January is always a good month in which to start a bit of a nutritional review. Christmas cakes and bubbly booze have been translated into a few extra pounds, and you have made the inevitable New Year Resolution to, yet again, lose weight – this time for good, of course. And it’s a good time for resolutions, too, because you want to feel invigorated, rejuvenated and motivated to start the new year afresh, and face its challenges with aplomb [or: with plenty of energy].
So what can you do to make you feel lighter and regain that spring in your step?
Here are some excellent ideas that can make the difference. You can pick and choose from as little or as many as you like, depending on the effort you want to put in and the benefit you are looking to gain. Just bear in mind that in Nature, winter is a dormant period. Animals hibernate, trees stand bare and nothing much grows. Since we are part of this planet (though we tend to forget about it all too often), we’d do well to respect this Law of Nature and not be over-ambitious with our goals. Easy does it at this time of the year.
One basic thing you can do for yourself any time of the year is drink more water. An adult body is about two thirds water, and our brain is over 80% water. That’s water – not tea, coffee, Coke or milk. Not even freshly squeezed juice. Pure water. Most people do not drink anywhere near enough water (two litres or four pints a day is a good amount to have), and as a result, they are in a continuous water overdraft. If it were their bank account, they’d long be in the red, and be refused any more credit by the bank. Because our body is so tolerant of the abuse we give it, we can just carry on regardless. Not clever. The dry, itchy, wrinkled skin on the outside is just the tip of the iceberg inside. So drink plenty of water to replenish your stocks before you drink anything else, and consider all other drinks (with the exception perhaps of herbal teas) liquid foods, which require even more water to be digested. As you increase your water intake, expect to feel lighter and brighter in both body and mind. Best of all, it will cost you nothing.
A second step to help you shed a few pounds and bring back the spring into your step is to eat lightly. Although we may crave stodgy, comfort foods at this time of year, Winter is a time when our bodily systems are not at their peak. Our digestion is slower, we tire more easily and we need plenty of sleep. It makes sense to reduce the load on our body by having smaller, more frequent meals, and an early, light evening meal. In fact, if you have a fairly light dinner at 7pm and get a good, long night’s rest, you’ll wake up in the morning feeling a decade younger. Guaranteed.
It’s not only how much you eat but of course what you eat that matters. At this time of year opt for warm foods, which provide you with long-term fuel for your internal heating system. Lightly steamed vegetables, soups and broths, some earthy whole grains and root vegetables will give you energy throughout the day without taxing your system too much. Until round about April, go for vegetables instead of fruit. Fruit is great, but it does belong to the hotter months of the year, so have slightly less of it now, and feel free to enjoy it to the full come the summer.
Adopt a rainbow attitude – choose foods with a variety of colours, provided they are natural, of course… Green cabbage, orange sweet potatoes, reddish apples – each colour cleverly brings its own vitamins, minerals and bioflavanoids to the party. And talking of party, go out dancing, running, walking – any physical activity you like and which will help you stimulate the sleepy systems. No natural nutrition programme is ever complete without an invigorating, and preferably fun ‘jive’, something that gets your heart pumping, your blood flushing, your muscles stretching.
Have a wonderful New Year.
© Vardit Kohn, January 2005. No part of this article may be copied or reproduced without prior written consent.