November to me feels like a natural calm before the storm, a time to take care of ourselves and build up the reserves for the holiday season. Nurturing yourself in November will leave you feeling so virtuous by December, that you will want to keep it up. The result could be a less drastic start to 2012: January is not the best time for detox and deprivation, but more on that in the New Year. Follow my tips below and you could start December glowing and ready to party.
November action plan for health and vitality:
- Embrace seasonal vegetables, such as squash and pumpkin: the flesh of these vegetables contains beta-carotene, great for skin health.
- Get at least one portion of dark leafy greens a day: the phytonutrients in green foods are the secret to vibrant health.
- Add in some essential fats: you might be thinking about that party dress, but this is not a time to follow a fat-free diet; get a good daily balance of Omega 3:6:9 from flax oil, walnuts, chia seeds (see recipe below) and olive oil. The essential fatty acids in these foods ensure the skin stays supple and hydrated and are essential for optimal cellular function throughout the body.
- Eat whole: switch from white bread, rice and pasta to wholegrain. Wholegrain foods help sustain energy levels and increase your B vitamin intake.
- Hydrate: keep up your fluids throughout the day with water and herbal tea; dehydration leads to sluggishness and dry skin.
- Sleep: aim to get 8hrs a night. Commit to at least 2 early nights a week this month and see how amazing you feel.
- Move it as often as possible: regular exercise keeps you energised and stimulates the lymphatic system. Good lymphatic flow will improve immunity to colds and flu.
The more often you do these positive things, the greater the likelihood that they will become regular habits by December. Feeling truly energised and well is a great motivation in itself, we are less likely to overdo it and pump ourselves full of stimulants, which ultimately only places greater stress on the body. Listen to your body this month, tune-in to that feeling of health and vitality, you will love it so much, that staying on track in the long-term will happen naturally.
Creamy rice or tapioca pudding has to be one of my top comfort foods. This chia seed pudding is a superfood alternative: it ticks the same boxes for me, but without the refined carbohydrates. It packs such a nutritional punch you can even eat it for breakfast, guilt free! You can find chia seeds in your local health food store. Chia is the seed of a flowering plant native to South America and is a fantastic source of Omega 3 fats and essential minerals. Left to soak in water, juice or milk the seeds swell and become gelatinous. They are also a good source of fibre and help maintain energy levels. The seeds can be added to breads and baked goods, but my favourite way to use them is in this pudding. Put a serving to soak before going to bed and have a quick and delicious breakfast waiting for you in the fridge when you wake up.
- 3 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds
- 250ml/1 cup of milk (I use Kara Coconut milk for a dairy free version)
- A pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg and a few drops of vanilla extract (optional/to taste)
- Combine the Chia seeds and the milk well and stir in the spices.
- Leave to stand, stirring occasionally until it forms a ‘pudding’ consistency.
- Top with fruit and enjoy.
- For a simple breakfast version, add a handful of berries or a chopped apple or pear
- For a touch of comfort, add 1 banana mashed with 1 tbsp of nut butter and stir
- Chocolate and banana pudding: stir in a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder and top with sliced banana
- Christmas pudding: soak some dried fruits in hot black tea until rehydrated, stir into the pudding with some chopped pecans or walnuts and a little orange zest.
- For a simple classic pudding, add a dollop of sugar free fruit spread, stir and enjoy!