Oh, the holidays. A time for making memories, spending time with friends and family, and…sitting for hours while eating (and drinking) too much of everything around you. For millions, the weeks surrounding the winter holidays are the most unhealthy of the year. For days on end, we are bombarded with calorie-laden treats at every gathering and tasty alcohol infused drinks. Moreover, the chaos of buying presents, hosting events, and keeping up with the neighbors holiday decorations leads to sky-high stress levels. There are several reasons why stress, depression, and unhealthy habits run rampant over the holiday season. Colder weather tends to keep us inside and less active, and this time is filled with built-in excuses to indulge on sugar cookies and imbibe in more alcohol than our liver can handle. When you add on the stress that comes from planning and hosting these events, it’s little wonder that your body needs a reset – a detox – after the holiday season.
9 Proven Detox Strategies for After the Holidays
Once you make it through the holiday presents and partying, it’s time to prioritize your health again. A post-holiday detox is a smart strategy for realigning your digestive system, restarting your fitness routine, and restoring your skin to its natural sheen.
I’ve put together a list of some healthy detox ideas to help you start the new year right. Go ahead and give them a try if you want what’s best for your body!
1. Drink Lots of Water
During the season when eggnog and Irish whiskey are so convenient, it’s easy to forget that your body still needs water. Your cells are composed of 60 percent water, and this precious liquid is essential for everything from digestion to absorption, nutrient transportation, and body temperature maintenance. Because water helps energize your muscles, too little can cause an imbalance of electrolytes that leads to muscle fatigue and general exhaustion- a classic symptom of too much holiday cheer.
In the days after the holiday, you can restore your body’s balance by being intentional about keeping a water bottle with you. You can make do with less if you eat plenty of water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.
Try to be on top of refilling your water bottle throughout the day so that you remember to drink. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you don’t need to go to the bathroom every two hours, you probably are dehydrated.
2. Take a Prebiotic Fiber Supplement
Creamy cheeses, platefuls of hors-d’oeuvres, and decadent desserts might be delicious on the tongue, but they can wreak havoc on the digestive system. An efficient way to clean yourself out is with a prebiotic fiber supplement. These power supplements restore normalcy to your digestive system by providing the prized food source for the bacteria in your gut.
By stimulating the probiotic microflora within your digestive system, prebiotic supplements make it easier to process (and eliminate) the holiday meal. These supplements are especially useful for helping your body process food it’s not used to, which is why they can be so beneficial during the holiday season.
When looking for a prebiotic fiber supplement, seek out ones made from natural ingredients like chicory roots or acacia fiber. Inulin, the active compound in most supplements, also helps reduce bloating after a big holiday meal.
3. Neutralize Free Radicals with Better Nutrition
After a bout of big meals to process, your body begins to get strained. Specifically, the enzyme reactions required to rev up your metabolism begin to cause free radical damage within your cells. Because free radicals cause oxidative stress, they are directly linked to dozens of chronic diseases and health conditions like cancer and diabetes.
The key to maintaining your health after the holidays is to seek out foods that don’t strain your liver. Fill your diet with healthy seasonal foods that are rich in antioxidants like pomegranates, cranberries, and collard greens. Even wine is filled with these anti-inflammatory agents, meaning that a glass at the end of the day can be a step in the right direction for transitioning back to a healthier lifestyle.
4. Drink Dandelion Tea
Feeling bloated by all the fatty foods of the festive season? Adding dandelion tea to your daily routine may work wonders to restore your digestive system to full functioning. Dandelion tea significantly reduces your body’s water retention rates, making it an ideal chaser for a salty meal. Dandelion tea also stimulates the liver, which helps your body remove toxins and improve its efficiency. You can brew a cup when you feel yourself fading, and your body will begin to feel better.
5. Start Each Morning with Exercise
The science doesn’t lie; physical exercise is one of the best daily habits you can participate in. Make it a priority to workout first thing when you get out of bed, even before you look at your cell phone. Not only will regular exercise keep you feeling fresh and energized, but it’s also an ideal way to combat the carbohydrate-heavy meals you likely indulged in over the holidays.
