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.
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
- ‘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.
THE CHRISTMAS PRETOX!
(the pre-christmas prevention detox)
- DRINK ENOUGH WATER!
This 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.
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.
5. CUT THE CRAP
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.
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!!
*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*