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We’ve all been in that dark place. You know, the place where everything about your lifestyle is anti-wellness. Your eyes are bleary from not sleeping well and your hands are shaky from trying to combat that with too much caffeine, your belly is bloated and your fingers puffy from products that are called “food” but really resemble chemical concoctions.
You’re stressed out, but can’t seem to find the time to meditate and your new workout wear still has the tags on it. You’re tired. Actually, you’re exhausted from feeling so yucky. You may need to lose a few pounds, but more than that, you need to re-group.
You need a fresh start. Let’s press the reset button on your mind and body for a little health and wellness makeover.
Since I'm a registered dietitian, you may not think I’ve been here, but I promise you, I’ve seen this dark place more than once and I regularly help clients find their way out of here.
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By focusing on a few reset foods, you’ll up your energy, reduce bloat, reduce inflammation, up your immune system, improve the glow of your skin, reduce stress and even shed a few pounds while resetting your body with a new framework for health.
Whole, real foods (including healthy fats, lean proteins, unprocessed complex carbohydrates, green veggies, herbs and spices among others) will work their natural magic to help reset your body.
1. Sweet potato
My all time favorite way to eat complex carbohydrates! Sweet potatoes come straight from the ground, are unprocessed, have 90 calories and slightly more fiber (3 grams) than a regular white potato.
It’s a food packed with beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is needed for healthy eyes and skin. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that fights skin cell damage and plays a role in skin cell turnover. Go meatless and have a baked sweet potato topped with nuts and seeds and sauteed broccoli for lunch.
When your goal is to reset your body, you must focus on your gut. Your microbiome, the name for the trillions of bacteria living in your gut, needs some serious attention because research is now linking it to not only your gut health, but also to mood, immunity and even weight. Your microbiome is made up of good and bad bacteria and it’s your job to make sure you’re loading it up with the good guys, like kefir.
One study linked kefir to everything from helping control blood sugar to boosting the immune system, all through regular consumption. Kefir is full of probiotics, good bacteria that can be naturally found in fermented foods — it actually has about 15 to 20 times more probiotics than yogurt. Swap out that almond milk for kefir in a morning smoothie or make some overnight oats using it instead of yogurt.
I can’t talk about probiotics without talking about prebiotics. Prebiotics are the fuel that feeds probiotics. Yes, asparagus may make your pee smell, but it just may be worth it. It’s low in calories, high in nutrients and is one of the foods highest in certain fibers (prebiotics) that fuel the good bacteria in your GI tract. Steamed asparagus with lemon and pepper makes the perfect reset side dish.
4. Red and green leaf romaine lettuce
Green veggies should be part of your reset diet and meal plan for life. I always recommend my clients eat greens at least twice a day. Green veggies offer a powerful dose of fiber, vitamins and minerals including antioxidants and phytochemicals, which have been shown to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and may help reduce the risk of cancer.
The carotenoids in leafy greens act as antioxidants, slowing free radical damage. Greens are also loaded with water and fiber volume so they help to keep you full. Add greens to an egg scramble or a morning smoothie, or to your lunchtime soup or sandwich, if salad isn’t your thing and begin dinner with a simple mixed green salad with lemon and vinegar dressing.
Fennel is an excellent flushing out food because of its ability to act as a diuretic. It’s loaded with vitamin C (to help fight cancer and increase collagen production) and fiber (to promote good digestion and keep you full) and it’s licorice-esque taste adds variety to your healthy dinner table. Simply roast the whole bulb and add it to salads or eat on the side.
6. Wild salmon or sardines
Protein is essential to any reset diet. Protein keeps you satisfied so you don’t go diving into that bag of gummy bears or wolfing down three slices of pizza before you even decide what to eat for lunch.
Salmon and sardines are two of my favorite ways to get protein in because of their high amounts of omega 3s. Omega 3s have been linked to improved cardiovascular function and also act as anti-inflammatory agents. Make salmon your go-to dinner option, and try sardines on high-fiber crackers for a seriously yummy and satisfying snack.
7. Pecans, walnuts and almonds
Pecans are the highest antioxidant nut, walnuts are loaded with omega 3s and almonds have calcium, making these three my favorite nuts. Nut consumption has also been linked with lower body weight and reducing the risk of weight gain. Add nuts to oats in the morning, top a spinach salad or even crust a piece of fish. Say goodbye to the pretzels.
All herbs and spices are powerful re-setting tools. They are low in calories, high in flavor (so you can avoid the salt shaker and sugar) and packed with antioxidants and antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents. Cinnamon alone has been linked to being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer, lipid-lowering, and cardiovascular-disease-lowering compound. Other faves include oregano, rosemary and cayenne. Make it your habit to add a sprinkle of one somethin’ to every, yes every, meal.