So you’ve had a superbly sinful time all of October-November. What with festivals and good times coming at you at break neck speed, almost back to back that included glutenous the ladoos during the Ganesh Chaturthi, the fried foods during the navratras, the glutenous Diwali card parties and delicious food fest that bhaiyya dooj often turns out to be.
Now after all that party bingeing, it’s time time for some damage control.
The first step is to get rid of all that junk that’s gone into your body for the past two months… and that means detoxing!
WHAT’S DETOXING ACTUALLY?
In simple terms it is a systematic approach to assisting your body to remove toxins stored in its tissues.
The body has its own natural healing system set up to deal with the chemicals it doesn't want, and to excrete them.
Sometimes though, toxins don't leave our body - they hang around in the lymph and digestive systems.
Detoxification enhances this system by providing the body with a nutritional break, so that it can become a better waste dumper and nutrient absorber.
Environmental factors and the wrong kind of diet that we eat often cause oxidative stress, leading to formation of free radicals in the body.
We then need to step up the intake of antioxidants (like vitamins E and C, beta carotene and some trace minerals like selenium etc. ) to help detoxify the body. And although these can be had as supplements, the best way is to get them naturally, through the right kind of foods.
Maintaining your body is kind of maintaining your car. You know you need to have the oil and the filter changed every so often, more often if you want the car to last longer.
With personal detox what you're doing is cleaning the filter – your liver, as well as the pathways where both nutrients and toxins travel, the blood and the gut.
YOUR DETOX PLAN
First things first. You don’t go to a dietary extreme to achieve results. Please steer clear of water fasts, juice fasts, and combination water-juice fasts. Detoxing is also not about using laxatives to clean out your digestive system.
Do it sensibly.
Follow these 5 steps to get your energy back and cleanse the body after the fest-feast.
Step 1: Set Your Plate Right
All those splendid looking - fried and refined foods – you have subsisted on all this while, have to be processed by the liver, and this process takes energy away from the regular detoxification work liver has to do in the body. Many toxins are fat-soluble.
The liver's job is to transform them into water-soluble substances so they can be excreted via the bowel or the kidneys as the bowel and the kidneys cannot process them out, until they're water-soluble.
So while your liver has been working full time, it has probably been unable to cope. To off set all that, now for a month or so switch to a low fat diet, with lots of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
It’ll also help immensely to go vegetarian for a while, or at least cut down heavily on non-veg foods. This will support the liver with nutrients and easy-to-digest food, while it works overtime to cleanse your system.
Think of this as after-festivals spring cleaning of your insides.
Quick hack: A very effective way to ease yourself into a detox program is to pencil in a weekend - eating only fruits and vegetables. If you feel a headache coming up, or get uncomfortable, have some brown rice and some warm clear soups.
Step 2: Switch Your Cuppa
Cut down on those endless cups of coffee now! Give your liver a chance to rest from getting rid of all that caffeine every day.
But please don’t stop dead bolt - always taper off to avoid extremely uncomfortable withdrawal effects (like a splitting headache).
Quick hack: switch to green tea as green tea contains only a fraction of the caffeine of black tea and coffee. Plus all these flavoured herbal teas are delicious energy and mood boosters!
Step 3: Third Step Cut down on sugar
Too much sugar during festival season is inevitable. But excess is really detrimental to health not only because of the excess calories it easily provides, but also by suppressing the immune system making us more susceptible to colds and flu. So for a while cut down drastically on desserts completely.
Quick Hack: sweeten up instead with fresh fruits which contain natural fruit sugars plus all important nutrients such as vitamin C which is crucial for staving off winter time bugs.
Step 4: Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate
Heavy, high fat and salt foods, and alcohol can be very dehydrating. So consciously up your water intake.
Have at least 7 to 10 average sized glasses of water each day.
Water is an amazing detox tool. It helps dilute toxins and waste products for their easy drainage from our body system; regulate and maintain our body temperature, and also helps to clear excessive fats from our bloodstreams.
Quick hack: You can also take warm water by way of this herbal concoction: boil some cumin, coriander and fennel in boiling water and then drink.
Step 5: Get Moving
Get sufficient exercise. Lack of exercise besides making you gain weight also makes the body’s circulation sluggish which results in a build up of toxins.
Even gentle exercise gets the circulation going, so wrap up warm and try a 30 min walk at least twice a week.
Yoga is another wonderful way to gently detox. It stimulates all the bodily systems, and basically also teaches the way to live a less toxic life.
Quick hack: learn to breathe right and deeply as this allows oxygen to circulate more completely through the system.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)