The One-Day Cleanse Jessica Alba's Nutritionist Recommends To All Her Clients During The Holiday Season
Remember when Thanksgiving was one day? Nowadays with "Friendsgivings" and fridges full of leftovers, it’s a long weekend of sugar-sweetened potatoes, puff pastry, and pie that can increase cravings and derail healthy eating for weeks (not to mention the feast marks the inevitable beginning of holiday party season). Unfortunately, the damage goes deeper than just increased cravings. Overdoing the starch and sugar can elevate baseline fasting blood sugar for days after the weekend’s festivities.
Risks of elevated blood glucose.
Elevated fasting blood glucose is linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome, and pre-diabetes along with elevated triglycerides and cholesterol. But you don’t even need to hit pre-diabetic glucose numbers (100 and 126 mg/dl.) to put yourself at risk. A review of all of the pre-diabetic and diabetic scientific research confirmed that even elevated blood sugar in the normal range puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, dementia, and cancer. The normal fasting glucose range is considered 80 to 100 mg/dl., but the risks start as low as 90mg/dl.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to mitigate your blood sugar response. Use these tips today or throughout the holiday season to get a mini-boost of health and hormone balancing.
Wake up and hydrate.
Wake up and drink two large glasses of water to help flush out your system and lower blood glucose levels. It's especially important if you have been drinking alcohol and might be dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated, the volume of blood decreases, and the blood glucose remains the same, meaning you have more concentrated blood sugar. Drinking water (I recommend 10 glasses a day post-holiday) can increase blood volume and decrease glucose concentration.
Move your body!
Start your Monday morning with a fasted workout to help bring glucose levels down. Intermittent fasting can be a great way to mitigate your hormonal responses throughout the season (without giving up on indulgences), and adding in a workout increases the benefits (if you want help figuring out the best type of intermittent fasting for your body, check out this piece). Pick your favorite workout and get moving to burn up stored glycogen in your muscles and bring down elevated blood glucose. No need to HIIT your way back into balance (a gentle yoga flow is fine), but movement is mandatory to burn up elevated glucose.
Sip yourself back into balance!
Opt to shut down lingering cravings post-holiday with a protein-, fat-, and fiber-based green smoothie! Protein, fat, and fiber all support blood sugar balance by slowing the absorption rate of glucose and form the basis of my Fab 4, which I talk about in my book Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself From Food Drama Forever.
Unfortunately, one of the side effects of high blood glucose is increased hunger, so a protein-, fat-, and fiber-based meal can not only lower cravings but also satisfies cravings by calming over eight hunger hormones in the body.
Don't blend up a smoothie loaded with fruit and dates along with the protein, or you will be defeating the purpose of it. The goal is to go low-sugar and low-starch to bring elevated glucose down.
- ¼ avocado
- 2 tablespoons chia or flaxseeds
- 1 small Persian cucumber
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1 lemon, freshly juiced
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 2 cups unsweetened nut milk
Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Looking to use leftovers? Roasted carrots can easily be added to a carrot cake smoothie recipe.
Carrot Cake Smoothie
- 1 serving vanilla protein
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons walnut or almond butter
- 1 cup chopped carrots (raw or roasted)
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- Handful spinach (optional)
Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Enjoy the nonstarchy leftovers.
Avoid the starchy leftovers after the weekend. Opt to enjoy only the protein and nonstarchy vegetable leftovers by making an Italian Turkey Chop Salad. You can easily repurpose the leftovers in a fresh new way by focusing on the Thanksgiving dishes that bring phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals! By Monday, you shouldn’t still be munching on pie or potatoes, especially with your fasting blood glucose in mind.
Thanksgiving Leftover Chop Salad
- 4 heads iceberg lettuce, chopped
- 4 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped
- 4 cups spinach, chopped
- 2 cup radicchio, cored and chopped
- 3 cups turkey, chopped fine (extra bird!)
- 1 celery rib, thinly sliced (hopefully leftover from stuffing!)
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables (Brussels sprouts, carrots, etc.)
- ½ cup pitted green or kalamata olives
- 8 pepperoncini peppers
- 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
Ingredients, Salad Dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, gently toss together salad ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients together and then drizzle dressing over salad.
Challenge your squad to clean it up!
Coming down from the sugar high of the holidays can be hard. Team up with a few friends to commit to a few workouts this week. Committing to meet up with a friend will increase your chance of getting to the gym. You might not be big on meal prep, but today is the day to get serious. Either meal prep no-sugar and low-carbohydrate meals for the rest of the week, or simply plan your takeout meals so you don’t get caught extra hungry and emotionally order the lasagna. Opt for super-fresh and vegetable-heavy meals that include protein, fat, and fiber like Thai lettuce cups or soup and salad.
Kelly LeVeque is a holistic nutritionist, wellness expert, and celebrity health coach based in Los Angeles, California. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and completed her postgraduate clinical nutrition education through UCLA and UC Berkeley. Be Well By Kelly grew out of LeVeque's lifelong passion for health, the science of nutrition and overall wellness. Guided by a practical and always optimistic approach, she helps clients improve their health, achieve their goals and develop sustainable habits to live a healthy and balanced life. She parlayed her passion for health, wellness, and nutrition into her first book, Body Love (Harper Collins) published June 2017.
LeVeque is passionate about the science of human nutrition. Driven by the desire to help her clients, and her own intellectual curiosity, she studies the latest research, evaluates competing theories and reads everything. Most importantly, she uses that knowledge to make individualized recommendations for her clients. She also loves to cook. LeVeque believes in real food, real ingredients and a clean diet. The Be Well kitchen is constantly buzzing, and loves creating tasty, clean, nutrient-dense recipes and dishes.
Before starting her consulting business, LeVeque worked in the medical field for Fortune 500 companies like J&J, Stryker, and Hologic, eventually moving into personalized medicine, offering tumor gene mapping and molecular subtyping to oncologists. She is a regular contributor for numerous health, wellness and lifestyle publications. LeVeque rounded out her education with a number of other certifications including being certified as a Health Coach through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, her RYT-200 training though the American Yoga School, and NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT)® certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.