By Diana Robinson (BHSc – Nut Med) – Nutritionist
Holidays are a great time for relaxing and winding down after a busy year, but they can also mean over indulging in food and alcohol and abandoning exercise regimes. If this isn’t you, well done! For most of us however by the time work and school goes back we are feeling a little out of shape and ready to get back into a healthy routine.
To help you get back on track in 2016, follow these steps:
1. Preparation is key
At the start of the week (or any day you have to yourself) do your grocery shopping and plan your meals ahead. Stock the fridge up with fresh veggies and the cupboard with everything you need to make healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners. If you are like me, and struggle to get out of bed in the morning, prepare you breakfast and lunch the night before. That way, even if you sleep in, you will still have a healthy day. I like to prepare my snacks for the week on Sunday. I will cut up carrot sticks and portion out nuts and berries and leave them in the fridge in individual containers. I will make my breakfast and lunch for the next day while I am making dinner. That way, it doesn’t feel like an extra chore, it’s all just part of the evening process.
2. It all starts in the gut
Good bacteria is essential for a healthy digestive system, but is killed off by over consumption and fatty and sugary foods, alcohol and medications. If you have dysbiosis (an imbalance of good and bad bacteria) you may experience bloating, wind, abdominal pain, skin conditions such as eczema and even brain fog and depression. If you are experiencing discomfort, taking a good multi-strain probiotic will help to recolonize your gut. It is important to also incorporate fermented foods in your diet also such as natural yoghurt, kefir (Turkish probiotic yoghurt), kombucha (fermented tea), tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi as well as plenty of fresh vegetables and leafy greens.
3. Improve your digestion
If you have been over indulging, a good way to cleanse your system is to start your day with a glass of lemon juice in some warm water. Lemon is highly detoxifying and it also doubles as a digestive tonic by stimulation the production of stomach enzymes needed to digest and assimilate nutrients. You can try apple cider vinegar 15 minutes before meals to aid digestion.
4. Reduce your caffeine intake
Most people are fine to have 1-2 coffees a day without any ill effects, but if you are sensitive to caffeine it’s best to limit coffee intake as much as you can. It also depends on your metabolism. Caffeine stays in the body for 10 hours after consumption on average, longer if you are a slow metabolizer, which is why you shouldn’t consume caffeine past 1pm. Even if you don’t have trouble falling asleep, the effects of caffeine disrupt melatonin (the sleep hormone) which effects sleep quality. A good way to cut down your caffeine intake is to replace it with herbals teas. If you drink a lot of coffee, try cutting back by one coffee each day. Another way to ease out of caffeine addiction is to swap coffee for green tea. Green and black tea has less caffeine per cup than coffee, so can be helpful to wean off slowly. Another great benefit of tea is that is contains theonine, an amino acid that helps to reduce anxiety and promote a feeling of calm.
The most important thing to remember is that if you fall off the wagon, get straight back on. Just because you had a bad day and ate some something you shouldn’t have, it doesn’t mean you should just give up. Take responsibility for your actions and make a better choice next time.