The month of December was to spend quality time with loved ones, make merry and indulge in delicious food. But now that the new year is here, many are struggling to get back to a healthy routine. This is especially true for those who seek to lose some weight. So what’s the best way to stick to your new year weight loss resolution and what’s a healthy way to detox?

To get all these and more burning questions about detoxing post the holiday season, TC46 connected with Nutritionist & Dietician Dr Shweta Mahadik at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai. Here, she talks about some healthy habits to adopt, the mystery around detox drinks and how to lose the holiday weight the right way.

1. Which holiday habits lead to actual weight gain during the festive/party season?

Several studies indicate that the holiday season could be crucial for gaining weight, beginning from the month of November to the second or third week of January. The causes that could describe a weight gain during the holiday period are diverse. Usually, people have a more carefree lifestyle at this time, special meals are served at events, and social meetings can be more regular, exposing them to conditions that raise food intakes like a greater variety of foods, calorie-dense foods which cause loss of weight regulation, contributing to Hyperphagia (excessive eating) and Obesity. This palatable diet can lead to high intakes of food by disrupting diverse signalling pathways related to food control, larger portion sizes (buffets) and company dining (social reunions), plus less physical activity in winter.

2. What are some foods/food groups one should be mindful of eating or try avoiding if they’re on a weight loss meal plan?

Foods like French fries, candy bars, sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, cola, pastries, cookies and cakes, some types of alcohol (especially beer) all are packed with unhealthy ingredients like added sugar, added oils and refined flour. Intake of refined carbs foods result in surplus energy intake and decreased energy expenditure which leads to positive energy balance and energy storage. Excess energy storage manifests as fat accumulation, weight gain, and obesity. 

3. How does a sudden change in eating habits affect the body? Is the weight gain short or long-term?

Some studies found that there are variations between specific foods or beverages and long-term weight gain, telling that dietary quality (the types of foods and beverages consumed) influences dietary quantity (total calories). Sudden changes in the consumption of food were positively associated with weight gain because as calorie-rich food it lacks in micronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, or amino acids, and fibre. These foods do not contain the essential nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. Hence, the food that has poor dietetic values is considered unhealthy which leads to Obesity, Hypertension, Hyperlipidaemia, Diabetes, and Cancer.

4. How can you prepare your body for a post-holiday season binge detox?

After indulging in refined carbs, treat your body to have some complex carbohydrates like whole grain cereals, pulses, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. Include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. Some studies found that increased intake of dietary fibre improves kidney function through the alteration of bacteria in the Liver to enhance excretion and aid in detoxification. Drinking water is an effective way to flush out toxins and promote digestion. Have at least 1 to 1.5-litre water intake in your diet. Start doing yoga if your body is really feeling tired and strained from holiday stressors. The best thing about yoga is that it is affordable to anyone and can be practised at home easily. Yoga helps with posture, flexibility, and even relaxes your mind through meditation.

5. What’s a model meal plan one can follow during the detox?

DAY 1DAY 2
Early morningGreen tea/ Lemon teaHerbal tea/ black tea 
Break fast150ml vegetable fruit smoothie 150ml yoghurt (dahi) fruit smoothie
Mid-morning1 fruit + 5 almonds + 2 walnuts + 2 pistachios1 handful of trail mix (unsalted)(Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, muskmelon seeds) or 2 boiled egg whites 
LunchBig bowl salad (carrot/cabbage/kale/cucumber/tomato)Vegetable dal khichdi/brown riceButtermilkMix vegetable soup (pumpkin/ bottle gourd/ tomato/ spinach/ mushroom)Vegetable daliya khichdiCurd
SnackLime water1 bowl boiled sprouts Chia seeds water1 bowl flakes- wheat/multigrain/makhanas/puffed Jowar/puffed Bajra
DinnerLemon coriander soupSprout vegetable stew

6. Can intermittent fasting help with post-holiday detox and weight loss?

Many people think of intermittent fasting purely as a means to an end when it comes to weight loss, but in fact, like every other weight loss technique, it’s just a special way of limiting your calorie intake. Some people that may be predisposed to success with such a technique because it provides very strict parameters to follow and it may work with their lifestyles, while it may be less appealing to others and sound absolutely unbearable to some. Similar to other more traditional weight loss methods, intermittent fasting has the ability to achieve weight loss results, but there is conflicting evidence as to whether or not it is better than regular weight loss plans, and there is definitely no clear evidence that it offers any significant long-term health benefits beyond those associated with weight loss. A pillar of weight loss is moderate and prolonged caloric consumption of the food, it is not more successful than other methods for calorie restriction, but it is a different strategy that can work well for certain individuals.

