While you’re on holiday, it seems like a good idea to just go with the flow and enjoy all that food, drink and merriment. However, by indulging with such abandonment you might have caused a little damage to your waistline – and now you feel like it’s time for a bit of “detoxing”. Before we get into what you can do, let’s clarify that you can’t detox without recognizing that your body has several organs that work in sync to do it for you. That said, there are several things that you can do to help your detox system work efficiently and get rid of toxins. Here are 15 post-holiday activities that will kick-start your detox efforts.
1.Don’t Punish Yourself For Your Holiday Binge
After indulging heavily in food or drink, the following days you may think it’s a good idea to skip meals, spend hours on the treadmill, or do some other extreme activity, in order to undo the damage. However, cutting down on food when your body needs it is not a good idea.
In such a situation your body goes into starvation mode in which it stores even more calories than usual, making you gain weight in the long run (1). Don’t starve yourself after holiday binges.
Don’t go on an exercise frenzy either. Your body needs rest to recover and rebuild itself. Overdoing it with exercise may result in injury.
Instead of that, focus on making small, sustainable lifestyle changes that will improve your overall well-being.
With so many activities going on around you during the holidays, you probably lost a lot of fluids without realizing it.
When you’re dehydrated, your body feels tired, and it doesn’t digest food as well either (14).
Make sure that you rehydrate with lots of fluids, especially water, to help your body recover from whatever damage that that time off did to it.
What if you don’t like the taste of plain water? Don’t go for fruit juices. They are high in sugar and if you drink a lot of them, they can cause you to gain weight. Drinking too much fruit juice might also leave your body lacking in essential micronutrients that it needs from other sources.
Instead, flavor your water with lemon slices and other fruit pieces to make it more appealing.
Read More: The 7 Day Water Fast: Guaranteed Results?
3. Do A Pantry Sweep
Check for high-calorie foods, condiments, and other highly processed ingredients that you don’t need in your pantry.
Having these items in your pantry might tempt you when you’re hungry and feel like snacking on something.
Instead, replace these foods with healthier items that don’t have too many calories or are low in sugar. Processed products often contain a lot of additives and preservatives, which aren’t good for your waistline or health in general (15).
4. Stock Up On Whole, Unprocessed Foods
Once you’ve done your pantry sweep, get rid of your unhealthy products and replace them with healthier items.
Fill your fridge and freezer with whole foods that are low in processed ingredients. They usually contain more nutrients than their processed counterparts, which is good for your health.
This way, when you’re hungry, you won’t be tempted to snack on unhealthy foods.
Ideal foods to stock up on include:
- Lean meats
- Whole grains
5. Consider Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a time-restricted eating pattern where you fast for a certain period of time, and then have a window of eating time. In the first few weeks of intermittent fasting, your body starts producing new enzymes as it adapts to fat as fuel instead of sugar from foods.
Intermittent fasting is also believed to help increase fat burn, lower insulin levels, and reduce risk of chronic diseases (7).
After eating three large meals a day and some snacks during the holidays, an intermittent fasting routine can help give your body a much-needed break from digestion. It can also help you work off a few pounds you may have gained during this period.
To stick to this way of eating, you should start slow with a 12 hour fast, then work your way up to 16 hours. A 12 hour fast may mean eating only between 8 am and 8 pm. While a 16 hour fast may restrict you to eating between 10 am and 8 pm.
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6. Get Proactive About Dental Health
Your mouth is the first organ in your digestive system and has an impact on your gut health.
During the holiday season, many of us consume more sugar and alcohol than usual. This puts us at risk for tooth decay or other dental health problems (11).
To protect your teeth, brush twice a day with quality toothpaste, floss once a day after brushing, and visit the dentist at least once every six months.
If you have high exposure to sugar in your job or lifestyle, then you may want to visit the dentist even more frequently.
7. Work Up A Sweat
Sweat is one of the best ways to detox your body. Not only does it help you lose water weight, monitor for disease, and make sure your heart is healthy, but it also helps release toxins from your body (8).
When you sweat, toxins are released through your pores as perspiration.
One of the best ways to move your body and work up a sweat is through strength training. This involves lifting weights, which helps you burn calories and tone your muscles (9).
You can also hit the gym to enjoy a good cardio workout that gets your heart pumping and increases blood flow throughout your body (2).
Yoga and pilates, the other types of workouts you can try also come with a host of benefits. They improve your flexibility and balance, and build core strength.
8. Be Mindful About Your Sleep
It’s no secret that sleep is important for your health and well-being.
When you don’t get enough sleep or quality sleep, it affects your stress levels and hormones which in turn affects the way you eat and exercise (6) (10).
Getting enough sleep every night has a host of benefits for your physical and mental health. It can help you control your weight as it regulates appetite-related hormones to keep cravings under control. It also supports your immune system (12).
Ideally, we should all get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. If you’re not getting enough sleep and want to change that, then one way to do it is by following a routine like this:
- Head to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time as well.
- Turn off your phone and other gadgets as they emit blue lights which mess with your circadian rhythm.
- Aim for a dark, quiet, and relaxing bedroom that has a cool temperature. Make it comfortable so you can sleep soundly throughout the night.
- Use white noise to block out distracting sounds and boost the quality of your sleep.
- Do something relaxing like reading before you go to bed at night.
