It hit as soon as Thanksgiving was over: holiday detox mania. Suddenly I couldn't look at a slice of pumpkin pie without eight new “holiday guide to detox” emails being delivered to my inbox, and in yoga people were talking about how they ate too much and needed to "detox." The word was everywhere I turned! It seems the holiday season has become a time of serious food guilt, and detoxing is the answer…?
Wait, let’s back up: do you really need to detox? What is a detox anyway? Technically, to detox means, “to rid your body of toxins.” And admittedly, many of us absorb enough of those to want a detox, but that goes well beyond the pumpkin pie. The term “detox” has become overused (I’ve already said it five times in this paragraph alone), and in the case of holiday season application, what we’re really talking about is maintaining some semblance of health during a time that can be busy, stressful, and full of tasty temptations.
But flip-flopping from binge eating to barely eating is not gonna do you any favors – and adding to your to-do list, that probably won't help either. Why not find a sustainable solution; a way to support your body's natural detoxification systems year-round? By incorporating a few healthy habits into your existing routines, you can find a balance that works for you and avoid putting yourself through extremes on either end.
Here are some simple practices that keep me feeling good, no matter the time of year. They are so simple, in fact, they may seem obvious. But because they are so basic they are easily overlooked, undervalued, and not consistently employed. I challenge you to integrate these habits into your routine, one by one, to build a foundation of wellness for yourself.
- Get rid of the food guilt. Putting stress on our bodies (in the form of negative self talk and guilt) can be just as harmful as that second piece of pie. So if you’re gonna eat it, just enjoy it, guilt-free.
- Just add veggies. Seriously, just add more veggies to your plate. I like to think of these as the vehicles that help everything else get through my body. Ate a whole pizza? Great! Just pair it with a little salad to help it go down.
- Move that body! Physical activity is another “vehicle” that helps everything move through our digestive tract, so find any way to move that you can. Go for a walk after dinner, wake up for an early morning workout class, or chase your cat around the apartment. Just move.
- Sleeeeep. Yes! Permission to rest during this busy time. In fact, it’s a must. None of our bodies’ systems are working at full capacity when we’re tired, so make sure you leave time for rest in your schedule. You can read more about why this is so important here.
- Hydrate. You heard me, drink up. Much like sleep, hydration keeps all our systems running smoothly. Plus, thirst is often mistaken as hunger, so before you reach for a snack try drinking some water. If plain old water is super boring for you, pop in a slice of lemon or cozy up with a cup of herbal tea, but try to avoid the sugary alternatives.
- Have fun with it! I personally love finding sneaky ways to make classic recipes healthier. Swap out rice or maple syrup for conventional sugar; applesauce for veggie oil; nut flour for white flour; the list goes on, and pinterest is your friend.
- Bonus: I’ve found that this recipe is not only a huge crowd pleaser, but it’s easy to make (no-bake!), and quite healthy. Best part is you can use a festive ice cube tray or cookie cutters to make the “cups” any shape you want. Yay!
Now, I know that holiday weight gain is a real thing. My first thought: maybe that’s okay? It is winter, after all. It’s natural to be drawn to warm, hearty foods as the temps drop and daylight hours wane. So follow your instincts and try to focus less on how you look and more on how you feel. Maybe that plate full of seconds will make you feel awesome! Or maybe it will leave you with that "you can roll me home now" feeling. You know your body best; choose accordingly.
Remember that the aim is to feel your best so you can enjoy the magic of the holiday season comfortably.