From festive feasting to comfort eating during the cold weather, winter can really take its toll on our guts. But with spring here and the stretch in the evenings, we all want to eat healthily again; though it takes some adjusting to get back on track. Even though diving into a detox diet seems necessary, it’s probably best to ease into it gently.

For example, increasing our water consumption can give us a much-needed energy boost. Fluids help to flush out toxins, while they also keep us hydrated. Starting the day with a large glass of warm water with lemon slices is a simple step that can give an invigorating kick-start to our digestive system. Then, aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Rich, fatty foods and ones with processed ingredients take longer to digest, so it’s best to include plenty of easy-to-digest ingredients in your diet. Most people find little difficulty digesting porridge, eggs, fish, lean meat and yoghurt.

Probiotics increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut. They can help to heal the gut after overindulging on heavy foods, which will relieve some associated digestive symptoms. Probiotics can be picked up as a supplement in health food shops, but they also occur naturally in foods such as yoghurt – just ensure “live active cultures” is on the label. They are also present in fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi.

Homemade vegetable soups are my saving grace for most complaints, as they’re especially beneficial when you’re trying to give your digestive system a little rest. Most soups are easily digestible, as the vegetables are soft and well cooked before serving. There are plenty of delicious root vegetables in season at this time of year, making them a great choice to add to your soup mixture.

No matter the time of year, I find a cup of peppermint tea works wonders as an after-dinner cuppa, to help the digestive system after a heavy meal. Drink plenty of water, and also, never underestimate the power of a brisk walk. It can help to aid digestion, while giving you that all-important feel good factor.

Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

This hearty pie is packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. It’s wholesome and filling, and also very tasty.

1tbsp olive oil

One onion, finely diced

One stick celery, finely diced

One red pepper, finely diced

Two carrots, finely diced

Two cloves garlic, crushed

Sea salt and black pepper

One 400g tin of tomatoes

1tsp Worcestershire sauce

300ml vegetable stock

One 400g tin of chickpeas


1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

25g butter

Splash of milk

Sea salt and pepper

  • 1 Add the olive oil to a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery, red pepper and carrots. Fry gently for a couple of minutes, stirring the vegetables regularly, to ensure they don’t stick.
  • 2 Stir though the garlic, and season with a little salt and a twist of black pepper. Stir together to combine. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and vegetable stock. Stir in the chickpeas.
  • 3 Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes, but stir regularly to avoid the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • 4 Place the peeled and cubed potatoes into a saucepan. Cover with water and boil for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • 5 Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark six.
  • 6 Drain the water from the potatoes, add the butter with a dash of milk and a little salt and pepper. Mash until smooth.
  • 7 Spoon the cooked vegetable mixture into a medium-size casserole dish and top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden in colour.
  • Chocolate banana ice cream with a pecan crunch

    I know what you’re thinking: chocolate ice-cream is hardly an option when trying to stick to a nutrient-dense diet. Well, this chocolate ice-cream is packed with ingredients your gut is going to love. Potassium, magnesium and fibre-rich bananas are great for the digestive system.

    Ensure the bananas are fully frozen before you make this dessert, as the creaminess of the blitzed frozen banana is the secret to this ice-cream. Also, to keep the gut happy, ensure the yoghurt you’re using has declared it includes “live active cultures”. The added cacao is full of antioxidants and gives a delicious choco hit.

    Three ripe bananas, (approximately 275g)

    175g natural “live” yoghurt

    1tbsp cacao powder

    50g pecans

    1tbsp honey

  • 1 Peel and slice the bananas. Place in a freezer-proof sandwich bag and pop in the freezer for at least six hours, or preferably overnight.
  • 2 Once the bananas are fully frozen, put them, with the yoghurt and cacao powder, into a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.
  • 3 Pour into a freezer-proof dish and place in the freezer for about two hours.
  • 4 In the meantime, make the pecan crunch. Place a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pecans and dry fry for about two minutes, tossing regularly. Once the pecans start to brown a little, drizzle over the honey. Stir to combine. Take from the heat, and carefully transfer the sticky pecans to a plate to set. Once completely cooled, break the pecan crunch into pieces.
  • 5 Scoop the chocolate banana ice-cream into bowls, scatter over some pecan crunch and serve.