So Christmas is here and hopefully you’ll be having a lot of fun. Come New Year you might want to be shaping up and what better way to do it than a..

21 Day Diet Challenge

This will help you stay on track, look great and feel fantastic no matter how many parties you’ve been attending. And you can start now!

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Rather than make some onerous and strict program, you will work on just one element for three days before adding the next element.

Start this challenge whenever you like!

Remember that you stick with one habit for three days, then you keep going with that habit, and add another, three days later, and so on throughout the challenge.

Days 1-3: Sugar and starch

Sugar and starch are prevalent over Christmas. They are abundant in many festive foods!

Over the first 3 days of the challenge, replace added sugars, hidden sugars and starchy meals, dried fruit and alcoholic mixers with better choices.

Best choices:

– stevia (instead of sugar/agave/honey)

– fresh citrus or pome fruits e.g. apples, pears (instead of dried or tropical fruits)

– starchy vegetables e.g. orange vegetables, cauliflower, spaghetti squash and dried legumes (instead of bread)

– frozen blended berries, mango and coconut water (instead of ice cream)

– plain Greek yoghurt (instead of flavoured yoghurts, sour cream or ice cream)

On these first three days, also start drinking more water, because it aids both digestion and elimination – both important parts of detoxification and weight loss.

Days 4 – 7: Fresh herbs

Many people lack nutrients….but add stress, party food and alcohol and you are burning through the vitamins and minerals, and causing cellular ageing.

Fresh herbs are full of flavor and powerful nutrients.

Enjoying herbs twice per day is an easy way to boost vitamin intake and help counteract the effects of cellular stress and ageing.

On days 4 – 7 of the challenge, work out where you can add at least two handfuls of herbs to each day.

21 day diet challenge_2

Best choices:

– Coriander is a powerful detoxifying herb

– Basil is also detoxifying, and great in pesto!

– Parsley is a blood tonic that’s full of antioxidants.

Days 8 – 10: Protein

Getting enough protein, and regular protein through the day, is an easy way to reduce cravings and overeating. Protein helps you to feel satisfied after a meal, whereas a carb-rich meal might leave you hungry or seeking something sweet an hour later.

On days 8 – 10 of the challenge, add lean proteins to each main meal.

Best choices:

– Fish and seafood (canned fish is an on-the-go convenient meal)

– Eggs (cold boiled eggs are a portable snack)

– Legumes (canned beans make nice salads and dips)

– Lean red meats (including beef, lamb, pork)

– Soy protein (tofu, tempeh)

– Plain soy or whey protein powders (on-the-go meals, breakfast smoothies – choose varieties with no flavours, colours or preservatives).

Dairy foods are not tolerated by some people. For those that can tolerate dairy, Greek yoghurt and/or ricotta cheese are moderate protein foods that could be used at breakfast.

Days 11 – 13: Alcohol

Alcohol is fun over the silly season, but it’s also a metabolic poison. It is also rich in calories.

Your body finds it easy to break down alcohol – possibly at the expense of the carbs, proteins and, lastly, fats that you also consume with the alcohol.

Aim to reduce alcohol over days 11 – 13, with the aim of going ‘cold turkey’ until day 21 if possible, just to give your body a break.

21 day diet challenge_4Best choices:

– Drink plain soda water with lemon

– If you do drink, choose pure white spirits in preference to yeasty, sugary or preservative-rich drinks. Mix with soda and fresh citrus juice instead of soft drinks – and sipBe the designated driver

– Be the designated driver

– Let your friends and family know you are taking a short break from alcohol.

Days 14 – 17: Fats

Heavy, fatty foods are common at parties. But healthy fats are important for healthy skin, cell membranes and for making hormones.

On days 14 – 17, mindfully add 1 -2 tablespoons of healthy fat to each main meal. Avoid saturated fats (baked goods, pastries, fatty meats, fried foods).

You might find some of these healthy fats are actually part of the Christmas snack foods at parties!

21 day diet challenge_3Best choices:

– Avocado

– Olives

– Nuts

– Seeds.

Days 18 – 21: Caffeine

Yes, caffeine is an energy booster that’s full of antioxidants. But it’s also a digestive irritant and a stimulant. And for people who are caffeine sensitive, prone to bloating and/or stressed, caffeine can throw everything out of whack.

In particular, caffeine raises your stress hormones which can set you up for sugar cravings, energy rollercoasters and storing belly fat.

Caffeine is found in coffee (all types), black tea, green tea, white tea, cacao, chocolate, energy drinks and chocolate products.

On days 18 – 21, reduce caffeine intake to one serve per day, or remove completely if you’re willing. You might feel calmer, more relaxed and start sleeping better.

Best caffeine-free alternatives:

– Rooibos tea

– Herbal tea (peppermint, chamomile etc)

– Ecco or Caro (coffee substitutes)

– Dandelion root tea

– Carob

By the end of this 21 day diet challenge, you should be starting to feel human again.

You’ll see an increase in energy, vitality and improved sleep. You might lose a couple of kilos and have softer, brighter skin.

By making incremental change and focusing on one thing at a time, gradually building on the good habits of your first few days, you’ll be on a path to long term change.

Comment below and let us know how you go!

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