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Cut down on drinking! Time for a post-holiday detox

Cut down on drinking! Time for a post-holiday detox

It is all too easy to overindulge during the holidays, one too many toasts over Thanksgiving, an excess of eggnog at Christmas and far too much Champagne to see in the New Year. It is something that most of us are guilty of, for example in a recent survey by Harris Interactive it was found that 96% of people surveyed returned to work hungover after a holiday party and that 40% of us use the holidays as an excuse to drink.

So what can you do once the holidays are over? You may feel that the time is right for a post-holiday detox to rid your system of all the excess.

The Effects of Alcohol

There is no real issue with the consumption of alcohol, in moderation, however as we increase intake over the holidays we can start to see some of the negative effects.

Drinks glasses

    Alcohol can affect how you look through dehydration. In particular, your skin becomes dehydrated, depriving it of nutrients it needs. This can lead to wrinkles and aging as well as unsightly spots.

    Alcohol also contains a lot of calories, there are 7 calories per gram of alcohol which is almost the same caloric value as butter. To put this into perspective, a pint of beer has as many calories as a chocolate bar and a glass of wine is equivalent to an ice cream cone. You can soon find that the extra calories show themselves as unwelcome weight which, along with increased cellulite and bloating, is enough to make most of us want to think twice about having another drink.

    Over time, if you increase your drinking or regularly drink in excess, you can cause permanent damage to your body which can lead to infertility, sexual dysfunction or serious conditions such as liver disease.

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    Your liver is responsible for breaking down harmful substances in your body and when you drink this includes alcohol. Excessive drinking can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, jaundice and scarring of the liver which can cause the liver fail at breaking down harmful substances. These then build up in your body and it can be fatal. Moderate drinking will not do any permanent harm, but you can still help your body and make yourself feel great by giving yourself a break from booze!

    Taking a Break From Drinking

    Something which is popular in Europe is the idea of a ‘dry’ month, this was an idea which was first created in Finland when the government created ‘Sober January’ in 1942 as part of its war effort. Today in the United Kingdom the charity Alcohol Concern runs a campaign called ‘Dry January’ where people are encouraged to give up alcohol for a month.

    There are people who doubt that this is effective, however, the University of Sussex found that six months following January 2014, 72% out of 900 surveyed participants had “kept harmful drinking episodes down” and 4% were still not drinking. It may be a good way to break the habit after all if you feel that it is time for you to review your intake.

    Of course, you don’t have to go for a full month, you will start to notice effects after a 7-10 day detox. After which an ongoing reduction of your drinking will have a major benefit on your health.

    If you have been a little excessive over the holiday period you can plan a short detox to help your body recover from the effects of alcohol.

    The One Week Detox

    Here is a simple set of steps you can take to undergo a short detox program.

    What is detox?

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    A detox – is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. It is a time when you will remove alcohol from your diet, in this case for one week. It will give your body time to flush any toxic substances from your body and allow organs such as your liver to recover. It can be especially good following a time like the holidays when you may have indulged just a little too much!

    There are a number of detox programs you can follow and lots of products to help you if you wish. This is a very simple method. You should, of course, seek medical advice before you detox if you are pregnant or unwell.

    Lemon water - great for detox
      1. Set aside a week when you will carry out your detox – make sure your friends and family are aware that you are trying to stop drinking for a week so that they do not encourage you to break your program!
      2. You will be avoiding all alcohol – if you slip and have a drink, make sure it is just one and then carry on. Remember, you are only cheating yourself!
      3. Eat healthy – boost your diet with lots of fruit and vegetables which will supercharge your body with essential vitamins and minerals. You can enjoy raw foods and salads and avoid heavily processed foods. For just one week forgo the takeaways and processed foods, fresh fruit and veg will kick start your immune system.
      4. Drink lots – but ensure it is water or juice! Alcohol will dehydrate your body so look to replace your lost fluid with lots of fresh water or juice. It will help you flush toxins from your body and plump up your skin making you look great! Try slicing a lemon and adding it to a water bottle in your fridge. You will have delicious flavored water to sip all day. Try it with any of your favorite fruit or even cucumber which makes a delicious drink. Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks where you can.
      5. Enjoy exercise – if you don’t regularly exercise you should start to move your body. If you do exercise, see if you can extend what you are doing. Go slow, if you are unused to physical exercise take it easy at first, a gentle walk or swim is a good start, just slowly start to build up what you are doing to get your body moving.
      6. Try a mental detox too – take time to clear your mind, there are lots of meditation programs you can follow for example, 5 Minutes to find happiness. At least ensure you find some ‘me’ time for you during your detox week. Read a book, enjoy some music, do whatever helps you relax and clear your mind.

