A quick-fix detox and fad-diet can be tempting post-Christmas, but it’s not a healthy alternative, says one Brisbane dietician.
For many, the holiday period can be a time of social gatherings and family catch ups, usually over too much food and drinks.
And after letting loose and indulging, it can be tempting to hit the “detox” button after New Years Eve in an attempt to “reset” unhealthy decisions and get the body back on track.
Detoxing is the process of eliminating toxins from the body to improve health, and commonly, lose weight. This can be achieved through a whole range of methods; from juice-cleanses to teas and minerals or eating only specific “healthy” foods for a period of time.
While detoxes of these sort may make one feel better, they’re usually not safe, don’t address full dietary or nutritional needs and can place the body under stress, says leading dietician from Fitstop, Claudia Cramer.
“It can be really tempting for people to want to detox after indulging, but I would recommend against it,” she says.
“It’s only a temporary solution and it can sometimes be dangerous if not done in consultation with a health professional.”
“It’s also not necessary, because the liver detoxes the body anyway, everyday”
The Liver: A natural detox
Claudia says the liver is the body’s natural detoxifier. According to Medical News Today, a healthy liver can “detoxify almost everything a person encounters”.
The liver is the first line of defence against toxins. It acts as a filter to prevent any toxic substances from food entering the blood steam.
Other organs that are key to the body’s natural detoxification process are the colon and the kidneys, says Dr. Mehmet Oz, from ShareCare and Doctor Oz.
The colon is an “organ [that] has bacteria that produces both healthy and unhealthy chemicals”, he says.
The colon’s main job is to flush out toxic chemcials before they do any harm, so it’s important to keep it flowing regularly.
The kidneys help detox the body by “constantly filtering the blood and getting rid of toxins in the form of urine,” says Dr. Oz.
With these organs naturally detoxing the body daily, it means expensive juice cleanses and restrictive diets can not only be a waste of time and money, but can be detrimental to health.
Claudia says it’s more beneficial to focus on building healthy habits over jumping into a quick fix.
“Instead of bringing in all these new protocols, working on building healthy routines and habits”, she says.
“Ensure you are getting a good night’s sleep, as this is where the liver does the majority of its detoxing, stay hydrated by drinking at least 2.5 litres of water per day, and get an abundance of fruit and veggies.”
“Working on these is defiantly more sustainable than doing a crash detox and then going back to old habits.”
Getting Back Into the Swing of Things, Post-Holiday mode
Claudia highlights the easiest way to feeling back on track and hitting health goals is to build up the foundations now.
“With nutrition, half the battle is being prepared,” she says.
“Prioritise things like grocery shopping, meal planning and prepping. Have enough food in the fridge, stored and ready to go.”
Doing so will ensure healthy alternatives are always on hand, and you won’t be reaching for those leftover desserts and snacks high in sugar and fat.
And while setting New Years resolutions to help you get back on track after the holiday period can be tempting, Claudia warns that it’s important to be mindful when setting goals.
“New Years resolutions are great in theory, but often people don’t see them through and they can be a bit unrealistic,” she says.
“Instead, start small and set little goals all year round, and revisit them.”
For example, rather than saying, “I wont eat takeaway out for six months,” start with a weekly goal of only once per week. For fitness, opt for resolutions that are also going to be achievable, like working out three days a week, or walking to work instead of using public transport every second day.
“This way, when people do reach these goals, they feel empowered, and the complexity of the goals can be increased as time goes on,” Claudia says.