Post-Easter detox

Drop those extra Easter kilos by going on a low-fat diet after the feast.

By Connie Phillipson – Athens News

HAVING eaten to our heart’s content during Easter, it is time to think of our heart’s health – and not only the heart.  Other organs, such as our overworked liver, also need a rest.  But what can you do when spring is in the air, when the smells of roasting meat waft across on Easter Sunday and a variety of sweets tempt your taste buds at every step?  Not many people can resist tht sort of temptation.  On the assumption that you did not, here are some tips about what you can do now the binge is over.  There are two main areas to work on.  The first is detoxification, and the second is losing that extra weight you put on while no one was looking.

Of course, detoxification is something that should be practiced with much greater frequency than it is, considering the toxicity present in our foods and more generally in our environment.  In earlier times, this was customarily accomplished by fasting, a rite that was conveniently incorporated into the official religion.  The early Christians no doubt fasted in order to subject their body’s appetites to the discipline of the spirit.  But this also helped greatly in detoxifying the body, and considering the general lack of toxicity in the foods and environment of that time, a healthy balance was relatively easy to attain.

Unfortunately, one can’t maintain anything of the kind nowadays.  Fasting may still be of some help, but it is clearly not enough when our foods contain 2,500 chemical additives, the well-known E numbers and an unknown number of other chemicals that have entered our food through the trophic chain.  With all the chemical fertilizers and heavy metals, insecticides, fungicides, weed-killers, hormones, antibiotics, detergents and so on, fasting can hardly cope with this toxic overload.  Sadly, we live in an ubiquitous but generally invisible “chemical soup”, where almost every food we eat adds to the toxic charge of our body.

As a result of this and the modern tendency to opt for fast food, the European Union has issued some frightening numbers.  According to their forecasts, five hundred million Europeans will become diabetic during the 21st century, as many as fifty-five percent will die from clogged arteries during the same period and one in three will get cancer (not one in three smokers, as is the case now).

These may sound sensationalist.  But all the accumulating evidence bears them out.  So although nutritionists, dieticians, informed medical practitioners etc. all harp on about the benefits of our Mediterranean diet in Greece, the relevant statistical studies show that more and more people are actually eating pre-prepared food, fast food and junk food.  This is particularly marked in the younger generations, and it is not only happening in Greece.

What can one do in these circumstances?  A sound start is detoxification, as mentioned already, the benefits of which are evident without further explanation.  The advantages of losing weight may not be so obvious.  Most people who visit me for advice on how to lose weight seem to be motivated largely by a wish to improve their appearance.  There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but losing extra weight should go far beyond merely cosmetic purposes.  If we only diet for this reason and do it on a temporary basis, this may only help to weaken our immune system, and make the next dieting episode even more dangerous and unproductive.  Much better is to begin the long-term process of stabilizing your metabolism so that your weight (probably the single most important indicator of your general health) is controlled.

Below is a weight-loss recipe my dieting clients love.  It may help you to get started.


Lasagne with spinach

                                                (Serves 4)

                                                450 package whole wheat lasagne noodles (6 noodles)
                                                ¾ tsp salt
                                                1 small onion, chopped finely
                                                ¼ cup sherry
                                                1 medium bunch spinach (330g)
                                                2 cups low-fat cottage cheese (1 percent fat),
                                                            blended in mixer until creamy
                                                1/8 tsp nutmeg
                                                1 egg white
                                                1 tbs whole wheat flour
                                                1 ¼ cup skim milk (zero fat)
                                                1 tbs chopped parsley

Prepare lasagne noodles as label directs: drain. Chop onion; remove tough stems from spinach; rinse. Saute onion in sherry until soft. Add spinach and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook over high heat until spinach wilts; set aside. In bowl mix cottage cheese with mixer or blender; add nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon salt and egg white; set aside. In a saucepan, mix flour with milk and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook stirring constantly, until sauce boils and thickens slightly. Remove pan from heat. Arrange in a non-stick baking dish sprayed with Pam one-third of lasagne noodles, overlapping to fit. Spread half of cottage cheese mixture over noodles.

Drain off any liquid from spinach and spoon half over the cheese. Top with one-third of sauce. Repeat layering. Top with remaining noodles then       remaining sauce. Bake lasagne covered in a preheated 190C/175F oven for 30-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes and cut. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.