Detox your New Year with simple lifestyle changes

How does your list of resolutions look this year? Gym membership – check, eating more greens – check, quit smoking – check, only one glass of red a week – check… this list can be rather longwinded but one crazy night out with a bestie you haven’t seen in ages can throw a spanner in the works. And then another night of drinks with a client and suddenly, we are in  April, haven’t used the gym membership and are gorging on a secret stash of the kids cream-filled Easter eggs.

Just this past weekend I hosted a New Year brunch for family and friends. I wanted to make the best of Indian and British cuisines – so I made the famous chicken tikka masala, cottage cheese and spinach and some typical British mince pies, a turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce and lots of bread & butter pudding and trifle. Ahem, there may have been some Indian desserts as well.  All I have to say in my defence is that I am a baker by profession.

Needless to say, there were tonnes of leftovers. I promised myself that all the extra desserts and mince pies would be distributed to family, friends and co-workers. But raise your hands if you’ve wandered into the kitchen at midnight, sneakily dipping a spoon into the leftover trifle or licking the last spoonful of cranberry sauce that isn’t fitting into the fridge.

One of my favourite quotes from Bridget Jones Diary is “December 25, weight 140 pounds plus 42 mince pies. Alcohol units, oh, thousands. bugger off!” That’s how I feel in January when the media goes into a frenzy about various detoxes and diets. There is the Master Cleanse (drinking tea and water spiked with cayenne pepper and maple syrup), 5 Bite Detox (eating 5 Bites for lunch and dinner and skipping breakfast), skinny tea detoxes and many more magical detoxes and diets all promising you to drop the holiday weight in a jiffy.

Who does not feel like starting the New Year a few pounds lighter? It is even more pressurising to lose the extra pounds if you have a vacation with friends coming up. Google spews out a record 211,000,000 articles in 0.34 seconds on detoxing. I see myself bundled under the blankets trying to find the best fit while sipping on a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, the last for 2019 I promise myself.

To be completely honest, I have tried detoxing once, OK, maybe three times and they all coincidentally always started in January. One of them had me drink green smoothies twice a day and eat any one meal in the day. I’ve also tried the cabbage soup diet, the no sugar detox and going gluten-free but my body never suddenly felt cleansed, lighter or more energetic from following any of these trends. So, I gave up.

But the final nail was driven into the detoxing coffin when I was at the GP’s office with my 6-year old. When we were told she had gained height and weight, the husband and I were really delighted but she sighed, “Oh no! I need to lose another pound and an inch, mama!”. She had obviously heard me moaning standing over a weighing scale and didn’t even realise the inch I wanted to lose was from my waist. I was a living breathing example for my mini me!

That’s when I started incorporating small changes into our family’s lifestyle to move towards a more holistic way of life. I started with baby steps of taking my kids to various farmers markets to ensure they can help me choose fresh produce. I started cooking fresh food daily.


Indian Buttermilk

¼ cup water, ½ cup Indian yogurt, cumin, ¼ green chilli, salt to taste.
Whip this together in a blender for a 5-6 seconds and enjoy after any meal. Makes one glass.

Cacao Almond Bliss Balls

½ cup almonds, ½ cup of oats, 1 cup pitted Medjool dates,
2 tbsp cacao powder, 1tbsp milled flaxseed, 1-2 tablespoon edible organic coconut oil.

Mix the flaxseed and coconut oil and keep aside. I then toast
oats and almonds together for 5 minutes stirring continuously. Now pulse the dates and flaxseed and coconut oil mixture till really finely ground. Add the roasted almonds, oats and cacao powder and pulse a few times till the mixture is finely ground. The mixture should bind together. Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll into balls. If for some reason your mixture is dry you can add some coconut oil ½ tablespoon at a time. Store these balls in an irtight container in the fridge for a week or a month in the freezer.

I now also have daily routine which helps me feel happy and energised through the day. I make it a point to start my day with warm water followed by a bowl of fruits and a handful of nuts. I don’t deny myself a caffeine fix but limit it to two small cups a day.

Breakfast even on a weekday is always a big deal in our house and I ensure it is filling and hearty. It can range from porridge, eggs, avocado and wholemeal toast to tortilla wraps made with Indian bread and veggies. We take turns as a family in deciding what breakfast for the day is going to be so everyone feels more involved and responsible.

I try to ensure that the family gets their 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and there are some raw veggies sneaked into their meals every day. Dinner is a simple warm casserole or stew that the family tries to eat together. I have reduced the family’s consumptions of ready-made and packaged foods too. Electronic media is given a miss as much as possible.

I try and make healthy desserts for the family whenever possible but overdosing on chocolates around Halloween and Easter does happen. Coming back from birthday parties or school trips with a sugar high and ready-made meals creeping into our Sunday menu is a reality. I take things in my stride and make sure that we as a family eat all food groups but in moderation.

Finally, I believe that exercise plays a very important role in helping us detox naturally as it helps us eliminate toxins and improves blood circulation. Personally, I try walking at least 10,000 steps a day and the kids and I step outdoors whenever the weather permits. Also, a little bit of daily meditation goes a long way and should be treated like a daily facial scrub but for the mind.

I have also come to the realisation that the body is very forgiving. Whether we feed it 42 mince pies or raw veggies it will detox itself everyday using the liver and kidney. I’d rather keep a special set of jeans just for January so I don’t stress myself about losing the holiday weight overnight.

And the minute social media goes into an overdrive of the latest detox plans and celebrity diets, my mind just says “bugger off ”!

Top tips

(The tips shared here are my own)

  1. Start the day with a glass of warm water with turmeric or apple cider vinegar.
  2. Follow with with nuts and fruits.
  3. Breakfast is usually homemade granola yogurt and fruit or wholemeal toast, two eggs and half an avocado.
  4. Lunch is a sandwich on wholemeal bread or Indian bread with seasonal vegetables or chicken curry.
  5. In the evening I have a cup of herbal tea with oat or soy milk and a snack (homemade granola bars, homemade bliss balls, veggies with hummus).
  6. Try to eat dinner by 7pm which is usually a soup, vegetable or chicken stew and gluten free bread or rice.
  7. If I am hungry after having eaten any of my meals I eat or drink a cup of plain yogurt, an energy ball, buttermilk or coconut water at the end of my meal.
  8. In the Ayurvedic diet they advise that Indian buttermilk should be had after a meal as it helps to cure many doshas i.e. imbalances in one’s body.
  9. I also try to stock my fridge with homemade cakes (sweetened with dates and fruits) or date flapjacks or bliss balls to help with my sugar craving.

Ruchi Bhatnagar Mathur is a certified yoga instructor from The Yoga Institute , Mumbai and teaches at the Kailash Centre, St. Johns Wood. She tries to follow a simple and holistic lifestyle which is an amalgamation of Ayurvedic Principles and personal research. Ruchi has been baking healthy sugar free treats for more than seven years. Follow her on Instagram @ruchisartisnalbakes.