Detox Diet and Cleansing

What is a detox diet? First of all, let's be clear: detoxification is a process your body does naturally. We'll get to the actual diet in a minute. The task of detoxification, in part, is handled by the kidneys, the liver, and the lymphatic system. So why should you do a detox diet if your body detoxes naturally?  Simply put, our miraculous bodies are not designed to withstand the typical, modern lifestyle. Specifically, the stressors we expose ourselves to every day take their toll on the body.

When you think of stressors, maybe the first thing that comes to mind is lack of sleep, too much job and family stress, or eating junk food. You’d be right if you thought of any of these. How about this one: do you know what’s in the water you drink, the stuff that comes out of your faucet? If you drink city water, you can bet there’s fluoride and chlorine in it, and if you drink a lot of water from a plastic bottle, you know you’re ingesting toxins like BPA. There’s a reason why many countries have banned these dangerous chemicals and worked to improve their water supply.

While we’re on the topic of toxins, here are a few other common health stressors:

  • Eating "non-food" (anything in a box, anything with preservatives, fast food)
  • Pesticides on conventional produce
  • Air pollution (such as the exhaust we breathe in when sitting at a stoplight in traffic, or the vapors from new carpeting and paint. Jet fuel residue is found in virtually every American's body!)
  • Cleaning products, most cosmetics and beauty products

The body isn’t able to easily eliminate all these foreign chemicals because our exposure to them occurs practically all day, every day. Too many toxins clog up the self-healing system and eventually lead to disease for many of us. That's why a temporary detox diet is good for everyone.

Before you raise your hands in protest and shout, “I can’t possibly avoid all of this stuff” please know that it’s not hopeless! The body is designed to clean itself of toxins; it just needs a little help from us. Avoiding common diseases is only one of the advantages of cleansing. Healthy Girlfriend advises you to do a detox diet 3-4 times a year for optimal health and disease prevention. We do!

Benefits of the Detox Diet

The good news is, when you do a detox diet, you get to see and feel the benefits of it within days. How does increased energy and clearer skin sound? Those are a couple of side effects you may notice first. Also common are:

  • Reduction or elimination of digestive problems such as bloating, gas, and pain
  • Mental clarity*
  • Emotional balance
  • Recognition and reduction of emotional eating
  • weight loss

You may also drop 2-3 pounds, even on a 3 day cleanse (which is what we recommend for beginners.) Although this is mostly water weight and some fecal weight, a short cleanse is a great way to kick off a weight loss endeavor. Once you're done with the detoxification, continuing to incorporate smoothies, juicing, broth, and salad into your daily meals will reward you with real and sustainable weight loss.

*Another way to help attain mental clarity is to develop a morning routine.

How to do a Short Detox Diet or Cleanse

For people who work Monday-Friday, I recommend starting a cleanse on Friday. If you have an alternatative schedule, begin on the day before you have a couple days off. Adjust as you see fit and don't forget to keep a detox diary. It's helpful to keep track of how you feel before, during, and after your cleanse.  Journaling also helps you prepare for subsequent detoxes.

The first day of the cleanse, drink green smoothies, eat large salads with a little homemade vinaigrette dressing, and aim to drink a quart or more of filtered water. If you have a juicer or access to a juice bar, by all means have some fresh vegetable juice whenever you want. It's important that you don't go hungry on any day of the cleanse, as this could lead to mindless eating and stall the benefits of detoxification. Eat (or drink) when you're hungry. My Detox Diary will give you a day-by-day account of a real cleanse I did, and may answer any questions you have.

On days 2 and 3 (your weekend), try to consume only green smoothies, juices, and water. If you crave something savory, try blending a simple green salad with half an avocado, garlic, and lemon juice instead of olive oil.

Day 4 is a repeat of Day 1. Over the following couple of days, ease back into your regular diet by eating lighter foods rather than heavy meats and fats.

You may experience flu or cold-like symptoms at first. Relax and know that this is the body getting rid of the gunk you have accumulated in your tissues. Drink lots of water to eliminate toxins and get some extra, healing sleep. Also, consider doing a colon cleanse to ease discomfort and accelerate your detox.  If you're too uncomfortable, eat some steamed veggies and drink some extra broth. It will pass and you'll feel good about accomplishing something so good for your body.

When you're done with a cleanse, consider incorporating intermittent fasting to continue detoxing even when you're eating a regular diet.

Check out Dr. Robert Morse, ND. He is the doc who taught me all about detox and got me well. His book, "The Detox Miracle Sourcebook" is the best on the subject.

Detoxification References:

Detox Miracle Sourcebook