Whether you have toasted the New Year with a few more pounds than anticipated, or have sailed through without having to buy a bigger belt, January brings with it the feeling of a clean slate. It’s time to end the tumultuous love affair with chocolate, sugar and excess carbs and embrace the opportunity for a brand new you. Here are 5 tips to detox the holiday season and shed those extra lbs before the end of the month.
Detox those large dishes. The old saying, ‘your eyes are bigger than your stomach’ is indeed true – but what if we conducted an optical sleight of hand that can satisfy both parties? Known as the Delboeuf illusion, selecting a smaller 8-10 inch plate instead of the standard 12-inch dish to enjoy your meal can prevent overeating by up to 16%. In addition, researchers discovered that using a larger fork in a restaurant setting actually led the participants to consume less food then when they ate with a small fork (so much for dinnerware etiquette). Also, watch the colour of your plate. A study from Cornell University found that participants that chose low-colour contrast dinnerware (i.e. white pasta on white plate, red sauce on red plate) filled their plate more than their colleagues in high colour-contrast conditions.That being said, if you want to eat more greens this year, try serving them on a green plate.
Detox your carbs. Chances are by the time the ball drops on January 1st you have had your fill of sugar-laden, carb-filled treats so you may just welcome this challenge, especially if the end result is a slimmer waistline. You may choose to have a low glycemic carb with a meal once per day, or not at all (and just receive your carbs from veggies and fruits). This is the perfect solution to reduce bodyfat as well as water retention. Remember, for every gram of carbohydrate stored in your muscles or liver as glycogen, 3 to 4 grams of water are stored along with it. So you can imagine how that those holiday dishes dense in carbs can cause substantial water retention. Since insulin also controls sodium uptake in the kidneys and the levels of potassium and magnesium in the body, an excess of this hormone is clearly bad news. Instead, bump up your sources of lean protein, healthy fats and fibrous veggies, and purge your carbs this month.
Detox your drinks: Unless we are referring to protein smoothies, I don’t recommend drinking your calories – and this warning goes for fruit juice, diet pop and the like. A 2011 Purdue University study has found that even diet sodas may be linked to a number of health problems ranging from diabetes to heart disease, much like their sugary counterparts. Quench your thirst with water instead or enjoy a tea with your meal. Not only are hot drinks quite filling, both green and white tea have been shown to have an anti-diabetic effect and can stimulate fat loss. To take it up a notch, try my detox water: mix half of a lemon, one-inch piece of fresh ginger, a pinch of cayenne pepper and four cups of hot (or cold) water.
Detox your bath time: Your skin can both absorb toxins and release them, which is why I want you to schedule in a weekly detox bath during the month of the January. While the time-tested Epsom salt bath will certainly do the trick to relax your muscles, there are a few additional ingredients that will accelerate the detox process.
1/4 cup Sea Salt or Himalayan Rock Salt
1/4 cup Epsom Salt
1-2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup Baking Soda
10 drops of peppermint or lavender essential oil
Fill tub with warm/hot water and add all ingredients. You can also choose to dissolve the salt mixture first in boiling water until it dissolves and then add it to the bath, along with the ginger and essential oils. Soak in the bath for 20 -30 minutes for optimal results and then prepare for a wonderful sleep shortly thereafter.
Detox your couch surfing sessions. Chances are you spent more time on the couch than the treadmill this holiday season so in January we are turning that around with a goal to get in 10,000 steps per day. In a study published in 2009, researchers found that a 20-minute walk after dinner led to lower post-meal blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes than either a walk before dinner or no walking at all. Researchers say that a post-meal stroll helps clear glucose from the bloodstream in part because more of it is taken up by the muscles. All you need this challenge is a pedometer and a good pair of running shoes. If you don’t have a gym membership you can use a mall, apartment stairwell or if weather permits and you have a warm jacket, the great outdoors. Hit the bulk of those steps in the morning before breakfast and you can burn up to 20% more calories.