We’re feeling a little stuffed now that the holidays are coming to an end. Christmas parties, work events, and family get togethers — to say we’ve “indulged” is a bit of an over-statement. Now it’s time to get back on track. Here’s our post-holiday detox, courtesy of Prevention magazine, to set you up for a healthy new year.
Break the Cycle
The splurge: Those dreams of sugarplums dancing in your head may be more like a nightmare brought on by too many sweet treats. While experts used to dismiss the notion of sugar addiction, a growing body of research suggests that the sweet stuff can hijack the same brain circuitry that’s affected by drugs and alcohol, leading to a vicious cycle of cravings and binges. (Here’s how to stop sugar cravings.) And holiday desserts with high levels of both sugar and fat provide a double whammy. The sugar hooks you, while the fat piles on the pounds.
The solution: Eliminate desserts that are rich in sugar and fat for at least 3 days — 7 to 10 would be even better. This will help quell cravings while you start to reestablish a taste for naturally sweet foods, such as fruits and starchy vegetables.
Resize Your Belly
The splurge: When the “it’s a holiday, I’ll diet tomorrow” mentality kicked in, one of your natural appetite control systems—the stomach’s network of stretch receptors—lost its effectiveness. Normally, when your stomach is full, these receptors send messages to the brain that say “I’m satisfied.” But prolonged periods of overeating make the receptors less sensitive. This helps explain why that feeling of “I’m so full, I’ll never eat again” is followed the next day by the sense that you’re even hungrier than usual.
The solution: If you keep eating the same high-calorie foods but merely reduce the quantity, your stretch receptors will signal your brain that you’re starving and need emergency rations—now. But you can short-circuit this by eating healthy-size servings of low-calorie, high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Their bulk will keep the receptors happy while avoiding excess calories.
Cut Down on Cocktails
The splurge: So you had a few too many spiked eggnogs. The problem isn’t just the sugar and fat. The alcohol itself packs in 7 calories per gram (compared with 4 for protein and carbs and 9 for fat). And the stomach and brain don’t register liquid calories in the same way as solids, so it’s easy to go right on eating and drinking—without compensating for the added calories. (Check out what happens to your body when you consume alcohol.)
The solution: Satisfying, low-calorie beverages can boost metabolism and even temper your hunger. Tea (lose the cream and sugar) has zero calories and ups metabolic rate. Or prepare a pitcher of flavored water, or one of these sassy water recipes. Add sliced oranges, lemons, and limes to a pitcher—or toss in berries or sprigs of mint or lemongrass. They’re refreshing and give you healing antioxidants.
Your 3-Day Detox Diet
Now that you know the principles, you’re ready to start your binge recovery.
Our diet plan provides about 1,250 calories a day. To cut the craving for sweets, we’ve eliminated most refined sugars. To keep your stretch receptors happy, we feature plant-based foods that are rich in fiber. And instead of high-calorie cocktails, we give you delicious low- or no-cal drinks. If you’re not back to your normal weight in 3 days, repeat for a total of 6 days.
Read on to see the full post-holiday detox meal plan, including recipes and nutritional information.