Hydration is essential to rebounding from holiday meals and revelry.
Ah, the holidays. A time when warm, fuzzy cheer comes seamlessly wrapped with sugar cookies and gravy-laden dinner plates. Strings of holiday parties offer up the likes of bacon-wrapped figs and mini everything, ever so joyously washed down with a river of wine, beer, holiday-themed liquors and—egg nog.
I commiserate. I'd be a hypocrite if I told you not to reach for that last shrimp, or enjoy all of the indulgences this time of year has to offer. Eat, drink and be merry! But let me prepare you for the inevitable moment (quite soon) when the baked brie catches up with you.
The average American gains one pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, and people who are already overweight can gain up to five. Not to worry, Santa Cruz. If in a couple weeks your favorite jeans feel more like sausage casings, and your body feels tired, dazed, doughy and, well, oafish—detox, detox, detox.
Just before suiting up for another holiday party, I caught up with Jocelyn Dubin, registered dietician and nutritionist at Nourish in downtown Santa Cruz, and her advice is a life ring, promising to be there when the gluttony subsides. Dubin is Santa Cruz's queen of cleanses—her next cleanse program is in April—and she shares some valuable guidelines for a “post-holiday tune-up,” or modified cleanse for the cold winter months.
EAT GREEN: It makes sense: If the problem starts with overeating junk, it can be resolved by eating vibrant, whole ingredients. For Dubin, this starts with getting rid of processed foods—at least establishing a 20/80 percent ratio. For an added punch, incorporate detoxifying foods into your regimen, like cilantro, artichokes, dandelion or turnip greens, and garlic, says Dubin. It wouldn't hurt to sprinkle in some curcumin or ginger also, which help reduce the inflammatory chemicals your body produces in response to too much sugar.
RESTORE INTESTINAL FLORA: Too much time spent mingling around the cheese tray will leave you, well, a little backed up. Healthy digestion is key to feeling good and, um, flushing holiday toxins. Resuscitate your gut with fermented foods. “Because kombucha contains alcohol, I tend to have people not use kombucha as their main source of probiotics,” says Dubin. “Try kimchi or sauerkraut from the local company Farmhouse Culture.” And if you've been overdoing the dairy, Dubin recommends avoiding milk-based yogurts, recommending coconut yogurt instead.
SWEAT: “You have the most effective detoxification when you can sweat profusely,” says Dubin. We all know this, but the cold winter air and dark-by-five schedule destroys workout routines. Solutions: Visit a sauna, and find a yoga studio. “Make it something that you'll know for sure that you'll do, because you can't use the rain or cold as an excuse,” says Dubin. Practicing yoga will help you prevent injuries, too, because it strengthens the muscles and makes us more flexible, says Dubin—making it an ideal workout to condition the body for that running regimen you promised yourself once the temperatures warm up.
DRAIN THE LYMPH SYSTEM: Clear all the junk you've stored in your lymphatic system over the past few weeks by seeking a massage therapist who specializes in lymphatic massage, which augments the detoxification process, says Dubin. Blood-pumping activities will also help to move the lymph.
HYDRATE: All of the detox measures in the world will fail if you're not drinking sufficient water to flush the toxic load. And it's not just the alcohol, salt and caffeine that will leave you shriveled. “Most people go through the winters significantly dehydrated because we're running our heaters, and this contributes to a lot more passive loss of water,” says Dubin. A good rule of thumb for the average human is to drink half your weight in ounces, but Dubin points out that it does vary among different physiologies. While in celebration mode, drink a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage. In fact, go ahead and pour yourself a glass right now. ¡Salud!