It seems to happen every year. Christmas comes, we buy a lot of food and consequently consume a lot. There comes a price with it; the guilt of gluttony, the general feeling of carrying extra weight and the pressure of many around us joining the gym (well, that’s what it seems). Then kick in New Years resolutions we promise ourselves and we end up announcing that we’re going to be a different person in the following year – thinner and fitter!
There are newspaper columns on weight loss diets, magazine articles on detox and the lure of spending more money on health-restoring retreats at spas. There’s some value in all the advice on offer but it a few days into these regimes it becomes a chore in itself. It is difficult to count calories for people who have families because it can give the wrong signal to young children when they see their parents obsess about weight loss and body shape. Juice diets and abstention can only last for a short period too because to make fresh juice every day involves military discipline with shopping for the ingredients, washing and preparing, juicing them and then cleaning up afterwards including washing the juicer. Keeping the equipment clean can be a tiresome chore, which lets apathy set in. The mere thought of making juice fills us with dread, as busy people with a job and a family to look after. Soon it’s better to procrastinate than to juice the ingredients you bought with the best intentions. In addition, if not stored properly fresh vegetables and fruits soon deteriorate. Modern fridges and small size houses can only accommodate so much shopping which means fruit and vegetables lie around in a hot kitchen and begin to quickly shrivel. Diets also require strong willpower and even more so when we try to avoid foods our bodies crave. Our waking hours are spent thinking of our next meal, something that in itself becomes another issue to deal with.
The solution? Rather than punish ourselves we should learn to accept and consider what we can realistically change. It is difficult to prepare fresh juice every day or even stick to a juice diet for a week unless there’s a lot of support around you. For a start, you need to have time to do this or someone to prepare your juices daily. Unless there’s an obliging partner around, it’s a lot to expect. It is better to make more time for ourselves by not putting so much pressure on trying out everything that’s said or written. All bodies are different and their needs are different, their circumstances are varied - recognise this and half the battle is won. Do what you can, rather than having a glass of green juice (personally I find it very difficult to juice Kale and other greens), have a side of green vegetables with your meal, either raw or cooked. I’m sure they’ll do you a lot of good, especially if done regularly. Surely it’s a lot easier which is likely to lead to consistency with this approach. Including a variety of food alongside your usual favourite satisfies the palate and is more nutritious. Here are some quick, useful and tasty recipes.
1. A side salad
- If stored without a dressing it can be kept in your fridge, sealed in a foodbag, or an empty food carton for up to three days.
- Into a bowl throw a couple of leaves such as iceburg lettuce and dandelion leaves (if you have these weeds in your garden) or any other greens at hand. Then roughly chop four spinach leaves, one medium Kale leaf (or Cavello Nero, cabbage leaf or even broccoli).
- Next, search in your fruit basket for whatever needs finishing be it pear, orange, apple or any other fruit. Cut a couple of slices of these and add one tablespoon of seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, walnut or whatever you have to hand.
- Mix it all up and add a pinch of black pepper. Don’t add salt to the whole portion as it’ll begin to wilt by taking away water from your salad. To finish, add a few leaves of dry or fresh herbs such as mint, coriander leaves or basil.
- This is can be eaten as it is but if you prefer you can add a splash of vinaigrette dressing but you’ll find that different textures, colours and flavours would be refreshing on their own.
2. Fruit with a twist:
- Chop up any fresh fruit you have to hand and sprinkle over it some black salt (available from Asian food shops) and freshly ground black pepper. Just eat it on its own or with your meal, it is truly delicious. Black salt is lower in sodium and enriched with trace minerals and iron, plus it’s not sharp. It also aids good digestion.