January is the most popular time of year to start a detox. Why? Because at Christmas we love to let go a little, so come January we are feeling the after effects of overindulgence and the pressure of a New Year’s resolution. We’re not suggesting you start an extreme weight loss plan before the holidays but there are a few things you can start doing in the weeks and days before your detox, and during, to ensure you get the best results.
We’ve rounded up tips from the experts - Anya Ladra founder of Raw Fairies, Clare Neill co-founder of Radiance Cleanse and Tom Whitehead nutritionist at Soulmatefood - so that you can get the most from your detox.
‘The more you can gradually prepare your body for an intensive cleanse the better you will find the experience’, advises Anya.
In the two weeks before your detox you need to start weaning yourself off the most addictive things in your diet. The more time you give your body to adjust the better. Tom Whitehead promises that if you do this you’ll have a ‘more enjoyable dieting experience’ and thus less likely to give in to cravings.
Clare Neill says ‘caffeine is the number one thing to monitor before you begin your detox’. This is because ‘caffeine is such an addictive substance you need a transition period so that you don’t suffer bad symptoms’. Green tea has a third less caffeine than a cup of coffee, so make the switch early on.
Clare’s favourite green teas:
Nutritionists suggest that in the few weeks before your detox you need to up your five-a-day intake. Introducing more fruits and vegetables increases the amount of vital vitamins and minerals, boosts our immune system and keeps our skin looking radiant in the cold of winter.
Clare Neill suggests that ‘two weeks before your detox cut down your intake of processed foods and microwaveable meals. Even if they claim to be healthy they are loaded with hidden salts which lead to dehydration’. Try to reduce the amount of dairy in your diet as it takes a long time to digest - opt for the soya alternative.
Tom Whitehead talks little and often - ‘if you reduce your main meal size and increase the number of meals you have a day to five or six this will increase your metabolism and control blood sugar levels to stop you snacking and reduce body fat storage’. Choose ‘lean meat, vegetables and nuts’. So pile your plate full of winter veggies for Chri<
This may come as a surprise but nutritionists advise you to avoid strenuous exercise before embarking on a detox – hurrah! Opt for lighter exercises such as ‘yoga, walking, Pilates or swimming’, suggests Anya Ladra. Do yoga in your living room whilst watching your favourite Christmas film, or if you can face the cold, wrap up warm and go on a long winter walk.
Clare explains that ‘lighter exercise avoids putting excess strain on your muscles and joints’, it also promotes ‘toning rather than building up muscle tissue’. Clare recommends ‘Glow Yoga at Good Vibes in Covent Garden London’ as it uses’ infrared which works on another level to allow your body to safely open and relax, whilst sweating out excess toxins’.
In the five days before your detox you should start preparing your mind and body for your cleanse. Start taking probiotics, suggests Clare Neill, these will ‘keep the floor of your gut healthy’ which is vital.
The gut is balanced of good and bad bacteria, when we get stressed or run down, especially in winter, the bad bacteria begins to take over which leaves the body out of sync and prone to illness.
Keep your gut happy with Clare’s recommendations:
Switch to Dark
Chocolate, aka the diet nemesis, is hard to avoid over Christmas unless you have the willpower of a superhuman. Luckily for us we don’t need to cut it out entirely in the run up, we just have to change the type.
By ‘switching to dark chocolate, or even better choosing raw cacao’ you can still enjoy Christmas desserts but just in the more natural form. Darker chocolate is easier for our bodies to break down as it has natural, less complex, sugars as well as potential cancer-fighting properties. So keep that bar of Green & Blacks dark chocolate close at hand to help you steer clear of those tins of Quality Streets.
Conscious Chocolate - this is raw chocolate, very different.
Tom Whitehead says that by replacing ‘all refined Carbohydrates i.e. anything white’ with wholegrain, we increase our fibre intake to keep you feeling fuller for longer and maintain a healthy bowel. By stocking up on wholegrain carbs we help our bodies to stabilize blood sugar levels.
‘Quinoa! It releases energy slowly and is high in fibre and protein’ it’s also ‘less starchy which reduces bloating’. Why not try quinoa or brown rice instead of potatoes for your Boxing Day leftovers meal?
Anya Ladra swears by supplements. During a detox Anya suggests taking two different types - purifiers and cleansers. Take Benetonite Clay to stimulate digestion, Psyllium Husks for healthy blood circulation and Linseed oil for antioxidant properties.
Cleanse the body with supplements such as ginger root to reduce bloating, cayenne pepper for a vitamin A and B boost and fennel seeds to detoxify the system.
All available at health food stores and hollandandbarrett.com
Clare Neill swears by having a ‘lymphatic draining massage’ during your cleanse as it ‘drains the body of any excess toxins’.
Nina Thorstensson, Manual lymphatic drainage therapist, explains that ‘your lymphatic system is crucial for improving the processes of the body; It helps to remove toxins, speed up renewal, relax the nervous system, aid digestion and boost the immune system'.
Don’t have the time or money to book in for a treatment? Anya Ladra suggests using a vegetable bristle brush on your dry skin before a bath, followed by a soak in Epsom or Himalayan salts.
Staying hydrated before and during your cleanse is crucial. Anya Ladra advises, ‘aim to drink 1-2 litres of filtered water per day’ to flush out toxins.
Clare Neill recommends stocking up on Coconut Water, try Vita Coco £2.15 which contains high levels of the electrolyte potassium, the same amount as in two bananas, only 45 calories and packed full of Vitamin C.