Detoxing is not just about food and diet. During a detox, physical, emotional and spiritual health are all addressed. A detox programme is a health reset and is focused on healing and regenerating your digestive tract. It will also help to wake up, activate and strengthen the organs that will be involved in detoxifying your body.
Why do a detox?
The purpose of any detox plan is to take the load off the organs that naturally detoxify the body – the liver, kidneys, and bowel, while at the same time supporting and improving their performance. If you want to fast track your health, or give your body a break, you can follow a safe and do-able 7-14 day programme or extend the programme for longer if you wish. Many people start with 2 weeks and extend to 4 weeks.
How does it work?
Eating only whole, clean foods helps retrain your palate so you’re less likely to want those fatty, salty and sugary foods. A ‘detox’ protocol can also remove triggers to eating, which can be useful, especially if you’re habit driven or an emotional or comfort eater. It is a bit like rebooting your computer.
A dietary detox follows the concept of cleansing the body of toxins by eliminating certain foods, loading up on fresh fruit and vegetables, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and rehydrating with plenty of water, for a set time period. Often a detox can result in quick weight loss, improvements in GIT and skin health and increased energy.
What to do
Check your diary and mark a week where you have a clean break from functions or events that might derail your detox, such as weddings, birthdays, or special occasion meals. Some people may experience a ‘cleansing’ reaction in the first few days of detox, including headaches, skin breakouts or loose bowel movements. This can be due to the sudden withdrawal of certain foods, in addition to stimulation of detoxifying organs. These symptoms should subside in 24 to 48 hours.
What to eat while doing your detox
Examples of foods to enjoy
- Fruit: any and all fresh fruit
- Vegetables: any and all fresh vegetables
- Fish: fresh, canned in water or olive oil
- Lean red meat, chicken without the skin (limit to two serves per week)
- Legumes: dried or canned, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Eggs: preferably organic
- Olive oil (preferably extra virgin), coconut oil (unprocessed)
- Nuts: raw unsalted almonds, walnuts, macadamias and cashews
- Seeds: raw unsalted sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Green tea, white tea, weak black tea (decaffeinated)
- Water: from one to three litres of water per day
Examples of foods to avoid
- Alcohol and coffee
- Sugar, honey, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners
- Processed foods
Your practitioner will usually provide a comprehensive food guide to help plan your meals.
Tips while you are on your detox
1. Morning lemon juice: To kick start the digestion and cleanse the system. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a cup of hot water, or a teaspoon or tablespoon (depending on your tolerance) of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water. Drink first thing in the morning before breakfast.
2. Exercise: During detox aim to exercise for one hour daily. And not just any exercise, try something that makes you pant and puff and raise a sweat like a spin cycle, going for a run, walking uphill, hot yoga or boxing. Vigorous exercise increases lymph flow and circulation to help sweat out toxins. However even regular walking is good.
3. Raw foods: Aim to eat more raw foods. Raw foods contain more nutrients and enzymes. Try adding fresh sprouts to a salad daily. This can also be done via juices. Raw vegetables can be served as snacks.
4. Detox the mind: While you’re detoxing the body, clear the clutter from your mind too. Try 15 minutes of meditation per day. Or if meditating isn’t your thing, try belly breathing. Start by placing hands palm down on your lower belly. Breathe in through your nose, counting slowly to 3 or 4 counts. Feel your tummy rise with the breath. Breathe out just as slowly, allowing the belly to drop. Do this for 15 minutes daily. Meditation apps help as well.
5. Drink water: Aim to drink two-three litres of fluid daily. This will help move the lymph and support kidney detoxification. Fresh vegetable juice and herbal detox teas are good too. Or make your own brew by mixing one or a combination of dandelion root and nettle, cleavers, calendula, burdock and red clover. Add one teaspoon of the dried herbs to a cup of boiling water. Steep for five to ten minutes, strain and drink.
6. Body brushing: Doing this daily will support circulation and increase skin detoxification. Using a loofah or natural fibre body brush, brush the skin with firm circular strokes before you step into the shower. Start from the feet and hands, moving up the legs and towards the arms, avoiding the delicate area of throat and face, and any rash or sore spots. Then jump in the shower. Finish your shower with a one-minute burst cold water which brings the blood circulation to the skin.
7. Chew: Aim to chew each mouthful of food 10 to 12 times before swallowing. Bringing mindfulness to mealtimes improves digestion, allowing you to feel a sense of fullness s a need to overeat.
8. Go organic if possible: if you can source good organic fruit and vegetables.
Your detox will involve:
• A Detox Diet- a clean diet guided by a food list of allowed and not allowed foods.
• Nutritional and herbal support for detoxification via powdered supplements suggested by your practitioner.
When you have completed this stage, you can recommence your normal clean diet and supplement protocol.
Discuss doing a detox with your nutritionist or naturopath.