Thinking about kicking out all your bad habits after New Year’s Eve? Just hold it right there, sunshine…
Considering a juice cleanse? Or a switch to raw salads and vegan eating? Perhaps you’ve decided to cut out booze and hit the gym. Maybe all of the above. Radical changes are a shock to the system, especially in what is already a hard, cold month. Rather than looking at a fierce January detox plan, nutritionist Kirsten Chick says it’s time to be gentle on ourselves.
January in the UK is way too chilly and depressing for most people to be introducing cold raw food for a start. And winter is generally a time for being gentler on yourself, rather than making drastic changes. There are much warmer and more nourishing ways to lighten the load, recover from the party season, and start the year feeling fresh. Here’s my top tips to help cope with the seasonal hangover.
1. Take it easy
If you’re feeling ravaged by seasonal excesses, then the key here is to be kind to yourself. In fact, even if you’ve had quite a balanced December, I’d still recommend a gentle start to the year.
2. Watch out for warning signs
Your bodily detoxification and elimination processes are often more sluggish in the winter months. This means they may need a helping hand, but if you push too much, you might just overload your liver and lymph. Possible signs that you are probably putting your body under strain include:
- Energy dips and blood sugar drops – which is when your sugar, carb, and fat cravings kick in and make you irritable, and your detox unbearable
- Headaches or joint pains
- Itchy skin or rashes
- Nausea or digestive problems
3. Ease yourself in gently.
Start by gradually reducing sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, dairy, processed and refined foods – or maybe even just one or two of these.
4. Go seasonal with your foods
At the same time, nourish yourself with soups, broths, casseroles and bakes with plenty of vegetables. Increasing vegetables will provide nutrients that help you make many of your detoxification enzymes. And small amounts of good quality meat, fish or pulses. They may not be as instantly energising as a green juice, but they will provide the nutrients your need to support your detoxification processes. In addition, they will be warming, soothing and hydrating to your digestive tract, which is the core of your immune system. A happy, healthy gut means a happy, healthy you.
5. Lay back and relax
Also consider trying weekly Epsom salt baths, where you put around half a kilogram of magnesium sulphate in a warm bath and relax for about 20 minutes. Magnesium is necessary for many aspects of detoxification and elimination, including producing glutathione, your main detoxification enzyme. Sulphates are additionally required by the liver to help process toxins.
6. Go easy on the gym
Wrap up and get out in the woods or hills for a good old stomp instead. Get the lymph moving. Gently sweat out toxicity and boost your immune system.
7. So when is a good time to bring in the juices and salads?
For most people, when the weather warms up. So focus on nourishing yourself and keeping warm and hydrated for now, and gradually build up to a deeper cleanse in the spring.
Kirsten is running an online workshop on New Year nutrition.
How to gently refocus after the festive season.
Dealing with habits and cravings.
Foods to support your body’s natural cleansing processes.
Kirsten has been talking nutrition for over a decade in workshops, on university and college courses, on retreats and to the hundreds of people who come for one-to-one consultations. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.