Q: I’ll probably need a detox after the excesses of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Would you recommend a juice fast, or shall I just stick to salads for a while?
A: Actually, neither. January (in the UK) is way too cold for most people to be introducing cold, raw food. And winter is generally a time for being more gentle, rather than making dramatic changes.
There are much warmer and more nourishing ways to lighten the load, recover from the party season and start the year feeling fresh. Here’s my top tips to help cope with the Christmas craziness!
- If you’re reading this in December, then you could start by making sure you pace yourself through Christmas and New Year rather than merry-making ‘til you completely drop then try to kick your poor body back to good health in January. I’m not saying don’t have fun. I’m saying make time to eat regular, wholesome meals, catch up on sleep regularly, and intersperse alcohol with water.
- Try to avoid partying on an empty stomach, or relying on a finger buffet to feed you through a whole night out. Plan some festive activities that don’t require alcohol, like the cinema or ice skating at the Royal Pavilion.
- If you’re reading this in January, and are feeling ravaged by seasonal excesses, then the key here is to be kind to yourself. In fact, even if you’ve had quite a balanced December, I’d still recommend a gentle start to the year.
- Your bodily detoxification and elimination processes are often more sluggish in the winter months. This means they may need a helping hand, but if you push too much, you might just overload your liver and lymph. Possible signs that you are probably putting your body under strain include:
- Energy dips and blood sugar drops – which is when your sugar, carb and fat cravings kick in and make you irritable and your detox unbearable
- Headaches or joint pains
- Itchy skin or rashes
- Nausea or digestive problems
- Ease yourself in gently. Start by gradually reducing sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, dairy, processed and refined foods – or maybe even just one or two of these.
- At the same time, nourish yourself with soups, broths, casseroles and bakes with plenty of vegetables, and small amounts of good quality meat, fish or pulses. They may not be as instantly energising as a green juice, but they will provide the nutrients your need to support your detoxification processes. In addition, they will be warming, soothing and hydrating to your digestive tract, which is the core of your immune system. A happy, healthy gut means a happy, healthy you.
- Increasing vegetables will provide nutrients that help you make many of your detoxification enzymes. Also consider trying weekly Epsom salt baths, where you put around half a kilogram of magnesium sulphate in a warm bath and relax for about 20 minutes. Magnesium is necessary for many aspects of detoxification and elimination, including producing glutathione, your main detoxification enzyme. Sulphates are additionally required by the liver to help process toxins.
- Wrap up and get out in the woods or across the Downs for a good old stomp to get the lymph moving, gently sweat out toxicity and boost your immune system.
- So when is a good time to bring in the juices and salads? For most people, when the weather warms up. So focus on nourishing and keeping warm and hydrated for now, and gradually build up to a deeper cleanse in the spring.
Kirsten has been talking nutrition for over a decade in workshops, on university and college courses, on retreats and to the hundreds of people who have come for one-to-one consultations. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.