Our typical January 1 goes something like this: wake up (or maybe never go to bed) with a headache, a sugar hangover and a promise to detox (no booze, sugar) after a particularly gluttonous few weeks.
But some people are pre-empting these (typically) empty promises with a pre-holiday detox. Doing so may help you eat less over the holidays, according to experts – because you feel so good, you might be less likely to overindulge. “You have given your body the chance to feel what its like to be inflammation-free and feel good so when you tip toe back to the unhealthy choices, your body lets you know it doesn’t approve much sooner,” says holistic nutritionist Jenn Pike.
And, if you do indulge, your body will bounce back faster. “A few days of holiday indulgences have marginal impact on a system that is able to quickly and efficiently process them,” says Dr. Krystina Milloy, a naturopathic doctor at Helix Healthcare Group.
Our bodies already have internal detoxification system, explains Dr. Milloy. But sometimes, we need a little jumpstart. “When our inputs [i.e. what we eat or drink] overwhelm the liver’s ability to process them (excessive intake of anything that is processed by the liver – toxins, pesticides, alcohol, medications, hormones), the system gets backed up. And when the system gets backed up, it wreaks havoc on our mood, our weight and our health.”
We’re not advocating a lemon water and almond fast here. Pike describes her dream pre-holiday detox as including “loads of organic produce, plant-based protein, healthy fat, fibre and ample hydration.” That means no meat, caffeine, dairy and sugar. “The reason for cutting back on animal protein, gluten dairy and sugar is these foods can be some of the hardest to digest and break down therefore leading to the greatest amount of inflammation in our gut, our hormones, skin, sleep, energy and our weight.” You may also choose to supplement your detox with liver herbs such as Milk Thistle and other supplements, but it’s best to speak to a trained nutritionist.
As to how long you should detox, Dr. Milloy recommends 21 days. “It’s enough time to rebalance the system, remove toxic accumulations in the system, and improve digestion and metabolism, without being overly daunting.” (Read: start now so you can enjoy your turkey come Dec. 25).
But, if you’re looking for a little reset, try a (minimum) five-day detox to shed some inflammation, water and sodium retention. If you’re a bit more hesitant, try a whole-foods diet that incorporates high-quality protein and at least 25 grams of fibre, suggests Dr. Milloy.
Here are some more expert tips.