How To Do A Post-Holiday Party Detox

No, you definitely should not do a full 24-hour juice cleanse—but there’s nothing wrong with having an extra-low-calorie day after a night of bingeing on unhealthy food and beverages, says F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, MD, an obesity expert at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "It won’t negatively impact your metabolism. You won’t be starved," he says. "It’s just one day."

Here's how to safely power through your binge and make the most out of your post-party detox, according to the docs:

1. Hydrate. First things first, wake up and de-bloat with a tall glass of lemon or cucumber water (the veggie contains an antioxidant that helps reduce swelling).

RELATED: 5 Foods That Prevent Bloating

2. Eat a healthy breakfast. Have a scaled-back breakfast of Greek yogurt with 2 teaspoons hemp seeds and half a grapefruit. Or make chia seed pudding with a cup of mixed berries; you can prep it in just 10 minutes and leave it in your fridge overnight. When you wake up, the milk-soaked chia seeds turn into a delicious no-cook pudding. If you want to give this dish an even bigger nutrient boost, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of heart-healthy ground flaxseed, which will give you 20% of your recommended daily fiber intake.

3. Schedule an a.m. workout. If you overdid it the night before, there is one silver lining: "You’re likely carbed up from your indulgent meal last night, so you’re going to have a lot of energy," explains Jim White, RD, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. “Use that energy and do a little bit of cardiovascular training, a little bit of weight training; keep drinking plenty of water and you’ll feel better.”


TUM scientists explore link between gastrointestinal microbiota and dietary fats

Gut bacteria play a little-understood role in the body’s energy balance, which is influenced by diet. However, the crucial nutritional components are unknown. A team at the Technical University of Munich was able to demonstrate for the very first time that mice without gastrointestinal microbiota grow obese when fed with dietary fat from plant sources, but not from animal sources.


I Tried Dieting Like My Mom…And It Worked

Kate Moss once said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. That’s a lie. Just consider: dulce de leche ice cream. A fresh lobster roll. Tropical jelly beans. I enjoyed all these indulgences and more while pregnant with my second child—and gained around 60 pounds. Whoops. I don’t regret a bite, but I do have my pride, and about four months after delivering a baby girl by C-section, that pride was seriously wounded. 

Here’s what happened: My mom, Michelle, came to visit and suggested we take a walk. Specifically, a speed walk, her exercise of choice for three decades. We laced up and set out toward the bike path near my house, and about five minutes in, I started panting. 

Ten minutes in, I pretended to scratch my ankle because I just needed to breathe. My mom is 68. I am 37. But at that moment, our ages might as well have been reversed. And as tempting as it is to blame my postpartum condition, the truth is I was out of shape long before I got pregnant. 

That is a fact I’ve tried to ignore, but my job interviewing celebs shoves it in my face. Over the years, I’ve talked to dozens of stars about their diet and exercise habits. Helpful: Fergie, who recommended that busty ladies like myself wear two sports bras to jump rope because "there’s a lot of waving." Not as helpful: Jennifer Aniston, who, when asked about her favorite and least favorite workouts, answered: "I love them all. I love working out." And Blake Lively once sheepishly told me she didn’t have to exercise or watch what she ate because she’s “lucky.” 

RELATED: How Much Weight Should You Really Gain During Pregnancy? 

Kate Hudson vs. mom

This past summer, I interviewed Kate Hudson, and she showed me how to use MyFitnessPal, that app that tracks your daily calorie intake and physical activity. That’s when it occurred to me: My mom could be my own fitness pal! She’s better than an app because (a) we have the same body type, so presumably what works for her would work for me, and (b) unlike an app, I couldn’t just delete her off my phone when I wanted to give up. 

My mom lives in Miami, and I live in Massachusetts, but the miles wouldn’t matter if we checked in daily (and we did). She would hold me accountable. Compared with stars, most of us don’t have the luxury of hiring trainers or nutritionists (or, in the case of Kim Kardashian, a professional spray tanner named Jimmy Coco who makes house calls). But the funny thing is, my mom might have a healthier lifestyle than most of them because it is an enduring one. No diets, no fads. And, until recently, no apps.

RELATED: Your Strong and Slim Walking Workout

Mall walking? Check!

Mom has been speed-walking for as long as I can remember. As I type, she is probably sporting her white visor and lunging to keep up with her striding, nearly 6-foot-tall walking partner, Cathy. Almost every day, they rise with the sun and walk the same route—to the local outdoor mall, around and back—averaging about 4 1⁄2 miles; it takes just over an hour. 

