Do you have a spare tire, love handles, or a belly bulge left over from the holidays? Or maybe it’s been accumulating for more than a few seasons? Did you have your cake, drinks, cookies and turkey dinner–and eat them too? Don’t fret. Here are a ten simple tricks from my best-selling book, The Life Force Diet (Wiley, 2006) that can help you make this a lighter and healthier year:
1. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to beat dehydration. Alcohol consumption, fatty foods, and insufficient water are some of the main reasons people feel “hung over” and heavy from the holidays. Every cell in your body needs adequate water to function properly so try to drink at least 2 Litres a day to flush fat and toxins out.
2. Take a high-quality B-complex and vitamin C supplement, both of which are depleted by alcohol consumption and stress-and chances are you had both during the holidays and many days since.
3. Eat fruit in the morning on an empty stomach. Fruit is the best food to keep the lymphatic system cleansed and moving properly. The lymphatic system is what I call “the body’s version of a street-cleaner”–it sweeps up toxins, fat, and the by-products of bodily processes to lessen pain, inflammation, cellulite, and toxic overload in the body. Just don’t overdo.
4. Eat a large green salad for lunch and dinner. And if you just can’t stand another salad, wrap it up! Put lettuce, sprouts, avocado, tomato, and cucumber (or some combination of these) in a wrap. Add a dash of sea salt and freshly cracked peppercorns and you have a delicious meal in a hurry.
5. Eat a small healthy snack every two hours to stabilize blood sugar. Wild blood sugar fluctuations can deplete your energy, cause weight gain, intensify food cravings, and depress your immune system, making you more vulnerable to those cold and flu bugs found in droves in the winter months. My preferred option is raw, unsalted almonds–they’re loaded with calcium and blood-stabilizing fiber and protein. Eat 10-12 as a snack between meals.
6. Avoid eating sweets, synthetic sweeteners or foods sweetened with them. Instead, eat fruit and sweeten herbal teas with a few drops of stevia–an herb that contains steviosides, substances that are naturally 1000 times sweeter than sugar, without the nasty effects on your blood sugar levels.
7. Be sure to fit some exercise into your day. A minimum of twenty minutes of vigorous activity will get your circulation going, improve lymph flow, increase energy, and help your body burn any bulges you may be carrying. If it’s too cold outside, try jumping on a mini-trampoline. It’s one of the best forms of exercise for getting your lymph to eliminate fatty deposits and cellulite in your body.
8. Avoid margarine and foods made with hydrogenated and trans fats. These toxic foods make your body’s detox organs like the liver sluggish. They also require huge amounts of energy to digest. They also lead to weight gain and are linked to a host of other health problems.
9. Avoid foods that contain synthetic colors, preservatives, and other additives. As I tell clients, “if you can’t read it, don’t eat it.” By avoiding them throughout the day, you are giving your liver a break so it can devote its energy to burning fat.
10. Add beans to your diet in soups, salads, stews, chili, or other foods. The humble legumes are the most overlooked healthy foods, yet they are packed with protein, fiber, and complex carbs (the good ones) that cleanse your bowels, stabilize blood sugar, and keep you feeling full for hours. Can’t stand the aftermath of eating beans-simply take a digestive enzyme that includes cellulase with meals that contain beans. Cellulase helps improve the digestion of beans.
With the help of a few health tricks, you can start the New Year as a healthier, more energetic, and lighter version of you!
Adapted, with permission of the author, from the book, The Life Force Diet (Wiley, 2010).