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New Year, Fresh Start

posted Dec 31, 2011, 2:38 PM by Amanda Bontempo   [ updated Dec 31, 2011, 5:27 PM ]

Now that you're three pounds heavier and 1 pair of holiday socks richer, it's time for a healthy detox to start off the new year with a nod to your resolution to live healthier.  

A lot of pressure is put on New Year's Resolutions and the higher our expectations are the more likely we are to fail. Avoid resolutions that either fill a void (get new boy/girlfriend, job, apartment) or highlight a problem (lose weight) and instead try to create a vision: Eat well to live and feel better. 

Strive for these five attainable goals to detox your body. No juicing or fasting required! Just eating mindfully to leave you feeling like the holidays never happened.  

1.  Avoid processed foods and beverages. Break out of that brainwashed funk! When the average American spends 3 hours a night zoning out to TV or tinkering on the computer, you do not need convenience food items. The more processed a food is, the more they are filled with preservatives, fillers, colorings and dangerous components like inflammatory trans-fats, sugars and omega 6s. The closer a food item is to it's natural self, the healthier and more nutritious it is. Do yourself a REAL favor and stick to clean, natural whole foods.

2.  Cook for yourself! When you cook for yourself you know what's going into a meal.  Simple whole foods are those in their complete natural form (vine ripened tomato vs jarred sauce). Cooking will bring you and your family closer to the table. This is something that is lost when we eat mindlessly in front of the TV. Turn off the tube and sit down together and enjoy the experience of eating. Most importantly, home cooked food is healthier. You are less likely to go through all the steps to fry up your own french fries than you would be to roast sweet potatoes with garlic powder, paprika and turmeric (yum!). So if you're cooking it, chances are it is healthier than the "convenient" alternative that's marketed as being "lower in fat" and "heart healthy." A little love doesn't hurt either. I like to over cook portions to leave leftovers for a healthy lunch tomorrow.

3.  Get rid of all added sugars. There are a lot of healthy diet rules that I am flexible about...cheese and wine equals bliss. But added sugars in food and beverages is definitely NOT one of them. There is zero reason to have extra sugar added to anything. Period. (Please note, this includes the booze). Added sugars are empty calories with zero nutritive value. It will slow your metabolism, magically add fat to all the least desirable places and alter the range of enjoyable sweetness of your palate to super high and before you know it you're dipping twizzlers in sugar because they're just not sweet enough. Water and seltzer water only. Two liters every day. Seriously.

4.  Eighty percent of your immunity lies within your gastrointestinal system so respect your bowel to decrease your risk for nearly every chronic disease and even the common cold. Give dairy a short rest. This might be surprising because dairy can be a great source of lean protein (all hail low fat no sugar added yogurt) but it is also very binding.  A sluggish gut promotes inflammation and disease so increase your fruits, veggies and whole grains to meet your soluble and insoluble fiber needs to improve your overall health.

5.  Snack healthy. Try to eat every 3-5 hours to keep your metabolism running at a desirable pace. Opt for natural snacks and stay away from packaged items as much as possible. Try whole fruits like blood oranges, pears or persimmons; oven roasted trailmix of almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries or plums and oats; fresh veggies with hummus, salsa or guacamole. Out of season frozen fruit like blueberries or peaches is a smartie pants option too. Don't be afraid to try new things, especially veggies, like  parsnips, beats or fennel.

New Year's Detox Resolution may not be so hard after all. Cheers to health, wealth and happiness!