5 Steps To A Healthy Post-Holiday Detox
If you’ve been busy decking the halls with plenty of rich meals, sweet desserts, and alcohol, chances are, you're feeling ready for a major diet detox right about now—No booze! No candy! No more junk! Sound about right? But not so fast: New research shows that a sudden transition away from fatty and sugary foods can cause symptoms similar to those seen during a drug withdrawal.
To reach that conclusion, researchers from the University of Montreal fed mice a diet high in fat for six weeks, and then switched them to a healthier eating program. The mice exhibited symptoms of anxiety and depression, which investigators suspect was due to key changes in the release of brain compounds, including the feel-good chemical dopamine, triggered by the dietary switch. The findings help explain why a strict diet can make us feel low and irritable.
The good news? It's possible to minimize the withdrawal effects associated with cleaning up your meals, says Ashley Koff, RD and author ofMom Energy: A Simple Plan To Live Fully Charged. “One of the most important things to do is make sure you’re getting good sleep,” Koff says. “If you don’t sleep well, then in the morning your body is screaming out for sugar.”
More from Prevention: How To Beat Sugar Cravings
And you don’t need to take drastic steps to get your diet on-track, Koff says. She recommends a step-down program of gradual tweaks and changes. Instead of focusing on quick fixes, look at your diet as an evolution, Koff advises. “You want to make lifestyle changes, not one-month changes."
Here are Koff’s post-holiday tips to clean up your meals, while stabilizing (or even improving) your mood:
This week, upgrade the quality of your meals. Eat a balanced meal that contains carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat every three hours. That’ll keep your energy up and prevent the drops in blood sugar that can lead to cravings. (Cook up a storm with ideas from our Healthy Recipe Finder.)
Start each morning with a big glass of water. Also try a daily probiotic or even a green juice. (Never tried a green juice? Whip up our Green Goddess Smoothie this week.)
Take magnesium supplements before bed. And opt for magnesium-rich foods like pumpkin seeds or almonds—they’ll help your body cope with the stress overload from the holiday season.
Add mushrooms to your meals. In particular, opt for shiitake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms this week. All three are potent immunity enhancers.
Go alkaline. Eat more alkaline-forming foods, such as parsley, kale, pears, and lemons, which balance the body’s pH levels, reduce inflammation, and keep blood sugar levels under control.
Video: Post Vacation Plan | 5 Steps to Getting Back on Track
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