      There may be times when you will struggle but if you persevere you will find that the benefits will be worth the effort. Even a short period of detox will make you feel better, your skin should be brighter, and you may have more energy. Your body and especially your liver will certainly thank you!

      The best thing you can do is, keep it simple. Think of a detox as a treat to yourself and your body.

      Keeping the Good Times Flowing

      Once you have completed your detox (and no doubt feel great!) don’t use it as an excuse to immediately open a bottle of champagne and celebrate. Why not build on the good practice and use this, instead, as a great excuse to build on your good practice.

      There is nothing wrong in a social drink, however, try to consider what you are drinking and if you can cut down. It doesn’t have to be hard work. For example, if only for your waistline, why not drink a spritzer instead of a full glass of wine? A 5 oz glass of dry white wine contains approximately 105 calories whereas a 5 oz spritzer made with soda water is just 50 calories – less than half! Importantly you have a longer drink and therefore more time between alcoholic drinks – fewer units per night!

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      Remember that beer has calories not only from the alcohol but also the carbohydrates, a light beer could save approximately 50 calories per bottle. Reduced strength need not affect the flavor of a well-chilled beer!

      Avoid drinks such as coolers made from sugary flavors mixed with vodka or rum. Most contain at least 250 calories and may contain more than 300 calories, plus more than 8 teaspoons of sugar in each serving.  Try a rum and Diet Coke instead.

      If you enjoy a cocktail, why not enjoy some delicious alcohol-free cocktails. You can still be the life and soul of the party even without lots of alcohol.

      Alcohol free cocktail - part of a great detox

        When is a Detox Not Right?

        For most people, a short detox where you abstain from alcohol will be a positive move and it will help you greatly. However, you need to be aware if you are alcohol dependent you should not suddenly stop drinking.

        If you are a regular and heavy drinker your body will be compensating for the depressive effect of alcohol by increasing production of hormones and brain chemicals such as serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. If you were to suddenly stop drinking alcohol, your body would become flooded with abnormally high levels of these chemicals, causing your brain to undergo rapid changes in an attempt to maintain normal function. Severe complications include dehydration, vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms.

        How do I Know if I am Alcohol Dependent?

        Sadly, it has never been easier to become alcohol dependent, there is a wide range of alcohol available and social drinking is seen to be more acceptable than ever. Coming home after a hard day at work and reaching for a ‘glass of wine’ can rapidly turn into regularly ‘finishing the bottle’. If you feel that you may be struggling with alcohol, ask yourself some questions:

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        • Do I need to have a drink? – you need alcohol, your desire for a drink has become a powerful need for alcohol.
        • You need to drink more to get the same buzz – having a glass of wine of a bottle of beer just doesn’t ‘hit the spot’ and you need more and more to get the same effect. It is showing that your body is becoming more tolerant of alcohol.
        • You are drinking most days – your drinking has become regular, this could show the signs of an addiction forming
        • You drink alone – whereas there is nothing wrong with enjoying a drink alone if this becomes the norm you should take notice.

        Alcohol consumption is measured in ‘units.’ One unit is equivalent to a measure of spirits (a bar measure as opposed to a home measure), half a pint of lager or a small glass of wine.

        When you are drinking you should take note of how many units you are consuming in one session:

        • 1 – 2 units are referred to as moderate
        • 8 – 9 units is heavy drinking
        • 10+ units is considered to be excessive

        The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that men should not exceed 4 drinks per day or a total of 14 per week and women should not exceed 3 drinks a day or a total of 7 per week. The American Heart Association suggest even lower levels.

        If you find that you are at risk of being alcohol dependent you should take professional advice before you attempt to cut down on your alcohol intake to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms which can include anxiety, visual and auditory hallucinations, convulsions, whole body tremor, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, profuse sweating, shakiness, convulsions, DTs, hypertension and even heart failure.  Approximately 50% of people with alcohol dependence experience withdrawal symptoms.

