If I read one more article about how fat I am and how I must wrap myself in suspicious smelling sea kelp and consume nothing but wheatgrass and bottled polar ice cap for the next month to get over my so-called over-indulgent festive season, I think I might just lose it. Nor do I want to pay £150 of my hard earned sterling to have some one squirt warm water into my unmentionables.
The Scientists at ‘sense about science” agree and say that all of these faddy detox diets do not help one iota in getting over your festive ‘indulgences’. Many scientists claim that even embarking on one of these absurd plans could harm your body. In fact, the very term ‘detox” is a nonsense as the body is perfectly capable of clearing out its own harmful substances and toxins, with a good night’s sleep, a glass of water and a brisk walk being all that you need to get yourself shipshape should you overindulge this year. If we are getting technical, the human gut is designed to stop most harmful toxins from ever entering the blood stream, whilst the liver breaks down any harmful substances and renders them harmless long before they reach our most sensitive bits.
So by all means treat yourself to a massage / sauna / floatation tank or whatever makes you feel better, but let’s be sensible about this and try not to part with your precious cash in exchange for quick fix promise-the-world diets, or even worse, detox pills.
Who really over indulges at Christmas? A glass of sherry too many and an extra mince pie is not going to finish you off. Of course if your average calorie intake reads more like a phonebook listing for a takeaway in Western Australia and your average alcohol intake is measured in cases rather than units then yes, perhaps you have something to worry about but for most of us who maintain a sensible, balanced diet for much of the year, the odd occasional splurge is not going to result in a trip to A+E.
Nor am I suggesting that you throw caution to the wind and go wild. Gluttony will inevitably lead to a higher blood pressure and higher blood sugar levels. As with most things in life, the answer is moderation and common sense. By now all but the most ardent trivia dodger will know which foods are good and those that are bad for us and it is fairly evident that a daily bottle of whisky for breakfast is not going to get you a birthday card from the Queen. Over eating pre-prepared, pre-packaged, high salt, high fat foods is not advisable and will certainly be more harmful than overstuffing on well sourced, organic produce.
So some good, old fashioned, healthy advice to begin the New Year. The British Heart Foundation (in partnership with Glasgow University) have carried out extensive research into our subject at hand and claim that a brisk walk before a calorific meal can boost the function of the blood vessels and lower blood fat levels. Their research also found these benefits lasted long into the following day regardless of whether the person was lean or chubby and even after the walker had eaten a high fat meal. The body can metabolise your fat intake within reason and a bit of exercise on a regular basis is a much more effective way of dealing with a little bit of overindulgence. Halleluiah, all you need to do is walk to the restaurant and you will be living a perfectly balanced lifestyle!
So this year forget the annual guilt, stuff the diet, avoid anyone who mentions detoxing and above all keep that hose away from me…
Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year!
This piece first appeared in The Resident Magazine
Chris Staines is Head Chef at Foliage, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA.