Sugar Detox: Starts this Sunday, 5th January

Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had a great Christmas, with a chance to relax, unwind and spend quality time with friends and family.

Seasonal excesses can leave many of us feeling a little bloated and lethargic. Not just because of too much turkey and Christmas pudding. Did you know that for the majority of us, a month of eating differently and a change in routine can alter the nutrient balance in our bodies. That, coupled with winter’s lack of daylight and less exercise, is a recipe for sluggish systems and often low moods.

So the Fit School team have created a Sugar Detox plan. It’s a 10 day, online plan and it starts this coming Sunday, 5th January (Sunday will be a bit of a preparation day so you can hit the ground running on Monday, 6th). It costs £15 for Fit School members and £20 for non members.

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Over the course of the 10 days, the plan will help wean your body and mind from the sugar hit over the last couple of weeks. For some, the increase in sugar started as early as December! So here’s why we have created a Sugar Detox.

The three main nutrient groups in our diet are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

We consume these nutrients in varying ratios. Here are some common sources:

Carbohydrates

  • Fruit;
  • Vegetables;
  • Cereals;
  • Grains;
  • Milk;
  • Alcohol (see note below *); and
  • Anything containing sugar.

 Carbohydrates can be further broken down into the following:

  • Starch;
  • Sugar; and
  • Fibre.

*Alcohol is a separate group all to itself. You get all the calorific effects of a carbohydrate (the side effects of simple sugars) and none of the benefits (despite some blood thinning properties – although you can get these from other sources).

Here is a breakdown of how one Fit School member’s diet changed over the festive period.

Pre-Christmas Average December December with drinks/sugar
Carbs 45% 63% 62%
Protein 30% 12% 8%
Fats 20% 25% 30%

So the big change is increased carbs in the form of sugars, less protein (except Christmas day) and more saturated fats (from processed foods).

The calories in the three examples were roughly the same but to explain why counting calories isn’t always beneficial, below you can see the calories just from food.

  • Pre Christmas – 2000
  • Average December – 1750
  • + drinks and sugar – 1400

Even though the calories were roughly the same, up to 600 calories were now being consumed in the form of refined sugars or alcohol which you can’t readily use. In our experience, this kind of nutrient change tends to result in little actual weight gain you might grow a muffin top and feel generally flabby. If the ratios change as they have above and you consume more calories, you will put on weight as well.

We generally exercise less in the winter, since we are less motivated. So unless you adjust what you eat, you will put on weight. Christmas then compounds the issue. You’re feeling lethargic and your clothes are tighter by January.

So this detox is to get your body back to a point where you are looking and feeling great. It will require some will power and also some support. That is why doing it in a group will help you keep going. Our golden rule with trying to create a new habit is you must not take something out of your lifestyle without putting something back in. No doubt you derived some pleasure from eating or drinking the things that you did over the festive period. So it is essential that you replace the pleasurable part of these activities with healthier alternatives. For example, drinking nothing but water for a few days is probably okay, but by day three, you’ll find that every fizzy drink you walk past will be talking to you!

We will provide:

  • Low sugar recipes;
  • Protein rich meals;
  • Healthy carb recipes; and
  • Exercise guidance.

These will all be posted daily in our Facebook group. If you have any questions, we will also do our best to answer them so you understand what we are trying to do.

Want to sign up? All you need to do is email us at fitschoolessex@gmail.com and pay £15 (for members) and £20 for non-members before Sunday via our PayPal account: fitschoolessex@gmail.com.

See you there!

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

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Hearty Chicken, Carrot and Squash Soup – with a super greens twist

On Monday I wrote about rain. Or rather how to fight the rainy day, wintry blues. As much as I love the summer with all its warm sunshine, there are certain things about the kitchen in autumn that just don’t work for me in 30 degree July heat.

One of those things is soup! Hearty, homely, warming soup. Thick, inviting, steaming broths, concocted from bits and bobs and leftovers.

Perhaps what is most satisfying about soup is its unpredictability. No soup is bad soup (apart from a baby weaning pea soup I once made which was just lumpy, tasteless, green water) but some soups turn out better than others.

Well, today I whipped up a batch of what is lovingly known in my family as Christmas soup. So called because a few days after Christmas, my mum would strip the last of the meat from the Christmas turkey and throw it in the pressure cooker with vegetables. The resulting smell which greeted me as I came downstairs promised thick, orange, flavour filled soup. And this is perhaps why I still make most of my soups in the pressure cooker. That smell is unique.

Nowadays I stick to a superfood, clean version of the soup which I can give to Isaac, offer to guests, shove in the freezer in batches or serve for a light dinner with hunks of home made walnut bread. It’s packed with protein and pressure cooking seals in nutrients. So here it is with my super greens twist.

Ingredients:

1 large/2 small onions, roughly chopped

2 chicken legs (you can also make this with leftover chicken and bones from a roast)

4 medium carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped

1/3 of a squash, scrubbed or peeled and roughly chopped

3 stalks of celery, scrubbed and roughly chopped

Broccoli stalks (this is my super greens part), roughly chopped

A pinch of peppercorns

2 tsp vegetable bouillon

Bay leaf

Fresh thyme (you can use dried but sometimes it’s a bit woody)

Method:

Soften the onions and seal the chicken in your pressure cooker or pan with a few tbsp of olive oil/butter/coconut oil.

Add all the remaining ingredients and stir around a bit while you add the herbs etc.

Half fill the pressure cooker with water, or just enough water to nearly cover the ingredients.

Bring to pressure and cook for 30 minutes. If you’re cooking this in a pan it would take about 1h30mins on a simmer.

When it’s finished, take the bay leaves out and discard bones/skin/bits from the chicken then add the meat to the soup and whizz it with a hand blender or in a blender.

ENJOY!