Sober January was great and all, but we wasted no time getting back into the, er, swing of things in February. A few too many after work happy hours, a few too many hot chocolates from City Bakery, a few too many not-so-healthy Postmates binges because, um, it’s still freezing outside! The point is, kale has not necessarily been our main food group for the past couple weeks…starch has.
Luckily, there’s a rumor going around that it’s ok to detox and do nice things for your body at any point in the year – not just January. Who’d have thought! We chatted with our favorite nutritionist Mikaela Reuben to get some fresh pointers on how to rid ourselves of toxins and get back in the healthy swing of things. We feel happier already…
1. Eating simple whole foods in their whole form is best. Processed foods are depleted of valuable nutrients and packed full of chemicals and sugars. Retrain your taste buds to enjoy a fresh carrot or simple slices of cucumber with lemon juice and sea salt.
2. Staying hydrated stops you from overeating. Very often when we feel hungry, it is often a sign of dehydration. It is best to drink lots of water before and after meals but not during. Water helps the body detoxify which keeps the digestive system healthy. Sip on teas and water throughout the day; try to consume 1 cup of water, tea, or other liquid every 30 minutes, except 30 minutes before or after meals. A small glass of warm water with lemon, or a tea, is acceptable during meals if you need something. My favorite summer drink is cold mint tea with chlorophyll and lemon.
3. Eating high fiber foods helps the body stay full. Fiber increases the calories spent breaking down the actual food and helps create a sense of satiety. Fiber helps the body eliminate toxins and keeps the digestive system healthy so that the nutrients can be properly absorbed into the body. Good examples are lentils, beans, collard greens, grapefruit, asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower.
4. Exercising, sleeping, and not stressing are all unbelievably and equally important and can all help lower levels of cortisol, a hormone responsible for fat formation in the body. Cortisol levels increase when we are stressed or tired. Exercise reduces cortisol levels and is necessary for detoxification and overall health of the cardiovascular system. It also helps facilitate the movement of toxins out of the body. Every day, complete 30-45 minutes of exercise, followed by deep breathing and stretching.
5. Detoxification can be aided by dry brushing, saunas and steams, detox baths, and cold showers. They are an excellent way to help release toxins. They are also all great for increasing the health and appearance of the skin before summer and for encouraging stress reduction. It’s important to dry brush your skin and end with 1 minute of cold water when you shower. This helps to move toxins in the skin.
6. Eating healthy proteins has been shown to increase levels of satiation. When cleansing and trying to lose weight a diet high in protein and vegetables has shown to be ideal. Vegetarian options include lentils, sprouted legumes, quinoa, chickpeas, nuts, hemp hearts, spirulina, raw sunflower seeds, chia, almonds, kale, eggs, sprouts, broccoli, and organic edamame. Animal-based options include sardines, mackerel, herring, canned wild salmon or wild salmon, and trout. I tend to choose protein sources high in Omega-3’s. If you choose to eat poultry, make sure it is hormone-free.
7. Breakfast and lunch should be focused on protein. When we start off with a blood sugar blast (from refined carbohydrates and sugar), we crash and get hungry again. Eating protein, high-fiber vegetables, and healthy fats will help us feel satiated for longer.
8. Dinners should focus on vegetables with lots of leafy greens. The meals here are designed to control blood sugar, with lower glycemic index foods and limited protein, as this is harder on the system at night and should be restricted to the day. The goal is to avoid raising blood sugar levels before bed, and by not eating too much, also allowing the body to focus on rest and recovery while giving the digestive system a break. Eating at night can also cause excess weight gain, as these calories are not utilized as efficiently as in the day. Try to finish eating at least four hours before you plan on going to sleep. If you are hungry before bed, drink warm tea.
9. When snacking sip on green soup or have a handful of celery and carrots, or almonds. Have a small vegetable dense snack if you are hungry later in the afternoon.
10.Variety should factor into our meals. During summer we have access to lots of fresh produce. In order to receive proper nutrients, it is ideal to eat a variety of foods. Doing this helps us access an array of nutrients (Try rotating greens and choosing new fruits). How we prepare them can also affect this; ideally eat a mixture of raw and cooked.
11. Overconsumption of food puts stress on the body and can affect the health of our digestive system, not to mention that it may cause us to gain weight. Try not to eat until you are stuffed. Use smaller plates and bowls and give yourself time once you have finished 80% of your food to sit and notice how you feel. This will leave more energy for digestion and you will end up eating less.
12. Every morning drink 1½ cups of warm water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and take a probiotic.
13. If you have a bathtub add 1 cup of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes at the end of the day. Add lavender oil, or 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar if you have it.