        Featured Photo Credit: Feature ImageDrinking GlassesLemon Water, Cocktail via Pixabay

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        Published on July 13, 2018

        13 Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for The Last Trimester

        13 Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for The Last Trimester

        Practicing yoga during pregnancy is a great way to nurture you and your baby. It can also help you cope and prepare both your mind and body for any pregnancy demands and challenges that you may face especially during the third trimester.

        Yoga during pregnancy helps you to create space for both your baby and your internal organs. However, make sure that you only do what feels right and works, avoid muscle strains and extreme pressure exercises.

        There are plenty of yoga techniques that can help you to prepare for labor in the 3rd trimester. Before you try out yoga, make sure you talk to your doctor. This way, you may know the do and don’t during this stage. The following are some of the common yoga exercises to try out during the third trimester.

        1. Birth prep exercises

        This mainly entails simple exercise designed to reduce pains and aches and can as well as help position the baby in a good pelvic alignment. Include this technique in your workout rest brakes, warm-up, and as part of your daily poses.

        Here’s an example of it:

        2. Cat cow

          This is a great pose for lengthening your spine and strengthen your core muscles.[1]

          This pose is a great technique for all pregnancy stages. It will help strengthen your belly as the pregnancy continues to grow.

          This asana also relieves the back and allow a better circulation of spinal fluids and blood.

          Practice belly breathing when performing this pose. It will aid in calming your mind and reducing morning sickness.

          It should be done about 5 times for best results.

          3. Warrior II

            This technique is great for strengthening your core and legs and as well as lengthen your spine. Even though this technique is a little bit challenging, it is said to help alleviate backaches during pregnancy.

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            4. Bridge pose

              This pose is convenient if you want to open up your hips and strengthen your glutes, core, and hamstrings.[2] Also, it can be practiced in all the trimesters.

              Begin on the side and roll to the back as you move your body into a bridge pose. This helps avoid stressing your rectus abdominals.

              Avoid this exercise if you feel uncomfortable on your back.

              5. Cobblers pose (Baddha Konasana)

                This technique is said to improve the health of the reproductive system.[3] During pregnancy, it aids in opening up the pelvis, therefore ensuring an easy and fast labor.

                It is also said to calm the mind and improve blood circulation. This yoga practice can be performed as follows:

                • Sit on a mat and stretch out your legs.
                • Fold your knees and bring your feet at the center.
                • Then straighten your back.
                • Using your palms hold your feet for a few seconds.
                • Release.
                • Repeat this about 4 times.

                6. Warrior I

                  This technique helps you explore your upper body. It helps to open up your chest and strengthen your legs. This technique helps restore the health of your spine and help make space for the growing uterus.

                  Also, it helps your mind relax and stay focused and maintain balance. It can be performed as follows;

                  • Place your feet apart in a hip-width position.
                  • Pivot on the left foot.
                  • Make your right foot to face forward.
                  • Lower the pelvis, then assume a lunge.
                  • Look forward and lift your arms above your head.
                  • Hold that position as long as possible.
                  • Release the pose.
                  • Repeat the process with the left foot forward.

                  7. Corpse pose

                    This technique aims at relaxing your body and mind.[4] It boosts your energy instantly and hence it’s convenient for battling any fatigue during the pregnancy.

                    Also, it helps in fighting off any side effects of pregnancy such as pain, morning sickness, and nausea. This pose can be performed as follows:

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                    • Lie on your back.
                    • Let your palms rest beside you while facing upwards.
                    • Close your eyes and then relax- your arms should be alongside your body.
                    • Breathe.

                    8. Spiraling movement

                    This entails moving your pelvis in circular motions and moving your hips. These movements help to massage down the baby’s head onto the cervix.

                    Also, these movements helps you keep your pelvis mobile and relaxed while loosening your muscles and ligaments.

                    You may consider using a fitness ball to help in the movements.

                    9. Child’s pose

                      This is a resting pose. It helps to focus on your breath, breathe more deeply, and also it’s a good position to rest between labor contractions.[5]

                      This is a great position that will help you find peace and promote a healthy and a happy pregnancy. It’s safe for all trimesters.

