Even if you don't subscribe to "new year resolutions" it can be difficult not to get caught up in the fever that happens throughout January; fasting and cleansing (now called ‘detoxing’) has been used over the centuries as a means to clear and energise the body (from Buddishm to Judaism, religions also make use of these practices to reconnect to our spirit or to our essence so it may flow) but we often end up over-doing it, and labeling foods as either ‘good’ or ‘bad'.
Instead of turning to calorie counting and restrictive diets that cut out more than leave in, the new year is a time to rest and restore and establish healthy eating habits that focus on nourishment and kindness to both body and mind.
So as we move on from the January "health kick" I encourage you to try to find practices that enables you to replenish your energy, by eating seasonally and re-connecting with nature.
Here are five suggestions on how stay healthy and well as we move into February:
- Cook simple and seasonally. I am a great believer that if you put warming, nourishing foods into your body, you are giving it less to do. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, eating warming foods in the Autumn and Winter is vital to keep the body balanced. It suggests that the metabolism works harder to keep us warm in the winter and therefore, the 'digestive fire’ must be stoked with heavier foods. Choose from root vegetables like sweet potato, carrots and swedes, brassicas such as kale and cauliflower, oysters, leeks, apples, citrus and dates. Perhaps start with a veg box to help you keep track of what’s in season; The Honor oak Wellness Rooms is a pick-up point for Lee Greens; a local, organic veg box scheme.
- Spice it up. Start using spices to warm you up in the colder months such as cinnamon, clove, cardamom, nutmeg and ground chilies. They help to fuel your inner fire and help you feel full. Include these any time you feel a chill coming on.
- Gently wake up the digestive system. Start each morning by having a cup of warm water with a slice of ginger, lemon and some coconut oil. Sip it while you get ready and leave that first coffee until later on in the day. It will help with keeping you hydrated, lemon promotes the body’s own cleansing mechanism, ginger is warming and coconut oil helps with absorption of minerals and vitamin and gives you long lasting energy.
- Be mindful of your influences. Review your social media and weed out accounts that are draining and leave you feeling inadequate. According to a recent study(1) Instagram is the worst social media network for mental health. While it can be inspiring it was also ‘associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.” ’. For myself, I have added some cat accounts to my IG, like @catloversclub as looking at funny and cute photos of cats always makes me smile!
- Sleep more. One sure way of restoring your health and well-being whatever the season, is making sure you get sound sleep. Switch off devices at least one hour before bedtime to avoid blue light as it’s interferes with your melatonin(2), keep your bedroom cool and have a warming milky drink with raw honey will go a long way to give you the rest your body needs.
Try out this recipe...
Roast Sweet Potato with Spices
One sweet potato
1 tsp of cornflour
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
Drizzle with maple syrup
Seasalt and ground pepper
Slice the sweet potato into chips and sprinkle with the cornflour. This will help keep their shape better. Add the spices. Mix and then drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Roast for 15 minutes at 190 C then turn them over and roast for another 15 minutes.
Serve with a tahini dressing or hummus, cooked grains, a small serving of lentils or chickpeas and top with feta cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds.
1. #StatusOfMind, Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement (YHM), May 2017
2. Blue light has a dark side, Harvard Health Publishing, May 2012 (updated December 2017)