Rebalance and nourish your body after 3 days of eating less virtuously with this Monday-through-Thursday guide

By Valerie Berkowitz, R.D.
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Weekends are meant for relaxing-and, for many, relaxing their diets, especially on holiday weekends. With happy hour Friday, a party Saturday, brunch Sunday, and movies, dinners out, errands (hello, drive-through), and more thrown into the mix, even the healthiest eater finds it hard to stay on track.

Unfortunately all that excess-in the form of carbs, fat, salt, sugar, and alcohol-can leave you feeling bloated, tired, hungry, and guilty. So come your first day back to work, give your body what it's craving to help reestablish a healthy equilibrium.

This four-day plan is filled with nourishing foods high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients to offset whatever happened over the weekend. It's not a free pass to go whole-hog on days off, but it will help lessen the impact when you've overdone it.

Every Day

Fluids are key since extra salt, sugar, and alcohol can dehydrate your body. Start the day with a tall glass of water or warm cup of any type of tea, then drink throughout the day, aiming for 64 to 100 ounces to flush out the pollutants from the weekend.

Plan to eat three meals, with lunch four hours after breakfast and dinner between 6 and 7. Focus on nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals since weekend fare tends to be the opposite: high-calorie and low-nutrient.

Have an afternoon snack around 4 p.m. of green drink powder mixed in water or a smoothie. Look for one (such as Greens Plus) containing sea vegetables, probiotics, grasses, and enzymes that will help aid in digestion. You can also have a whole-food snack after dinner if you are hungry.

Take a multivitamin, and at every meal pop a 1,000-milligram omega-3 supplement, which will help reduce the inflammation that can be caused by poor eating. (Talk to your doctor first if you are on any medications since omega-3s may interact with some meds.)

Monday

At each meal, divide your plate so that it's half protein and half non-starchy veggies-carbs are off-limits since most weekend foods are filled with processed carbs.

Sample Menu

Upon waking: 10 ounces warm water with lemon

Breakfast: Eggs with spinach and tomato; 8 ounces green tea

Throughout the morning: 24 ounces water

Lunch: Salmon avocado salad with lemon juice and olive oil; 8 ounces rooibos tea

Afternoon snack: Green drink powder mixed with 16 ounces water

Dinner: Almond-encrusted trout with watercress, asparagus, and yellow bell pepper; 8 ounces iced tea

Night snack: Celery with almond butter; 4 to 8 ounces water

Tuesday

Stay the course with Monday's plan, but loosen up a little and incorporate dairy and fruit to optimize the variety of vitamins, minerals, and protein. High-water, high-fiber fruits such as berries, grapefruit, pears, cantaloupe, olives, and avocado will help clean out your gut and get your digestive system back on course, while dairy contains B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D, all of which you likely skimped on over the weekend. The best options are kefir, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and butter, and organic is the very best. At meals, fill your plate with one-quarter protein, one-quarter fruit, and half non-starchy vegetables.

Sample Menu

Upon waking: 10 ounces green tea

Breakfast: Cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt with blueberries, almonds, and flax or chia seeds; 8 ounces water with orange slice

Throughout the morning: 24 ounces water with cucumber and sage or any combination of herbs

Lunch: Vegetable soup with tuna salad, sliced cucumber, and olives; 8 ounces iced rooibos tea

Afternoon snack: Green drink powder mixed with 16 ounces water

Dinner: Roasted turkey, bell pepper, mushroom, and tomato shish kebab with bok choy and cauliflower mash; 8 ounces water with lemon

Night snack: Carrots and hummus; 4 to 8 ounces water

Wednesday

Today you can add healthy starches, such as legumes, brown rice, and sweet potatoes, at meals, but stick to a half-cup serving size. Your plate should be one-quarter protein, one-quarter starch, and half non-starchy vegetables.

Sample Menu

Upon waking: 10 ounces oolong tea

Breakfast: Smoked salmon with sliced tomato, avocado, and onion; 8 ounces water

Throughout the morning: 24 ounces iced unsweetened raspberry-flavored water

Lunch: Grass-fed beef burger (no bun) with baked sweet potato fries with mustard and side salad; 8 ounces warm water with lemon

Afternoon snack: Green drink powder mixed with 16 ounces water

Dinner: Roasted lemon chicken with broccoli and brown rice; 8 ounces white tea

Night snack: Sunflower seeds and nuts; 4 to 8 ounces water

Thursday

Today should be a "go light" day in preparation for the weekend. If you know you'll be throwing in the towel on healthy eating the next few days, follow Monday's plan (protein and non-starchy vegetables). If your weekend won't be so bad, stick with Tuesday's or Wednesday's guidelines. This will give you the essentials for a head start on balancing out your upcoming unbalanced eating.

Sample Menu

Upon waking: 16 ounces unsweetened flavored water

Breakfast: Peanut butter or guacamole celery boats; 8 ounces herbal tea

Throughout the morning: 24 ounces water with lemon

Lunch: Turkey salad with lentil soup; 8 ounces water

Afternoon snack: Green drink powder mixed with 16 ounces water

Dinner: Halibut with sautéed spinach and baked cinnamon apple; 8 ounces iced tea

Night snack: Greek yogurt with walnuts; 4 to 8 ounces strawberry-flavored water

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