Ditch the Detox!
If you’re really serious about trying a healthier approach in 2014, then forget about the quick fix or the infamous January detox. They’re not sustainable, they don’t work in the long run and they make for a miserable start to the year. A more effective approach would be to pick one area for improvement and stick to that throughout the year.
Your body is likely to benefit far more from a small permanent change than a rollercoaster of feast or famine, so pick your favourite of these health-boosting ideas and give it a try for 2014.
- Change the ratio of your 5-a-day, so the balance is in favour of vegetables instead of fruit. Vegetables are packed full of protective antioxidants and energy and mood- boosting B vitamins, as well as being rich in fibre which promotes healthy digestion, hormone balance and sustained energy levels. Soups and casseroles are easy ways to increase your vegetable intake, without too much effort, as you can just throw them in and let them cook. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, then consider investing in a juicer, as this can be a great way to have a whole range of vegetables in one hit. Don’t forget snacks either – vegetable sticks or cherry tomatoes with some hummus or guacamole is another easy way to help reach your target.
- Audit your caffeine intake: if your cumulative daily intake exceeds 4 cups of tea, coffee or caffeinated drinks, such as Diet Coke or Red Bull, then you’re having too much. Caffeine has a very powerful influence on the body, increasing the heart rate and impacting blood pressure. Excess caffeine affects the nervous system, resulting in poor quality sleep and impacting mood and energy levels. Consider how you can reduce your intake and set yourself a realistic daily target – for example, if your morning coffee is non-negotiable, then think about avoiding it at other times instead. Find a herbal or fruit tea that you like, and drink this in the afternoon. Try sparkling water with cordial as an alternative soft drink, and choose different mixers for alcohol, such as tonic or soda water. If you can manage to even halve your caffeine intake, you will start to see quite a difference.
- Factor in 3 consecutive alcohol-free days per week. This will have a far more beneficial impact than going ‘dry’ in January and then partying for the rest of the year. It gives your liver time to regenerate and to focus on some of its other important jobs, such as processing hormones and regulating blood sugar levels. You’ll also find that this will improve your sleep and energy levels, making you a lot more productive whether at home or at work. This will be especially beneficial if you’re overweight: according to the British Liver Trust, you’re three times more at risk of developing liver disease if you drink alcohol as well.
- Reduce the amount of wheat you eat. This could be very effective for those people who tend to suffer from stress-related bloating and wind. Wheat is an irritant to a sensitive gut, so you may find that you benefit from cutting it down in times of stress. If you’re regularly having cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner, then that’s quite a burden for your digestive system. Try eliminating wheat from one or two meals by having an oat-based cereal or porridge for breakfast, a rye bread sandwich or soup for lunch or swapping pasta for rice at dinner time. These small changes could reduce that niggling bloating you experience and make you feel a lot less lethargic.
Good luck, and wishing you a happy and healthy 2014!