The first weeks of the New Year are the perfect time to hit the reset button on your body—and nothing is more effective for this than a detox.
For some of you, the word “detox” might bring up unpleasant thoughts about deprivation, feeling sick, or drinking strange concoctions that make you visit the bathroom more often than you’d like. But the truth is, detoxing doesn’t have to be miserable.
In fact, you can detox effectively while still enjoying great energy and plenty of delicious, healthy foods.
Getting Back to Basics
Detox programs are everywhere these days (and let’s just say that not all are created equal). It’s easy to get confused and think you have to follow some strict formula that disrupts your entire life, but my detox protocol brings you back to basics.
Here are the main guidelines:
1. Eliminate red meat, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, sugar, and gluten from your diet
2. Take a few helpful supplements
3. Drink plenty of water
4. Engage in light exercise
Simple enough, right? Of course, there’s a little more to the story. For instance, on a shorter detox, you’ll replace more meals with a protein shake or smoothie, while on a longer detox, more solid food is OK.
Ready to learn more? Read on for my list of the do’s and don’ts of detoxing. By following these simple guidelines, anyone can enjoy a smooth, and even enjoyable, cleansing experience.
…Transition slowly. For most people, eliminating entire food groups can feel quite restrictive. Worse, quitting addictive substances like sugar or caffeine “cold turkey” can result in unpleasant side effects like headaches or irritability. To avoid side-effects or feeling deprived, I recommend you start weaning yourself off of the detox-restricted foods I mentioned above before you start your cleanse.
A week prior to the start of your detox date, begin with small changes, like having a half-cup of coffee instead of a whole mug, or replacing that glass of wine with a cup of tea in the evenings. These little adjustments will help minimize withdrawals and mentally prepare you for the main event.
…Prepare. A significant part of having a successful detox comes down to preparation. This means stocking your kitchen with the right foods, having a blender, planning out your meals and snacks, and perhaps even rearranging your social life a little so you’re not faced with too many temptations.
…Supplement. Your body is an intelligent system that can eliminate toxins on its own, but assisting it with the right supplements will deliver even better results. During Dr. Sara’s Detox Challenge, we use a non-dairy/non-whey Hormone Balancing protein powder for shakes, a soluble fiber blend, and specially crafted detox supplement packets (which you can order as a kit at a significant discount when you sign up for my Detox Challenge). Other supplements I recommend include a high-quality multivitamin, omega-3s and probiotics.
…Exercise. Contrary to what many people think, exercise during a detox can be a good thing. Light exercise like walking, gentle swimming, or yoga will help your body eliminate toxins more effectively. Just don’t overdo it – aim for around 30 minutes per day.
…Hydrate. Drinking water is so important during a detox, as it literally flushes out the impurities. Aim to drink at least 2.2 liters per day for women, and at least 3 liters per day for men. Water will also help to curb your hunger cravings.
…Relax and reflect. Doing a detox can be a powerful time to reflect, go inward, and rest. While you may still need to go about your busy schedule, be gentle with yourself. If possible, make more time for sleep and self-care.
…Be afraid to snack. Cleansing does involve eating less, but it doesn’t mean you need to go hungry. If you find your energy lagging, snack on something healthy, like raw vegetables and hummus or a small handful of almonds.
…Sabotage with cheat days. Doing a detox doesn’t mean you’ll never eat sweets or drink wine again, but indulging in the restricted foods means you’re not truly giving your body a fair chance to cleanse. At the same time, don’t….
…Quit if you slip. One cookie or cup of coffee isn’t going to completely negate your efforts. This doesn’t mean you should indulge – just that it’s OK if you do. Get back on track with your next snack or meal.
…Gauge success by the number on your scale. You probably will lose a few pounds during a detox, but try to measure your success more by how you feel. Do you have more energy? Is your skin glowing? Have your sugar cravings subsided? If you can answer “yes” to questions like these at the end of a detox, then you can truly know that you’ve been successful.
Generally speaking, a cleanse should feel good, with perhaps a few minor side effects (we call this a healing crisis – when your body temporarily feels bad because it’s working hard to repair damage). Once you get past the first couple of days, you should feel lighter, less hungry, and more vibrant, energized, and focused.
If you want support on your cleansing journey, I’m offering a guided detox program that starts in September – but you must sign up by September 7 at 11:59pm Pacific to join! Want to do it on your own time? You can also pick up my Detox Kit, which has all the supplements we use in Dr. Sara’s Detox Challenge.
Will you be doing a detox in 2014? Have you had successes or challenges with cleansing in the past? Share your experiences in the comments!