By Stephanie Simons,
Head Pharmacist,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire

 

January is always a great time to reset and look forward to the year ahead. However, we can sometimes go about this the wrong way. After the holiday season – the champagne, the chocolate, the mince pies… – it’s tempting to turn to dieting and ‘detox’ measures in a bid to get back in shape. But while our intentions are good, these quick-fire measures reap very few results – and some could actually damage your health.

We all indulge over the holidays, and the accumulation of alcohol, sugar and fat can leave us feeling sluggish and a bit heavier than usual. We often look to quick diets to shed those extra holiday pounds, but such methods are simply types of fasting, which can have serious repercussions.

When your body doesn’t get the calories it needs, it starts to build up ketones, chemicals that cause nausea, dizziness and dehydration. You may indeed lose weight, but will be from the loss of water, glycogen (carbohydrate stores) and muscle, a process that weakens your body and your immune system. Such diets can also escalate into eating disorders, leading to years of mental and physical issues.    

Other trends focus on ‘detoxing’ – attempts to purge your body of the ‘toxins’ incurred over the holidays. However, while extreme alcohol use can lead to alcohol poisoning, the average intake of food and drink at Christmas is nowhere near enough to fill us with ‘toxins’. Our bodies, moreover, are resilient. Your liver and kidneys are mighty organs that cleanse detoxify the blood, removing any impurities and keeping the body clean.

Juice ‘cleanses’ are a common culprit. It’s great to pack in more fruit and veg, but this regime denies your body many of the essential vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fatty acids it needs to function. A juice cleanse also reduces your protein intake, causing your body to take it from other sources, like your muscles, organs and bones. Your body ends up in a much worse state than when you started!

That said, there are still safe and healthy routes to that January boost. Ease up on the sugar and processed foods and add in more fruit and veg, whole grains like brown rice and oats, and plenty of protein. Rather than eradicating food groups, aim for variety instead – and don’t deny yourself the odd treat!

Making small changes to your breakfast habits can make a big difference. For example:

  • Bananas are great source of energy and help you stay fuller for longer so you can resist the biscuits later in the day. Mix them into pancakes, scatter them on your cereal or grab one on the way out the door.
  • Nut butters can increase your protein intake and regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the morning. Spread on toast or dollop on your porridge for an easy, healthy treat.
  • Smoothies can be a nutritious breakfast or an energy boosting snack. Just blend frozen fruit, yogurt, nut butter and/or leafy greens with your milk of choice. You can tailor your smoothie to your individual needs by blending in protein powders like Pure Protein, Sun Warrior or Kos or supplements like Primal Kitchen Collagen powder.  

With some good nights’ sleep, exercise and healthy meals, your body will easily bounce back from last year’s festivities. In the meantime, try some skin-loving body treats like Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, or St. Ives Oatmeal Scrub which can double as a face mask to brighten your day. You’ll soon be feeling better and ready for whatever 2021 has in store!

If you have concerns about your health after the holiday season, do contact your GP or pharmacy as soon as possible.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.

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