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The holidays can be a time for a nutritional break for many people, indulging in heavy dishes, alcohol and desserts that they other times may not enjoy as frequently. But now, you might be seeing the result of consuming those calories—extra pounds on your body.

We consulted Brittney Utke, Registered Dietician at Camelback Village Health Club, for recommendations on how to do a 10 or 21 day cleanse to refresh your body.

Cleanses can be a good way to get rid of any poor habits, “detox” the body, and kick off a new healthy eating and drinking regimen.

For those of you willing to commit to 21 days, this can be a great way to break bad nutritional habits while creating new ones. Twenty-one days is often used because that’s about how long it takes for your tastes to reset and for a new habit to be started. As your taste buds respond to healthier foods, you’re more likely to stick with these new habits and be able to enjoy balanced blood sugar and freedom from old cravings. In addition, for most people, it takes 21 days to create a habit, and unfortunately as little as one day to break one.

I would suggest only doing this cleanse for 21 days—any longer than that and it is advised that you consult a registered dietitian because you will most likely suffer some deficiencies, and will need to be monitored a bit more closely.

How do you start and what do you focus on to eliminate?

To make things simple you can eliminate these five things over a period of 21 days:

•caffeine;

•alcohol;

•gluten;

•animal products;

• refined sugar.

Simply put, what you are doing in this cleanse is eliminating common craving triggers, which are notorious for creating munchies, nighttime eating, and over-eating, as well as other poor eating habits.

During this cleanse you are giving your body a break from artificial stimulants and depressants, and addictive eating or drinking. By giving your body a break from these things, it can reset itself and get rid of the toxins that build up in your system due to the stimulants. Remember to drink a lot of water during the cleanse to help flush out the toxins.

There are many reasons to give your body a break from the artificial stimulants, caffeine and animal products that your body gets used to eating. Some of the main benefits that people experience when cleansing these five things for 21 days are more energy; clearer skin and eyes; weight loss; cessation of certain aches, pains, and digestive ailments, slight sugar addiction; release from addictive habits; and jump-starting any diet plan.

Once the 10 or 21 days are up, it is beneficial to try and limit the five things you were cleansing from, with the goal of never reintroducing canned fruits or vegetables, and minimizing all processed foods, as well as refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Your body will most likely go through slight withdrawal feelings during the cleanse, but by the end of it you will feel a difference!

Registered Dietitian-Brittney Utke, BS, RD, has a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from Iowa State University. She completed a highly accredited dietetic internship through Iowa State University. During her internship she had rotations in clinical dietetics, community dietetics (WIC Women, Infants, and Children), School Foodservice, and Food Service Management. She earned her Registered Dietitian certification from the American Dietetic Association. Contact her at Camelback Village 602.840.6412.

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