THE SAFE WAY TO DETOX
If you’re feeling sluggish after the festive overeating, it might be time for a cleansing diet. Here’s how to do it the right way.
Acomplete detox is one of those promises we make to ourselves after a food-filled festive season. But most of us end up putting it off again and again. Without a regular and holistic cleanse, however, the mind and body will start to feel the effects of toxins – from chemicals in the processed food we eat and the products we use, to the pollutants in the air.
Most detox diets are structured around the two Fs – fluid and fibre – that step up your flushing-out process. While detoxification is a basic bodily function, an irregular lifestyle and poor eating habits disturb it. A detox diet – undertaken with care – is tough love for the body, but the results can make you feel like a whole new person. The diet can last from just a few days to a few weeks.
A detox cycle is like learning to ride a bike – you have to start slow. It’s not advisable to cut out solids immediately and depend only on fluids to get you through the day. For the first few days, ease the transition with porridge, fruit smoothies and nutritious broths.
Follow this up with a pre-detox two-day soup fast. Legumes, cabbage and other vegetables may not be the most exciting combination, but soup made from them is the perfect way to start you off on cleansing your system. Fill yourself with the soup at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and have a cup or two in between when you feel like snacking.
A detox diet – undertaken with care – is tough love for the body, but the results can make you feel like a whole new person.
It’s important to remember that a detox diet should not rid you of essential nutrients. Eating light and eating healthy aren’t mutually exclusive. Begin your day with yogurt, fruit and oatmeal and have watermelon or orange juice for a midmorning snack.
The rules of detox aren’t very different from those for weight loss, where several small meals punctuate your day. Lunch should be a summer salad with dressing or raw/steamed vegetables with a curd dip and glass of lemonade.
Eggs, wholegrains and raw nuts will fortify your diet. Make sure you get your fill of green tea – when you’re off dairy, it’s the only break you’re going to get during a long working day. Instead of red meat for dinner, try grilled fish and a tofu and bean salad with extra virgin olive oil. Tip: The pace of our lives often reduces meals to five-minute interludes. When you’re on a detox, try to stretch your meal out. Relax your mind, chew slowly and really taste the food you’re eating.
Just like you can’t rush into a detox cycle, it’s not advisable to abandon your detox diet all of a sudden. Reintroduce semi-solids like porridge or congee to your meals and make a gradual shift to your normal diet. Start off with a protein-rich, low-fat plan. Tip: Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Eat yellow fruits rich in vitamin C. Tempting fatty foods should only make a staggered comeback. The trick behind a successful detox cycle is to flush out your desire for fatty food with the toxins. Think of it as a psychological cleanse.
Snacking is a deal-breaker for most diets. The first thing to do is to make your peace with healthy snacking.
Most hunger cravings between meals are signs of dehydration that can be put to rest with a glass of water. Avoid snacking, but if you absolutely must, drink herbal tea instead of breaking out a batch of popcorn or unsalted nuts. The important thing is to hold out till the next mini-meal of the day.
Detox Your Mind
While eating healthy ensures you’re physically fit, diets often wreak havoc on the mind with a vicious circle of satiety and guilt. To prevent yourself from thinking about food constantly, try and calm your mind.
Make time for a 30-minute meditation or yoga session to cleanse your mind of negative energy at least once every day. As part of your detox plan, work in a few relaxing massages as well.
Take a day off from technology every week, preferably over the weekends when you’re not likely to be called in by the boss. Breaking free of smartphones can go a long way in keeping you stress-free, and your mind off comfort food.
Detox Your Skin
Before your bath or shower, grab a loofah or natural-fibre brush and spend 10 minutes moving it in a gentle circular motion over your body. Go from toes to thighs, fingers to upper arms, belly to back. Avoid the face and decolletage. After bathing, massage yourself using olive or coconut oil with a couple of drops of rosemary or sage oil to enhance circulation and detoxification.
Detox Your Grocery List
Your weekly shopping trip needs a complete overhaul when you’re on a detox. Here’s how to shop smart and include foods that aid your body’s natural ability to flush out toxins.
1 Go organic. Reduce your exposure to pesticides and fertilisers. Organic foods are said to contain a higher level of vitamins and minerals as well as micronutrients that build the body’s immune system.
2 Don’t buy calorie-laden foods high in sugar, saturated fats or those that have artificial additives. Ready-to-eat food packages are heavily processed and should be avoided when on a detox. A detox emphasises an increased fluid content in your diet. However, you cannot rely on fizzy diet drinks or squashes. Opt for coconut or barley water instead.