I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and spent tons of quality time with your families and friends! I spent a few days with my parents in Manitoba and was able to see a few other relatives as well. My mom went to town and cooked a delicious turkey dinner complete with stuffing, a variety of vegetables, and this oddly-named, yet incredibly indulgent turkey accompaniment called ‘force meat’. It’s not meat though – it’s made with white bread crumbs, suet, eggs, cayenne pepper and maybe a few other things. As you can see, it’s far from healthy – but it is really delicious! (It’s an English dish, passed down from my mom’s side of the family.)
The holidays are quickly passing me by and I know many people will be starting to feel the guilt and pressure to get back to healthy habits in the next few weeks. We all overindulged, I’m sure, on sugar, alcohol, white bread, pastries, chocolate, mashed potatoes, and, perhaps, suet. Let’s give these feelings of guilt and fatigue a kick in the pants and up our nutritional intake this month!
If you’ve been working hard to lose weight, restore hormonal health or commit to a health goal, you were probably less likely to overindulge and give into temptations over the holidays. However, many of us do say “what the heck, it’s Christmas” and go all in on the Turtles, Christmas pudding, pumpkin pie and stuffing (like me!).
Clearing your body of excess toxins, sugar and salt should be your focus now, and focusing on a gentle detoxification program is a great way to bounce back and feel great. A detox needs not be extreme – you should focus on kicking out the bad and taking in the good by replenishing essential vitamins and minerals, helping things move along, and eliminating the excess toxic burden on your organs.
Don’t think you need to spend the next 7-10 days only drinking green juice! That is not a healthy way to detox anyway.
Instead, focus on eliminating some of the more damaging culprits, like sugar, alcohol and processed carbohydrates. Try having a couple of “Paleo days”, during which you each zero carbohydrates – no grains, no legumes, no bread, no oatmeal. This will help you break the cycle of carb cravings that most likely developed.
Stick to lean protein, leafy greens, healthy fats, fresh berries, eggs, and bone broth. Avoiding carbohydrates for a day or two will help limit the damage they can do to your hormones (gluten and sugar are endocrine disruptors). Add healthy, whole grains (gluten free, if you choose) back into your diet slowly.
Too much sugar can lead to withdrawal symptoms if you stop ‘cold turkey’ – to wean yourself off sugar, try incorporating sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips and butternut squash into your diet during the week following your holidays. Sugar wreaks havoc on your hormones, leading to mood swings, infertility, PMS and more.
Who had too much wine? I did! Alcohol can raise your estrogen levels and interfere with your liver’s ability to detoxify excess hormones – a vicious cycle! A detoxification program should focus on your liver most of all. Get more B vitamins and vitamin C in your diet (and through supplements, if needed), and drink lots of pure water each day.
Foods that will especially help your liver are:
- Leafy greens
- Grapefruit (if you’re not taking blood pressure medication)
- Coconut water
- Celery, cucumber and other green foods
- Lemon (try 1 lemon in 1 liter of water each day for a few days)
Avocados and cinnamon will help stabilize blood sugar to reduce cravings. Pineapples, papaya, and kiwi have important digestive enzymes to help support your digestive system. Probiotics and fermented foods are important as sugar disrupts the gut microbiome. And, make sure you get tons of fibre from whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and legumes to help sweep the body of toxins.
Don’t forget to move! Exercise promotes detoxification as toxins are eliminated through sweat; exercise also helps increase metabolism and blood flow. Walk after meals, do interval training (best for sugar detoxification), and take some time for gentle stretching. Just don’t go overboard – I know many people want to hit the gym HARD after the holidays but this only leads to burn out…take it slow, go at your own pace, and just get moving.
Some self-care tips you can also try include Epsom salt baths, self-lymphatic massage, and dry brushing before showers.
Your body probably needs some lovin’ after the holidays so focus on eating healthy, nourishing foods now and try to avoid the bad stuff for a bit!
Interested in a quick and effective foods-based detox? Check out my 21-Day Total Body Detox Program!