I’ve done numerous detoxes in my wellness journey, and my main desire in this article is to express to you my own experience, what I’ve learned, what I’ve loved and not loved, and what I believe are the top tips for starting a detox of your own with ease and enjoyment.
There are many different types of detoxes out there – raw foods, just liquids, the lemonade detox, smoothies, soups, and any combinations of these. There are also just pure whole food detoxes, where the person just consumes whole food in their natural state, cooked or uncooked, but can contain fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains. All of these are great, but when you are already eating whole foods (cooked or raw) it helps to take it to the next level, about twice a year (spring and fall) for some added cleansing.
My journey with detoxing started a few years ago when I suffered from extreme seasonal allergies, for 6 weeks in fact. This was before I knew this was wrong, but I was so desperate that I was combining over-the counter allergy medication such as Claritin and Allegra and nothing was working. I was rubbing my itchy eyes so much that I gave myself an eye infection, and was unable to wear my contacts. I was absolutely miserable. I did the first version of the detox below (fruit/veggie) and my allergies were gone in 3 days. And that’s when my raw food journey began. Many, many pounds ago :)
The most important aspects of doing a detox are how you start and how you end. Read that again, please. You want everything to be gradual. So, eating a standard american diet and then following it with a whole day of raw foods (just fruits/vegetables) will lead you into a desparate affair with detox symptoms such as headaches, weakness, aches, pains, and just general malaise. Not recommended. It's best to transition to a whole foods based diet (just whole recognizeable foods, raw and cooked are both fine) before you take on any detox approach. Some of you may already be eating this way, so transitioning into a detox should be no problem. If you're still eating chicken wings and fries, then we have our work cut out for us (yet still doable - just do whole plant foods for one week prior to starting the detox).
The detoxes that have worked best for me, and my favorite detoxes are the following two types:
VERSION 1: Fruit/Veggie detox
Foods: all the raw fruits and vegetables that you enjoy, until satisfied. This can last 3-5 days.
Weaning out of detox: Slowly after 3-5 days, you can incorporate nuts and seeds and then continue on your way, eating raw foods in their natural state, without many elaborate combinations (I saw this because typically, raw foodies end up eating a lot of raw desserts heavy in nuts, agave, and other things that honestly are too hard for the body to handle, especially in large doses. The best way to eat is “simply” recognizable food).
VERSION 2: Blended detox
Foods: smoothies and soups are blended and therefore offer even more of a break on the body and digestion. With this kind of detox, the smoothies would be fruit/veggie based and the soups would be veggie/avocado based. Please remember to chew even super smooth smoothies.
Weaning out of detox: During the detox, there are no nuts, but you can slowly incorporate them after 3-5 days, just as in the fruit/veggie detox. Also slowly incorporate whole raw foods back into the diet.
BENEFITS: These are the two types of detoxes that have worked the best for me for the following reasons…
I’m still eating whole foods that I can chew, so I don’t feel deprived and they also help me feel satisfied longer.
They are filled with fiber so I feel cleaned out and my BM is normal.
The detox symptoms are much more gradual and tempered than through just juice-cleanses, which might be beneficial if you still have work to do, a life to live, a family to feed, etc. It doesn’t require you to take time off as a juice fast typically would.
Worst offenders (to avoid): Meat of any kind, fish, dairy, sugars, processed foods, salt, gluten, grains, caffeine
Foods that add benefits and help detox process (please include):
Lots of water rich, raw fruits and vegetables in their natural state, minimally processed, and chewed very well (even in a smoothie form). Eat your colors and vary your foods, and truly enjoy what you are eating.
Lots and lots of water to help flush out toxins.
Herbs such as parsley and cilantro, help to remove even more toxins.
Additional techniques that help the detox process:
Dry skin brushing: prior to bathing, this is a technique that really helps to rid the body of excess toxins, old skin, and helps rejuvenate the whole system.
Hot/cold showers: alternating hot and cold showers really helps to flush the lymph system, which for the most part (unless you bounce on a rebounder), doesn’t see much movement. Turn on the hot water in the shower (a safe temperature) until your body becomes used to it. Turn on the cool water in the shower (a safe temperature) until your body gets used to that. Do this a few times and end with cool.
Eat when hungry: just because you’re doing a detox doesn’t mean you have to have hunger pangs. This is a really crucial note, since in order for you to succeed, you must act in partnership with your body, not against it. Just change your choices and make them good choices, but eat when hungry. Alternatively, stop eating when no longer hungry. “No longer hungry” doesn’t mean full or stuffed, but rather satisfied and at peace. One trick is, if you’re no longer hungry, that’s a good time to stop.
Emotions: One of the most important part of detoxing is the emotional component of it. Take some time to write down what you’re feeling, what you’re experiencing and really sit with it. For the most part, yes, you are detoxing your body of chemicals and toxins, but what eventually happens it that your emotions are also stored in your body and they could use some cleaning out as well. Try to find some time for peace, meditation, reflection, and introspection. This is not an isolated event but rather a chance for a new beginning, so it’s helpful to see yourself as a whole being – body and mind – rather than just a body to “clean up” and whip into shape. Be kind, be loving.
Chia: On any of the days, for some extra boost, feel free to include some chia – add it to soups, create your own chia water (2 cups water with 4 tablespoons chia, mixed with a spoon and added to smoothies for a boost of fiber). It helps hydrate you as well as acts as a broom to add in the detoxification of toxins.
I have to make one note here… I eat whole, water-rich foods, complete with fiber, almost 90% organic foods (mostly raw, some cooked), drink only water, and I still experience some detox symptoms when I do these detoxes. These toxins that are released end up coming from the environment, roads, cars, and just plain life in general. When I do these detoxes in the spring and fall, I still notice about 1 or 2 days of headaches, and you might experience additional detox symptoms as well. I feel that eating during your detox (meaning, smoothies or whole raw foods) enables you to detox in a manageable way, where the symptoms are less severe than a regular just juice-detox. Here are some more tips:
Drink your water
Take some time to rest
Make sure you are eating enough…the fiber and water and vitamins will really help you get rid of the toxins and in a matter of days, you’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Exercise a little - sweating helps the detox process. Don't go crazy and run a marathon all of a sudden. Light work such as walking or yoga help.
As a last resort, consider adding in the chia - it will really help aleviate some of the symptoms buy aiding in the release of toxins.
Enjoy the process. Be good to yourself. Smile. Write. Drink. And know you’re blessed with an amazing beautiful machine (your body). Let me know if you need some support, and if you do, I'd be happy to help.