Get your body ready for the festive season with a November ‘pre-tox’

Get your body ready for the festive season with a November ‘pre-tox’!

You’re tired from a heavy workload and run down after the first heavy cold of the autumn.  December is fast approaching and already your diary is heaving with extra social events that are disrupting your usual gym routine.  We’ve all heard of the post festive ‘detox’, but what about getting your body (and your mind!) ready for the onslaught of extra booze, rich food and office mince pies?

Lucy Grainge, Nutritional Therapist at Reebok’s Wellness Centre gives us a guide to taking a break from our toxic eating habits:


What is pre-toxing?

Pre-toxing (that’s detoxing before overindulging!) is based on the same principles as detoxing: the idea is to take the load off the liver and the gut to enable the body to function at its best.  This means avoiding stimulants, toxicants, processed foods and highly allergenic foods for 7-14 days. In other words:

  • No caffeine (including colas, energy drinks, chocolate, caffeinated coffee)
  • No alcohol
  • No junk foods
  • No sugar or salt
  • No wheat, dairy or other foods you know cause you symptoms e.g. eggs, citrus
  • No paracetamol or other over the counter remedies (unless prescribed by your doctor)
  • Avoid meat especially processed meats such as salami

It also means putting back in the nutrients to help the liver function, and plenty of water and fibre to support elimination of waste products through the gut and kidneys.  So fresh, preferably organic vegetables and fruit will provide the bulk of your meals, plus at the very least a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement.

NB: always seek the advice of a nutrition professional or your GP before making any major changes to your diet.  A detoxification diet is not appropriate for anyone with liver or kidney disease or for pregnant/breastfeeding women.

Sounds tough, so what can I have?

We’re not talking surviving on nothing but water and fresh air!  Enjoy any fruits and vegetables, raw or cooked that you fancy.  Nuts, seeds and pulses are good sources of protein, as well as tofu and fish (no tuna or swordfish due to mercury levels). Stick to non-gluten grains such as brown rice and quinoa that are usually well tolerated and easily digestible. Use good quality extra virgin olive oil on salads and steamed veg and coconut oil for stir fries.   Use plenty of herbs and spices to flavour your meals.   Drink water (2l/day) and any non-caffeinated herbal teas.  Juices should preferably be fresh – remember to dilute them half and half with water or have a large glass of water with them.

So a typical detox or pre-tox day could look like this:

Breakfast: Banana & berry smoothie made with almond milk and ground flax seeds

Snack: carrot/celery/pepper sticks with avocado dip

Lunch: butternut squash and ginger soup topped with pumpkin seeds with rice cakes

Snack: fresh juice from juice bar plus a handful of unroasted nuts

Dinner: salmon with vegetable stir fry and brown rice.

Drink: plenty of filtered water, plus green or herbal teas

How do I know if my toxic load is impacting my health?

The liver and kidneys are our main detoxification organs but it in fact the whole body is involved: skin, hair, sweat, gut.

Common symptoms of an overloaded body include: overweight, fatigue, headaches, frequent colds, fatty liver, low energy, allergies, joint pain, digestive problems, low thyroid function.  Alcohol, caffeine and some painkillers can affect the stomach and gut, leading to acid reflux (hearburn), indigestion and in some cases peptic ulcers.  Of course these could be due to other factors so always check any symptoms out with your GP first.  If you think your liver could be affected by a long term drinking habit (or any other toxicant use) then your GP can run a simple liver function blood test.  Liver function tests are also available without GP referral from The Wellness Centre – results are normally back next day.

What are the benefits of doing a pre-tox/detox?

You may feel greater energy, some weight loss, reduced bloating, clearer skin, better sleep, fewer headaches, better mood.  You may find that digestive symptoms that you’ve had for a while resolve because you’ve eliminated a food/foods that you are intolerant to.  If you think this is the case you can reintroduce wheat and other grains plus dairy one by one and see if any one triggers them off.  Alternatively The Wellness Centre offers a range of food intolerance tests from a simple pin-prick blood sample.

What about side effects?

Headaches are common when withdrawing from caffeine.  These should pass in 3-4 days but can be limited by reducing gradually rather than going cold turkey.  Alcohol and sugar withdrawal can also cause headaches and cravings – for most of us these pass in less than 2 weeks. 

What if I can’t give up alcohol, caffeine, sugar or junk foods?

If you are struggling with giving up sugar, coffee and unhealthy foods then you could benefit from a personalised nutrition plan that includes specific foods to support detoxification and supplements designed to reduce cravings.  The Wellness Centre offers a 14 day detox package that is led by their nutritional therapist Lucy Grainge and includes 3 consultations, menu plan, liver support supplements and support materials.

If you’ve tried to cut out alcohol for a few days and struggle with cravings or can’t function without it then you need to consider whether you have become dependent.  To check your relationship with alcohol , do the self assessment test at

Counselling and advice on drying out safely can be sought from

Where can I get more advice and support to improve my health?

If you would like to find out more about cleansing your body of toxins, support with breaking poor eating habits or how you could benefit from a tailored nutrition programme, our nutritionist Lucy Grainge offers free 15 minute diet checks, as well as full nutrition consultations.  Just pop into the Wellness Centre next to the men’s changing rooms to book, or call 0207 9701820.

The Wellness Centre offers the following services

  • Health assessments
  • Nutrition Consultations
  • 8 week Weight Management Programme
  • GP services
  • Blood tests
  • Vaccinations
  • Food intolerance testing
About the Author
Lucy Grainge
Author: Lucy Grainge

Lucy Grainge is Wellness Internationals Canary Wharf clinic Nutritionist. Lucy has a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Institute of Optimum Nutrition, graduated 2007 and is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

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