Post Holiday Detox

      You know you probably were overdoing it during the holidays. Too much food. Too many parties. Not enough exercise. What can you do and eat to get back on track and help your body return to healthy? Here to give us a few tips on how to regain our diet savvy and put our health....and waistlines...back on track is Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author of Eat Your Way to Sexy.

      How do we detox and jump start our health and waistlines without doing damage?
      There is nothing wrong with removing yourself from food for a few days, if for no other reason than to see what role food plays in your life. You may find that you've been stuffing yourself over the holidays as a way to destress or to sooth an emotion. Maybe you've been eating too much just because food was there and you were bored. Or, you ate the fruit cake, not because you liked it, but because you didn't know how to say "no." Taking a time out from eating for a day or two won't hurt and may even help you plan a new relationship with food, while jump starting your New Year's dietIf you plan to juice fast, this detox smoothie is a great way to help you stay full. It's loaded with fiber and water, two of the three magic ingredients for weight loss that fill you up before they fill you out. Watermelon also contains two compounds, arginine and citrulline, that improve blood flow, while beets boost nitric oxide in the blood, a compound that helps relax blood vessels so that blood flows more freely. Combined with the soluble fiber from the apples, the metabolism-boosting effect of cayenne, and the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric that help reduce damage to blood vessel walls, this drink has it all, and your circulation and heart with thank you for it! If you have a Vitamix and can blend instead of juice, all the better. The problem with juicers is that you leave so much of the phytonutrients and fiber behind when you toss the pulp.

      Red Hot Blood Cleanser
      2 cups watermelon chunks
      1 small to medium beet, washed
      1 apple, seeded and cut into cubes
      1 Tablespoon apple juice concentrate
      1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on taste)
      1/4 teaspoon turmeric

      Place all ingredients in a blender, such as a Vitamix, with watermelon on the bottom. Turn blender on slow speed until watermelon has liquified, then increase speed and blend for 1 minute or until liquified. Makes 2 servings, approximately 1 cup each.

      Nutritional Analysis per serving: 117 Calories; 7 percent fat ({>} 1 gram); 0 grams saturated fat; 5 percent protein; 88 percent carbohydrate; 2.7 grams fiber.

      Any precautions when detoxing?
      Just take it easy on those days, drink lots of fluids, and don't expect to accomplish much or even drive. Medical clearance is warranted before beginning a lengthier fast and a person shouldn't fast at all if she's pregnant, nursing, or has any health condition, including diabetes, cancer, compromised immunity, ulcers, or liver, kidney, heart, or lung disease. If a fast helps at all with cleansing, those benefits are sustained only if you follow it with a healthy diet and lifestyle. That's because the real secret to managing your weight, and feeling and looking your best is healthy eating every day, not a quick-fix crash diet.

      What else can we do to get back on track?
      If you aren't up for a fast. Never fear. Your body will naturally detox if given the right foods that not only help cleanse, but also give the body the building blocks it needs to function at tip top shape. Antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory foods, such as colorful fruits and vegetables are the first place to start. Foods that are rich in the magic ingredients for weight loss: protein, water, and fiber, also help fill you up before they fill you out. Good examples of that are legumes, whole grains such as quinoa, nuts in moderation, antioxidant-rich berries, and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes. A few preliminary studies also suggest that adding healthy probiotics to your daily diet can help detox and even aid with weight loss. Just make sure to choose only nonfat, plain yogurt, not the flavored brands that have the sugar equivalent of a candy bar. Also, consider taking a moderate-dose vitamin/mineral supplement to fill in the gaps on the days when you don't eat perfectly.

      What about dieting after the holidays? Any thoughts?
      Most get-thin-quick diets sacrifice health for a waistline. Worse yet, they seldom, if ever, work. If you are fully committed to get back on track, then follow these 3 commonsense, tried-and-true guidelines for losing weight, keeping it off, and fueling a healthy body:
      1) Consume daily at least 1,200 calories (tall or very active people can eat even more). Increase exercise, not cut calories further, if you can't lose weight on this low-calorie plan.
      2) Emphasize colorful fruits & vegetables. At least half of every plate should be from the produce department. Eat raw or steamed, since even a tablespoon of oil or butter adds more calories than 2 cups of broccoli. Choose real foods, such as whole grains, then accent this low-fat fare with legumes, extra-lean meat, and nonfat dairy products to ensure you meet your daily needs for all nutrients (you'll still need to take a multiple when calorie intake is this low).
      3) Exercise daily. Include both aerobic activities, such as walking, jogging, or cycling, and strength training in your weekly routine, for a total of at least 30 minutes daily, five days a week (more is even better). Exercise is a natural cleanser. It increases circulation, boosts metabolism, reduces inflammation, and aids the body in ridding "toxins."

      In short, there are no quick-fixes for permanent weight loss and a healthy body. The good news is that your body will repay you a 1000-fold for a little tender loving care, with increased energy, reduced risk for disease, longevity, increased passion...hey, you'll even look up to 15 years younger!