Make Your Cocktails Guilt-Free!

six cocktails on a barWhether you’re getting together with friends to have a few drinks or celebrating the holiday season with a festive cocktail or two, it is possible to have a guilt-free night of fun.

Many drinks are heavy on calories and fat, which isn’t good when you’re trying to maintain healthy eating habits. But instead of just sipping seltzer and missing out on all of the cheer, here are a few simple tricks to keep cocktails from showing up on the scale.

Start with some bubbly

Sorry, not champagne! Instead, start off with a glass of no-calorie seltzer (or still water). The bubbles from the carbonation will give your stomach a full feeling, which helps you slow down and think about your food and drink choices as the night progresses. If you pace myself, you have better control. Plus, it’s no surprise that the calories in cocktails quickly add up, so you can also alternate seltzer between rounds.

Order it with extra rocks

Order your cocktails with extra ice, since melting cubes dilute the drink. This creates more liquid, so you can sip longer without increasing calorie intake. Sometimes it lasts so long, you may not bother with another, which saves calories in the long run.

Think before you drink

Many tend to make a beeline straight for the bar when arriving at the club, bar or party, and then guzzle down the first drink before anyone else has even placed their orders. That way, you’re consuming calories before the night has even began! Instead, start with the seltzer and think about the drink you’d like to order. By the time you’ve thoroughly considered your options, you’re happier with your cocktail choice and can take the time to savor it.

Lose the straw

Many tend to chug down cocktails when you use a straw, which means you’re more likely to refill sooner. Have a drink without a straw and you may be surprised just how much slower you sip (and enjoy) it.

Skip the juice (unless it’s fresh)

Fruit juice is often packed with sugar, so avoid cocktails that contain juice—unless it’s freshly squeezed, which is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. A great example is vodka with seltzer and a small splash of pomegranate juice. This gives the drink lots of flavor and a healthy punch without too many added calories.


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Detox 101: How To Do It The Right Way

five varieties of loose teasYou’re stuffed with appetizers, a hearty main dish and saturated with alcohol. Now what? You probably have new health resolutions to finish or at least start. A great way of renewing the body is doing a little internal, post-holiday cleaning.

Food Overload
Proper digestion is one of the most essential components in living a long and healthy life. Your digestive function is made up of numerous organs all working together to break down, absorb, and process all of the nutrients in the food you eat. Without healthy digestion, you can become malnourished and toxins will build up in your body, leading to degenerative diseases and rapid aging down the road.

Indigestion is caused and made worse by overeating – especially rich, fatty, spicy, acidic foods and alcohol. The following remedies will get your digestion on the right track:

After a large meal, take a 10- to 20-minute stroll. Aside from the proven benefits to your heart, walking is the perfect gentle exercise for promoting digestion and encouraging cleansing of the lymphatic system. Walking helps food move along the digestive tract, improving digestion and absorption. For added benefits, walk while massaging your abdomen with your palms, in a circle around your belly button.

Herbal Tea
Relieve that feeling of fullness with herbal teas that target your digestion: Steep 1 teaspoon each of mint, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, sage and/or basil in a cup of hot water. Drink after each meal to soothe and prevent bloating. Peppermint, chamomile, and ginger tea are other good choices for settling the stomach. Also, look for Chinese herbal formulas for digestive support and cleansing.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is traditionally used to remedy digestive distress, support liver detoxification, normalize digestive juices and reduce intestinal bloating. Mix 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with 12 ounces of warm water, and drink in the morning on empty stomach. Feel free to add a little honey or maple syrup. Lemon water will also help.

Eat Right, Eat Light
These meals will help your body recover from overindulgence:
• Breakfast: Eat oat bran cereal, brown rice, or any other whole grain cereal (as long as it is unbleached and does not contain any added sugar or chemicals). Pair with unflavored soy milk.
• Lunch/Dinner: Eat any combination of beans, brown rice, oat bran, vegetables, organic chicken, turkey or soy-products.
• Super Cleanse Broth: Simmer any combination of the following ingredients for an hour: collards, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, dandelion, Brussels sprouts, daikon radish, watercress, seaweed, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, garlic, leeks, fennel, anise, fresh ginger, and turmeric. Drink 8 ounces twice a day.

Detox Exercise
To aid your digestive system, try this body-mind exercise that was designed by ancient Chinese physicians to help stimulate
the liver and drain the excess toxins from the body:
• Stand with feet shoulder-width apart in front of a wall. Inhale while raising your right leg and exhale while placing your right foot on the ground in front of you between your body and the wall.
• Inhale while raising both arms from the sides until they come together over your head. Exhale while lowering your hands in front of your face. Visualize green light running down your face as your hands move down to your chest.
• Inhale as you move your hands to the right rib cage over your liver. Exhale as you move your arms down your right abdomen and right leg, as if pushing down and out with your hands. Visualize the green light moving the toxins out of the liver, down the liver meridian on the inside right leg, and out the big toe.

Alcohol Overload
The liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body and performs a wide variety of functions. Its most important tasks include the processing of nutrients, the production of bile to help in digestion of food and eliminating wastes, and cleansing the blood of toxins such as drugs, alcohol and other dangerous substances.

The liver has the ability to regenerate itself, but the effects of alcohol eventually wear down the liver. You already know that it’s best to keep your drinking to a minimum for the longevity of your liver and your health, but on that rare occasion when you overindulge, consider these remedies.

Ginger Tea
Ginger is an ancient Chinese remedy to minimize the symptoms of hangovers. Ginger has been found to soothe the digestive lining and balance gastric juices, making it a great remedy for overeating, too. This remedy is even more effective if you drink it in between alcoholic beverages.

Cut a 2-inch piece from fresh ginger root, and thinly slice. Bring three cups of water to boil in a pot. Add the sliced ginger and reduce heat to a simmer. Brew for about five minutes. Then strain out the ginger and sip the tea slowly. You may also add honey to taste.

Drink up!
Umm, water, that is. Though this is hardly a secret remedy for combating a hangover, it bears repeating. Alcohol dehydrates
your system, so drinking plenty of water will help combat some of your unpleasant hangover symptoms, rehydrate your body
and flush out toxins. Drink a few glasses of room temperature, filtered water after a night of holiday extravagance.

Lemon Water
First thing in the morning, drink one lemon squeezed in 12 ounces of warm filtered water. Lemon activates your liver to release toxins and helps to cleanse and move the roughage that stays behind in your intestines. Throughout the day, drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water to flush your system.

Detoxify With Tea
Chinese traditional medicine uses natural substances to help support the healthy functions of your liver, lymphatic system, bowels, urinary tract and skin. Try these herbs in teas to cleanse and prevent a buildup of toxins and wastes in your body:
• Chrysanthemum Flower. Traditionally used to cleanse the liver and neutralize toxins.
• Hawthorn Berry. Used to cleanse the blood of plaque and other toxins.
• Turmeric. Supports the detoxification process in the whole body by increasing bile production and releasing and eliminating toxins. Simply put a tablespoon of the spice in a pot and stir over medium heat for five minutes.
• Milk Thistle. Protects and restores the liver, due to its content of silymarin.
• Dandelion Root. Enhances the flow of bile, relieving liver congestion.