Every January, many people attempt a “detox” or “cleanse” to lose the holiday weight or just kick off the year with healthy habits. These fad diet plans, however, tend to be a bit inundating. Drinking only juice, for example, requires extreme self-discipline. And even after you’ve completed a grueling detox program, those days of deprivation may cause you to boomerang right back into eating processed, packaged, bad-for-you foods. New research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that low-calorie diets may lead to binge-eating, which is not the way to lose those extra pounds.

Researchers at Loughborough University studied healthy, college-aged women on a calorie-restricted diet and discovered that they ate an additional 300 calories, on average, at dinner compared to the control group, who ate three standard meals. The reason for consuming more may be because they had higher levels of ghrelin (a hormone that makes you feel hungry), and lower levels of peptide YY (a hormone that suppresses appetite). Odds are, if you’re feeling ravenous, you will go hog wild when it’s finally time to chow down.


Related: Is Your Relationship with Food Actually Harmful?


Another study published in Cognitive Neuroscience examined the brains of chronic dieters, and found that those with higher body fat percentages had a weaker connection between two areas in the brain: the part that manages executive control, and the reward region. They concluded that it may be harder for people to override temptations, making them at a greater risk of becoming obese. Some other studies, however, have shown that you can develop greater self-control through practice. Willpower, like any form of strength, must be developed over time. But rather than put all your efforts in your willpower to get healthy, consider focusing on a nutrition strategy designed to help you “reset.”

A reset is a new beginning—one that gets your digestive system and your body’s “clearing house” (the liver) in tip-top shape. Your liver is your body’s largest solid organ, and it’s chiefly responsible for eliminating toxins that can pollute your system and erode your health and well-being. All day, every day, food, stress, pollutants, and other toxins accumulate in your body. Although your liver is built to handle this, sometimes it gets behind schedule (like when you eat too much junk food or are under extreme stress), which causes inflammation in our body. This inflammation puts a strain on your metabolism and leads to weight gain, especially around your belly. The best way to reduce the inflammation and help your liver function at its best is to give the digestive tract a bit of a vacation—like this five-day reset.

The good news about this meal plan is that it’s just five days long. It won’t leave you hungry, and it will set you up to continue eating right because it helps reset your tastebuds, too. When you enjoy fresh vegetables seasoned with spices and herbs, you learn to appreciate their flavors more and no longer desire as much excessive sugar or salt. The meals in this plan also leave you feeling lighter, yet still satisfied, so you feel energized and not in a food coma. Many people who have tried this reset also say they feel less stressed. One remarkable thing about the body is that as our digestion rests and relaxes, so does our mind. During these five days, I recommend you try meditation, too. Here are a few guided meditations to get started.

This five-day reset plan below includes lots of fresh vegetables―full of the vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and polyphenols your body needs to perform at its best. Choose organic produce when possible to avoid harmful herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides. Also, be sure to drink water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated and curb cravings. We often confuse dehydration with hunger, so drinking more H2O may help keep you out of the kitchen at odd hours. You can flavor your water with fresh lemon juice and also enjoy lemon balm, green, and oolong tea as often as you’d like it. If you feel like noshing between meals, be sure to add light, easily digested proteins to help keep you fuller for longer. Soft-boiled eggs, poached chicken and fish, or cooked lentils are good options. Try not to eat too much at any one time, however, because the goal of this reset is to clear out your digestive system.

DAY 1

Blended Vegetable Soup

Start to reset by enjoying a blended soup of zucchini, parsley, celery, green beans, and any green leafy vegetables you enjoy three to four times a day. This simple soup, called Bieler’s soup after the doctor who created the recipe, is incredibly nourishing. Unlike juicing, which removes fiber, blending lightly steamed vegetables retains the fiber, so you feel fuller longer. Fiber also keeps your digestive track running smoothly. Between meals, snack on bone broth or, if you’re feeling hungry, more Bieler’s soup.

Ingredients

3 medium zucchini, sliced
1 handful (1/3 pound) green beans, ends trimmed
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch parsley, tough stems removed
2 cups water
1-2 teaspoons olive oil or 1/2 teaspoon grass-fed butter
Himalayan or preferred salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Spices: granulated garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and/or cayenne (optional)

Directions

1. Place the vegetables and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Skim any foam on the surface.
2. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Puree soup in the pot with a handheld blender or in standalone blender in batches.
4. Serve with olive oil or butter, salt, pepper, and spices to taste.

Yield

2-4 servings

DAY 2

Mixed Steamed Vegetables

Use your bone broth and blended vegetable soup as snacks, and begin eating meals of steamed vegetables, such as zucchini, broccoli, onion, cauliflower, and leafy greens—pick your favorites. Lightly steaming vegetables helps retain their nutrients and is easy and fast. Serve your vegetables drizzled with olive oil to taste. Healthy fats helps you absorb more vitamins and minerals from the vegetables.

Ingredients

1+ cups mixed vegetables, chopped
1-2 teaspoon(s) olive oil
Himalayan salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Spices of choosing (optional)

Directions

1. Steam vegetables for about 5 to 8 minutes, until soft.
2. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with seasonings to taste.

Yield

1 serving

DAY 3

Lemony Fish

Add lighter proteins such as steamed, poached chicken breast or cold-water white fish or wild salmon to your steamed vegetables and continue with the same snacks. The protein will help you feel more satisfied and is essential for maintaining muscle, which helps you burn more calories. Season your protein with herbs and spices for a boost of flavor as well as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. I like AllRecipes.com’s take on Lemony Steamed Fish (make it tonight!).

DAY 4

Quinoa Pilaf

Today, you can repeat Day 3’s meals, or enjoy complex carbs such as quinoa, organic brown rice, or wild rice as part of your evening meal. Complex carbs have more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than refined carbohydrates such as sugar, white pasta, and white bread.

Close-up of healthy quinoa salad with goat cheese, olives, goat cheese dressed with olive oil on desk in office.

Ingredients

1/4 cup quinoa
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
Himalayan salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Herbs and spices of choosing (optional)

Directions

1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions.
2. Drizzle with olive oil and add seasonings to taste.
3. Serve with your protein and steamed vegetables of choice.

Yield

1 serving

DAY 5

Colorful Salad

Start today’s his meal plan with the blended vegetable soup and hot tea for breakfast. Follow this up, with soup or salad and a two- to four-ounce grilled, steamed, or poached chicken or fish for lunch and dinner. To switch things up at the end of the day, swap out the last meal for quinoa and steamed vegetables. Snack on bone broth when you feel hungry between meals.

Ingredients

Mixed lettuce (the more color, the more nutrition)
Any raw vegetables you enjoy
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Herbs and spices
2-4 ounce chicken or fish, grilled, steamed or poached (optional)

Directions

1. Combine lettuce and vegetables.
2. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs and spices to taste.

Yield

1 serving

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