Published on January 16, 2019

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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

It’s a New Year but the same, wonderful you—perhaps with a renewed focus on eating well. While there is a long list of buzzy diets and meal plans dominating resolutions in January, one science-backed detox is getting a lot of attention: the “big five.” The focus of this plan is to remove or reduce the consumption of gluten, dairy, sugar, meat, and alcohol. It might seem hard to imagine not starting your day with a cup of coffee and a pastry or a midday sugary treat or even a dinner without meat and your favorite sugary cocktail, but there is evidence to suggest these five culprits can cause a string of health issues.

You don’t need to go all-out to reap the benefits, though. While it’s admirable to remove the “big five” from your daily life for an extended period of time, reducing your consumption can have enviable benefits, too—think glowing skin, sustained energy, and better sleep. Here’s exactly what happens to your body when you reduce or remove gluten, dairy, sugar, meat, and alcohol from your diet.

After One Night

The first few days can be associated with mood swings, mental fog, and sleepiness. It’s possible you might even feel moments of dizziness, headaches, and lightheadedness. But stick with it—the benefits are about to kick in. Immediately you should notice fewer cravings when you consume more wholesome, eat-the-rainbow foods. That’s because when you eat empty, unhealthful foods, your body burns up the carbs quicker, making you hungrier quicker.

After a Week

After a few days of eating well, you’ll notice less bloating and higher energy levels. Impressively, even your mental well-being can dramatically improve, including your anxiety and stress levels and overall mental outlook, says a recent study.

Unhealthy foods can also alter your z’s by disrupting your sleep cycle with blood sugar and hunger troubles. So eating well can actually help you sleep more soundly and better.

After a Month

The benefits of removing excessive amounts of sugar, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, and meat from your daily diet are really going to start kicking in now. One superficial benefit is glowing skin, with noticeably less acne. Your metabolism will also speed up, allowing you to burn calories at a higher rate, suggests a recent study.

Also, you’ve passed the 21-day mark, which is said to be how long it takes to establish a habit, meaning you’ll be more likely to stick to a healthier diet, make overall smarter choices, and stop craving unhealthy foods. Healthy eating can become a habit just like drinking your morning coffee—once you manage to make it a habit, it will come naturally.

After Six Months

At this stage, your overall health should improve, including stronger bones and lower blood pressure. You’ll also notice a reduction of water weight and excess bloating. Also, according to the well-known The China Study, your taste buds can change due to your eating habits, meaning you’re more likely to not desire or enjoy consuming certain unhealthy foods anymore.

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