Worried about ODing on mince pies and mulled wine? Like the rest of the world, we’ll be bookending our festive overindulgence with a pretox and (gentle) detox.
First things first – what is a pretox?
At the name suggests, it is a period before intentional intoxication and bingeing – ie Christmas – when you get super healthy and build up your resilience. The theory is that in preparing your body, the impact of your festive overindulgence is lessened and who knows, it might even inspire you to go easier when the fun starts. Also, you will look fabulous in your LBD.
Is that not deeply unhealthy?
Not necessarily, unless your pretox is basically starvation followed by massive binging. That way an eating disorder lies. Proper pretoxing is not supposed to be an intense shock to the system, but the opposite. The aim is to make your body work to maximum efficiency by eating the right kind of things, exercising, but also taking care of your mental health and wellbeing – it’s not all about diet.
When should I start doing it?
No time like the present, but December 1 is as good a place as any.
What kind of diet is best?
Some diet aficionados recommend adopting the 5:2 diet at this time of year, then you can make Christmas Day, Boxing Day or the office party your cheat days. Nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker recommends reducing your daily calorie intake by 300-500 calories from the beginning of December to balance the excessive calorie intake over Christmas.
But if you are a sensible person, just try to eat modestly and regularly and avoid sugar (and alcohol) most of the time, then the odd burn out shouldn’t have an accumulative detrimental effect. Make sure you balance protein (fish and white meat) and carbs such as fibrous vegetables. Too much or one or the other will not give you the energy you need -- if you make sure you get all your essential nutrients, you shouldn’t go hungry. Book a spa day or break at a spa with a nutritionist who can tailor advice to suit your individual needs.
Small regular meals* boost your metabolism and keep your energy levels nice and upbeat without spiking. *Can occasionally include mini mince pies (in the singular).
Also drink four litres of water a day – it’ll fill you up and your skin will look great in the pretox period, while drinking water between glasses of bubbly will lessen that day-after headache brought about by dehydration.
Shall I join the gym?
If you really feel ready to commit, go ahead. If you can’t afford to or know have a tendency to bail after a month or two, do aerobic exercise daily, whether it’s fast walking or running around the park – try the couch to 5k if you have never run before. Even better, sign up for a spa day at a health club spa, and book a class – something you have never tried before – to inspire you. If we were members of a health club spa, we’d be there every day taking advantage of the members offers. Health is worth the investment, and a spa definitely enhances our wellbeing.
I’ve got so much to do!
Your stress levels may sky rocket so prepare with plenty of rest. Make sure you sleep eight hours a night – read our sleep tips here. Swap out coffees and teas for herbal and green tea as too much caffeine will only increase your heart rate and you really need to slow things down. Keep a journal where you can vent your rage, but also remind yourself of the things to feel grateful for. It’s important to make time for yourself.
What about a January detox?
Don’t do anything too extreme, otherwise you will put your body under too much stress. It’s too cold and dark in January to deprive yourself of the good things in life. We recommend being kind to yourself in the late Winter months with plenty of nutritious soups and cosy nights in, then detoxing in Spring, when you are feeling stronger and can be more active.
The Spa Spies top pretox havens
The Spa at Ramsidein Country Durham won Best for Wellness in the 2018 Good Spa Guide Awards, while The Mere scooped the Best Health Club Spa, so either of these would be our number one choice if we wanted to kickstart a healthy pretox. Luxury Wellness is on the cards at the Lanesboroughin London, with their Bodyism Health Club, Bulgariin Kensington which has a workshop gym, and Gleneagles, which has a team of wellness practitioner and Ayurveda inspired treatments.
Lifehouse Spa in Essex is great for a pretoxing retreat. Two days in this lovely setting with a nutritionist on hand should re-set your energy and health before and after Christmas. You can choose between a juice based, protein based or wellness menu. They’ve even got a New Year group detox. Swinton Country Club and Spa also do wellness retreats and days, while Champneys spas are a great way to avoid temptation, eat healthily and binge on exercise classes. Or as a special Christmas gift to yourself, join your nearest Bannatyne health club spa.
To bring some comfort and joy into our lives before yuletide burn-out, we love to cosy on up in Lucknam Park (just the horses are enough to lower our stress levels), Rudding Park, which has a range of mind and sense relaxation zones as well as nutritious locally sourced food at Horto (pictured above), and Dormy House in the Cotswolds, with its divine Temple Spa and Natura Bissé treatments.