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The Christmas Pretox

The season of festive indulgence is around the corner, and if you’re anything like me you’re dying to don your brushed cotton jammies, stuff your face with mince pies and watch Polar Express for the 100th time. But we all know that Christmas isn’t just about lazing in front of the fire, consuming large quantities of festive foods and mulled wine. For most of us it involves a hellova lot of planning, late nights, rushing around and hanging out with flu-ridden relatives. The combination is stressful for both mind and body, and can impair our immune system. After several days in a row of pigging out, not getting enough beauty zzz’s and attempting to stick to a hectic holiday schedule, I start to feel lethargic, bloated and, to be quite honest, guilty because KNOW that despite Christmas being the season of indulgence I’m not actually treating myself very nicely. But because there is so much going on it’s easy to just go ‘I’ll start being healthy again in the new year’, but that puts so much pressure on poor January to get back on track with being healthy. And we all know how that story goes…a few weeks into dark, dark January you’ve caught a minging cold and entirely lost the motivation you had at the start.

So in the name of prevention I am proposing a different tactic this year. The key to ward off christmas flu and January guilt is BALANCE. In order to start on the right foot, I have set up a super simple little pre-christmas detox.

In fact, a better title for it would be a PRETOX (a pre-christmas prevention-detox): making sure that your internal organs are as clean and efficient as possible for handling all those the extra toxins, that your mind is rested enough to tackle the constant stream of activites and that your immune system is strong enough to keep the sniffles well away. These simple steps can be carried on through christmas to keep you healthy and balanced

A few things that are important to know about “detoxing” before we start:
  • ‘Toxins’ aren’t just an urban myth made up by health fanatics to justify living soley on organic celery. We are surrounded by toxic substances: environmental pollutants, food waste, chemicals, harmful bacteria, parasites, substances like alcohol and medications. These affect our metabolism, immune system and behaviour. When our nervous system is stressed with the overload of toxins they can make their way into fat cells and brain tissues – and stay there, sometimes for years…yikes! Long term exposure can lead to all sorts of nasty diseases.
  • A detox is a way to support your body’s existing detox system through putting nourishing nutrients into your system that aid the process of neutralising and removing harmful substances. Our body – nervous, digestive and hormonal system – is designed to work together, but when we’re stressed out or totally overload it these systems just can’t do their job properly.
  • It may make you feel tiny bit tired in the beginning, because eating clean will release a lot of these stored chemicals back into your system and your body will be busy trying to eliminate them. However you WILL feel lighter with more energy and stamina after the first day or so.
  • You don’t have to give up solids on a detox. As much as juices and smoothies can be a fast and effective way to introduce more nutrients to your diet, having an entirely liquid diet can mess with hormones and blood sugar levels if not done properly. It’s all about being kind to your body, nourishing it  and de-stressing.
  • You’re not going to constantly be hungry. The main thing is to eat plenty of the right stuff -fresh, natural, wholesome food instead of processed, toxic foods that stress your system, like sugar and alcohol.
  • Just because you’re on a detox doesn’t mean you should give up excercise. Moving is what our bodies were meant to do….listen to it and do what feels right for you.Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, strength training, HIIT, yoga, pilates – it’s all good! You’ll be eliminating a lot of toxins through your sweat!
  • Just because you’re detoxing doesn’t mean that you have to give up your social life either. Ideally you’ll be able to fit a few days in a row without the booze, to give your liver a rest and get the full effect of the detox – but if not, at least you’re already giving your body a massive helping hand by following the other steps.
Right, so here it is….follow these simple steps for a day, two days, three days, a whole week…or (if you are brave and can face having a social life without cake and alcohol) the full two weeks before christmas!

THE CHRISTMAS PRETOX!
(the pre-christmas prevention detox)

 

  1. DRINK ENOUGH WATER!

foxywaterThis is a big one…Ah water, you bloody hero. We are made up of around 60% of it and losing it constantly through sweat, breath and urine – so it’s super important to replace it throughout the day. Water lubricates all of the functions in our body! We need it to carry all of the waste and toxins out of our system. It is essential for kidney function, which cleans our bloods and regulates our body fluids. Even slight dehydration will comprise the kidneys ability to get rid of excess hormones, minerals, vitamins and foreign toxins such as drugs and chemicals.
Drinking enough water will naturally suppress your appetite and stop you over-eating. Drinking enough water will aid the livers function of metabolising fat. Drinking enough water will stop the cells in our body holding on to water in response to dehydration, and thus stop bloating. It will help you flush out all of the baddies and help your body with all of it’s natural processes. Drink at least 2 Litres / about 8-10 glasses a day. 

Filtered is best! But if that doesn’t do it for you (a few of my friends have noted that they find plain water super boring) then add a slice of lime or lemon, or try sparkling water or detoxing herbal teas (Pukka’s Detox tea is my favourite). Avoid squash which can be full of either sugar or artificial sweeteners. Drink up, baby – Flush out festive booze.
 2.GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Getting enough rest allows your body to get on with important night-time tasks like repairing and detoxing, which means you can function optimally during the busy days of Christmas. According the the National Sleep Foundation healthy adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep. Getting to bed not too long after the sun has gone down and waking up with the rest of the natural world is waking up is also another way to support our system, according to Ayurveda. This 5000 year old Indian science of natural health tells us that getting up when the sun is rising is the best way to realign our bodies with its natural cycle. Yogis believe that between 4-6am is the time of brahmamuharta, when the world is waking up and the ‘sattva’ qualities of balance, harmony, purity and happiness are dominant in the universe, and that getting up at this time is the way to bring peace of mind and vibrancy to the senses. Yeah, ok, total hippy speak…but seriously – try it! For one, waking up at dawn gives you a lot more time to get ready before work. If you are struggling to fit in exercise into your routine, or time to make a proper breakfast, or to get yourself or the family ready…ta-da, here it is. It might be hard at first but you WILL feel energised and productive as a result.

