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December is junk food season. Somehow, no matter how hard I try, it just creeps in. Cookies, fudge, pasta, alcohol- you name it.  It just kind of ramps up the whole month to some sort of grand, over the top crescendo of everything. And I, like so many do, give into the great consumption with gusto.

So, every year, once the indulgent hoo-ha of the holiday season is past us, I embark on a “clean up” plan.

It’s not exactly a resolution so much as a get-back-on-track plan. And while my family may grumble for a few days about the implementation of the plan, everyone somehow manages to get on board.

So I thought that as my New Year plans begin, I would share my basic plan with you and see if you care to join in too.

It starts with food.

I may have a new diet plan that I want to try out – like vegan or paleo or keto – but often it’s just getting the junk out. No alcohol, no wheat, no dairy, no sugar.

Simple works best for the more reluctant members of my family.

Focus on whole foods, cooked from scratch, lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats, whole grains. Clean water. Here is a simple plan –

Breakfast usually consists of eggs (boiled) on a bed of greens or a frittata, or steel cut oats sweetened with maple syrup, rice cake with almond butter and honey,

Lunch is a salad with protein or leftovers.

Dinner is homemade soup or stew or stir fry or a lean meat with brown rice or sweet potato and green vegetables (steamed). Make enough for lunch the next day or a meal the next night.

Snacks are fresh fruit, veggie sticks with humus, boiled eggs.

Water or tea to drink. Tea with honey sometimes will help a sweet craving. Apples with cinnamon is a nice after dinner treat.

Exercise is a great addition to the plan: 30-60 minutes / 5 days per week of something that moves your body. Could be dancing, walking, gym time, jumping jacks, yoga. Some kind of movement to get the lymph flowing.

Really, that’s pretty much it. The hardest part is starting. It’s best to plan out your food and shop ahead of time. Set a date to start so you can clean out your cupboards, eat all the old ice cream out of the freezer. Have a last night pizza and beer bonanza.

If you need help with meal ideas go to the library or bookstore and get some good cookbooks and diet plans to follow.

Some foods are addictive, so you can have withdrawal symptoms when you give them up. It takes 2 weeks to really start feeling better, so try and give the plan a month so you reap the benefits.

If you’ve never done anything like this before, maybe start with one thing like eliminating processed food or getting rid of sugar.

It’s surprising how much better I feel when I do this. My energy goes up, my pain levels go down. My skin feels SO SOFT. And my brain is happier.

It’s a great way to set up habits for the year to come. (At least until December rolls around again).

Happy 2024! See you in the produce section!


By Dr. Jennifer Means ND, LAc

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