Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

The Winter Protection Plan

Are you panicking? Christmas shopping, in-laws coming, cards, presents, flu, bugs at school - and it's not even November.

It's the time of year when vitality ebbs away and natural defences sink. Dark mornings, dark evenings, and grey days trigger those winter blues and an irresistible desire to binge on treacle tart, steamed puds and as much chocolate as you can get your hands on. Tell tale bulges appear before you've even bought the mince pies.

Now's the time to climb aboard the Winter Health Express and in seven short days boost vitality, raise defences and shed that excess baggage.

This one week eating plan is a three pronged attack:-

1. A short sharp fast kicks off the detoxifying process. Because there's little bulk in the first 48 hours, unfriendly bacteria starve to death in your intestine releasing toxins which may cause headaches. Drink plenty of fluids and they'll go away.

2. An abundance of immune boosting foods, increasing natural resistance to invading bacteria and viruses, to protect you from winter infections.

3. The low fat and high starch content rests the liver and encourages the brain's production of 'feel-good' chemicals that fight winter fatigue and depression.

This meat-free week gives you massive quantities of protective vitamins and minerals. A, C and E, betacarotene and the other powerful anti-cancer carotenoids, zinc and selenium that protect against heart disease and infections, as well as cancer, and the enormous health benefits of garlic.

Eliminating and resistance boosting supplements

This is not a diet for life, but a short sharp shock which you can use three or four times a year. To speed elimination, each morning add 15 ml of Pure Plan (health stores or 0161 483 1235) - a wonderful mixture of dandelion, burdock, artichoke, fennel, seaweed, wild pansy and tamarind - to a litre of still mineral water. Drink the whole bottle during the day.

To compensate for any vitamin shortfall take a daily Genesis multivitamin pill, (health stores or call 01372 379828). Take two teaspoons of the Swiss Herbal Tonic BioStrath (health stores and chemists), three times daily - it boosts white cells and natural resistance.


A real fasting day of only 600 calories. Drink loads of water and herbal teas throughout the day.

Breakfast, lunch and evening meal are the same: 1 glass of unsweetened fruit or salt free vegetable juice plus a carton of natural live yoghurt.

Try to start this diet on a non-working quiet day - don't worry, it can only get better!

DAY 2: 1200 calories

Breakfast: This is the standard breakfast you'll eat for the rest of the week. 1 portion fresh fruit - vary throughout the week, apple, pear, mango, grapes, pineapple, grapefruit - plus 2 slices of wholemeal toast spread with low fat cottage cheese, a carton of low fat live yoghurt, a small glass of skimmed milk and a cup of herb or weak Indian tea without milk or sugar.

Lunch: 1 kiwi fruit, 7 oz mixed raw vegetable salad - a bed of iceberg lettuce, filled with grated carrot, celeriac and beetroot, with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil - plus 6 oz of any steamed vegetables, sprinkled with a chopped clove of garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Herb or weak Indian tea.

Supper: 2 oz blueberries in 4 oz unsweetened muesli mixed with a tablespoon of orange juice and a carton of low fat live yoghurt, herb or weak Indian tea.

DAY 3: 1100 calories

Standard breakfast

Lunch: large mango, 6 oz mixed salad including watercress, fresh mint, spring onions, tomato, red and yellow peppers, chicory, baby spinach and beansprouts. A lemon juice and olive oil dressing. Plus one large jacket potato with 2 oz low fat fromage frais whipped with chopped chives and a clove of garlic. Vegetable juice.

Supper: carton of low fat live yoghurt mixed with blackberries, blueberries, teaspoonful of honey. 1 crusty wholemeal roll with a matchbox size piece of soft cheese - brie, camembert, or similar. Herb or weak Indian tea.

DAY 4: 800 calories

This is a very special day where your main food will be rice. Like fasting, rice days are traditionally used by Naturopaths as a cleansing treatment. Start by preparing the rice for the whole day. You'll need 3 1/2 oz dry brown rice cooked in a pint of water. If you prefer, cook half the rice in half the water and the other half in vegetable stock for a more savoury flavour.

