Let's all admit this: The last 18 months have been hard. The last 48 hours have been even more difficult. But it's all over. The election we thought would never end has. Perhaps there's no better time for a hard reset for our bodies, our habits, and our minds than when something we've anticipated so long has finally ended. That bring us to this: Cooking Light's 3-Day Post-Election Cleanse. Start it today, start it tomorrow, or wait until Monday. There's no wrong answer.
Our cleanse is for more than just your food. Yes, we have plenty of fruits, vegetables, and plants. We've planned three meals and snacks. (The meals are entirely from our 3-Day Cleanse.) But we've also built in mind- and soul-clearing activities to help you reconnect to people in your life and make a little time to be less tense, less worried, and less stressed.
Water, water, water. Aim to get at least 64 ounces of hydrating water today. If you were up late over the last few days or had a few too many martinis to take the edge off, your body needs to rehydrate. Read our 9 Easy Ways to Drink More Water, pick a strategy that will work for you, and get to sipping.
No alcohol. I know, I know. It brought you this far, but for the next three days, abstain. Your body needs a chance to reset, so that means no glasses of wine to relax after the kids have gone to bed. We've provided plenty of activities to keep you occupied.
Need to make some substitutions in this eating plan? Read our Substitutions Guide.
Breakfast: Mediterranean Eggs
Lunch: Rosemary Chicken Salad + Quick Spinach Salad + Grapes
Mental Break: Instead of surfing Facebook (and getting angry at all the political posts, pick up a magazine or a notebook. Head outside with your lunch, and take in the brisk fall air while you read and eat.)
Snack: Medium apple or pear with 1 tablespoon peanut or nut butter
Dinner: Grilled or baked salmon + Herbed Quinoa Salad + steamed green beans
Note: Cook extra salmon and quinoa to use for Day 2 Lunch. You may cook quinoa in fat-free, less sodium chicken broth for more flavor.
Mental Break: Go for a walk. You may be tempted to watch more political coverage or surf your social channels, but put the phone down. Invite a neighbor or a family member to go for a walk around your neighborhood. Aim to walk for 1 hour.
Breakfast: Nutty Berry Smoothie
Lunch: Quinoa Salad with Salmon + Grapes
Mental Break: Time for a little retail therapy. Research shows shopping actually makes you feel better, so head out to a local shop to pick up some new workout tights or a cute picture frame for your desk.
Snack: 10 baby carrots and 1/4 cup hummus
Dinner: Grilled or broiled flank steak + cooked brown rice + lemon broccoli
Note: Cook extra brown rice and flank steak to use for Day 3 Dinner.
Mental Break: Declutter. Is it odd to ask you to work in order to rest your brain? No, not when it involves decluttering. Clearing a space of clutter helps you rearrange your mind, reduce stress, and focus better. After the kids have gone to bed or you've cleared the kitchen of your dinner, pick a spot or a room, and get to work. Set yourself a timer, maybe an hour, and get to work. This mental break is for your mental health today and in the future.
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs + mixed fresh fruit + coffee with 2 tablespoons 1% milk
Lunch: Rosemary Chicken Salad + 6 baby carrots, 4 cucumber slices, 1/4 cup hummus + 1 medium apple or pear
Mental Break: Practice a little deep breathing. Sneak away to a private spot, hide out in your car, or don't be ashamed and take your break right in your cube. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Practicing a little deep breathing every day can help you ease tension, refocus, and lower anxiety. If you're new to breathing exercises, watch a YouTube video or download an app that can guide you through exercises.
Snack: Rosemary Popcorn
Dinner: Brown Rice Veggie Bowl with Steak + sautéed spinach
Mental Break: Break a sweat. But don't go back to your normal routine. Instead, try something new. Sign up for a kickboxing class. Try your hand at cycling. Attempt a HIIT workout (we're big fans of Fitness Blender because you can do this from home). Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood, lower anxiety, and act as a natural antidepressant. Go kick your own butt! You'll be feeling so good in no time.
Congratulations! Now that you've successfully reset, return to your typical daily calorie level for weight loss or maintenance. Take with you any new healthy habits you've picked up, and move forward.
Need a few more mental break ideas? We have plenty!
- Crack open a book. Block out 30 minutes each night to read a favorite book, non-fiction preferably. Don't dig into anything that makes you think or concentrate. Read for fun.
- Color. For some people, the key to relaxation is a simple as a coloring book and a pack of pencils. Buy a new book and a sharpen all your pencils. Curl into your couch, and color until your heart is happy.
- Watch some telly. As long as it's not the news or a newsy documentary, anything will work. We'd suggest rewatching a favorite sitcom or drama (Scandal, anyone?). You could even start a new series on Netflix. Just don't watch too long. You don't want to find yourself starting season 2 after midnight. You need to maintain normal sleeping hours.
- Cook. If the kitchen is your happy place, get in there. Find some fun recipes you can make for yourself, or recipes you can make with your family. Shut off your phones, the television, and any other distractions. Just spend time together, and create something delicious.