Easy first steps to achieving balance after the holidays

Natasha Asselstine, R.H.N.

Natasha Asselstine, R.H.N.

The holiday season has a tendency to leave us feeling a little off balance. We’ve indulged in alcohol and “non-foods” (processed foods and refined sugars) a little more than our bodies can manage all at once, and we end up feeling unwell, foggy and full.

It is tempting to go on an extreme diet or juice cleanse at this time to alleviate the discomfort and achieve balance, but this yo-yoing can be harsh on the system – particularly in the dead of winter – and may cause more damage than good.

Here are some gentle, but effective, simple first steps that you can take to achieve balance:

Take a load off your digestive tract

A lot of energy is required to break down and absorb foods and eliminate toxins from our digestive tract. By overeating, we can feel groggy and fatigued all because our energy stores are used up in this one body system! If you’re feeling like you’ve overtaxed your stomach (heartburn, bloating, indigestion), give your digestive tract a break by practicing intermittent fasting between 9 pm and noon the following day. This gives your body an opportunity to do a little house cleaning and clean up what’s been left behind! During this time, drink only water, lemon water or herbal teas, and fruits like kiwi, papaya and pineapple that are rich in digestive enzymes. (Note: intermittent fasting is not recommended for anyone with blood sugar issues – diabetes, hypoglycaemia, etc.)

You can also give your digestive tract a break by eating pre-digested foods – well-cooked and blended foods which are easier to break down and absorb and, thus, require less energy from our bodies to do the work. These foods include smoothies, soups and stews, purees and congees.

Get out what’s moved in

detoxToxins have an affinity to fat cells and lymph tissue, so it’s important to get the body moving to eliminate these harmful substances before they become unwanted tenants.

Exercising is of course the best way to get the body moving. If it’s hard to motivate yourself to move in the late morning light and early evening nightfall, try committing to just 10 minutes a day to a home-based mini circuit of jumping jacks, jogging on the spot and jump rope.

You can also practice dry skin brushing before your shower which is a great way to cleanse the lymph tissues and get the blood circulating into the bloodstream and headed for our organs of elimination – the liver, kidneys, bowels, etc.

I also recommend leaving time to have a bowel movement. We don’t usually think that what leaves the body is as important as what enters it, but it is. If we don’t leave time to have a proper bowel movement daily (or more), we may run the risk of reabsorbing toxins into the bloodstream. I recommend waking up 10 minutes earlier, grabbing a good book and a foot stool, and creating the ideal scenario for a good poop!

Finally, nothing can leave the body without plenty of water. Water is our body’s transportation system and is essential for delivering nutrients to our cells, and picking up toxins and excreting them via our organs of elimination. (Water is also necessary for a proper bowel movement, so consider starting your day with a tall glass of water!)

Get to bed on time

When we our tired, our brains want more glucose (sugar) in order to run more effectively. As a result, we often crave high sugar “non foods” (aka junk food) that provide little to no nutrition but require the same amount of nutrients and energy to digest them. As a result, we feel even more tired and depleted. Therefore, go to bed by 10:30 every night in order to avoid these unnecessary cravings.

By following these simple first steps, I’m confident that you can overcome the post-holiday crash. If you would like to dig deeper, consider joining me for the 2017 West Coast Cleanse where I will be guiding participants through a year of seasonally-appropriate cleanses (seven, to be precise) that are designed for specific times of year. The first one – the Winter Warming Cleanse – happens in January, so register now!

The West Coast Cleanse is designed to be appropriate for both the newbie cleanser as well as the seasoned pro who’s looking to fine-tune his/her cleansing practice even more! To learn more about the West Coast Cleanse, click here.