If summer vacations and weekend barbecues have you indulging a bit more than usual you may start to feel bloated and sluggish.
Taking time out to detox your body can help you feel better after overindulging and — if you do it in a healthy, intentional way — can also help you make healthier long-term decisions. The truth is that bouncing back from a weekend of indulging or a special event can be a hard transition to navigate. Especially this time of year when our schedules are a bit more lax and there's more opportunity for indulgence (beach snacks on the boardwalk anyone?).
While there is no such thing as a one-day miracle fix for overindulging — detox diets are a scam — it can help to hit the reset button every once in a while.
What is a detox?
The word "detox" conjures up restricted diets, pricey green juices and extreme cleanses.
I am actually a fan of a good detox and think it’s important to free your body of harmful toxins and chemicals -- but my idea of a cleansing is different.
What many people don’t realize is that our bodies are natural cleansing systems built to detox all the time. Instead of starving your body through a restrictive diet or expensive supplements, what we really need to do is help our bodies do the job they are designed to do by going back to the basics with simple movements and natural, healing foods.
Here are 10 ways to help you cleanse, de-bloat and set your diet and health back on the right track that you can put into practice immediately.
Start your day with lemon water
Start your day by waking up with a glass of warm or cold lemon water. The pectin from the lemon aids in digestion, helping to make lemon a phenomenal detoxifying food. Water with lemon also helps curb your appetite and boosts satiety.
Energizing your digestive tract sounds like a great way to start the day, right? The bonus is the little wedge of lemon bobbing in your cup, which reminds your brain, “Hey, I’m making healthy choices today!”
Eat a healthy breakfast
After water, fuel yourself with food. Eating breakfast will benefit your metabolism after a night of sleep. Plus, taking time out of your morning to fuel your body intentionally is a great way to build trust with yourself when it comes to your health. The only way to prove to yourself that you are ready and willing to take care of yourself is to, well, actually take care of yourself.
When doing a mini-cleanse, the advice I give to clients is to skip the bread, cereal or any version of them at breakfast as they will cause your body to retain more water, and instead focus your attention on protein, which will provide satiety. An egg-and-salmon scramble is a perfect combo of protein and metabolism-boosting omega-3s to start the day. Or if you’re on the go, opt instead for an easy gut-healthy smoothie.
Move your body
Increasing your heart rate will mean an increase in blood flow. This, in turn, will help your body to flush out toxins all on its own. You don’t even need to hit a gym to get your sweat sesh in, here are some cardio workouts you can do just about anywhere. The takeaway here is to rev up your heart rate, break a sweat and get in a better mindset to kick it up a notch again tomorrow.
Clean up your diet
Make sure to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and at least one snack —absolutely no skipping meals! — and ensure they consist of whole, real foods only. Eating consistently throughout the day will help you lay the foundation for ongoing healthy eating. I’m talking loads of veggies, lean protein such as grass-fed steak, chicken, fish, eggs and healthy fats from nuts, seeds or olives, avocado or coconut.
Ditch the packaged, processed foods today — even the “healthy” versions. This will ensure you are taking out excess sodium, artificial ingredients and sugar from your diet. Also, ditch the salt shaker and instead use only herbs and spices to flavor your food. You’ll find this can help make a big difference in how you look and feel — even after one day!
If it feels hard to avoid snacking on over-processed packaged foods or to forego sweets, try to remember that you don't have to do it forever. Start with a day. If you can handle a whole day without the promise of Cheez-Its, take it one meal at a time. Tell yourself that you will eat healthy for just one meal and then try to repeat that when it's mealtime again.
Meal planning and prepping in advance — it's easier than you think! — might help you resist last-minute temptation. It is a lot harder to justify waiting in the fast food drive-thru, after all, if you have a gorgeous and delicious salad already made.
Enjoy a cup of tea
Drink a cup of dandelion root tea with your afternoon snack. Trust me, this one is important. Dandelion can help improve digestion, and being properly hydrated is linked to everything from a healthy metabolism to energy and good skin health. If dandelion isn’t your thing, try green tea for an antioxidant and metabolic boost.
Try not to hurry through any part of tea making or drinking. You don't have to make it fancy, but try to make room for the extra few seconds it will take to pick out a tea cup you love and savor the aroma and flavor. Tea time is a ritual in many cultures and making space for personal self-care rituals is a great way to brush away some mental and emotional cobwebs.
Try twisting to relieve tension — and aid digestion
Most Americans spend a lot of time leaning forward. We hold our phones in front of our faces and reach forward towards steering wheels and computers. Basically, we don't do a lot of twisting in our everyday lives. And since our spines were made to twist, the result can be tension in the spinal muscles — and sluggish digestion.
You might be wondering what twisting your spine has to do with digestion. Well, a lot of the organs we use to digest food are in the abdomen — like the intestines — and twisting movements help them work efficiently. Basically, twisting can literally help move things along the intestinal tract. So if you want what you've eaten to move out of your body efficiently, twists are a good way to start.
Do some breathing exercises
Feeling overly full — or like you haven't been treating your body like you wish you had — can be stressful. One of the quickest ways to relax is by using breathing exercises. A recent study followed participants of a breathing workshop. What they found was that learning calming breathing techniques helped people immediately reduce feelings of anxiety. Not only that, but those same participants reported feeling more social connectedness after 3 months. That's a lot of benefit for something you're doing anyways!
We have some cool guided breathing instructions, but if you want to do it on your own that's totally fine. You are definitely a breathing expert!
An easy way to use your breath to calm your body and mind is to simply slow it down. You can also introduce a pause in between breaths and, for maximum benefit, make your exhale longer than your inhale. Counting your breath — either the time of the inhalations and exhalations or each breath cycle — is also a great way to give your mind something to focus that isn't your woes.
End your shower with a blast of cold water
While it might not sound that comfortable, ending your shower with a blast of cold water is an instant way to feel energized. Not only that, but cold water can reduce inflammation and some experts think it can boost the immune system.
In a recent study, people who showered in cold water for 30, 60, or 90 seconds took 29% fewer sick days than people who did not. It's hard to say whether those individuals were actually sick less than their hot shower counterparts or if they just didn't feel sick enough to call out, but either way, the evidence suggests that people who cold shower feel healthier than those who do not.
Experts also say a shot of cold water, like taking an ice bath, can help reduce pain and inflammation, improve sleep and help you relax.
Turn off your phone
Most of us are inundated with constant notifications. All those beeps and buzzes have an immediate impact on your mental and emotional state and a long-term impact on your health. A study that has been ongoing since 2015 — called the Do Not Disturb Challenge — asks participants to turn off their phones for 24 hours. What they have found is that many participants immediately notice that they feel less stressed with their phones off. So much so that two-thirds of participants decide to make turning off their phones a regular practice and after two years maintained a lower propensity for distraction and stress.
Why not challenge yourself to 24 hours without your phone? If that feels too difficult, you can start by turning your notifications off. Another recent study shows that just hearing your phone buzz immediately hurts your productivity. If you want to detoxify your body and mind, you can start by trying to keep your attention on what's actually important to you instead of your phone.
There's no such thing as a single panacea for all of your ills, but meditation seems to be about as close as we can get. The benefits of meditation range from reduced anxiety to lessened symptoms of everything from IBS to PTSD.
Look, a few minutes of meditation is not going to make all your problems go away, but it can help you feel good about yourself. If meditating seems intimidating, just try sitting quietly with your eyes closed for one minute. One minute could be the first step towards a lifelong meditation practice or it could be nothing. It doesn't matter, it's just one minute.