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Guilt-free celebration

Follow our basic four-step detox plan, and eat, drink and be merry all the way into new year, says Vidya Balachander.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 23, 2008 13:52 IST
Vidya Balachander

It’s probably too soon before Diwali to talk of detox. But, we figured, the festive season will be here in a snap and all talk of moderation will then be drowned in a sea of sweetmeats and other sins.



We hate to play party pooper but before you begin the binge (and ditch the gym), read our four-step guide to purging yourself of festive excesses. It will save you much heartache and hand-wringing later.

Step 1
Count the calories, again
Here’s what you already know: Festive food, including mithai and deep-fried snacks are laden with calories and artery-choking saturated fat. Here’s what you probably don’t: Even four days of indiscriminate eating can sharply spike up your body’s fat percentage. “It will take one month to lose all that weight you put on,” cautioned fitness expert Leena Mogre. “So allow yourself two days of bingeing. And when you pop that last barfi in your mouth, eat it very slowly.”

Once the festivities have subsided, give your body a break by eating light, nutrient-rich meals. “Detoxification involves relaxing your digestive system and changing your lifestyle,” said Dr Stanulet Pinto, dietician at the Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital in Powai. In order to achieve this, Pinto advises a diet rich in fibrous foods like fresh fruits (especially apples, watermelons and papayas that have high water content), leafy vegetables, raw nuts like walnuts and almonds, and whole grains such as brown rice, wheat and wheat products. “Fresh fruits and vegetables rejuvenate the system by releasing anti-oxidants that help cells regenerate,” explained Pinto.

Also include fruits rich in Vitamin C such as guavas, sweet lime and oranges. Vitamin C produces gluthaion, a liver compound that dries out toxins. Finally, go easy on the salt and spice. Super-spiced festive food is high in potassium and sodium, both of which can cause renal trouble and mess with your blood pressure.

Now for the good news: even after a bad binge, just two days of eating right and abstaining from excess can undo the damage. So why not cut yourself some slack?

Step 2
Water, water, water
It keeps your metabolism trotting at a happy pace, lends your liver a hand in flushing out all that alcohol and keeps your complexion blemish-free. What’s not to drink?
Adequate water intake is crucial post-Diwali to compensate for intemperate drinking. Along with a detox diet, make sure you drink at least three litres of water a day. During this period, avoid alcohol completely as it dehydrates the body.

Step 3
Make a run for it
The weighing scale might seem skewed but the only way to right that is by hitting the gym with a vengeance. In the spirit of prevention is better than cure, Mogre recommends that you keep up some form of exercise through the festive season.

“Get some regular basic minimal exercise — start off with cardio and then move on to circuit (weight) training. If you can’t find time for anything else, do 30 surya namaskars at home.”

If you are an exercise virgin or if you’ve hit a plateau in your workout regimen, this might be the right time to try something new. But before you embark on any programme, urges t’ai chi instructor Sensei Sandeep Desai, give it some thought. “Ask yourself why you want to do yoga or t’ai chi,” he said. “Unless you have clarity, you will go round and round in circles. Start slowly and be regular. Exercise is not a hobby but a discipline.”

If you still need to be convinced about the virtues of exercise, it is the most natural way to make up for lost sleep. “Exercise is nature’s oldest and best tranquilliser,” Desai said.

Step 4
Get out there
This final step has less to do with physical fitness and more with an overall sense of wellness. Sensei Sandeep Desai, who conducts classes in t’ai chi, the ancient Chinese martial art at the Carter Road promenade, among other places, says “detoxification is about bringing yourself in harmony with nature”. So take a few minutes every once in a while to step out into the great outdoors.

“There is a lot of difference between exercising indoors and outdoors,” said Desai. “The effect is dramatic. When you go to a park, you experience nature in a spontaneous way. It gives you a refreshing perspective.”