The Nutritionist: Detoxmas

Lisa Wulf Nutritionist

In case you haven't noticed, there are only 58 days till Christmas. Now, that freaks me out a little bit (and I'm not just referring to all those upcoming over-indulgent client lunches, dinners, parties, mulled wines and mince pies). 

And if you are freaked out, just think about your poor digestive system and liver, which will have to deal with the toxic overload. Surely your detoxification organs are taking a bit of hammering during the festive winter months, so I'm calling in a Detoxmas - a detox before Christmas.

A detox works by 'resting' the organs that eliminate waste - liver, kidneys, gut, lungs and skin. And don't you freak out now; I'm not going to tell you to drink fruit and vegetable juice for a week straight while sitting cross-legged on your yoga mat.

A detoxification plan doesn't have to be completely restrictive and boring. Actually, it should be fun and tasty. (In fact, the better the food tastes, the more likely you are to stick to your plan.) What we eat can be very much a matter of habit, and a detox is a great way of realising you may not be as dependent on some of your unhealthier eating habits as you might think. Undertaking a detox eating plan will help your body rebalance, release built-up congestion, and restore itself to strength and health.

The definition of my Detoxmas plan is pretty simple: remove the foods and ingredients that have the highest toxic load and are causing problems with your health - caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars, (white, sweet and fluffy) carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, and food additives. Now try and focus on simple, fresh foods - foods you would find in the hunter-gatherer diet - foods that grows on trees and in the ground (such as abundant, colourful fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, plenty of water and vegetable protein). Start off by writing out a plan of what you're going to eat, keeping track of it in a food & mood diary, going shopping beforehand and cooking larger portions of healthy meals for your lunch (think soup - easy to throw in all those delicious vegetables!).

So, how long should I detox*?

Detox for one day a week, one week a month, or one month a year. All of this will bring your body benefits. The great thing about a detox is that you can usually achieve results in a very short time. Depending on how healthy - or toxic - you are, you may start to feel better immediately, simply by removing caffeine and your afternoon sugar treat, though a long caffeine and sugar-addict is likely to notice some withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, tiredness and mood swings. But hang in there, the first days are the worst, and then it only gets better. You'll feel more energized, your digestion and skin is likely to improve, and the pounds will drop off (great for that upcoming Christmas party). If you have been feeling very run down, or have been burning the candle at both ends, detoxing for a month may help restore you to top condition.

There are some great nutritional supplements and herbs to support a longer detox plan, but for now I'd suggest to keep it real and focus on all those delicious foods out there. And if you don't have time to go shopping, go and get one of those organic fruit and vegetable boxes delivered straight to your door.

It doesn't have to be hard: you can order it while you're doing all your Christmas shopping online!

* Don't detox if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, and always consult your GP if you're going to change your diet drastically.