I am off to Sweden for Christmas. It's going to be cold, dark and delicious. Pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) and Glogg (mulled wine with raisins and almonds) will be omnipresent (and omnipotent over my will power). My mother-in-law's home will have small crystal bowls filled with chocolate and salty licorice at every corner. By day 2, my jeans will feel snugger and by day 4, I'll be in a carbs and sugar-steeped stupor, feeling lethargic and bloated and wondering what day of the week it is.
This year though, I am determined to get a head-start on my New Year's Detox and cleanse WHILE I indulge. This early detox phase isn't about elimination. It's designed to stoke my digestive fire (aka 'agni' in Ayurveda) into high gear to balance out the holiday largesse. Here's how it's done:
1. Take an Ayurvedic Apperitif before every meal
Non-alcoholic, I'm afraid, but wonderfully effective and so easy to prepare. Grate half-an-inch of ginger root, mix it into half a large lemon's (or Lime's) juice, add an espresso cup measure of hot water and honey to taste. Drink ten to fifteen minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Ginger is Ayurveda's superfood. It heats the digestive system by boosting the body's natural production of digestive enzymes. It also helps nutrient absorption and supports healthy gut microbes. Good for all three element types, vata, pitta and kapha, it's hard to go wrong with a small daily dose of ginger.
Lemons or Lime stimulate the liver and once metabolized, create alkalinity in your body and that's the right environment for good gut bacteria to flourish and bad gut bacteria to die.
2. Take an Ayurvedic Digestif after every meal
Indian restaurants often offer fennel seeds at the end of the meal, an ancient tradition rooted in Ayurveda. When chewed, fennel seeds release a variety of essential minerals and vitamins like magnesium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, copper, selenium, potassium, zinc, dietary fiber and antioxidants. These support the digestive system, easing cramps, indigestion, gas and bloating.
3. Drink 8 Glasses of Warm Water - throughout the day
Drinking warm water throughout the day will not only keep you hydrated in during the cold, dry, boozy winter days, but will also help flush out toxins and boost your metabolism. Avoid ice cold water as that can actually harden the oils in food, which is then harder to digest.
4. Eat slowly and mindfully
Ayurveda believes that if you don't actively appreciate your food, your body won't either. I have vivid childhood memories of my grandmother chanting a Sanskrit prayer before she ate. One of its lines "anna he purna Brahma" literally translates into "food is the ultimate reality". So, savour your food. Smell and taste it fully. And enjoy every morsel.
If you do detox the decadence this holiday season, we'd love to hear how you did it and felt afterwards!