CookingLight diet CookingLight diet
Rebecca Longshore
November 01, 2016

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Whether it’s a holiday, birthday celebration, those game day snacks (beer), or just a seriously indulgent weekend filled with pizza, booze, and brunch, sometimes you just feel like you need a “reset button” to kick your balanced, healthy eating habits back into gear. And while those detox cleanses filled with magic weight-loss elixirs sound all nice and dandy when you're reading about them,once put into practice, they typically end in a 4 o’clock binge-fest at the vending machine or hanger (hunger-inspired anger) so intense, you can’t even. Ugh.

Instead of shelling out a ridiculous amount of money on a juice cleanse, save a few bucks, get a strategy in place, prep ahead, and set yourself up for success with a simple and healthy meal plan.

While I’m not a registered dietician, and don’t claim to be some kind of pseudo-nutritionist, meal planning and helping my friends and family live healthy on a budget is a huge passion of mine. Some might even call my zeal for always being prepared with a healthy snack on hand obsessive. I call it balance. I know it sounds redundant and cliche and all the jazz, but balance might actually be the most important  word I can think  when it comes to a healthy diet. Because life happens, and you need those moments of joy in your life where you splurge and feel 100% great about it, but those moments shouldn’t lead you into a routine that leaves you feeling cruddy. 

What follows is the loose game plan I personally follow to hit that reset button after celebrations like Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc. Keep it simple this week, reset, and kick your metabolism back into gear with a post-holiday (apply it to any holiday or indulgent occasion) detox plan. 

Breakfast

Wake up your body with a huge glass of water. Add a few lemon slices, if you want as well. Get going with a workout. Before you do though, sip on some coffee, and eat a small snack like a ½ cup of Greek yogurt, a spoonful of nut butter, or a handful of mixed nuts to help give your body a boost before you exercise.

Eat a protein-packed breakfast to help fuel your body for the day, and get your metabolism going full speed ahead. While there is plenty of debate within the nutrition world about whether or not you should or shouldn’t eat breakfast, I find that when I skip it, I make poor decisions later on. This girl is hungry in the morning.

Here are some great protein-packed options for breakfast throughout the week:

Fresh Herb Omelet + coffee + sautéed spinach

Peanut Butter Blueberry Smoothie: ½ cup frozen blueberries + ½ frozen banana (sliced) + 1 cup fresh spinach + 2 tablespoons peanut butter powder + 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

½ cup 2 % Greek yogurt + ½ cup fresh or frozen berries

Snacks: Not everyone needs a snack. But I am a firm believer in eating smaller meals throughout the day including 2 healthy snacks.

Ideas to help keep you satisfied until lunch:

Apple + Almond ButterVeggies (like packable/portable carrot & celery sticks) + HummusRoasted Almonds/ Mixed Nuts (I like Trader Joe’s Just A Handful of Roasted Unsalted Almonds) + 1/2 Grapefruit

Lunch

I am a huge advocate of preparing my lunches on Sundays. Doing so saves me money, time, and frankly, calories, during the week ahead. It also keeps me from munching on junk around the office. Now, I am the type who's 100% okay with eating the same thing every single day at lunch, which is typically a Greek salad with chicken or roasted turkey. But I understand that everyone doesn’t necessarily like to eat that way, so here are some other options.

Protein-packed lunches:Chicken Gyro Bowls: This is one of the best make-ahead salads that you can eat on all week. It feels like a meal that you'd order eating out, but is lighter all-around, and packed with protein.

Herbed Greek Chicken Salad: You can make this recipe even easier by buying a rotisserie chicken at the store, or using canned tuna, roasted turkey from the deli, or hard-boiled eggs as your protein source. You can also take the same flavor profile in a creamy direction with this Greek-Style Chicken Salad.

Packable Power Salads: This recipe says it all in the name—it's powerful. It offers healthy fats, whole-grains, and protein. Swap out the berries for fresh apple or pear slices during the fall and winter months.

Dinner

Here’s a game plan for the week filled with 5 easy dinners. Feel free to mix and match, and tweak any of these options to your tastes.  

Monday: Eggs in Purgatory over Spaghetti SquashMake this a low-carb, high-fiber dinner by eliminating the cheese toast and serving over spaghetti squash. 

Tuesday: Chicken Stir-FryThis chicken stir-fry calls for rotisserie chicken for a faster weeknight dinner, but you can make your own as well. See more Stir-Fry Recipes Under 300 Calories for even more dinner ideas.

Wednesday: Slow-Cooker Beef StewThrow everything in the slow cooker in the morning to come home to an hearty, comforting meal at night. This recipe makes 8 servings, so save some for the next few days, or place in a freezer-friendly zip-top bag to keep on hand during those busy weeks ahead.

Thursday: Easy Cauliflower Fried Rice or Leftover Beef StewIf you've never had cauliflower "fried rice" before, you're going to love this lighter version of the takeout staple. It's surprisingly similar in flavor and texture to fried rice, incredibly satisfying, and a cinch to prepare.

Friday: Sheet Pan SalmonThis recipe calls for green beans and potatoes, but I prefer Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. To make that adjustment, simply add the Brussels sprouts in step 2, and bake with the potatoes. Make sure to cube sweet potatoes and slice the Brussels sprouts in half before baking them. 

Drinks & Sweets: If you are really craving a treat, pour a 4- to 5-ounce glass of red wine and have a piece of dark chocolate. It’s always better to satisfy your sweet tooth with the perfect bite than to consume a bunch of "diet" sweets and drinks. 

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