Welcome to post #84 aka the January detox post. YAY.
I'm sure you've all heard the word 'detox' before, and you probably all know what it means too actually so this is a pointless sentence. Moving on...
If you Google detoxes, the results are actually rather scary. A strict detox is said to start with 2-3 days of complete fasting, followed by a diet of only fruit and vegetables. Many tell you to cut out everything from meat to dairy. Although these kind of hardcore detoxes may well 'cleanse' your body, there isn't much proof (until after you've done it and found it works) that this style of detoxing has any health benefits, in fact it is just as possible that it will cause harm. More importantly, who the hell wants to starve for three days and then live off of vegetables for a week?
Our bodies (Liver and kidneys this is your time to shine!) naturally remove poisons and toxins from our body anyway, but that is not to say some sort of detox cannot benefit you further. You don't have to detox after Christmas. I've done it at various times throughout the year; maybe when my skin gets particularly bad, or last year I did it after I realised I couldn't function without caffeine in the mornings, but it's a nice to time to start one for the first time. Of course as most of us throw health out the window once the Christmas countdown begins (chocolate, alcohol, fizzy drinks, many a lazy day) it's not a bad idea to give your body a break and get yourself into a new, healthier, sustainable way of life again.
Detoxing has been proven to reduce stress, fatigue, headaches and mood imbalances.
Here's my guide to an achievable and beneficial mini detox:
For many people, this will be the biggest challenge, and that means it's definitely the one you should do. Letting your body become reliant on tea, coffee or coke is no less than an addiction to caffeine. While it may seem harmless (you probably haven't ever seen it as a problem) eliminating your addiction could bring you many benefits. People who are addicted to caffeine often suffer from sudden increases and drops in energy and mood, poor sleep and headaches. For the first couple of days of a detox these symptoms can become more noticeable, but afterwards your energy levels may become more balanced, any caffeine caused headaches should disappear and you'll be able to 'get up and go' as it were without a tea or coffee.
If cutting tea and/or coffee out suddenly is going to be a problem for you, try cutting down to one drink a day first, or invest in decaf tea and coffee. I can't speak for coffee drinkers as I'm not one myself but decaf tea really doesn't taste different at all. Exchange fizzy drinks for water. I usually find I crave a can of coke when I'm slightly dehydrated, so drinking plenty of water helps prevent the cravings. Drinking more water will help clear your skin, keep your tummy flat and as we need water for neurological functions (people with upcoming exams pay attention!) digestion, absorption, circulation, maintenance of body temperature and the transport of nutrients to name just a few, drinking water will also leave you feeling generally 'better' in yourself.
You can remove temptation by either chucking out caffeinted drinks or, if your family is still drinking them, make sure they're kept out of sight or in places that aren't the easiest to reach. Keep any decaf teabags right next to the kettle. After being on decaf tea for about two weeks, I switched to green tea which I'm now fully addicted to. However as green tea is said to have cancer fighting properties and clears antioxidants from your body (green tea literally saved my skin from spot hell) and has zero caffeine in it, I can only see my new addiction being a good thing. Some people do not like the taste of green tea, it is a little bitter, but mint green tea you can't not like. Heaven in a mug I promise.
Finally, I would recommend keeping caffeine from your diet for one month, and then reintroducing it slowly if you wish. I never went back to drinking caffeinated tea, and I've never got in to coffee but I've drank tea when it's been made for me and drank a fizzy maybe once a fortnight at the most (until Christmas when I went totally overboard hence the detox returning!). Now I'm looking to cut out fizzy drinks almost completely for a while, especially as I found it made me feel a lot better last time.
2. Fast food
We all know that fast food is bad for us, but how many people on twitter literally obsess over McDonald's?! How anyone can get up in the morning and fancy a 'McDonalds breakfast' is beyond me but I'm definitely partial to the odd pizza, or two...or three so I can't judge.
The thing about fast food is, the more of it you eat, the more of it you want. Eating a lot of fast food can cause growth problems, simply because a lot of what they serve contains too much fat and sugar and not enough of the nutrients a body needs to grow and develop its bones and muscles properly. Not to mention the calorie intake in fast food, ugh. And of course the whole type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack, blood clot, obesity situation which by the way, apparently you don't have to be overweight to suffer from...apart from obesity of course.
One fast food meal here and there is not going to kill you, or even cause you any harm. But if you're a regular at McDonalds, Burger King, KFC or any other fast food chain, this might be something you'd like to include in your detox.
3. Sugary snacks e.g. chocolate, sweets, doughnuts, cakes
These types of food are included in any detox very strictly, even a casual one like this because they cause energy levels to constantly go up and down causing extra tiredness, headaches and mood swings which may then all contribute to poor sleep. They're also pretty bad for your skin. Along with alcohol and coke, chocolate is the thing I find takes its toll on my skin the most.
Again of course too much of these foods can also lead to diabetes type 2 and other serious health conditions, but I don't want to get all paranoid doctor lady on yo' ass. This post is about the nice little benefits of a mild detox after Christmas, not about saying 'omg you're going to drop dead if you eat badly'.
So yes, for good skin and more regular energy and moods cut it out for a month or so, and then reintroduce slowly and randomly-do not go straight back to old patterns or eating loads, otherwise the detox has been a waste of time and you'll be thinking 'man I need to detox again' before you know it.
I find that alcohol is absolutely terrible for my skin. You can pretty much guarantee I'll get at least one of those big ugly spots after a party or night out, and after a round of parties it tends to look horrendous. Alcohol is also terrible calorie wise, so if you're overweight or trying to flatten that tummy a bit, avoiding alcohol is probably a wise idea.
Then of course there's the liver damage an alcohol addiction can cause. Some alcohol habits apparently have health benefits, but I just find the affect it has on my skin is too annoying to become a regular 'meal time' drinker.
5. What to add more of
Eat more fruit, vegetables and natural foods such as brown bread and rice instead of white. Besides this and drinking more water that's about it as far as the 'consuming more' part of the detox goes. Some examples I can give you are exchanging a packet of crisps or doughnut for carrot sticks and humus or a fruit salad, putting salad in any sandwiches you eat and drinking squash father than fizzy drinks when you get bored of water.
Finally, it is very important to remember that caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and sweets can all have health benefits too and as part of a balanced diet can be good for you. The point of a detox is not to cut these out completely for all eternity, it is simply to cleanse the body, stop bad habits and to improve your quality of life by relieving the stresses that can be caused by lack of energy, bad quality sleep and the confidence issues caused by poor skin and weight gain. I would only ever recommend cutting these things out or lowering your intake of them for one month, and then gradually introducing these things back into your diet at a healthy amount.
Hopefully you'll enjoy having clearer skin, a more even mood and better general energy like I do.