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7 Steps to a Healthy Detox Diet

Forget the juice fasts and the kooky cleanses. Instead, lighten your diet the healthy way by following our simple detox plan.

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Feeling sluggish thse days? You’re not the only one-which is why programs promoting cleansing and detox diet plans do so well this time of year. But you don’t have to do anything crazy to reboot your health. Lighten up with these 7 healthy-and easy!-things you can do to improve your digestion, energy and overall wellness.

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Start the Morning With a Glass of Lemon Water

“Freshly squeezed lemon juice in water can help flush the liver of accumulated toxins and reduce congestion in the gallbladder,” says nutritionist Julie Daniluk, co-host of the TV show Healthy Gourmet. Not only are you hydrating after a long night’s rest, you’re aiding proper organ function, too. “A healthy liver and gallbladder is key to the digestion of fats,” she explains.

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Breathe Deeply for 10 Minutes

We’re all breathing, but some of us could be doing a much more efficient job of it. The benefits of doing so are immense. “Deep breathing through exercise, yoga or meditation helps the lungs to bring in oxygen and flush out carbon dioxide and other impurities,” says Daniluk. “It also helps the mind to focus on eating well and revs up the body’s metabolism so it can digest all the healthy foods you are about to take in.”

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Avoid Processed Foods

Take a seven-day hiatus from all packaged, highly processed foods, which not only tend to lack nutrients, but also contain troublesome added salt, fats, sugars, chemicals and preservatives. That means no refined flours, artificial flavours or sugars, to start with. Drop sodas and sugary drinks, replacing them with water, low-fat milk, and herbal and green teas. Choose fresh meats, fruits and vegetables and whole grains over frozen entrees. If you’re craving a cookie, don’t head to the store. Instead, do what Grandma did. Roll up your sleeves and make a batch.

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Take a Coffee Break

If you’re drinking more than four cups of coffee a day you’re drinking too much. The more caffeine you consume, the more stress you put on the adrenal glands, which help regulate metabolism and blood pressure, says Daniluk. If you can’t trade your morning americano for herbal tea just yet, than slowly reduce your consumption-try substituting caffeinated tea for coffee to ease the transition-and make sure you’re drinking the best-quality coffee available. Really savour that cup, says Vancouver dietitian Patricia Chuey. “Drink it in a mindful way. Don’t just drink it while you’re multitasking at your computer.”

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Switch to Organic Meat and Poultry

Reduce your exposure to antibiotics and the chemicals involved in industrial processing by avoiding most commercially raised meat and poultry and choosing organic, advises Daniluk, who stresses the importance of good protein to build and repair tissues. It’s more expensive, but it’s healthier and as you’ll soon find out, far more flavorful.

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Fill Half Your Plate at Each Meal With Either Fruit or Vegetables

Once you’ve cut out processed foods, you’ll clear a big wide space on your plate for fruits and vegetables. That’s a good thing. Not only are they an excellent source of fibre, which reduces risk of heart disease, they’re easier to digest than a bowl of bran flakes. More importantly, they’ve got more going on, “providing all kinds of vitamins and minerals for vitality,” says Chuey.

Aim to eat seven to 10 servings of vegetables a day, says Daniluk, with an emphasis on leafy greens-kale, bok choy, cabbage, spinach, arugula-and nutrient-dense options such as sweet potato, squash, carrots and cucumbers. Add three to four servings of raw fruits, such as blueberries, apples, papayas and pears.

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Skip Cocktail Hour

Alcohol isn’t just high in calories. When consumed in excess it also puts a strain on the body, particularly the organs of the brain and liver. Give both a break by eliminating alcohol from your diet for one week. If that’s too extreme, Chuey suggests reducing your intake to meet recommended servings: one alcoholic beverage a day for women and two for men. And like coffee, when you do indulge in a drink, make sure it’s a high quality wine or beer.

Do you change your diet in the spring? What do you do and why?