During the holidays, it’s easy to overindulge in treats and drinks with an eye towards resetting your diet come January 1st. Aside from the fact that you likely won’t feel your best if this is the case, too much of a good thing – whether it’s sugary treats, caffeine or alcohol – can lead to long-term health issues.
While finding a sweet spot for your overall balance is important (including balancing treats, alcohol, etc with a real food lifestyle), taking time to reset your body through a detox after the holidays can be beneficial.
What is a detox?
A highly individualized protocol, detoxification can be beneficial to those who suffer from chronic health issues, skin conditions, allergies and even fatigue. When all systems and organs are functioning properly, the body has the natural ability to remove waste and toxins.
According to Energy Grid, “as much as 80 percent of all chemical processes that go on in your body involve detoxification activities and modern day living has led to an increased exposure to toxins.” Aside from our body’s natural toxins, we also must process the toxins we face in everyday life found in our food and water supply, alcohol, household cleaning products, cosmetics, and environmental sources.
A detox program allows the body to reset these natural processes and restore its ability to safely and effectively remove toxins. Under the care and guidance of a practitioner, it can be and highly effective and safe part of a journey to health.
Aside from drastic measures like a seven-day juice cleanse or a fasting diet, more approachable forms of detox can include removing sugar and processed foods from the diet for a few weeks, such as the Whole30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox programs.
While those can be effective short-term methods for getting your health and diet back on track, there are even smaller steps you can take starting today that will help reset your habits. The goal here isn’t weight loss, but rather to reduce the amount of toxins in your environment and reevaluate your habits after an indulgent season like the holidays, so you feel your best and find the balance that works best for you in the long term.
Maybe it’s just a day of extravagance or several weeks of overdoing it and neglecting your diet, but if you find yourself in need of a few strategies to get your health back on track, here are 8 ways to detox after the holidays:
- Load up on veggies. Add a handful of spinach or kale to your breakfast and pack cut-up veggies for snacks throughout the day. If you’re feeling super serious about it, invest in a juicer to make your own green veggie juices at home as an easy way to pack tons of nutrients into your daily meals.
- Sweat. Get to the gym and get your sweat on. Whether it’s hot yoga, spending some time in the sauna, or enjoying a cardio or weightlifting class, find a way to get your heart pumping and your body sweating. It has long been relied on as an effective way to remove toxins from the body, and can be beneficial when incorporated with a proper diet and hydration.
- Get hydrated. Aim for at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day as a general baseline. For any serving of alcohol, caffeine, soda or fruit juice, add another 8-12 ounces of water to maintain proper hydration. Water is essential to the body’s processes and staying hydrated will help ensure you’re feeling your best year round.
- Cut out sugar. If you’re feeling the grips of the sugar monster, consider a three or four-week program to cut out sugar from your diet, such as the 21 Day Sugar Detox or Whole30. A temporary program, these short-term investments of time will help fine tune your habits so you’re reaching for healthy fats and proteins when you’re hungry, rather than a candy bar.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol. As diuretics, caffeine and alcohol inhibit your body’s ability to stay hydrated, forcing you to drink 8-12 additional ounces of water for every serving to maintain hydration. The process of eliminating caffeine and alcohol from the body falls on the liver, adding an increased burden to this vital organ that also must process everyday toxins from the body. During a time of repair or recovery, eliminating this additional burdens will help give the liver a break.
- Sleep. The importance of getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night continues to gain media attention. After a busy holiday season spent traveling or overcommitting to social activities, reevaluate your sleep routine to get back on track. Invest in blackout curtains or an eye mask, and commit to shutting off Netflix at least an hour before bedtime to reduce exposure to blue light. This will help reset your body’s natural circadian rhythm and get your sleep schedule back on track.
- Eat smaller meals, more frequently. During the holidays, many people find themselves constantly snacking or consuming large meals, which places a huge burden on the digestive system. The body typically needs a couple of hours in between meals and snacks to properly digest food without interruption. If you’re feeling sluggish after eating too much, consider eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to avoid the burden of digesting huge amounts of food at once.
- Add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to your water. To aid in the body’s natural process of creating stomach acid to break down food, add a bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to an eight-ounce glass of water. This supports the stomach’s ability to break down protein in particular, which will help food move through your digestive system faster.
As with any change in your diet, make sure to consult your healthcare practitioner before making any changes. It’s also important to keep an eye out for any side effects of detox, including flu-like symptoms, headaches or skin outbreaks and contact a medical professional with any concerns.