Thanksgiving weekend has passed and you've just consumed more calories in a long weekend than you do all month. With this past weekend being the unofficial start to the holiday season, are you going to write off your diet and exercise routine as a thing of the past, or are you committed to giving your body a chance to see how it feels internally from a cleanse? Detoxing can eliminate chronic illness such as headaches, fatigue and high cholesterol, and it may introduce you to new, healthier food options that you would not have tried otherwise. Here are some detox options for you to try as you rev up to the year's end.
Beginner Detox: Eliminate Sugar and Caffeine
These two perfectly legal substances are among the most addictive we put into our bodies. Many people on a daily basis suffer from caffeine headaches or sugar rushes, then crashes. Do your body a favor and give it a break from the roller coaster of highs and lows, and let it even out. Try this basic seven-day detox, keeping in mind these simple tips:
- Don't go cold turkey! Gradually step back your caffeine intake a few days before you stop completely. Drop the number of cups of coffee you consume daily in half, and substitute green tea the day before you stop. With sugar, you can immediately stop eating desserts and other traditional sweets. Instead, substitute fresh fruit when you have a craving.
- Find a new morning and/or afternoon ritual. For coffee drinkers, your morning wake-me-up is usually a nice big cup o' joe. Instead, find a healthy replacement activity that will get your body moving. Try meditation or breathing exercises, or hit the gym a bit earlier. If you crave sugar after meals such as lunch and dinner, substitute your dessert for a cup of herbal tea or brush your teeth immediately, a signal to your brain that you've finished eating.
Intermediate Detox: Go Vegetarian or Vegan
Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing with bacon, mashed potatoes with sausage. These foods were all present at my T-day gathering. Give your entire body system a break from those heavy foods. There are plenty of vegetarian dishes to keep you satisfied throughout the week. Already a vegetarian? Try going vegan for the week. Cutting out dairy and eggs can lower cholesterol. Who knows, you might turn your seven-day experiment into a new lifestyle. Try these tips to make the week a breeze:
- Plan out your dinners for the week. If you usually have meat for dinner, find new recipes for fish, tofu or satisfying whole grains that aren't bland and are just as satisfying. When you already know what you're eating and cooking for the day, it's easier to stay on plan.
- Choose your restaurants wisely. If you don't have time to cook, consider doing takeout from a sushi restaurant or a Thai restaurant. Both have options for vegetarians and vegans. Just make sure you know what's in your sushi rolls or dipping sauces before you place your order.
Seasoned Detox: Juice Cleanse
If you already know detoxing is your thing and you currently eat a clean, whole-foods diet, then maybe it's time for a juice cleanse. You can make your own juices or order a cleanse from numerous companies that have popped up in the last year. Make sure you vary the recipes so that you get all the nutrients you need for the three-, five- or seven-day detox. Be sure to:
Chew some of your juices. Often the hardest part of a juice cleanse is not chewing food. This psychosomatic function is what tells our body that we're eating. If you learn to chew your juices, it'll satiate your need for food.
Choose a program that offers fresh-juiced, fresh-pressed or thicker smoothie options. Stocking up on orange or apple juice from the grocery store isn't the proper way to do a juice cleanse, as many of those store-bought brands add sugar. In order to make sure you're getting all the vitamins, minerals and proteins you need each day and not just flooding your body with acidic liquids, it's best to turn to the professionals. Any program you look at or design for yourself should include at least one green juice (make up of things such as kale, spinach, celery, cucumber) and one fruit juice a day. Companies like BluePrint and Organic Avenue are all over the country.
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