Often we look to ‘detox in January’ as a way to kick-start the new year with a healthier attitude, usually in knee-jerk response to the over indulgences of the festive period.  Detoxing can be a great way to re-boot the system, however the optimal times to detox the body are in fact in spring and autumn.

January is often viewed as a difficult month for many people. Following the merriment, social whirls and sparkle of December, the days of January are in comparison, often cold, dark and gloomy, and spring can still feel a long way off. Imposing a strict regime of fasting and/or a diet of raw vegetables and water doesn’t always feel like the kindest thing we can do to ourselves.

Most people carry a heavy toxic load due to negative lifestyle habits, pollution, stress and a lack of good nutrition. These toxins accumulate in the body and can eventually lead to the development of degenerative diseases. It’s advisable to avoid harmful dietary and lifestyle habits before starting a detoxification programme to ensure that the release of toxins is not too rapid for the liver to cope with. One of the reasons why detoxing in January is not always the best time.


If you truly want to transform your health and your body, you’ve got to be dedicated to consistent lifestyle changes so I advocate a gentler approach in January after hedonistic December. Here are some simple steps to ensure you nourish yourself, body and soul, and still feel lighter, cleaner and more nutritionally balanced in January:


  • Start the morning with a mug of hot water, add the juice of one lemon and grated fresh ginger. Give yourself a little time to wake up before breakfast with this refreshing drink. It will rehydrate you after a night’s sleep and your liver will love you for it.


  • Opt for a bowl of warming porridge for breakfast, add chopped berries and a handful of pumpkin/sunflower seeds. If you’re not keen on porridge, swap this for sugar-free muesli with a good dollop of natural probiotic yoghurt (I like Yeo Valley), beneficial for your gut flora.


  • Swap cold salads for warming bowls of homemade soothing soups, hearty stews and casseroles. (See recipe). Warming recipes, made from whole foods help to provide us with sustenance on cold winter days and strengthen the immune system.


  • Cut down on caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and fizzy drinks. These will dehydrate the body and also deplete the body of vital nutrients. Instead choose herbal teas such as nettle or fennel which are soothing on the digestive system and also great for the liver.


  • Make January 2016 the month you drink more water! The body is made up of 70% water and needs at least 8 glasses a day to keep it hydrated. Water also helps the liver and kidneys to flush out toxins but it is vital to every bodily system and function, including carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells, lubricating joints and protecting the body’s tissues and organs.


  • Avoid all processed foods and reduce your intake of meat, dairy and sugary foods. This will give your digestive system a well-earned break.
  • Eat plenty of seasonal root vegetables, including sweet potatoes, pumpkins, turnips, potatoes and parsnips. Steamed dark green vegetables are also a great option (kale, cavolo nero and cabbage are just some good choices).


  • Warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger and cardamom are ideal additions to your winter recipes and can perk up most dishes. They’re wonderful in currries and also stir-fries.


  • Go for raw nuts, seeds and avocados to get essential healthy fats. These will slow down your digestion, keep you feeling fuller for longer and give you more energy. Chia seeds are also good – full of Omega 3 and protein.
  • All wholegrains are nourishing and are essential to provide fibre which aids digestive health and promotes regular bowel movements. Try brown rice and oats but also experiment with millet, amaranth and quinoa.
  • For protein, cut back on red meat and eat more pulses including soy beans, chickpeas and lentils. If you want to eat meat, keep it light with organic chicken or fish.
  • Avoid fruit juices which are high in sugar but ensure you eat plenty of whole fruit – berries, pears, plums and apples are good choices at this time of year.


  • Make moving your body a daily requirement, even if it’s just a walk at lunchtime. High energy workouts are good too, but walking, yoga and pilates will have a more calming and restorative effect on your body.


  • Take time to be still and reflect on the year ahead – full of possibilities. Nurture your dreams and aspirations. Seek out motivational speakers on YouTube, keep a journal or try something different, even if it’s a new ingredient that you’ve read about.


  • Nourish your soul in the evenings with a good film, an absorbing novel, a cosy chat with a good friend, or a restorative soak in a bath, surrounded by candles and music.



Keeping your spirits up in the dark days of January can be hard and it might feel all too easy to slip into negative old patterns, including destructive eating/lifestyle habits. But if you start to follow some of these principles throughout January, your body and mind will thank you.  And you’ll be in a much better place physically and mentally to start that detox come Spring!

Written by Daniela Barbaglia – Dip NT mBANT – Nutritional Therapist

If you’re interested in a nutritional consultation with Daniela, please contact the clinic on 01273 321133 to book your appointment.

Start the year with the right support to take you in the direction you desire.