The party season is imminent….and will be closely followed by the detox season. This year, plan ahead and do a pre-tox.
Copped some flak for recommending pre-toxing. Have been told many times that the idea encourages poor health choices. And yes, in a perfect world, populated by perfect people, my every naturopathic instruction would be followed by similarly perfect practice. However, most of us fall well short of such perfection. Sometimes, health advice must be pragmatic, and never more so than when it comes to pre-tox. See this approach as a common-sense, real-world health choice.
What Is A Pre-Tox?
Wellbeing depends on homeostasis – the body’s natural balance – and our body works constantly to maintain that equilibrium. Pre-toxing is a way of helping this along by preparing and supporting our natural processes in advance of a period of stress.
I’m talking all kinds of stresses: alcohol, late nights, irregular-mealtimes, and convenience or finger and party foods. We will cover how to counter these in a moment, but the most potent attack on our wellbeing and balance isn’t on that list. The most damaging end-of-year health stressor is fatigue. It’s been a long year and December brings deadlines for us all. School wraps up, works targets approach, and planning for family time also brings its own workload, physical and emotional.
How Does It Work?
As with all naturopathy, a pre-tox aims to help body find and maintain balance, building up strength and function to survive attack. Maintaining such wellbeing can be a battle at times and this is when the fight is on. Think of pre-tox as a triangular shield, with three equally important sides:
- The right diet. We start with digestion, putting the right energy in and supporting and our body in getting out the nutrients we need.
- Fighting fatigue. If we get run down, so does our immune system, leaving us vulnerable to bugs, bacteria and illness that, rested and well, we should just waltz on by without a second thought or a single sniffle.
- Managing stress. Stress has no rival as a contributor to ill-health and disease. As a pre-cursor, symptom, or aggravation, wherever there is illness, there is too is stress.
Living Downunder, one factor on our side in this seasonal flight is the abundance of delicious, fresh, in-season fruit and vegies that constantly stock our shelves. Take advantage of them.
The body works best when acid and alkaline are in balance, but we are bombarded by food and drinks, that are highly acidic. Counter-balance these by deliberately increasing your intake of alkaline foods, especially raw vegies.
Sugar is a common detox craving. This is because party foods and alcohol are so laden with sugar that we end up addicted, even in just a few shorts weeks. Be aware that your casual sugar intake will increase over the holidays season and aim to reduce it in your everyday diet. Save yourself the pain later.
It is getting hotter, and as we add extra social demands, we drive our bodies harder and risk dehydrating. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration is a major factor is hangovers.
Take a high-quality B complex and vitamin C supplement. Both are depleted by alcohol and stress.
Avoid margarine and hydrogenated fats, as these are hard to digest and linked to weight gain.
The liver is our main organ for filtering out toxins. Give your liver a break and avoid foods with synthetic colours and preservatives. They look pretty, but they take some filtering.
Every kid loves a party. They get excited, a little anxious, have fun, stay up too late, and end up over-tired and teary. And that goes for a lot of adults too.
For demanding work and play, we need energy all day, and managing blood sugar is the key to this. Eat regular small meals to avoid a crash and burn scenario.
We’re going to burn the candle at both ends, so plan for it.
Prioritise rest and put a sleep-plan in place. You may be not be in bed for as long as you’d like or need, but you can still enjoy good-quality rest.
Stress has one mortal foe that vanquishes it every time: exercise. You may not train at your usual intensity, but that’s fine. Just aim to give your body 20 minutes of exercise a day. A walk will do; a jog, swim, or ride are better. Don’t overdo it, just make sure you do it. Exercise relives tension, promotes circulation, helps the body flush toxins, rebuilds energy, and brings sleep.
And if you are going to take time to socialise, do it, relax and have fun. If you are worried about work, family, or personal problems, either leave the party and deal with the worry, or put it aside.
Parties are a ‘smell the roses’ moment. Laughter and smilies are proven to have powerful and long-lasting positive effects on our wellbeing, so go for it. You’ve earned some guilt-free frivolity!
Manage Your Blood Sugar
Fluctuating blood sugar disrupts our balance and body processes. It drains energy and depresses the immune system, making us more vulnerable to the cold and flu bugs that populate most parties.
Set a sleep routine
If the candle is burning at both ends, you need get the most from your rest time. Shhh… quiet time. Eliminate all the noise you can, including music.
Bedrooms are for sleeping. Remove all distracting gadgets – TV, ipod, laptops, ipads, mobiles. You are there to sleep.
There’s one exception! Sex is fine. In fact, it’s excellent. It’s relaxing, restorative and supports sleep.
Relax from tip to toe. Get into bed and take 10-20 deeps breaths. One muscle at a time, let the tension fall away from your body. Let go of both body and mind.
Embrace the dark side. Blackout your bedroom or use a face mask.
The Pre-Tox Platter
You may eat on the run and at odd times, so keep these convenience foods handy:
- Fresh Juice Daily – beetroot, carrot, celery, ginger and flaxseed oil, with a dash of turmeric powder. Add apple for a sweetener.
- Get hydrated! Drink water all day and have a glass of water for every glass of alcohol.
- Eat a Light, Salad-Based Meal before heading out.
- Protect Your Muscle Health. Eat protein – fish, lean meats, beans and legumes.
- Savoury Snacks – choose nuts and seeds, not chips. Go for cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
- Fruit – eat fresh and in-season fruit daily.
- Make Berries And Dark Chocolate your sole, guilt-free sweet treats.
- Acidophilus Yoghurt is your friend. It protects your stomach and fights acidity.
- Supplement with vitamins B and C, milk thistle extract, and super-antioxidants such as acai berry and resveratrol.
- Drink Hot Water And Lemon every day to invigorate your liver.