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Detox diet: Get your eating habits back on track

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With the excess of food and alcohol that it involves, the holiday season can be detrimental to health, beauty and well-being. So January is the perfect time to embark on a detox, which helps to rejuvenate body and mind and eliminate toxins. Improving energy, mood and digestion, aiding weight loss and clearing the skin, a detox is a fabulous way to kickstart your year. An ideal approach is to distribute food intake over the course of the day at three-hourly intervals, so you eat five light 'meals' a day.

These should focus on the cleansing foods listed below and omit the foods from the second list. You should only follow this diet for about three days; never prolong it more than a week because nutritional deficiencies can occur.Choose your foods from:1. Fruit and vegetables: Green vegetables are particularly good, including artichokes, spinach, green beans, chard, lettuce and other salad leaves, but don't forget tomatoes which contain high levels of lycopene. Fruit's a must, too, with pineapple, papaya, oranges, apples, grapes and tangerines high on the list. You can either eat them 'as is' or in juices.2. Carbohydrates with fibre. This includes wholemeal cereals and breads, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, soybeans, etc.3. Vegetable Protein. As there is practically no animal protein in the detox diet, you should include soya, tofu, pulses and legumes.4. Plenty of liquid. Fluids – water, herbal teas and juices – play an important role in cleansing the system, helping to cleanse the kidneys and helping the body eliminate waste.Steer clear of:1. Fatty animal protein: For the three days of the diet, almost all the protein you eat will be vegetable protein; eliminate all fatty animal proteins, including shellfish and oily fish and all dairy products. Milk can be replaced by soy or other cereal 'milk'.2. Butter and other animal fats.3. Refined sugar, white flour, processed and pre-cooked foods.4. Alcohol, caffeine and tobacco

Do moderate exercise and drink about 2 litres of water daily.

Your diet may look something like this:

Day 1:Breakfast: 1 kiwi + small glass soy milk + 1 slice of wholemeal breadMid-morning: 1 appleLunch: Sauteed green beans + lean chicken breast grilled with saladMid-afternoon: 1 soy yogurtDinner: Artichokes + tofuDay 2:Breakfast: Pineapple + 2 soy yoghurtsMid-morning: PapayaLunch: Lentils + saladMid-afternoon: 1 soy yogurtDinner: Spinach omelette (made without the egg yolks) + tomato saladDay 3:Breakfast: 1 orange + small cup soy milk + 2 wholemeal rice cakesMid-morning: 1 soy yogurtLunch: Wholemeal pasta + turkey filletMid-afternoon: 2 tangerinesDinner: Salad + grilled or poached hakeRemember: one of the good things about the detox diet is that it only lasts a few days, so it's worth making an effort not to cheat. It'll help get your body back into good habits and set you off on the right foot for the year ahead.

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