It always hits as soon as the major holidays are over: detox mania. Suddenly I couldn't look at a slice of pie without eight new “guide to detox” emails being delivered to my inbox. During yoga people were talking about how they ate too much and needed to "detox." The word was everywhere I turned! In a time of serious food guilt, is detoxing is the answer?

Well, let’s back up: do you really need to detox? And what is a detox anyway? Technically, to detox means, “to rid your body of toxins.” And admittedly, many of us absorb enough of those and probably want to get rid of them, but that process goes well beyond having the occasional dessert. The term “detox” has become overused (I’ve already said it four times in this paragraph alone) when what we’re really talking about is maintaining some semblance of health at all times while allowing the occasional splurge. This isn't necessarily easy when you might be often surrounded by reasons for temptation (the office break room, the regular afternoon slump or even the smoothie bar at your gym - not all smoothies are healthy!).

"Ultimately, the truth is that we have to help ourselves — we all benefit from people helping us, but we will never get anywhere if we don’t help ourselves." - Cheryl Strayed

But flip-flopping from binge eating to barely eating is not gonna do you any favors – and adding to your to-do list and decision-making list probably won't help either. So why not find a more sustainable solution, a way to support your body's natural detoxification systems year-round? By incorporating a few healthy habits into your existing routines, you can find a balance that works for you and avoid putting yourself through extremes on either end. 

Here are some simple practices that keep me feeling good, no matter the time of year. They are so simple; in fact, they may even seem too obvious. But because they are so basic they are often easily overlooked, undervalued, and not consistently employed. I challenge you to integrate these habits into your routine, one by one, to build a foundation of wellness for yourself.

  • Get rid of the food guilt. Putting stress on our bodies (in the form of negative self talk and guilt) can be just as harmful as that second piece of pie. So if you’re gonna eat it, try to let yourself actually enjoy it, guilt-free. 
  • Just add veggies. Seriously, just add more veggies to your plate. I like to think of these as the vehicles that help everything else get through my body. Ate a whole pizza? Great! Just pair it with a little salad to help it go down.
  • Move that body! Physical activity is another “vehicle” that helps everything move through our digestive tract, so find any way to move that you can. Go for a walk after dinner, wake up for an early morning workout class, or chase your cat around the apartment. Just move.
  • Sleeeeep. Yes! Permission to rest granted. In fact, it’s a must. None of our bodies’ systems are working at full capacity when we’re tired, so make sure you leave time for rest in your schedule. You can read more about why this is so important here.
  • Hydrate. You heard me, drink up. Much like sleep, hydration keeps all our systems running smoothly. Plus, thirst is often mistaken as hunger, so before you reach for a snack, try drinking some water. If plain old water is super boring for you, pop in a slice of lemon or cozy up with a cup of herbal tea, but try to avoid the unnecessary sugary alternatives. 
  • Have fun with it! I personally love finding sneaky ways to make classic recipes healthier. Swap out white rice for brown rice or maple syrup for conventional sugar; applesauce for veggie oil; nut flour for white flour; the list goes on, and in this case, Pinterest is your friend. 
  • Bonus: I’ve found that this recipe is not only a huge crowd pleaser, but it’s easy to make (no-bake!), and quite healthy. Best part is you can use a festive ice cube tray or cookie cutters to make the “cups” any shape you want. 

Listen to your body and follow your instincts. Try to focus less on how you look and more on how you feel. Maybe that plate full of seconds will make you feel awesome! Or maybe it will leave you with that "you can roll me home now" feeling. You know your body best; choose accordingly. 

___________________________________

Megan Cuzzolino is a storyteller, life & wellness coach, and yoga instructor in Brooklyn, NY. Her biggest love is helping others discover and create their dream lifestyles, but she also finds her bliss by cruising through Brooklyn on her bike or enjoying a good book at her local coffee shop. A recovering office-dweller, Megan still carries the values from her former career in environmental sustainability, incorporating minimalism, efficiency, and non-toxic choices into her life and her coaching programs. You can read more of her stories and follow her adventures and also check out her website here.

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