sugar and fat from the Christmas period. That’s why now is a good time to take a closer look at what you are eating to give you the energy to start the New Year the way you mean to go on!
Detox has been getting a lot of bad press recently. Apparently it’s all rubbish, your body doesn’t need any help detoxing, it can do it all by itself. True in most cases, and I’m definitely not a fan of expensive detox regimes and tonics, but I’m a firm believer in giving your little old liver a bit of a helping hand every now then. Sugar, caffeine and alcohol are hard work as far as your liver is concerned, and I suspect those three items featured highly on most people’s Christmas menus.
My DIY Detox is very simple, doesn’t involve anything that you can’t get from your supermarket, and you don’t have to go hungry!
Rather than detox, I actually prefer to call it recalibration. This is something I do every now and then, particularly after periods where the rich or sugary foods have somehow started to feature more frequently on my plate.
The recalibration rules are very simple. You cut out alcohol, caffeine, sugar, wheat and dairy from your diet for a chosen period of time. I often do it for the whole of January, but allow myself a little treat every weekend from one of the food groups. For example, on a Saturday evening, you could have a glass of wine, or enjoy a lovely cappuccino on a Sunday morning.
What’s off the menu?
I’m sure you all know why alcohol and caffeine are off the menu for the recalibration, but why wheat, dairy and sugar? It’s simple really, here’s why:
Sugar is pretty much devoid of any nutrients, so just causes extra work for your liver for no real benefits. It is of course also a source empty calories, so not great for the waist line.
Wheat is not that much better. The foods that contain wheat are often highly refined and low in nutrients – think of white pasta, pastries, biscuits, white fluffy bread etc. Refined wheat is also low in fibre, and can cause bloating and digestive problems. Think of a difference if you swapped your big plate of pasta and tomato sauce for a pile of roasted vegetables and a grilled fillet of salmon. You would quadruple your vitamin and mineral intake easily.
Lots of dairy products are higher in saturated fats – think of hard cheeses and rich yoghurts. There are of course the low fat yoghurts, but those tend to be high in sugar instead. By cutting out dairy for a short period, you’ll get to expand your diet, try something new, and give your body a break.
Below are some tips to make the recalibration work for you:
Have poached or scrambled eggs on rye toast for breakfast, or make porridge with rice milk and stir in some frozen berries.
Enjoy vegetable soups for lunch, but remember to make sure they also contain some beans or lentils to give you more sustainable energy.
Experiment with different vegetables with your evening meals and combine with a protein source (chicken, fish, or occasional red meat). Roasted vegetables are great, or you can also steam a variety of your favourite greens and sprinkle some soy sauce on top to give them more flavour.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you are giving up large amounts of caffeine for the re-calibration, be prepared for some mild headaches or withdrawal symptoms for the first couple of days. Keep well hydrated and persist, and you should be fine in a few days.
For a sweet treat, enjoy lots of fruit and berries, or buy some cashew nut butter and spread on a rice cake – it’s sweet tasting and very satisfying
Persist for a month, and you’ll be giving your liver a break and you might even lose a pound or two!
Sanna Anderson. Dip.ION, Sd.BSc of Sanna Health is a nutritional therapist previously based in South Woodford, Essex. However, Sanna has now moved to Poole in Dorset. www.sannahealth.com Tel: 07766 566020 / 01202 978562