Getting back into shape

The Christmas and New Year festivities are over for another year and most of us are back at work. Most probably you, like 99% of South Africans, overindulged over this frenetic period and now you are feeling bloated, exhausted, fat and totally demotivated. Not the best scenario for starting the new year.

Four steps in the right direction

1) Detoxify your liver

If you are feeling bloated and nauseous or liverish, the chances are that you imbibed too freely over the past month and your liver is in revolt. It may be a good idea to abstain from all alcohol for two to three weeks. This will give your liver a chance to recover and undo some of the damage that it has suffered.

Make sure that your liquid intake is adequate - drink water, soda water, diluted fruit juices and rooibos and camomile tea to help your liver cope. There are also a number of vitamin supplements that can assist this purification process - Essensiale or Pro-Hep are liver pick-me-ups which contain B vitamins and glucuronic acid which help the liver to detoxify.

Your basic diet should consist of low-fat foods and plenty of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. Your liver won’t be able to cope with rich, fatty food right now and you will be doing yourself a big favour if you eat plain, simple meals which are not overloaded with fat.

2) Cut down on energy intake

Most people ingest more energy during the month of December than at any other time of the year. Your bulging waistlines will tell you if you have been overdoing things.

Start eating sensibly again. Get back into a routine of three moderate meals a day and go easy on fatty foods. Tuck into fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat or skim milk and dairy products, wholewheat bread and cereals and eat only very lean meat and fish. Substitute legumes for meat at least two to three times a week and have meatless meals whenever possible to counteract all that turkey and gammon you have been eating.

3) Get active again

Although some people are relatively active over the Festive Season, most individuals take a break from gym and sport during this period. Now is the time to get active again. Go back to your gym or aqua-aerobics class and do regular workouts. Dust off your bike and start cycling. Walk briskly for an hour a day in the early morning or evening when it is still cool Join Walk for Life if you are worried about walking alone. Buy an aerobics video and do the exercises every day to get top results.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways of stimulating your sluggish metabolism and trimming your body. It is also a marvellous way of banishing the post-Christmas blues because exercise produces chemicals called endorphins which give you a natural “high”.

If you can’t face walking or attending a gym, then join a modern dancing class or do yoga or any one of the many Eastern exercise classes that are becoming more and more popular. This will not only help you shed those extra kgs you have gained, but also provide a new social stimulus in your life.

4) Get regular

Eating large quantities of highly processed foods may have made you very constipated. To reverse this condition start eating unprocessed cereals and grains (All-Bran, muesli, oats, unsifted maize meal, Maltabella, wholewheat, brown or rye bread and crisp breads, samp, crushed wheat), fresh, raw fruit and vegetables, legumes (cooked or canned dry beans, peas or lentils and soy foods) and dried fruit.

Soak dried fruit in boiling water, add honey and boil until soft. Eat ½ cup of boiled, dried fruit and cooking liquid every morning and you will soon get regular again.

If your constipation does not react to these dietary measures then add wheat bran to your breakfast cereal. You can purchase wheat bran at Health Shops. Start gradually with ½ tablespoon of the bran for three to four days, then increase to 1, 1 ½ and finally to 2 T a day. Drink plenty of liquids such as water, soda water, fruit juice and herbal teas to help the fibre swell up so that it can do its work.

Let’s get back to healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle and remedy the problems caused by overindulgence as soon as possible. You will feel much more positive and healthy if you follow these four steps in the right direction. - (Dr IV van Heerden, DietDoc, updated April 2011)

Any questions? Ask DietDoc

Read more:
Fitness: Get started in 6 steps
10 rules for a balanced diet
The secret of weight loss revealed

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
29% - 9758 votes
71% - 24082 votes