February detox is the new January cleanse! But what’s really a safe detox plan?
February detox is the new January cleanse! But what’s really a safe detox plan?09/02/2016 By southbeach
We're of the firm opinion that January is hideous, and we'll be glad to see the back of it – how about you? The Christmas comedown and shock of back to work is bad enough without adding a food-based sacrifice in to it.
Ooooh, Christmas. We loved it. The chocolate, the mince pies, the boozing, the sitting around, the vegging, the stodge ... and the chocolate, and the boozing (again). And ... stick a fork in us, we're done. But then came the bleak horror of January. If December has left you feeling a bit the worse for wear and January has left you – quite frankly - depressed, it could be time for a February cleanse. We're making it a thing.
Detoxing in February is a plan because:
- you already broke your resolutions and hey, you're fine with that
- you've just got over the out-of-office inbox admin and you're now in control of something
- it makes you look like you're a stayer who's been good since New Year (you haven't)
So, how do you get started?
We're not saying a ‘dry' month – no need for that (goodness, now – come on). In fact, experts say there's little point in swearing off the grog to counter the other 11 months of alcohol excess. But sometimes it's good to flush out those nasties from your system and have a good ol' spring clean.
However, after the general overindulgence of December and the utter desolation of January, it's tempting to take drastic measures, whether that's 5:2, Atkins (is that really still around?!) or surviving only on juice and pureed baby food. The fact is that extreme cleansing can actually be dangerous for your bod and your mental health. So focus on a safe and realistic detox instead, huh? Let's look at some healthy programmes and habits that can help you clear out those cobwebs.
1. Commit to drinking more water
Make it your life's goal (for at least February) to drink up to two litres of water (or watery drink) a day. Easy and safe detox idea, this one – water can wash out those yuckies from your kidneys, colon, bladder and urinary tract. It also hydrates your muscles – handy if you're upping your fitness game. Dehydrated muscles can shrivel and perform less well. If you're exercising too, don't forget to replace all that sweat with more bevvies.
Water is also great for your skin – moisture is just as important from within as on the outside (which is why we all slather on the moisturiser)! It'll help plump out your skin, making it look less wrinkly. Plus, if you choose something low in sugar (ideally plain water) then you'll be reducing your calorie intake too. However, the most important thing is to choose something that you find easy to drink, just to make sure you're packing in max hydration.
2. Cut out refined sugar
Yep, you might get a headache the first few days, true facts. And hey, we're not saying all sugar, just refined sugar. Sugar addictions can dictate your moods and your energy levels – plus a ton of other complications. One thing we know about South Beach babes? Ain't nobody in charge of your body except YOU. Certainly not some sweeties, amirite?
There isn't much choice here but to go cold turkey. However, if you're looking for a sweet fix, it's really simple to pick up some fruit, or embrace your inner Nigella and knock up some all-natural sweet goodies. There's tons of recipes for raw, natural treats on Pinterest. You'll find, though, that cutting out refined sugar means you'll eat better in general – making more conscious choices, and having more whole foods and fewer processed foods. Check out our sugar substitutes below for inspiration.
- Agave syrup – use instead of sugar in your tea, coffee, and baking.
- Maple syrup – one word: pancakes. The. End.
- Cashews – what can a nut butter not do? (Rhetorical question.) Cashews are sweet on their own, or crushed and blended up into bases for biscuits, cakes and bars. Ever thought about how peanut butter strangely hits the spot when you're craving? You can whizz up your own nut butters in the blender – from homemade peanut butter, to cashew, almond and walnut. Totes great in snacks or as a cracking side (try them spread on your pizza crusts – seriously).
- Medjool dates – easily yummy on their own, or soak ‘em up in some hot water and they end up like toffee. Delish.
- Cacao – the raw version of cocoa. Pure and unadulterated chocolatey goodness, cacao is cold-pressed (trendy words right there) unroasted cocoa beans: keeping all the good nutrients in with even more chocolate flavour than that there processed cocoa. Use cacao nibs it in your treat-baking and blended into drinks.
- Stevia – it's a sweetener, but not a sugar. Ideal if you want to go one step further and cut out even those natural sugars in agave, honey and maple syrups.
Where are other refined sugars in your diet?
Bad news is they're in quite a lot of places. Soz. The good news is that there are some easy switches you can make:
|Food with refined sugar:||Switch for:|
|White bread||Wholemeal bread|
|Pasta||Wholegrain pasta, rice, grains like bulgar wheat, pearl barley or quinoa|
|Drinks||Plain water, milk or unsweetened pure fruit juice|
|Low fat yoghurts||Full fat – yep, really! Try it for a while: it contains less sugar.|
|Sauces||Homemade – get your batch cook on and freeze up a storm!|
The interesting thing is that tons of low-fat options have to make up the taste by bumping up the sugar. Your body needs healthy fats more than it needs refined sugar, so try switching up the sugar for the fat for a change: it's not as unhealthy as it sounds.
3. Don't due a juice fast, but start juicing
Juice cleanses are great, but man, are they harsh. What a shock for your body, especially during the winter when you need more whole grains and warmth. Eat healthily with your new whole foods, and natural-sugars-only, but instead of replacing meals with juices, try just adding a couple of raw fruit smoothies to your day.
Plus points? There are many, oh yes:
- Up your five a day the easy way: smash it all in a blender, whizz around and bosh - job done. No nutrients lost to cooking, and you get all the other good pulpy bits smooshed down too.
- Hide some really healthy but kinda gross stuff in there. Like spirulina, maca and wheatgrass. Really good for you, but you don't want to consume them on their own (bleh).
- Grab and go. Treat yo'self to a fancy new to-go cup with a lid and straw and you can drink and drive. Or drink and bus. Drink and walk. We see a theme emerging here.
- Replace and reduce your snacks. Make a super-filling nutritious smoothie by adding creamy nut butters (hey there protein), pre-soaked chia seeds (great as a thickener, and they need only 10 mins in water beforehand), silken tofu (yep – it has a mild flavour, trust us!) and plain old yoghurt. Protein makes you feel full, so you could either have a massive breakfast smoothie to stave off the morning munchies, or replace your 3pm fix with something far healthier!
4. Go paleo-lite
Paleo and cavemen. Not sure going prehistoric is something you want in full effect for winter, when all we crave is our modern luxuries. So why add a full on dietary upheaval to that? Instead, try to go a little bit paleo: eat more fresh fruit and veg, grass-fed meat, eggs, fish, tree nuts and berries. Cut down on the processed stuff, and think about eating a teeny bit less dairy. Stop mainlining starch and carbs from potatoes, pasta and rice. Don't quit anything – no siree – but get a bit more back to basics with your meals for a few weeks and see if it suits you.
And that's what we think about how to get your groove back after the festive feasting and the nasty shock of January. More water, less sugar, more smoothies and a dose of old-fashioned meat and, er, like, five veg (plus fruit and nuts). It's a detox plan, but not as we know it. But you know what, it's realistic – so we got this. You got this.
February, eh - what a time to be alive!