Many of us take the holidays to enjoy family and food, which means that healthy eating may have taken a backseat to seasonal traditions like eggnog and gingerbread cookies. But now that it’s a new year, it’s the perfect time to make some healthier choices that can help us de-bloat and detox. “Detoxing” is really about making it easier on your digestive system and providing lots of vitamins and minerals to support the body. The goal is to provide maximum nutrition with minimum stress (stress meaning products like processed foods, artificial ingredients, and alcohol).
Step 1: Clean out your pantry! Still have some holiday chocolate boxes around the house? Donate or give them away to get the temptation out of the house.
Step 2: Cut alcohol and soda consumption, and increase water intake. Staying hydrated keeps electrolytes balanced, body temperature regulated, and metabolism running smoothly. Instead of soda, try green tea, which has antioxidants and a component that may increase metabolism. Add some lemon to improve taste and help your body absorb the antioxidants even better.
Step 3: Go plant-based! Try eating vegetarian or vegan for a week to kick-start your healthy eating plan; by eating large amounts of produce, you’ll increase fiber intake, which helps keeps digestion going. Bonus: you’ll also get more antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, which help prevent cell damage. You’ll also avoid artificial ingredients and preservatives by choosing fresh fruits and vegetables.
Step 4: Don’t forget to get moving! Exercise is a great way to stimulate your digestive system, reduce bloating, and increase endorphins. Every little bit helps: try taking a walk during your lunch break, or check out a SWEAT Group Ex class. Physical activity increases the circulation of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for eliminating waste.
Step 5: Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can disrupt hormones and even cause weight gain. Think about it: fatigue can lead you to reach for a doughnut or cookie in the afternoon for a quick burst of energy. Having trouble shutting off at night? Try sipping on some chamomile tea and reading a book instead of staring at an electronic screen before bed.
Step 6: Supplements can be useful if you feel that something is lacking in your diet. Probiotics (like the healthy bacteria found in yogurt) can help balance your gastrointestinal tract and reduce bloating by increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria. Suffering from indigestion? Ginger and peppermint are two ingredients known to help. Peel and chop a 1-inch piece of ginger and simmer with 2 cups water for 10 minutes. Add some dried peppermint or a peppermint tea bag, strain, and drink for some stomach relief.
Including juices or smoothies in your diet is a great way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. If you are considering replacing meals with juice (juice fasting or “cleansing”), keep in mind that juices are typically lacking in fiber, protein, and fat. Opt for a short duration (1-3 days) or alternatively, replace one meal per day with juice. Better yet, make it a smoothie (pulp included) to get the fiber and add some nut butter to also increase the protein and fat. Be sure to get approval from your doctor before using supplements or fasting.
Here are two recipes to try that are full of vitamins and minerals!
Simple Green Smoothie (serves 2):
2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups water (add more if needed)
1 cup mango
1 cup pineapple
Spinach is a mild-tasting leafy green veggie that is perfect for green smoothie beginners. Tip: Use at least one frozen fruit to chill the smoothie, or add some ice. Frozen fruit is a perfectly good alternative to use, especially in the winter when tropical fruits are hard to find. Check the ingredient list to make sure the only ingredient is fruit, without any sneaky sugar!
1 apple (medium or large, any kind you like)
2 celery stalks (large)
2 carrots (medium)
6-8 stems fresh mint
1 tsp fresh ginger
Add more mint or ginger if desired. Instead of throwing out the juice pulp, try to reuse it. Mix it into soups, veggie burgers, or even baked goods to increase the fiber.
Author Bio: Carolyn McAnlis is a Registered Dietitian with SWEAT Fitness, operating out of Philadelphia, helping clients with their dietary needs and designing programs to better serve the Sweat members.