Niha Zubair, Arivale Clinical Research Scientist, PhD
It’s often this time of year when people begin to panic about the New Year’s resolutions that never come to be.
With all the food and drinks from holiday parties fresh on the mind, it is no wonder we begin to look for ways to clean the slate and start fresh with wiser food choices.
There are a lot of popular methods advertised to rapidly provide you with a clean slate. Cleanses, detoxes—you’ve likely seen articles advertising a way to purge your body of all the holiday excesses.
It’s important to remember that popular does not mean permanent. It is true cleansing and detoxing are important for health, and yet, the most effective cleanser isn’t a juice diet—it’s the one you were born with. Your liver.1 The best way to support your natural cleanser is to decrease how hard it has to work to detoxify what you put in. If you feed it a steady diet of processed foods, alcohol, and environmental toxins—it is going to be putting pedal to the metal to clear out what does not belong. But drastically changing your routine or intake for three days only to return to your normal pattern is not doing you or your liver any favors.
So, if you’re looking to start the New Year with a clean slate, really the best thing you can do is to take Stephen Covey’s advice and “begin how you want to end.”
Do you want to be juicing/only drinking your meals for the rest of your life? (Or following whatever cleanse regimen you have in mind.)
If not, then it doesn’t make much sense to turn the table on the habits you’re working to establish for 3-7 days. (And research does not support the idea that 3-7 days of a substantial diet change has lasting impacts on wellness.)2,3
If you do have a weekend or a few days to start fresh with your health habits, spend it making a doable plan for the next month, implementing the components that you and your Arivale Coach have been discussing:
- Plan your meals.
- Make your shopping list.
- Schedule cooking times.
- Write in your exercise times.
We often don’t get to these tasks because we don’t have time—so take the time you’d spend on a detox/cleanse and use it to make a plan for long-term changes.
One way to do this would be to follow a Mediterranean meal pattern for the 2-3 days you planned to “cleanse.” You’ll be setting up yourself for a meal pattern you can continue throughout the year, and you’ll have an opportunity to kick start your meal planning and palate preference in a direction that has many researched-backed impacts on health.4,5
Another formula to follow for meal planning would be to choose one of each of the following for each meal in your “cleanse.”
- A grain (whole grains like millet, brown rice, quinoa, oats, etc.)
- A cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, etc.)
- A dark leafy green
- A bean (kidney, black, navy, pinto, chickpeas, etc.) or another lean protein (eggs, fish, greek yogurt)
- Drink water (aim for half your body weight number in ounces per day—for example, a 160-pound person would aim for 80 ounces per day)
Here are some sample recipes of what it looks like to mix a grain, a green, and a bean for simple meals.
Why these combinations specifically? These are healthy foods that you can incorporate throughout the year, with many benefits to your wellness:
- Whole grains are a substantial source of vitamins (rich in B vitamins) and minerals as well as fiber.6
- Cruciferous vegetables help boost your body’s naturally occurring detoxification and anti-inflammatory processes.7,8
- Soluble Fiber (in beans and whole grains) acts as a sponge soaking up bacteria, toxins, bile (comprised of LDL cholesterol) to help remove it.
- Dark leafy greens deliver sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients like vitamin K, folate, nitrates, calcium, potassium, and vitamin A.
- Beans are excellent sources of protein, fiber, phytonutrients, and minerals like iron and zinc.9
- Water delivers nutrients and excretes what does not need to be there (water is especially important in combination with an increase in fiber).
Talk to your Arivale Coach about how to jumpstart your year with some healthy meal planning tips. And remember—instant gratification doesn’t work with wellness.
Begin with the end in mind.
- Grant, D. M. “Detoxification Pathways In The Liver“. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease 14.4 (1991): 421-430. Web.
- Klein, A. V. and H. Kiat. “Detox Diets For Toxin Elimination And Weight Management: A Critical Review Of The Evidence“. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 28.6 (2014): 675-686. Web.
- Publications, Harvard. “The Dubious Practice Of Detox – Harvard Health“. Harvard Health. N.p., 2016. Web. 27 Dec. 2016.
- Bloomfield H, Koeller E, Greer N, MacDonald R, Kane R, Wilt T. Effects on Health Outcomes of a Mediterranean Diet With No Restriction on Fat Intake: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.Annals Of Internal Medicine [serial online]. October 4, 2016;165(7):491-500. Available from: CINAHL Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Trichopoulou A, Kyrozis A, Lagiou P, et al. Mediterranean diet and cognitive decline over time in an elderly Mediterranean population. European Journal Of Nutrition [serial online]. December 2015;54(8):1311-1321. Available from CINAHL Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 12, 2016
- “Whole Grains: Hearty Options For A Healthy Diet – Mayo Clinic“. Mayoclinic.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 27 Dec. 2016.
- Gasper AV, et al. “Glutathione S-Transferase M1 Polymorphism And Metabolism Of Sulforaphane From Standard And High-Glucosinolate Broccoli“. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Mar;83(3):724.
- Holst, Birgit and Gary Williamson. “A Critical Review Of The Bioavailability Of Glucosinolates And Related Compounds“. Natural Product Reports 21.3 (2004): 425. Web.
- “Nutritional Benefits Of Pulses“. Fao.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 27 Dec. 2016.
- Anderson, John and David Nieman. “Diet Quality—The Greeks Had It Right!“. N.p., 2016. Web. 27 Dec. 2016