7. Do Detox drinks and juices help? 

There is an irrational and unscientific definition of detox drinks. Detox drinks are low in calories made up of fruits, veggies, herbs, and water. Your body will eventually begin building up chemicals called Ketones when you starve your body. This results in nausea, fatigue, light-headedness, and irritability. In addition, the body is caused to break down its own muscles by a prolonged lack of protein which can weaken your immune system. Current Gastroenterology Journal reported that a detox diet may help a person lose weight, but only because of the low-calorie diet. Rapid weight loss occurs because of severely restricting dietary intake, but this is temporary weight loss. Typically, people who undertake such calorie-restrictive drinks or juices put the weight back in the medium-to-long term.

8. What are some lifestyle habits that can help facilitate weight loss and detox? 

  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as it is high in fibre. Vegetables and fruits that are deeply coloured are especially recommended as they have the highest micronutrient content. 
  • Choose whole-grain, high-fibre foods. These include fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans). Good whole grain choices include whole Wheat, Oats/ Oatmeal, Rye, Barley, Brown Rice, millets and more
  • Consume good amounts of protein like skim milk & its products, cow’s milk, legumes, pulses, whole grains, Egg whites, poultry, and fish. 
  • Eat foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids like fish, especially oily fish (Sardine, Mackerel, Tuna, Salmon, Herring, Trout), Almonds, Walnuts, Flaxseeds. This helps in lowering bad cholesterol. 
  • Limit the intake of saturated fat and trans-fat foods such as bakery products, cakes, pastries, packaged foods, fried items, red meat, ghee, butter, dalda and margarine. Also restrict intake of egg yolk, shellfish which is high in cholesterol. 
  • Limit the intake of oil to ½ kg per person per month. Prefer using blends of oil in weekly rotation as the content of PUFA, MUFA and SAFA varies in each oil
  • Prefer cooking methods like broiling, boiling, stewing, grilling, baking, roasting rather than frying
  • Reduce intake of salt in your foods as it may increase blood pressure which is a risk factor for heart disease. Hence, restrict intake of foods like pickle, Papad, canned and preserved vegetables and fruits, dry fish, Namkeen, readymade Chutneys, tomato ketchup, ready to eat and ready to cook products. 
  • Cut down on carbonated beverages and foods that contain added sugars (corn syrups, Sucrose, Glucose, Fructose, Maltose, Dextrose, concentrated fruit juice, honey). 
  • Consume alcohol in moderation. 
  • Check your portion size and have small and frequent meals. Avoid feasting and fasting
  • Exercise regularly for at least 30-40 minutes, 5 days a week. It is advisable to do yoga, brisk walking, aerobics, swimming, and bicycling

9. How can one drink alcoholic drinks mindfully during the party season to avoid doing too much damage to their weight loss plan?

It is possible to drink at a level that is less risky, while still having fun. There are a variety of things you can do to ensure that you remain at low-risk levels and do not get to a point where your drinking can no longer be regulated.

These include:

  • Set limits for yourself and stick to them
  • For women, up to one drink per day, and for men, two drinks per day
  • Start with non-alcoholic drinks and alternate with alcoholic drinks 
  • Drink slowly 
  • Eat before or while you are drinking 
  • If you participate in rounds of drinks, try to include some non-alcoholic drinks
  • Choose a low-alcohol beer and/or wine 
  • Keep track of how much you are drinking and make sure you stay in control, otherwise, you can be at risk of harming yourself

10. Which cocktails and mocktails are lower in calories than others?

Mocktails are a non-alcoholic drink consisting of a mixture of fruit juices or other soft drinks.

  • Strawberry-Banana: Blend 1 Pear + 1 cup Strawberries, + 1/2 cup each low-fat Vanilla yoghurt + 2 teaspoons Honey + a pinch of Cinnamon + 1 cup ice
  • Triple-Berry: Blend 2 cups mixed Blackberries, Strawberries, and Raspberries + 1 cup low fat milk + ice 
  • Pomegranate-Cherry: Blend 1 cup frozen Cherries + 3/4 cup Pomegranate juice + 1/2 cup plain yoghurt, + 1teaspoon Honey + 1 teaspoon Lemon juice + a pinch each of Cinnamon and salt, + 1 cups ice

Tip: Curd is an excellent solution for weight loss as it helps keep your BMI in check. In fact, curd has many skin benefits too, like using curd for face can help tackle various skin problems like acne, dark circles and sunburn blisters.

A cocktail is a blended alcoholic beverage that is either a mixture of spirits, or one or more spirits that are mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice, sugar, or cream. You can opt for:

  • Bacardi cocktail
  • Rum Swizzle
  • Jack and Coke