 3.START THE DAY WITH HOT WATER AND LEMON
…AND THEN A GREEN SMOOTHIE
Starting the day with hot lemon water is one of the best ways to wake up your day. It hydrates, aids digestion and boosts your immune system, amongst other awesome detoxing effects like aiding the liver by maximising enzyme function and balancing ph-levels in the body to reduce inflammation. Starting your day with a smoothie means that you’re not giving your digestive system a lot of hard work to do while your body’s still waking up. Instead all of the wholesome, natural nutrients can be readily absorbed into your blood and carried to all the tissues where they can do their building and reparative work. These antioxidants won’t stress your liver or kidneys, they’ll just cruise through and do their lovely job of balancing out free radicals, reducing inflammation and making sure your cells are functioning properly. The chlorophyll in green smoothies encourages the release of toxins that have been lying stagnant for a while too. I find that when I start the day with a nutrient dense, clean and green nutrition could mean that I’m far more likely to make healthier choices throughout the day. I make sure there’s at least 10g of protein (adding cashew butter, chia seeds and hemp protein will do the trick) and about 350 calories in my smoothie so that I stave off hunger until lunch and make a decision based on nourishment rather than instantaneous satisfaction of hunger pangs and  cravings. They are fun and easy to make – experiment with different green leafy veg like spinach and kale and fruits like avocado, mango, banana and apple. Aim for 60% fruit and 40% veg to start with, as this balances out flavour very nicely. I highly recommend adding a green powder like Bioglan Supergreens which contains some of the most nutrient dense foods in the world like chlorella and spirulina.
   4.EAT THE RAINBOW.
Fresh fruit and veg are high in antioxidants, which counterbalance the free radicals that occur in the body when atoms ‘break’ with exposure to oxygen. This is a natural process in the body, and these free radicals normally live in harmony with the body’s own antioxidant. It’s when this balance is disturbed with the overload of toxins that the damage is done. Left to roam these unstable compounds will rob cells, enzymes and DNA of their electrons, unless the antioxidants we take in through our diet come to the rescue by kindly lending them theirs instead. To ensure that you maximise your body’s ability to eliminate a wide range of free radicals, fill your plate up with a wide spectrum of colours containing many different kinds of antioxidants. In other words, eat the rainbow. Yay! And it doesn’t necessarily have to be each meal, although that would be ideal.  Instead ask yourself when you look back on your day of food: “did I eat a natural source of purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue etc…”.
Gently cook or steam the veg, or ideally enjoy them mainly raw, to make sure the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes stay alive and can do their best work in your body – don’t nuke your food or all the goodness will disappear!! Include whole foods like grains (avoid white rice and bread, instead choose quinoa, frekeh and brown rice), nuts, seeds, beans and legumes too, they’re all full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, healthy fats, protein and slow-release carbs! The closer to nature the food is the better.

    5.   CUT THE CRAP

 

Avoid anything that will add toxins back into your system. An easy way to remember this is to “cut the C.R.A.P – Caffeine, Alcohol, Refined Sugar and Processed Food” – something I totally nicked from Bodyism. These substances stress the body, and that’s the last thing you want to do whilst allowing it time to clean itself. At least try to do so in-between office parties and pre-christmas socials…Instead feed your body stuff that will nourish and help balance you, as well as boost your immune system!
     6.  MOVE!
foxyexcercise

Your body loves to move. Exercise keeps the muscles strong and releases endorphins that make us feel great. By making the body stretch, sweat, breathe and circulate you speed up the elimination of unwanted toxins! Listen to your body, and have fun with it! Try something new and different, try a brisk walk outside (on your way to work for example) or a short run in the morning. Try a Yoga or Pilates class, a refreshing swim or if you’re up for a real sweat try circuits. If you’re not a member at a gym then try out Darebee for a really great resource of free, simple body-weight-only exercises that I’ve been relying on for many years now.

 
         5.  TAKE TIME TO BREATHE CONSCIOUSLY 

Throughout the day give yourself a break and just notice your breath. Inhale deep through your nostrils and exhale through your mouth. Listen to the sound of the air going in and out of your lungs. Centre yourself in the senses of your body. Recognise the moment you are in right now. This is a really good excercise to do just before you have a meal…it calms you, and takes away any stress that could upset your digestion. Take a few moments to think about the things you are grateful for in your life. Be kind to yourself, and remind yourself of the things you are proud of about you. Listen to what your body is telling you – before you grab a snack ask yourself if you’re really hungry, or if you are stressed, or bored, or sad? Perhaps you’re just thirsty, or need to get up from your desk and take a quick walk outside to clear your head instead of heading to the biscuit tin. Be extra mindful of the taste of the food while you eat, and chew each mouthful for longer than normal – it will really aid your digestion and help you feel full! Christmas, as well as being tons of fun, can be a very stressful and hectic time – especially in the lead up – so make sure you take time out to unwind. I would highly recommend downloading the Headspace App and give yourself a ten minute break from your busy mind. This is great thing to do in the morning to prepare you for the day ahead. And (of course) try a yoga class! Go on…it’s so, so good for you!

That’s it…simples!! GOOD LUCK!!

x

*Although this is a super gentle healthy eating regime rather than a hard detox (like a juice fast) it is important to remind you that detoxing is not for ladies who are pregnant or breastfeeding*


 

 

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