How to repair the festive damage: Clearing out those toxins

Many of us will have spent the last few weeks enjoying well-deserved Christmas festivities and probably feeling the consequences by now. Perhaps your clothes feel a little tighter? Perhaps getting up in the morning is just that bit harder or perhaps you feel tired and sluggish during the day and are struggling with spot breakouts?


If you’re finding it hard to throw yourself into the New Year with energy and enthusiasm because you don’t think you look and feel your best it could be time to give your New Year a kick start with a gentle detox.


Over Christmas more toxins than your digestive system can deal with are often introduced and this can explain why you may be feeling sluggish and under par. Fatigue, bloating, skin breakouts, headaches, constipation, irritability and mood swings are just a few of the symptoms of toxic build up.


Before you panic at the mention of the word detox it is important to stress that detoxing does NOT have to be about starving for days on end or drinking foul tasting herbal concoctions. Detoxing does not have to be painful to be good for you. In my post-Christmas detox plan below you will not be asked to fast or sweat it out in spinning classes, instead you will simply be asked to make sensible diet and lifestyle changes that can help redress that essential balance of ‘toxins in equals toxins out. You’ll be retraining your body on how and what to eat and reminding yourself that the New Year really is a time when you can look and feel your best.


Your post Christmas repair plan:


  • Sleep hygiene: Just as too much food isn’t good for you too much sleep isn’t either; in fact a recent study showed that people who slept more than 8 hours a day had shorter life spans than those who slept for 6 to 8 hours.

This doesn’t mean you should skimp on sleep if you need it; quite the opposite. After all the Christmas partying, eating and drinking your body needs time to recover and during sleep your body does most of it’s repair and healing. (Sleep is also crucial for successful weight loss because sleep loss tends to increase hunger and affects your body’s metabolism making it difficult to maintain weight loss or lose weight.).


What it does mean, however, is that you should aim for between 6 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep a night – no more and no less – and when you wake up in the morning instead of lying in and getting a headache you should get up, start burning calories and start enjoying the day.

  • Go organic: If you make one New Year’s resolution this year why not make a promise to yourself to eat more organic produce. Organic produce is higher in nutrients and free of additives, preservatives, chemicals and other toxins that your body doesn’t want or need. Stay away from processed foods or those loaded with additives and try to eat as much organic food as possible – even more preferable if it local.  It may be a bit more expensive but organic food is better for you and you are worth it.
  • Chew it over: Every time you sit down for a meal remind yourself to chew your food thoroughly; this will help your digestion.  Remember poor digestion equals toxic build up and weight gain – something you are trying to avoid.
  • On waking: Drink a mug of warm water with the juice of half a lemon added and slice of ginger. This can really boost your digestion and wake up your liver. Wait 30 minutes until you have breakfast but don’t leave it any longer as this isn’t good news for your blood sugar levels.
  • Drink up: Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to help flush toxins out of your body. Tap water contains up to 800 chemicals so either filter your water or use mineral water and squashs and soft fizzy drinks.
  • Green tea: Avoid alcohol, coffee and tea. Reduce your intake of these to one per day or better still swop to green tea or herbal teas with a slice of lemon.
  • Increase your intake of vitamin C: This will help clear your skin after all those parties over Christmas. It also helps maintain teeth and bones and aids our absorption of iron. Great sources of vitamin C are strawberries, kiwi fruit, blueberries, broccoli, cauliflower and oranges.
  • B vitamins: The B vitamins help soften the impact of alcohol on the liver and encourage cell rejuvenation. So increase your intake of energy and health boosting whole grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables, fish, especially salmon and nuts and seeds.
  • Stock up on antioxidants: To combat any signs of ageing that the Christmas party season and winter central healing has brought on, you need to up your intake of foods that contain anti-oxidants. Antioxidants are powerful anti ageing (anti wrinkle) compounds found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables like peppers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apricots and carrots.
  • Before 8 pm: Try to eat your dinner, preferably consisting of a selection of cooked vegetables with oily fish, nuts, seeds or legumes) before 8 pm. When you go to bed your body needs to be resting not digesting.
  • Psyllium: If you feel constipated over the next few weeks try to increase your intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes and if this doesn’t help take a natural product that contains psyllium husks to get things moving.
  • Head outside: Walking for a minimum of 30 minutes a day is a great form of exercise and will blow away all those cobwebs that have accumulated from spending too much time inside. As well as being therapeutic it will also help you burn calories and lose weight. So grab your coat and scarf and head outside for plenty of fresh air and exercise.
  • Body brushing: Try this once a day to boost circulation and remove toxins your body managed to move to the surface of the skin. If you haven’t done this before buy a body brush and work from the feet up, brushing in a circular, clockwise direction up towards the heart. From your chest upwards, start brushing in a downward movement as if encouraging the blood towards the heart.
  • Treat yourself: If you really want to totally relax and recover then treat yourself to a spa treatment, this can be low cost and yet have loads of benefits. We all love to be relaxed and it gives us a sense of well being. So why not nip off to your local beauty salon and get a massage or facial, you will feel loads better for it.

Try not to panic:


Within a few weeks you’ll feel on top form again if you keep active, choose healthier options, increase your intake of fruits, vegetable and whole grains so there is a rainbow selection of colours on your plate, don’t starve yourself, drink plenty of water, enjoy your food and listen to your body. It can’t be said enough. Make this the year when you let your body tell you what it needs and can do without. Live a little, but don’t go overboard if it is only going to make you miserable the next day.


Believe it or not emotional upset, stress, worry and anxiety can cause your body to use up essential nutrients so try not to panic if you’ve put on a few pounds over Christmas. Most of us will gain an average of two to three pounds over Christmas but studies show that this is not an important health risk if you do not smoke and are not obese–and if, when spring comes, you can manage to shift back to your pre-Christmas weight.

And what’s the best way to do that? Just follow the guidelines above and go back to a routine of healthy eating, sleeping and regular exercise and if you haven’t been eating healthy or exercising regularly the New Year is the perfect time to start.

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