Too much food, too much booze? So much time as a couch-potato that you have started to sprout, particularly around the tummy? Do you feel heavy, sluggish or even guilty about the amount of food you ate and drank over the Christmas holidays? Well, you are not alone…Christmas takes its toll on us all.

If you feel tired or sluggish then the chances are you may be considering a detox to kick-start your weight loss. But is this a good idea? Is it really necessary to eat like a rabbit to get back on track?

Why do I feel so bad?

It’s true, a lot of the toxins we encounter come from the unhealthy food we eat. Huge meals with bottles of wine mean our livers have to work even harder to process all the extra nutrients and toxins. Eating more means we potentially ingest more additives and preservatives than usual. Just think back to that staff party, family gathering or night out with friends.

As a result, it’s very tempting to try to undo any damage we have inflicted on ourselves by detoxing for a couple of days. But those faddy detox packets and dangerous clear-yourself-out diets can cause more damage than you may realise. It’s worth remembering that detox diets are a quick fix solution, which will have little effect in the long term. Your body eliminates toxins on a daily basis anyway. Detox diets may seem like a good idea but they are NOT long-term solutions nor are they recommended.

The severity of a detox diet can vary; at the extreme end you have the fasting plans which only allow water,(which is extremely dangerous), but on the other hand you can just try a gentle cleansing diet which advises the elimination of alcohol, fizzy drinks, tea, coffee, processed foods and excess fat and sugar in favour of lots of water and meals based on fruit and vegetables. This is what a healthy eating plan should consist of anyway.

Watch out

The general rule is, the more extreme the detox plan the quicker it works BUT the more side-effects such as headaches, nausea, diarrhoea, fatigue and skin problems you can expect to experience. A severe detox diet may cause you to suffer vitamin, mineral and protein deficiencies. If you have any kind of medical condition, do not embark on this kind of diet at all without consulting your doctor.

After undergoing a brief period of detoxing the healthy way, with lots of fresh fruit and veg, you can expect to have more energy, a greater sense of well-being, clearer skin, lower stress levels, a great sense of achievement and best of all, it will kick-start your healthy diet in 2014 and beyond. If you remember, this is probably how you felt before Christmas.

The best way to get your body back on track is to adopt a healthy diet and drink plenty of water to keep flushing out the toxins on a daily basis.