Photo: Greg DuPree

Follow this meal plan to make room in your diet for your favorite holiday indulgences. 

Jamie Vespa, MS, RD
October 24, 2017

As we head into the feasting season, use this pretox as your reset button either before or in between Thanksgiving and Christmas—a way to dial back before and after so you can indulge in that extra cookie or decadent slice of pie.

"Detox" can be an illusive term, often associated with fad diets, supplements, or calorically replete cleanses. But detoxification is a natural human body process carried out by your organs and immune system, and it is best supported by a nutritious diet along with plenty of fluids. 

Related: Cooking Light's 3-Day Pretox Meal Plan

Our pretox is a whole-foods prescription—one that front-loads your system with good-for-you nutrients and ingredients and is devoid of added sugars, to help you feel energized and balanced as you enter the holiday season. Each day of the pretox clocks in at under 1,500 calories (an amount that most people will lose weight on) with delicious, fresh recipes that won't leave you feeling deprived. 

The 5 Pillars of the Cooking Light Pretox

1. Slash Added Sugars

The average American consumes around 17 teaspoons of added sugars (sugars or syrups added to foods or beverages during preparation or processing) every day—that's 270 calories and more than double the amount recommended by the American Heart Association. Eating too much added sugar will not only leave you feeling sluggish; it has been linked to obesity and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. 

2. Let Produce Take Precedence

Move plants to the center of the plate and allow meat, nuts, and whole grains to take supporting roles. Each day of our pretox delivers between 3 and 5 cups of vegetables and 1 1/2 to 3 cups of fruit (experts recommend 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit daily). The extra volume and fiber will help keep you full and satisfied.

3. Choose Whole over Refined Grains

Half of the grains we eat should be whole, says the USDA, but we say go all in. More and more research says that regularly eating whole grains could help protect against cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, including colon cancer. Diversify your grain selection and reap the benefits of fiber, disease-fighting phytosterols, and a slew of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin E, and magnesium. 

4. Focus on Functional Foods 

A functional food is one that delivers benefits beyond basic nutrition and may lower your risk of chronic disease. For example, cold-water fish such as salmon has high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower risk of heart disease and improve brain function. Find salmon along with berries, probiotic-rich yogurt, nuts, and turmeric throughout the pretox, all of which are functional foods.

5. Ditch the Booze

One of the easiest ways to cut calories is to lay off the alcohol; plus, it helps you stay hydrated and keep your head clear. If you're used to a nightcap, try getting a fizzy fix instead from kombucha instead. Although this fermented tea beverage contains trace amounts of alcohol (typically less than 0.5% per serving), it's rich in gut-healthy probtiotics and typically low in sugar.

Reset yourself this holiday season by following our easy 3-Day Pretox Meal Plan and using the helpful Pretox Shopping List