I can just see them now: elbows flapping, hips sashaying. "Don’t make me sound ridiculous," says Mom. "I don’t wear a velour tracksuit. Or do that thing with my arms." (Actually, she kind of does.) The overall effect is that they look like they are rushing to the nearest restroom, and chances are good that they are: They often stop at Bloomingdale’s for a quick pee break. 

Is it technically speed-walking? Maybe not: “Race walking” is an Olympic sport requiring one foot to be in contact with the ground while the supporting leg is kept straight. It dates back to at least 18th-century England, when tall men with long strides dominated. But in the 1960s, a Polish guy named Jerzy Hausleber discovered that short athletes could have a leg up on their taller competitors, if they wiggled their pelvises a certain way. In other words, Hausleber might have seen potential in my mom, who is 5 feet and change, as opposed to her friend Cathy. 

Anyway, Mom and I worked out a plan. I would eat and exercise like her for a month, updating her on my progress (or lack thereof). I ordered a digital scale, and on day one, I recorded my weight at 155 pounds (constant nursing had helped me, but I still had 25 pounds to go).

RELATED: 10 Healthy Eating Habits That Will Change Your Life

Tuna-egg salad, no can do

The eating part would be pretty straightforward. "I have a philosophy that translates into a strategy about everything I eat," says Mom. "I read about it in a magazine: three-quarters plants, one-quarter everything else." On a typical day, she has two slices of lightly buttered multigrain toast for breakfast, fruit with a cup of zero-fat yogurt or cottage cheese for lunch (as an alternative, she sometimes makes smoothies) and a small portion of chicken or fish with salad and steamed vegetables for dinner. 

Simple enough, though I made a couple of adjustments, such as swapping out the bread for hearty granola for breakfast and occasionally making an arugula and avocado salad for lunch. I especially needed more sustenance in the morning, as I confessed to my journal on day two: "I am nursing & hungry!" (Plus, Mom, buttered toast doesn’t exactly fit the "three- quarters plants" theory.) 

For dinner, I briefly considered making Mom’s tuna fish recipe—she mixes in chopped celery and hard-boiled egg in a huge storage dish—but decided against it. I have OD’d on that salad too many times. 

I felt a similar aversion to her smoothie recipe. Along with her fruit, yogurt, almond milk and medley of Christmasy spices, Mom drops a “tiny little cookie” into the blender before pressing "liquefy." "It’s divine," she says of this addition, usually a Trader Joe’s gingersnap. Personally, I prefer my cookies in solid form.

RELATED: The Best Sneakers For Walking

Adventure: on

The exercise part required more planning. First step: buying a fanny pack (the horror!). Second step: locating my never-been-used-before Asics sneakers. "Are those your adventure shoes?" my 4-year-old son asked upon seeing their debut. Third step: Finding a walking partner. I posted an invitation on Facebook, and my friend Beth’s husband, Ryan, wrote back. We started the next morning—laps around the Smith College track field. The hardest challenge was making the time to walk with two kids at home. My husband, Addie, took care of all the morning chores, except for breast-feeding, so that I could meet Ryan at 8 a.m. Using the app Steps, we aimed to reach 8,000 to 9,000 steps an outing. 

Aside from my mom, Addie was my biggest cheerleader; while their encouragement helped, it was best given one-on-one. Halfway through the challenge, my mom visited, and we went for a walk. When my husband told her to make me "work hard," I controlled the urge to throw my sneakers at him and then hate-eat a pizza. "Felt a murderous rage," I scribbled in my journal. "Pressure doesn’t work."

But accountability does. I wasn’t just checking in with my mom on a daily basis; I was checking in with myself, observing my habits and tweaking them when necessary. And to my amazement, the pounds came off—about 2 a week. Eating less was hard, but I enjoyed what I ate: garden-fresh gazpacho, fish, fruit mixed with cottage cheese (surprisingly delicious). I snacked on apples and peanut butter, almonds and spicy pepitas.

RELATED: I Did It! Weight-Loss Success Stories

The verdict

I loved beginning each day with a brisk walk to clear my head. I also started swimming for the first time in years. I’ve always thought of sweltering hot days as great “ice cream days.” But they’re also great “lake days.” 

“Feeling good & strong,” I wrote after one particularly refreshing dip. My bathing suit no longer feels like sausage casing. 

