Six days in to the new year, and detox diets are popping up on my social media feeds, promising brighter skin, better sleep and bundles of energy. Many sound too good to be true, so do they live up to the promises?
Do we need to detox?
The fact is that our bodies work tirelessly to maintain homeostasis – or keeping everything on an even keel. Too much indulgence – alcohol, sugar, toxins – and the body ramps up its own detoxification systems to compensate. Of course over time unwanted side effects will start to show if such indulgences are maintained, but I no longer believe that a couple of weeks’ relaxing the rules over Christmas or holidays requires a bounce-back detoxification programme to cleanse the system.
In fact, I would even suggest that it might do more harm than good as the next step following the detox ‘programme’ is often to over-indulge anew, safe in the knowledge that your body is now purified and fighting fit. This on/off approach, much like yo-yo dieting, can cause us more stress than adopting a more moderate lifestyle long term. Don’t get me wrong, I love a green smoothie or vegetable juice, but I believe they have a place in my diet alongside meals that contain carbs, fats and protein. The thought of thirty days exclusively drinking green juices and eating salads is just miserable (especially at this time of year) and, for me, will undoubtedly lead to hunger and failure!
What’s the alternative?
So, what can we do when a couple of weeks’ relaxing the rules has led to feeling below par? For me it comes back to the basics:
- Nourish – enjoy a variety of foods each day, aiming to ‘eat the rainbow’ and covering half of every plate with vegetables
- Calm – take time to relax, away from mobiles, laptops and screens
- Move – find time for gentle exercise, ideally outside when the weather allows for it. Or put your wellies and a raincoat on and go out anyway!
- Support – nurture your gut with warming soups made with bone broth; add prebiotic, fermented foods to your daily meals
- Hydrate – keep drinking water and herbal teas, with an odd cup of caffeinated tea and/or coffee. If you’ve been overdoing alcohol then take some time off to give your liver and detox systems a chance to recuperate
And that’s it. No crazy January diets with a list of unheard of ingredients to hunt down. Just simple, good food; time to breathe; a daily walk and some extra glasses of water. Now, where are my wellies…?