Swing Into The New Year In Good Health

It’s always such a relief to get to the end of the year and take the holiday break. It’s a chance not only to celebrate with family and friends but also to let ourselves go a little, to ‘party hearty’ and forget the rules for a few weeks.

However, we all know party time has a morning after and, in the case of the holidays, the aftermath often covers a lot of bases.  Unwelcome weight gain, and feeling tired and sluggish are just two of the results of overindulgence in a little too much of what we really shouldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in favourite holiday treats but losing weight afterwards is harder than you might think.

However, the way to get back into the New Year without feeling like you need a holiday to get over the holiday is right in front of you and very natural. It’s fruit and vegetables, of course!

If you’re sluggish and unmotivated as you head into 2016, a good place to start might be detoxing your body. The list of good food that can help you with this is like a list of what you find on the shelves at Yuen’s.

Just a tiny amount of garlic activates liver enzymes to help your body flush out toxins. Grapefruit increases the natural cleansing processes of the liver. Leafy greens – raw, cooked or juiced – absorb toxins from the bloodstream. Good old basic apples, being high in pectin, cleanse and release bad stuff from the digestive tract.

A list of 14 foods that cleanse the liver can be found here.

It bears mentioning that supplements and pills might seem to offer an ‘easy way out’ when it comes to cleansing and detoxing the body but eating good fresh fruit and vegetables is the easy way out. You like to eat well and healthily so why not eat the fresh produce that does naturally what pills and potions promise (at extra cost!)?

Sadly, though, there is no easy way out when it comes to losing any extra weight you might have gained from too many mince pies, but you can put yourself on a shorter road to recovery. 

Medical studies show many people who gain weight during the holidays fail to lose it all. For adults, this may cause an incremental weight gain as you get older, putting on a few kilos or grams over the holidays and failing to lose all the added extra afterwards. This can be even harder if you’re struggling with diet already.

Nutritionist Dora Walsh says post-holiday diet plans needs to be sensible and balanced because ‘crash diets don’t work and quick fixes won’t last‘. It may be too late, but she says the key to not putting on weight over the holidays might be to eat slowly which prevents unintentionally over filling. It’s not too late to apply that principle.

Research shows we usually eat the same volume or weight of food every day, regardless of its calorie content. Dietician Juliette Kellow says that to lose weight, it’s crucial to stick to lower calorie foods to make up this volume. And that’s where fruit and vegetables play an important part in a weight loss diet, she says.

Here’s a comparison she makes:

A meal consisting of a 150g grilled chicken breast, a 300g jacket potato, 20g of butter and 30g low fat cheese provides a total weight of 500g and provides 790 calories.

Or a meal of

A 130g chicken breast, a 200g potato, 5g of butter, 80g broccoli, 45g carrots and 40g green salad, and you still have an overall weight of 500g, but for just 480 calories.


Kellow notes ‘you will feel just as full as you’ve eaten exactly the same amount of food, but you’ve saved 310 calories’. In a week, that’s enough to lose a quarter of a kilo without changing the amount of food you eat. Plus, you’ve just enjoyed the goodness and health benefits of broccoli, carrots and salad.

Incidentally, carrots are good for eye health generally but, sad to say, they don’t actually make your eyesight better as the myth goes. Night blindness – the inability to see well at night or in poor light – is not a disorder in itself, but a symptom of underlying issues which can include Vitamin A deficiency. Carrots are high in Vitamin A so eating them can help cure night blindness. The broader myth of carrots directly improving eyesight arose during World War 2 – the Royal Air Force promoted the idea that British air crews could see in the dark because they ate a lot of carrots. What the RAF was actually trying to do was cover up the fact they had secret airborne radar targeting enemy aircraft.

Still, getting back to post-holiday dieting, it’s no myth that you lose weight literally by breathing.

Scientists from the University of New South Wales traced fat’s pathway out of the body and found when 10 kg of fat is fully oxidised, 8.4 kg leaves the body via the lungs as carbon dioxide. The remaining 1.6 kg becomes water.  Inhaled oxygen required for this metabolic process weighs nearly three times more than the fat being ‘lost’. Thus breathing in oxygen to breath out carbon dioxide is weight loss and the more you breathe – as caused by exercise – the more weight is lost.

It’s one of the functions of exercise, and fruit and vegetables are the best foods for fuelling up before exercise.  The Australian Institute of Sport notes fruit salad with fruit-flavoured yoghurt is good three to four hours before exercise, or a fruit smoothie one to two hours before. This is because you need to have digested beforehand.

The great thing about smoothies is they can be a double hit of diet goodness – giving you fuel to exercise while you burn off the stored calories. Here are a massive 56 smoothie recipes for weight loss. The best news? They’re so tasty you’ll feel like the holidays have started again.

Happy New Year!