More than a month has passed, and the morning walking, while enjoyable, hasn’t been sustainable. I just have too many obligations in the a.m. But I made a pact with myself to walk every day, and I’ve been honoring it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a late-morning stroll with my daughter or a solo pre-dinner jaunt to pick up a bottle of rosé—just as long as I go.

As for Mom’s eating plan, I have stuck with it. When I vacationed with my in-laws in the Adirondacks, it took great willpower not to scarf down s’mores. I did have two rectangles of a chocolate bar, because that’s what Mom would do. 

As of today, I have lost 15 pounds since I started the challenge, but more importantly, I have gained better habits. Next time Mom wants to go for a walk, I won’t be so far behind.


Exercise May Protect Against Holiday Binge Eating, Suggests Small New Study

When it comes to holiday weight gain, the problem isn’t just one or two big meals; it’s the drawn-out stream of constant parties, cookies, dinners, leftovers, and “special occasions” throughout the entire season. Even just a few days of overindulging can have real effects—not just on your waistline, but on other ways overdoing it can affect your body, as well.

But the preliminary results of a small new study suggest that if you are going to overeat, there’s something you can do to protect against those negative effects: Exercise. And if you already work out on a regular basis, all you have to do is keep up with your normal routine.

This isn’t a total surprise, of course. It’s already known that as little as one week of overindulging can impair glycemic control and insulin sensitivity—processes that help the body process calories and keep blood sugar stable. (In fact, carb-heavy holiday meals can be downright dangerous for people with diabetes, for this reason.) And exercise has been shown to protect against some of these harmful effects.

But not much is known on how exercise can influence the body’s tendency to store excess calories during an overeating binge, or the structure and function of fat tissue itself. Its effect on inflammation—a response that's also triggered during overeating—is also not well understood.

So researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to see if a week of overindulging would have the same effects on regular exercisers as it does on people who aren’t physically active. To do so, they recruited a small sample of lean, healthy adults, some of whom got at least 150 minutes (and at least six days) of aerobic exercise per week and some who got much less.

The participants were tasked with eating 30 percent more calories than normal for seven days in a row, while continuing with their normal workout routines. (For someone who normally consumes 2,000 a day, that’s an extra 600 calories.) Before and after the experimental week, they provided samples of blood and abdominal-fat tissue.

The researchers presented their first results, on four participants in the exercise group, earlier this month at a conference sponsored by the American Physiological Society and the American College of Sports Medicine.

They found that, for these patients, a week of gluttony did not affect glucose tolerance. This finding matched those of previous studies on overeating and exercise.

But for the first time, the researchers also showed that overindulging also had no effect on markers of inflammation in volunteers blood or tissue samples. The researchers also found no change in lipolysis, a chemical process by which the body breaks down fast.

Lead author Alison Ludzki, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, says that the early results are not enough to determine any definite effects, of either overeating or exercise. Her team is in the process of recruiting and studying more participants, and hopes to have more complete data soon.

But she says that so far, they are seeing some trends to suggest metabolic differences between the groups of exercisers and non-exercisers. And that would make sense, she says, based on what’s already known about exercising and overeating.

“I think we can say that the big-picture advice here is that overeating, even for a short time, can signal some changes in the body—not just in fat, but in whole-body health,” she says. “And exercise definitely has some protective effects, especially when it comes to insulin sensitivity.”

Ludzki points out that the study participants didn’t have to do anything above and beyond their normal exercise routine to reap these protective benefits. “It was important to us that the study design was realistic and could reflect the average person who exercises regularly—not necessarily a high-level athlete.”

Laila Tabatabai, M.D., an endocrinologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, says that the findings presented at the conference—although too preliminary to inform any real conclusions—imply two important points.

“One, exercise is protective against the harmful effects of consuming excess calories,” says Tabatabai, who was not involved in the research, “and two, the adverse effects of overeating are measurable after just seven days of excess caloric intake.”

She does note, however, that lean and active adults may be better equipped to handle overeating in general—regardless of whether they exercise during their binge or not.

Overall, she says the study is encouraging. “It emphasizes what we already know—that exercise is protective against inflammation and glucose intolerance,” she says. “The new and interesting finding is that perhaps exercising could help offset brief periods of overeating, such as during the holiday season.”

Ludzki agrees. “I would definitely suggest staying active,” she says, “especially if you’re going to be indulging in Thanksgiving treats over the next few weeks.”


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