The holiday season is officially upon us. The month and a half between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is always crammed full of big family meals, happy hours, open houses, travel and parties. It’s a joyful time to spend with family and friends, but the stress and rich foods can leave you feeling bloated and sluggish.
How can we enjoy the holidays without feeling the heavy effects of overindulging? According to many celebrities, untrained purveyors of essential oils and quick-fix weight-loss products, and even some well-meaning friends, the answer is a cleanse or detox diet.
Although they do vary, most detox diets include a drastic reduction in calories and a huge increase in liquid consumption. For example, adherents may be instructed to consume nothing but freshly squeezed fruit juice for a few days followed by several more days of ingesting only raw vegetables. Many people report weight loss, more energy and an improved mood.
But are cleanses and detoxes really the miracle reset your body needs? Not exactly. Think about the foods and drinks most commonly consumed during the holidays: cookies, pies and other sweet treats; special occasion recipes loaded with fat, salt and calories; holiday cheer in the form of cocktails. Eating and drinking large quantities of processed food, sugar and alcohol can definitely make you feel less than stellar. And you’ll start feeling back to normal once you flush those things out of your system.
Detoxes make people feel better because they’re no longer eating and drinking food and beverages known to cause bloating and weight gain. But detoxes can be dangerous. They require participants to severely restrict caloric intake – including foods containing necessary nutrients. In the short term, someone on a detox may experience headaches and irritability. In the long term, that person could lose muscle mass, experience symptoms of vitamin deficiency and damage their metabolism.
Luckily, your body already has what it needs to get rid of toxins: your liver and kidneys.
The best way to reset your body after overindulging is to simply let your organs do their job. You can help them out by staying hydrated, being physically active and nourishing your body with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
And be kind to yourself; don’t beat yourself up for eating too much at a party or meal. You don’t have to “work off” any extra calories you consume. Forgive yourself for overindulging, then move on. Overdoing it doesn’t mean your day, week or even month is shot.
One more way to help your organs? Limit how much they have to work in the first place. We all like to enjoy the special treats of the season. But if you can manage to taste everything in moderation, drink plenty of water and remember to continue to include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, you’ll be less likely to feel the sluggish bloat that unfortunately plaques so many during this time of year.
If you do end up overindulging this holiday season, don’t stress. And don’t fall for a quick fix. Drink some water, take a walk and let your liver and kidneys get to work.