                      Relax and move your knees apart, then rest your head on your fists, hand, or on the floor. You should avoid this position if your pubic symphysis is sore or open. Relax in this position, eyes closed.

                      10. Chanting

                      Making your own sounds during pregnancy and birth is a powerful way to regulate your breathing, it enables you to focus and relax as you deal with the pain that is associated with pregnancy and labor.

                      Practicing voice sounds can help you open up and have an easier and more comfortable labor. You can do this as follows:

                      • Sit comfortably.
                      • Close your eyes.
                      • Placing your index fingers on the lobes of your ears, take a deep breath.
                      • Exhaling slowly, make gentle humming sounds.
                      • Do this 5 to 10 times.
                      • You can also do this while lying down with arms by the side of the body.

                      11. Standing hip rotations

                        This moves will help strengthen your pelvis as well as relax.[6] You can do this as follows:

                        • Stand with feet wide apart but comfortable.
                        • Slightly bend your knees.
                        • Place your hands on your hips and rotate your hips.
                        • Try to keep your upper body still.
                        • Focus on rotating the hips and the belly.
                        • Inhale while moving your hips forward and exhale while moving them backward.
                        • Do this as many times as you wish.

                        12. Tree pose

                          This is a balancing technique. It helps strengthening your legs and core. It also improves posture and alleviates back pain. How to perform this pose:

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                          • Feet on the ground, shift your weight forward and backward until you gain balance.
                          • Shift your weight to one foot.
                          • You can also lift one of your foot to your ankle to gain balance.
                          • Bring the foot higher to your inner thigh.
                          • Put your hands in a prayer position.
                          • Hold this for 5 breaths.
                          • You can also raise the arms above your head.
                          • Repeat with the other leg.

                          This technique is safe for all stages during pregnancy.

                          13. Meditation

                          Over the years, meditation has been used to manage a lot of conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety, and much more.

                          During the last trimester of your pregnancy, meditation can help to move gracefully as you approach labor. It will help you ascertain a more peaceful state of mind by avoiding stress and anxiety especially if you are giving birth for the first time.

                          Develop the habit of practicing meditation on a daily basis.

                          Guidelines for pregnancy yoga

                          There are some poses, however, that you should avoid while pregnant. They include plank cross, locust pose, boat pose, plow pose, and much more. Consult with your doctor on the best exercises.

                          Here’re some guidelines you need to know before practicing yoga:

                          1. Do what feels right.

                          Starting yoga especially in your last trimester can be challenging while it’s really important in preparing both your mind and body for labor and pregnancy-related demands.

                          To avoid accidents or extreme positions, you should practice yoga poses with the guidance of a trained tutor.

                          When choosing which yoga poses to perform, listen to your body and do what you feel comfortable doing. Since all women do not have the same challenges and experience during pregnancy, avoid doing poses that your friends are doing if they don’t feel right to you.

                          2. Do fewer poses.

                          In case you are into physical exercises, it’s important to soften your training to avoid harming both your body and the health of the baby. Also, avoid long hours of training. You can talk to your doctor to guide you on the most convenient techniques to practice.

                          During pregnancy, your body tends to have higher temperatures and it may feel hotter than usual. It’s recommended to avoid practicing yoga in a heated environment. Perform these techniques in a suitable environment with fresh and adequate ventilation.

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                          3. Don’t get distracted.

                          Reduce distraction while practicing yoga. For instance, a telephone can interfere with proper meditation.

                          4. Stay comfortable.

                          Wear loose and comfortable clothing.

                          5. Do not eat before yoga.

                          Practice yoga on empty stomach. Most techniques are effective in the morning.

                          6. Always warm up for a few minutes.

                          You can walk around, loosen your joints, move your limbs and warm up your muscles.

                          7. Stay hydrated.

                          Make sure that you are well hydrated especially when practicing challenging and sweaty poses. Dehydration, especially during the last trimester of your pregnancy can have severe sequences such as false early labor or preterm labor.

                          Yoga techniques are the best kinds of workouts to try out during pregnancy. Especially if practiced together with mild exercises such as walking, it can help the expectant mother deal with both emotional and physical changes with ease.

                          Also, it will help mothers feel relaxed and stay in shape during the last trimester of pregnancy.

                          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                          Reference

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