With a food-filled holiday like Valentine's Day right around the corner, experts say a detox diet is a good fix for those chocolate truffle hangovers-it reboots your system if you've been, well, less than healthy. Doctor and registered dietician Christine Gerbstadt, MD, author of The Doctor's Detox Diet, breaks down a healthy, effective cleanse. Try it for three to five days a couple of times a year.
1. Load Up on Liquids
H2O flushes out your system by keeping your kidneys, liver, colon, and lymph nodes (organs that filter waste products from your body) running smoothly. Don't kill yourself over guzzling a ton if you're not thirsty, but aim to drink about one to two quarts a day, plus one to two cups of tea or coffee. A good way to tell if you're hydrated enough: You should be able to pee every couple of hours, and your urine should be fairly clear.
2. Cut Cals-But Don't Slash Them
Stick to 1400-1600 calories a day. You'll lose a little weight but still have energy. If you consume fewer than 1200 calories, your body begins burning muscle instead of fat, plus you won't be getting enough vitamins.
3. Start With a Healthy Breakfast
We know you hear this all the time, but it's so true. Skipping breakfast sets you up to binge later because you're not getting enough energy to kick off the day. Good options: A bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and unsalted nuts, Greek yogurt with berries, an apple topped with peanut butter, or a scrambled egg with beans or salmon and a slice of whole-wheat toast.
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4. Go Green
For lunch and dinner, whip up a green smoothie in your blender. It's much more nutritious than green juice, because you're still getting fiber. Throw in a few vegetables (spinach, broccoli, carrots, etc.), a couple of spices or herbs (fresh ginger, parsley, basil, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.), a little fruit if you want to sweeten it (half an apple or a peeled orange), and protein (whey, plain yogurt, soy milk, egg white). This combo delivers all the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants you need. Each smoothie is about 300 calories, so plan to have two to three a day.
5. Lighten Up
Of course, sometimes it's not feasible to make a smoothie-like, if you have a lunch meeting, you're going on a date, or you just feel hungry or low-energy. In that case, fill your plate with lean protein (fish, skinless chicken or turnkey breast, beans), whole grains, and plenty of veggies.
6. Snack Smart
When the late afternoon cravings kick in, opt for air-popped popcorn, unsalted nuts, fruit, or a tiny piece of chocolate if you have a sweet tooth.
7. Break Up With These Foods
Cut out refined sugars, white flour and rice, high-fat meats, dairy (other than plain, nonfat yogurt and milk), and all soda-both diet and regular.
Related: 10 foods that will boost your metabolism
8. Get Moving
You might not feel up to a high-intensity run or spin class when you're cleansing, but low-level exercise amps up the effects. It keeps your blood circulating and flushes out toxins.
9. Don't Be Afraid of Gluten
Despite the gluten-free trend, Dr. Gerbstadt maintains that whole grains help you detox: They remove cholesterol build-up from your GI tract. Shoot for two small servings a day.
Slideshow: Top 10 detox foods
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