The holiday season is packed full of festive meals, flowing cocktails and delicious desserts. It’s perfectly normal to indulge once in a while, but it’s less fun the next day if you’re left to suffer the unpleasant consequences of feeling heavy, sluggish, and downright blah. If you found yourself enjoying a little too much of what the holidays have to offer, never fear. Bounce back with this easy post-party detox action plan.
The morning after a big meal or party, eating a good breakfast is crucial. Research consistently shows that opting for a high-protein morning meal is key to preventing overeating the rest of the day. That’s because protein fills you up and keeps you satisfied, ultimately reducing your overall calorie intake. Reach for a protein-packed nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese with some juicy fruit like berries or melon; the fruit has the added benefits of bloat-reducing potassium and a high water content to boost hydration. Another great choice is an egg white omelet with vegetables, a low-calorie, protein-rich meal that will re-energize your system.
To help combat midday cravings, it’s wise to load up on another dose of protein as well as plenty of vegetables at lunchtime. Non-starchy veggies like broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, and bell peppers are rich in fiber and water, which means they fill you up without filling you out. You should aim to have at least 1 cup of veggies at lunch, so a colorful salad might be the best way to go. Top it with your preferred lean protein: grilled chicken, sliced turkey breast, water-packed chunk light tuna, shrimp, cubed tofu, or beans. Dress your greens with a few dashes of olive oil and unlimited plain balsamic vinegar (salty bottled dressings can worsen bloat).
At dinnertime, once again, it’s all about lean protein and vegetables. Enjoy skinless poultry, fish, or tofu with at least 1 cup of antioxidant-rich veggies. And if you’re body craves starchy carbs, round out your detox dish with a fist-sized potato or 1/2-1 cup cooked quinoa. Try Cajun spiced tilapia with steamed broccoli and a baked sweet potato, or create a tofu and quinoa stir-fry with lots of peppers, mushrooms and onions.
You may not be up to eating a traditional meal the next day. A cleansing smoothie is a great go-to meal choice for days following a high-calorie party. Choose either breakfast, lunch, or dinner and swap your plate for this refreshing Greens-in-a-Glass detox drink. It packs in nearly 3 cups of produce, including a generous amount of nutrient-rich spinach – hello vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants! The smoothie provides 5 grams of hunger-curbing fiber, and all those potassium-packed veggies help flush out extra salt that may have you feeling bloated. Many commercial green juices are carb-heavy and skimp on protein, but not this one, thanks to the addition of plain Greek yogurt.
Eating salty foods causes you to retain water, since your body holds on to more H2O to dilute the extra sodium. The end result: you feel puffy and bloated, which is the last thing you need post-cocktails and cookies. For the next few days, be extra conscientious about skipping the saltiest offenders like deli meat, soup, canned foods, cheese, and salt-laden condiments, and avoid using the salt shaker completely. Opt instead for naturally low–sodium foods like fresh vegetables and fruit, yogurt, and unsalted nuts and seeds to satisfy your hunger and slim your stomach.
Proper hydration is always essential, but it’s especially so after a night of indulgence. Drinking ample amounts of plain water helps to flush excess salt and fluid out of your system, aids in digestion, and help you deflate the puffiness caused by yesterday’s food extravaganza. Plus, if you’re regretting those last few cocktails from the previous night, re-hydrating your body will help you recover from a hangover more quickly. Aim to drink at least two 8-ounce cups of plain water before every meal to ensure you’re hydrated. When it comes to water, the more the better, so sip away!
A big dinner or cocktail party may leave you feeling hazy and lethargic – far from motivated to roll out of bed and hit the gym. But exercise, especially cardio, is the best way to press the reset button after a night of splurging. Start your day with a brisk 45-minute walk. You’ll sweat off the uncomfortable bloat and release mood-boosting endorphins, so you’ll be in the right frame of mind to make healthy food choices the rest of the day (preventing a one-day splurge from turning into a one-week splurge!).