We’ll admit, we fell off the health bandwagon last year with too many treats and late nights and not enough exercise, but we’re determined to get back on, starting with this summer detox.

Belinda Reynolds, nutritionist, dietitian and senior educator for BioCeuticals, shows us how to avoid drastic diets and cleanse the body for weight loss and better health. Her summer detox will leave you feeling full, satisfied and jam-packed with energy. 

Know your food
Learning to read food packaging is fundamental to knowing exactly what you are ingesting and what effects the foods may have on your body.

Stay away from foods that read fat free or diet, they are often loaded with sugar which turns into fat.

Read the ingredients listed and be wary of ingredients you do not recognise, or those that are represented by a number, as they’re most likely artificial.

The first three ingredients listed are the most predominant, as ingredients are listed in descending order according to their weight. This can be significant, particularly if sugar is listed as the first or second ingredient.

Avoid eating foods with trans fats in them. Trans fats are a product of how fats and oils are processed. Trans fats are not metabolised well and contribute to an imbalance in good and bad cholesterol,, which may cause health issues. They’re found in deep fried and commercial baked goods such as biscuits, pies, pastries, cakes and buns.

You know you are eating too quickly when you’re already preparing your next fork of food while still chewing. If you feel stomach discomfort after eating a meal it may be because you are not chewing your food enough. By chewing your food properly you encourage the release of enzymes which break down the food for effective digestion. A rule of thumb is to try and chew each bite 20 times. This can be harder than it sounds so if you start off with 10 chews per bite you are doing well.

Good bacteria
After the silly season we may need to clean up any unwanted toxins. Look out for fermented foods that contain probiotics; these help to secure a healthy gut and restore any imbalances in good vs bad bacteria. You could also opt for a probiotic supplement to complement a balanced diet. Foods like yoghurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, and kimchi  contain probiotics and complement a balanced diet.

Try a morning smoothie of kefir, cacao, spirulina and a banana to achieve a good dose of probiotics and antioxidants to start the day.

During the summer months we may forget to compensate sweat lost with an adequate intake of water. It is important to achieve the recommended eight glasses of water per day, and you can also increase your hydration levels with coconut water, a natural source of electrolytes. Coconut water contains B vitamins and essential minerals as well as potassium and sodium.

Focus on achieving 2 fruit and 5 vegetables daily
Plan ahead with snacks of carrot and celery sticks, a stash of strawberries and blueberries, and a packed salad for lunch. This will ensure you consume healthy, nutrient dense food that supports natural detox processes, instead of convenient high sugar fast food alternatives.

Natural sugars
Refined sugars induce a spike in our blood sugar levels which means our energy levels quickly drop after a handful of lollies, biscuits, cake or a soft drink. By adopting a diet consisting of low GI foods you can help maintain steady blood sugar levels.

Opt for foods with natural sugars to keep your energy up. Fruits such as cherries, plums and peaches are low GI and are seasonal over the summer time.

Instead of refined sugar in your tea or coffee try stevia. Stevia is a natural sugar replacement, comes from a plant containing low calories and is low GI.

Remember to always consult your healthcare practitioner for advice on what supplements may benefit you. A qualified practitioner is trained to identify any potential deficiencies that may be present due to your current diet and lifestyle, and also based on symptoms you may be experiencing. Your nutritionist, dietitian or naturopath can therefore recommend the right program, including dietary adjustments and supplementation, tailored specifically to your needs.

Have you done a detox? Share your experience in the comments!