Everyone loves a good party. And this explains why the last three months of the year beginning with the Durga puja and iftaar feasting and ending with new year and winter weddings account for 51 per cent of annual weight gain India’s metros.
Apart from visibly adding to the expanding Indian waistline, festive excesses take a toll on the liver, kidneys and intestines, which have to work overtime to flush out toxins that find their way in with food and drink.
Touched with toxins
Almost everything prepared commercially is touched with toxins, be it the sweets mass-produced for festivals or the kebab platter served at parties or weddings.
This week, tests done by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs even found popular branded canned mithais — usually far safer than the ones unlabelled sold at every street corner — contaminated with bacteria and metals such as lead.
It gets worse. Since most Indian sweets have a milk base, manufacturers often make up for shortage during the festive season by adding a concoction of emulsifying vegetable oils with detergents, urea, caustic soda, sugar and salt.
Since it’s usually impossible to stoically reject food and drink at a party to go home to salad and warm water, what works is four weeks of detox before the next big binge.
What works is drinking 10-12 glasses of fluids (water and liquids in any other form, such as tea or soups) each day. Avoid juices, unless fresh.
No laxatives please
There’s no need for extreme detox regimens that strip down food plans to water, laxatives and raw fruits and vegetables.
“Laxative abuse is commonly associated with eating disorders and should be had under prescription, as its abuse can cause severe dehydration and heart or colon damage,” said Dr Rekha Sharma, chief of the department of dietetics, Medanta.
Opt for lots of high-fibre food intead. Most of us get less than half the fibre they need — women need between 25 grams daily, and men, 38 grams — so including oatmeal, legumes, beans, whole grain, fruits and vegetables in every meal is a start.
Stay away from alcohol for four weeks. It poses a double whammy: it contains empty calories — a 140 ml glass of wine has 125, a bottle of beer about 153 — and its metabolism overburdens the liver and kidneys. Medanta’s Sharma suggests a compromise. “Have a drink once a week, just one drink for women per day, two for men,” she said. Protein — legumes, lean meats, yoghurt, cottage cheese, nut and beans — must be a part of your diet as it makes you feel full longer than carbohydrates.
The last word
Whether you detox or not, get your sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure tested before winter sets in if you are on medication. “Most people ignore their prescription diet and feel guilty going to the doctor. The result is clinics full of people with complications related to uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension in January,” said Dr Misra.
Getting familiar with permitted colours and preservatives will help you chose foods that are safe
Permitted synthetic colours
Red: Ponceu 4R, Carmoisine, Erythrosine
Yellow: Tartrazine, Sunset yellow FCF
Blue: Indigo Carmine, Brilliant Blue FCF
Green: Fast green FCF
Permitted natural colouring
Beta-caroene, beta-apo-8 carotenal, methylester of beta-apo-8 carotenoic acid, ethylester of beta-apo-8 carotenoic acid, canthaxanthin; cholorophyll, riboflavin (lactoflavin), caramel, annatto, saffron, curcumin or turmeric.
Class I preservatives: not restricted (can be used in any amount in any permutation combination)
Common salt, sugar, dextrose, glucose (syrup), spices, vinegar or acetic acid, honey, edible vegetable oils
Class II preservatives: use of more than one class II preservative is banned as is Benzoic Acid, including its salts; Sulphurous acid, including its salts; Nitrates or nitrates of sodium or potassium (in ham, pickled meats); Sorbic acid including its sodium, potassium and calcium salts; propionates of calcium or sodium, lactic acid; Nicin Sodium and calcium propionate Methyl or propyl parahydroxy-benzoate Propionic acid, including its esters and salts Sodium diacetate.
Source: Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules 1955
Detox diet plan
First four days
Breakfast: Low-fat yoghurt, one bowl / low-fat milk, one glass / cottage cheese (100 gm)
Snack: Green tea or sugarless lemonade + one fruit / Bowl of fat-free yoghurt or raita
Lunch: Lentils (dal), one bowl / one wholegrain chappati + vegetables, 2 bowls, cooked / green salad with lemon dressing, large bowl
Snack: Apple or orange
Dinner: Large bowl of soup, chicken or vegetables / grilled fish with sauted vegetables
Last 3 days
Day 8: Eliminate dairy (milk), have vegetables, fruit or pulses instead.
Day 9: Replace cereal with other food groups.
Day 10: Replace all grains, including pulses, with fruits, vegetables and dairy
Vegetables mean seasonal greens, not potatoes
Avoid alcohol and sugar for four weeks of the plan