to compensate for festive bingeing. Photo: IStockphoto
When the new year comes around, many people will inevitably turn to various quick-fix diets such as juice cleanses or fasting to reduce their holiday weight gain.
Indeed, dieting strategies purported to promote weight loss and elimination of toxins from the body are growing in popularity, say two dietitians at SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP), Ms Alyssa Chan Hwee Yeng and Ms Tay Su Mei.
However, a recent review has found that the evidence behind these diets is weak and inconclusive, they add.
Health experts say the body is designed to effectively remove unwanted waste products round the clock.
While so-called detox diets may lead to rapid short-term weight loss, it is unclear whether these are sustainable in maintaining a healthy weight in the long term.
Many detox diets are restricted in the types of food one can consume and run the risk of nutrient inadequacy.
Some may also lead to harmful consequences, especially if the person has underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease.
Dr Lim Su Lin, chief dietitian at National University Hospital, says: "There is really no way to be able to confirm that (detox works) or to find evidence to support such benefits.
"It is a sexy word to make people feel that they can undo their bingeing during the festivities."
Instead, what people can do is to eat healthily as well as exercise.
With many preparing to binge drink and eat their way into 2019 tonight, tomorrow will be the time to practise self-restraint to get back to a normal eating routine.
Here are 10 tips from dietitians to help you recover.
1 DRINK JUICE
You can do this after a big feast. Freshly squeezed vegetable or fruit juices (especially those high in antioxidants) are much lower in calories than a full meal, according to Dr Lim Su Lin, chief dietitian at National University Hospital.
You can blend this concoction yourself or order it from a fruit-juice stall.
It need not necessarily be an expensive bottle of juice labelled with the word "detox" as this may just be a gimmick, she says.
However, it is not wise to replace meals with drinking juice for too long as juice lacks other essential nutrients such as protein, essential fat and the B vitamins, adds Dr Lim.
Returning to regular healthy balanced meals is still better than going through cycles of bingeing and fasting, she says.
2 GO LIGHT
To compensate for your festive bingeing, go for lower-calorie and healthy food choices. Eat light and healthy meals for at least two subsequent meals after a big feast, says Dr Lim. Some examples of light meals are chicken salads, clear soup or wholemeal sandwiches.
3 STAY AWAY FROM TEMPTATIONS
Do not make it harder for yourself to shed your holiday weight by keeping tempting foods at home. Resist the urge to stock up on chocolate bars, potato chips, sugary drinks or your favourite ice cream when you are next at the supermarket.
If you love sweets, do not go near a display of chocolate and cakes.
4 GET MOVING
Return to your usual fitness routine as soon as you can or sign up for an exercise class that you have always wanted to try.
Walk when you can and stay active - this can help ensure that you do not retain your holiday weight gain for good.
5 DO NOT RUSH
Eat slowly, especially if you have another party to attend. It is better to pace your eating and enjoy the gathering with loved ones.
This will give your body time to tell the brain that you have eaten enough, said Dr Lim.
If you eat quickly or gorge on the food, you will tend to overeat.
6 OPT FOR LOW-CALORIE DRINKS
Go easy on the sugared drinks and alcohol. Instead, drink mineral water, diet drinks, green tea or Chinese tea, said Dr Lim.
Some people swear by a glass of lemon-infused water every morning or a cup of ginger tea after a big feast, in the belief that these drinks help with digestion and health.
Lemon-infused water and ginger tea contain few calories. However, there is no scientific proof that these drinks aid digestion nor is there any supporting evidence that they have to be drunk before food, said Dr Lim.
7 DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF
You may be tempted to avoid food entirely for a day after you binge, but this will only make you very hungry.
Opt for the right foods such as vegetables and lean protein to satisfy your hunger.
If you are very hungry, you are likely to overeat at the next meal. You are also likely to eat more calorie-dense foods.
8 EAT FRUIT
Fresh fruits are a great way to satisfy your sweet cravings.
As fruits are high in fibre, they will help keep you full for a longer period, said Ms Jaclyn Reutens, a dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants.
She added: "Fruits contain natural sugars that are healthier than the added sugar in desserts and cakes."
9 EAT CLEAN
"If 'eating cleanly' means limiting or avoiding highly processed foods like ham, bacon, sausages, cakes and desserts, then, yes," said Ms Reutens.
Processed foods carry too much sodium and saturated fats, so stick to good old-fashioned, nutritious carbohydrate foods such as brown rice, noodles in soup, plain baked potatoes and pasta in tomato-based sauces, she said.
Opt for lean protein foods such as chicken, beef, pork, prawns, tofu, beans and lentils that are cooked in small amounts of oil and sauces.
And do not forget your vegetables, which may have been forgotten during the festivities.
10 CHANGE TO A SMALLER PLATE
Eat a little less by using a smaller plate or bowl for your rice at meal times.
There are no specific foods that can help people revert to their usual diet.
Ms Reutens added: "There is also no need to cook special foods for this purpose, given that there are probably leftovers to finish."
More importantly, eat a smaller portion of food at each meal after your holiday binge.
The festive indulgence would have increased your appetite as well as your satiety level, meaning that you need more food to feel satisfied.
You thus need to make the effort to return to your normal diet.
If you eat healthily and resume your exercise routine, you will be on your way to a fitter self in the new year.
Author: Joyce Teo
Source: The Straits Times, Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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