- Block out the light with blackout curtains or an eye mask for better sleep. Avoid using bright alarm clocks as they can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
- Eat foods that may promote sleep. These include bananas, cherries, kiwis, and oats.
Read More: Mindful Eating: Tips, Techniques, And Benefits Of This Practice
9. Move Your Body Throughout The Day
One of the simplest things you can do to improve your health is to get more active, even in small ways.
Exercise doesn’t just help your body look fit and toned, it also boosts your mood and helps with stress too. It also keeps you healthy in many other ways like reducing risk of heart disease, preventing dementia, and lowering risk of cancer (4).
When you’re on a break from work or school, try these quick workouts to burn more calories:
- Climb the stairs instead of taking an elevator.
- Walk your dog around the block.
- Do some gardening or housework like mopping or dusting.
10. Take Care Of Your Mind
If you tend to get more stressed or anxious during this time of year, try these tips at the first sign of stress:
- Take deep breaths in and out slowly. Let your shoulders drop as you breathe in and puff them up when you exhale. Such breathing techniques have been shown to lower stress levels and improve mood (5).
- Do a relaxation technique such as yoga, meditation, or guided imagery. These help you calm down and reflect on what’s stressing you out so you can move past it.
- Take a warm bath or shower to relax your muscles.
- Read a book or do something that helps you unwind before bedtime.
When you notice something triggering anxiety, drop anchor by counting backwards from five to one as slowly as possible. Think of something reassuring or comforting. Remember that you are safe, calm, and relaxed.
12. Hit The Sauna
We mentioned earlier that sweating is good for your health. One way to do it is by hitting the sauna if you have one in your home or gym.
Saunas improve blood circulation which can help regulate sleep, reduce stress, ease muscle tension and reduce pain (3). It may also relieve pain from conditions like arthritis.
The heat in a sauna increases heart rate and blood pressure. However, these effects are short-term and the overall risk of a sauna is very low. It may even be good for you if you have heart problems or high blood pressure as it can lower your blood pressure and improve your circulation.
Since they’re relaxing, this is also a great time to do some meditation in a sauna.
Do not go to the sauna if you’re pregnant, have epilepsy, heart disease or uncontrolled high blood pressure, or are on certain medications.
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13. Give Your Skin Some TLC
If you’re like most people, then your skin gets dry and flaky during the winter months because of harsh winds and cold temperatures.
The best way to help your skin get back to its normal state is by moisturizing daily and getting enough vitamin D in your diet.
Vitamin D is created when our skin is exposed to the sun, so it’s important that you get out there at least once or twice a week even if it’s just for 10 minutes (13).
You can also eat foods that are high in vitamin D (like oily fish and fortified dairy products) when there’s not that much sunshine outside, or take a supplement if recommended by your doctor.
Have a skin care routine that you follow every day.
- Wash your face morning and night with a mild cleanser.
- Every other day, exfoliate your skin with an exfoliating serum (AHA or BHA) to get rid of dead skin cells that have built up on the surface of the skin.
- Apply moisturizer, especially when skin feels tight after washing.
- Occasionally mask your face with a mud or clay pack.
- Apply sunscreen to your face, arms, and neck every day in the morning.
14. Be Smart When You Eat Out
Healthy eating is the foundation of good health, so have healthy meals throughout the break if you can’t avoid eating out frequently.
Here are some tips on making healthier choices when eating out:
- Choose dishes that are steamed, broiled, baked, or grilled rather than those that are fried.
- Watch out for sauces and dressings because they can be high in calories and fat.
- Avoid buffets because it can be harder to keep track of how much food you’re eating and it’s easy to overeat.
- Ask your server not to bring bread or chips or put them on your table so you won’t be tempted to snack on them.
- Add vegetables or salad to your meal.
- Limit alcohol intake because it can lower your inhibition and may lead you to eat more than you should. It can also increase cravings for sweets.
15. Do Some DIY Projects Around Your Home
Taking care of your home means taking care of yourself because you’re not only keeping it clean and organized, but you’re keeping your mind healthy too.
Doing activities like organizing, decorating, or renovating your home can help boost your mood and creativity.
It’s also a great way to bond with family members or friends if you do it together.
If you don’t have the time or energy to do some crafts or projects, then simply cleaning up your house will do just fine because seeing a clean space makes us feel more relaxed and organized.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to get carried away and overindulge during the holiday season, but it’s just as easy to get back on track after a few weeks of recovery.
Be careful not to punish yourself by going extreme on the other end because that will not help you maintain your weight or improve your health.
It’s okay to indulge once in a while, but make sure it’s offset with a generally healthy lifestyle by exercising and maintaining good eating habits most of the time.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Adaptive thermogenesis in humans (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Aerobic Exercise (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
- Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review (2018, hindawi.com)
- Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence (2006, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing (2018, frontiersin.org)
- Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent fasting: the science of going without (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Physiology of sweat gland function: The roles of sweating and sweat composition in human health (2019, tandfonline.com)
- Resistance Training is Medicine Effects of Strength Training on Health (2012, journals.lww.com)
- Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sugars and Dental Caries: Evidence for Setting a Recommended Threshold for Intake (2016, academic.oup.com)
- The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Water, hydration, and health (2010, academic.oup.com)
- What Are We Putting in Our Food That Is Making Us Fat? Food Additives, Contaminants, and Other Putative Contributors to Obesity (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)