Best of all, overindulging for weeks has left you with ample amounts of glycogen stored in your muscles and liver that can fuel your workouts so that you don’t feel fatigued. A morning walk, jog on the treadmill, or strength-training boot camp workout will push your body back into shape and help you start the new year feeling fit.
6. Eat Raw Vegetables At Every Meal
You might savour the sweet potato pie of the holiday season, but it’s better for your body to snack on raw vegetables when the decorations come down. Cut up some carrot sticks and celery to chew on during your commute, or consider whipping the remnants in your fridge into a fortifying, plant-based juice. Not only are raw veggies filled with fiber, but they also have an impressive arsenal of nutrients to bring you back to peak health, and they are filled with cell-rejuvenating water as well.
7. Eat a Simple, Protein-Packed Breakfast
It’s easy to fall out of your routine during the chaos of the holidays, but once things return to normal, it’s best to make eating a healthy breakfast a top priority of your day. Skimping on breakfast typically leads to overeating on carb-filled foods like donuts or bagels later, so you’re doing your body a favour by sticking to simple, protein-packed dishes instead.
Consider fueling up on a big bowl of cinnamon apple oatmeal (no sugar necessary), or some plain yogurt with fresh fruit piled on top. You’ll stay full for hours, and your digestive system will appreciate the break from fancy ingredients.
8. Sleep at least seven to eight hours, nightly
Late night parties and far too much alcohol can disrupt your regular sleep cycle, but a post-holiday detox is an opportunity to restore your schedule. Numerous studies have shown that poor sleep is correlated with weight problems, as it triggers an increase in ghrelin (a hunger hormone) and reduces your levels of leptin (a satiety hormone). You can restore your routine by going to bed at the same time each night (most experts recommend between 10 and 11PM), and set your bedroom up for sleep success by keeping it cool, dark and quiet. For more tips on sleeping soundly, check out my article on overcoming insomnia to get better sleep.
9. Start a (Hot) Yoga Routine
When it comes to detoxifying your body and giving it a fresh start after the holidays, few things are as beneficial as yoga, especially hot yoga. Because hot yoga is performed in sweltering conditions, it causes your body to sweat out toxins and impurities within it. Practicing in a heated room allows you to sink deeper into each pose, allowing you to feel the benefits faster.
There are hundreds of hot yoga studios around the country that you can join, but regular yoga can be just as effective for your health. If you don’t want to practice in a studio, consider starting your own routine right at home by following online videos or other instructional videos. For yoga beginners, the Youtube star ‘Yoga with Adriane’ has a free Thirty Days of Yoga fitness routine that will introduce you to the basics of a daily practice and make you stronger, fitter, and more in touch with your inner life. It’s an ideal way to end a stressful holiday season.
Detox Ideas to Avoid
The internet abounds with detox strategies that are purportedly designed to help you shed the holiday weight gain fast. Unfortunately, many of these plans are profoundly unhealthy, and often do not yield the promised lost pounds. Any detox plan that promises to help you lose more than a pound or two a week is only dealing with water weight, and the strain of following it might leave your body more weak and exhausted than before.
For this reason, I strongly recommend that you avoid the following detox strategies in favour of healthier choices instead.
Long-term Juice Cleanses:
Drinking all your calories isn’t just physically unsatisfying, but it also floods your body with far too much sugar, which can keep you alternating between sugar highs and crashes all day long.
Excessive Exercise Routines:
Working out all day can do more harm than good for your body, and it can kill your motivation to continue healthy levels of exercise after the holidays.
Small amounts of fasting can be healthy, but going too long without food will just leave you wanting to binge on holiday leftovers instead- hardly helpful as a detox plan.
Detox Your Way into a Better New Year with The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine
Don’t let the holidays become disastrous for your health. The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine is here to help you get back on track. No matter what demands the festivities have put on your body, we can work together to determine what it will take to bring you back to better health.
I care about making a personal connection with every patient therefore, I am happy to offer you a Complimentary 15-minute Discovery Call. Throughout this call, we will work together to determine your health goals and assess how the services I offer can benefit you. This appointment is designed to work for you, so I’m happy to meet in person at the clinic or over the phone.
Please consider scheduling an appointment today! I look forward to treating you soon.
Dr. John Dempster
The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine