If your holiday was anything like mine, there were 10 days of a lot of chocolate and oscillating between a strong buzz and a low-grade hangover. I love wine.
Then Holiday Indulgence Regret rears its ugly head. Mulled cider oozes from your pores. Royal icing seems to coat your mouth in the mornings.
In the days (weeks, months) following the holidays, when you’re feeling your worst, detoxing or cleansing seems like a really good idea.
You start getting juice fast recipes in your inbox. You vow to only consume kale salads til March.
Here’s the thing: In winter, it’s OK to get a little fat. Your weight fluctuates a few pounds, just like the chubby squirrels you see running around. We crave root veggies, warm, heavier, oily food–because it’s effing cold outside.
It’s natural, nothing to freak out about.
According to Ayurveda, these warming, grounding foods, along with rubbing yourself down with warm oil (abhyanga) and other practices keep you balanced in Vata (cold, airy) season.
Now, I get Vata-deranged at the drop of a hat. Winter is especially tough.
I had my first Ayurvedic assessment about four Novembers ago because I didn’t feel right: I was always cold, I couldn’t sleep, I was anxious, and couldn’t poop for the life of me. Indecision was paralyzing: I couldn’t even decide what to have for breakfast.
I was also on a steady diet of raw green smoothies, eating lots of raw veggies in salads, and running myself into the ground with over-exercising.
After divulging all this to my ayurvedic practitioner, he looked up from his clipboard and said
“Girl. Have something hot and fatty, for the love of God.”
He didn’t actually say that, but that’s how I remember it.
That’s the thing with many of these Winter Detox plans: they champion juicing, smoothies, salads. What do they have in common? They’re cold and raw–all things that Ayurveda says to steer away from in the winter. They’re great for Spring or Summer, but can throw your system off this time of year.
Will everyone experience a Vata-imbalance if they follow these types of “cooling” detoxes? No. It depends on your body and what else you do. It just happens to turn me into a flighty, nervous Vata creature.
If you want to get back into balance, you can do it the Ayurvedic way with kitchari, which is pure comfort food. My friend and personal practitioner Danielle of Svastha Ayurveda has an great way to do it, including routines and a killer kitchari recipe. Plus, it’s only 3 days. Read more about it here.
I also have a super secret recipe I use whenever I find myself in Vata derangement. It’s pretty delicious.
The takeaway? As always, listen to your body before signing up for that cleanse. Your body cleanses itself anyway, so strive for getting back into balance instead. Have compassion for yourself, and enjoy the few extra pounds of sweet love on your belly and tush–you’ll be grateful when you bite it on some black ice and land on your rear in the middle of a busy intersection. (Yes, I did that.)