This last couple of weeks has mostly been about indulging ourselves. Our stomachs, let alone our figures, are in need of a break from the heavy, fattening and highly processed foods we gulped. In an attempt to lower the intake of red meat and wheat – not only to make it through the Australian summer, but to feel and look somewhat healthier – Neos Kosmos contacted Vasso Vayiota.

“My best tip? Drink at least 1.7 litres fluid – four glasses of hot/cold water with a slice of lemon, plain water, weak black tea or herbal tea throughout the day”.

Vasiliki Vayiota is a nutritionist, a registered dietician and former athlete, offering her advice on MEGA Channel’s JOY TV show in Greece. According to her, the latest detox diets which promise instant weight loss might in fact give our system a hard time.

“There is no actual scientific evidence to suggest that our organs and skin need help to excrete waste regularly,” says Vasiliki.

“Most strict detox diets which avoid certain food groups, such as dairy, can deprive people of essential nutrients. Ditching dairy is the last thing people should do if they are serious about losing the weight they put on during holidays.”

People who avoid carbohydrates and dairy foods can miss out on important nutrients and find it especially difficult to meet calcium needs or basic metabolism functions.

“If you’re going to set just one goal for 2015, I think it should be to eat more,” Vasiliki continues.

“Diet actually means more food. Better quality of food. So don’t be afraid to go on a diet. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to starve yourself,” she insists.

As Vasiliki explains, going on juice-based detox diets and suddenly cutting out foods that your system is used to consuming on a regular basis, apart from a temporary major drop in kilos, will bring on several side-effects and immune system deficiency, not to mention fatigue, weakness, nausea, diarrhoea, bad metallic or acidic breath and headaches – before you get to the stage of radiant skin and a firm, fat-free body.

“Everything has to be done gradually. The human body needs fuel to function. Its metabolism craves protein, water, carbs, fibre, vitamins, sugar even.”
According to Ms Vayiota, you can much more effectively boost your metabolism by focusing on food combos rather that depriving yourself of food.
“It’s all about the right food pairing and making sure there’s variety,” Vasiliki tells Neos Kosmos.

“Make sure you ‘teach’ your body to process all types of food, starting with larger servings and gradually reducing the amount of food on your plate to the healthy, recommended intake which agrees with your BMA.”

Exercise is also a very valuable addition to any diet plan, which works well for both mind and body – it doesn’t even have to be demanding and aggressive. As little as ten minutes in the morning and ten in the evening will help you to burn calories, give you muscle definition after a while and keep you healthy.
“There’s simply no need to get caught up in dairy or carb detoxing. You can lose more weight if you just exercise more, eat better and select a healthy balanced diet consisting of foods from all the main food groups, including a daily serve of dairy,” she says.

“Greek cuisine is ideal to maintain a healthy figure as long as you know how to combine your five daily meals.”

It is essential that you remain focused on eating while you are at it. Start with a fibre-rich breakfast to get your digestive system in gear. The mild flavours of vanilla and cinnamon in your dairy will stimulate your taste buds without causing sensory overload. Adding diced pear or apple will add a boost of antioxidants and the high water content will help with rehydration.

“The list of benefits to making produce a main attraction at mealtime is endless,” she says.

“Upping your intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, in at least five servings a day, means lower risk of chronic diseases, heart disease, stroke, and cancer long term.”

Changing your daily diet plan will therefore help to curb your appetite and boost your metabolism. Your system will need nearly 200 fewer daily calories per day, sustaining higher calorie burning by 30 per cent within 10 minutes for more than an hour.

Example of a Healthy Diet Meal Plan

1 cup Milk (1.5 per cent fat)
60 grams of cereal food
1 small tub of yoghurt (2 per cent fat)
Quaker oats and honey
2 slices of toasted bread with marmalade or honey

With 1 beverage e.g. tea

Mid-morning snack:
Digestive biscuits

A piece of fruit
1 cup of freshly squeezed juice

1 chicken breast fillet
1 ½ cups of rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salad (vegetables of your choice fresh, steamed or roasted)
3 teaspoons olive oil (as salad dressing)

Afternoon snack:
8 almonds

2 eggs
Salad (vegetables of your choice)
2 teaspoons olive oil (dressing)
1 slice of wholegrain bread

After dinner snack (optional if you stay up late)
1 tub of yoghurt (2 per cent fat)