Breakfast: 3 oz cooked rice with 5 oz stewed apple flavoured with honey, cinnamon and grated lemon rind.

Lunch: 3 oz cooked rice with 7 oz steamed vegetables - celery, leek, carrot, tomato, spinach, broccoli and shredded cabbage.

Supper: 3 oz rice mixed with soaked dried apricots, raisins, sultanas, and the flesh of a pink grapefruit.

Drink only water today.

DAY 5: 1100 calories

Standard breakfast.

Lunch: 1 apple, 1 pear, 6 oz raw vegetable salad - cauliflower and broccoli florets, carrot, spring onion, grated red cabbage, mange tout - tossed in olive oil and cider vinegar dressing, sprinkled with a teaspoon of raisins, and 3 chopped brazil nuts. Large jacket potato filled with 3 oz steamed spinach chopped with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, clove of garlic and a generous grating of nutmeg. Herb or weak Indian tea.

Supper: 3 oz fromage frais mixed with a carton of low fat live yoghurt, poured over a generous bowl of mixed fruit salad, including kiwi, pineapple, orange, grapes, blueberries, apple. Cup of herb tea.

DAY 6: 1300 calories

Standard breakfast

Lunch: Banana, 6 oz mixed salad - shredded iceberg lettuce and one dark green or red lettuce, tomato, olives, red pepper, carrot, spring onions, cucumber, a clove of garlic, fennel an watercress - with a dressing of lemon juice, walnut oil and tarragon. Plus a large jacket potato with 3 oz steamed french or runner beans with a dessertspoon of sunflower oil sprinkled with finely chopped onions. Herb or weak Indian tea.

Supper: 3 oz muesli mixed with a dessertspoon lemon juice, teaspoon honey, grated apple, carton of low fat live yoghurt. 1 slice wholemeal bread with a matchbox sized piece of brie, camembert or similar soft cheese. 1 slice wholemeal bread with honey. Cup of tea.

DAY 7: 1200 calories

Standard breakfast.

Lunch: 6 oz mixed salad - watercress, baby spinach, mixed lettuce leaves, parsley, celery, garlic, chives, basil, tomato - with a dressing of 1/3 walnut oil, 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 cider vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, sprinkled with sunflower seeds. 3 oz boiled potatoes and EITHER trout stuffed with finely chopped parsley, onion, tomato and pine nuts, covered in thinly sliced lemon, baked in foil with a little olive oil, OR vegetarian alternative - stir-fried tofu with shredded carrot, beansprouts, mange tout and soy sauce OR a grilled vegeburger. A glass of dry white wine.

Supper: A whole pink grapefruit, 2 poached free range eggs on 2 slices of wholemeal toast with a scrape of butter. Herb or weak Indian tea.

Well done. If you haven't cheated you're probably four or five pounds lighter, your eyes are bright, skin clear and you feel terrific. The high fibre content of this week has really got your digestion working and all the super-protective natural chemicals in pure, unadulterated food has lifted your spirits physically and mentally.

Taking some exercise is really vital and no matter what the weather, dress appropriately and get yourself into the fresh air and daylight whenever possible. Even on an overcast day enough light will get into your eyes to help ward off the awful problems of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). A brisk 20 minute walk three times a week will make all the difference.

For a terrific extra vitality boost, drink these vitality juices regularly - a juice machine is probably the best health investment you can make.

4 oz Blueberries, 3 Passion fruit, 1 medium Cantaloupe melon, 1 Mango
A juice guaranteed to chase away the blues and put a glow on your skin. This tonic in a glass will give you instant energy and super immunity. A magical mixture that's better than turning water into wine.

4 carrots, 3 sticks celery, handful parsley, 6 sage leaves, 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves removed from stalk, small sprig thyme
Just like Simon and Garfunkel's memorable song, this juice is the ideal combination of vital force and calming influences. It's a gentle giant as it nourishes body, mind and spirit.

1 small beetroot with leaves, 3 carrots, 2 apples
Vitality depends on every cell in the body being fed by your blood. If it's not in peak condition it won't perform this function efficiently and vitality flags. This vitality juice builds healthier blood and provides essential ingredients for cell protection.


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