It’s January and everywhere you look there are people telling you to lose weight, exercise and detox. While being a healthy weight and taking regular exercise are both important, what about detoxing? Should be we detoxing at the start of the year?
I have to admit I am not a big fan of everybody detoxing in January. This is because whether you detox or not depends on your individual make-up and the degree to which you perform the detox.
January is a cold month, a time when most of us need warming, nutritious foods. It is also a time when our immune systems are most stretched. Yes, we may have overindulged at Christmas, but are salads and green juices the answer? In the first place, salads and green juices can be quite cooling and are best suited for warmer months and secondly, it is important to support your immunity with adequate protein at this time.
So if you are wondering whether to detox or not here’s a checklist of who should or shouldn’t detox and by how much.
- Sugar/Sweet Detox: If you have been spoiling yourself over Christmas with lots of biscuits, chocolates and generally over-eating, it is no harm to remove these from your diet in January. So for January watch portion size, that biscuit with your tea and walk away from desserts. Increase fruit and vegetables and protein, both of which are essential for your immune system.
- Liver Detox: If you have combined over-eating with lots of alcohol your liver may need a clean up. As you might have guessed go for a dry January with no alcohol. First thing in the morning have a glass of water with a slice of lemon – good for the liver. Use liver cleansing foods such as – broccoli, cabbage, kale and turnip. Some good brisk walks will also get the liver moving. Recommendations in the Sugar/Sweet Detox also apply and watch your portion sizes!
- Late Night Recovery: Lots of late nights and constantly on the go over Christmas? Then maybe you don’t need a detox, but rather a scaled back January. Disrupted sleep cycles at Christmas can impact sleep quality, so try to re-establish a routine bed-time. Did you know melatonin is at its highest at 10pm, so get to bed before 11pm – aim for 7 to 8 hours sleep.
- Exercise Detox: Christmas is a time of visiting, cinema going, eating and enjoying family and friends. Exercise regimes can take a back-seat. Now is the time to get your exercise back up and running. Exercise, particularly aerobic, will also help move the liver and encourage detoxification. Remember this doesn’t have to be very elaborate. Brisk walking for an hour a day is sufficient.
- What about a Juice Detox? As I said above, juices and salads are cold foods and not great for this time of year. If you are underweight, someone who feels the cold, or if you have body issues, a juice detox is not a good idea. Save this for the Summer. If you do want to include juicing in your diet, make sure it is mainly vegetable juices rather than fruit and include plenty of liver foods, such as broccoli and kale.
- So should we detox or not? Sometimes I think the health industry over-elaborates on detoxification programmes. Really it is very simple! Remove all processed foods, sugars, alcohol, crisps, peanuts, sweets and chocolates out of your diet. Eat simply with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and good protein. Watch your portion size, eat liver detox foods (2 above) and take some regular exercise. That will be sufficient to clear your system and hopefully, get your weight back on track!