If you keep up on health trends like I do, you’ve probably seen a lot of conflicting information about detoxing. Clients and friends often ask whether they really need to detox (“Doesn’t the liver do that?”), and if they should complete a fast or juice cleanse. To clear things up, I thought I’d give you the inside scoop on how a dietitian detoxes. This is also the advice and guidance I’ve given to over 300,000 people who’ve completed my online D.TOX program.
Ease Into Elimination
When most people hear the word detox, they think about deprivation — and although there are foods I take out over the course of 14 days, the way I detox is anything but depriving. What works best is a gentle, nutrition-focused plan that supports the body’s natural detoxification system.
I eliminate foods that cause inflammation in the body: alcohol, caffeine, corn, eggs, dairy, tree nuts, wheat, and gluten. One reason these foods cause inflammation is they’re overused in our food system. Hear me out: I love eggs and there’s nothing wrong with a little alcohol or caffeine. But for a detox to be successful, it’s important to have as little inflammation as possible.
Because taking foods out of the diet can be hard on the mind and body, I like to take a weekend to prepare. Instead of taking every food on the list out at one time, I ease into it. Slow and steady wins this race.
Coffee is the hardest for me. There’s nothing better than having my morning cup (or three), so that’s where I start. The next week I take out the additional foods on the list. That way, it’s not a shock to the system — which also keeps my detox sustainable.
Plan Your Meals
One of the worst things you can do when you start a detox is to not do any planning around your food. Especially if you haven’t done an elimination diet before — don’t just try and wing it.
Instead, utilize some time to first plan out meals for the upcoming week, simply picking ingredients or recipes for the shakes and meals you want to make. Our D.TOX website has tons of recipes to start with, but you also can keep it really simple planning meals by choosing your high protein food and produce.
I honestly pick what looks the best at the store, usually sticking to seasonal produce and keeping it simple with food options of high quality and sustainable meats. Then, I use the D.TOX guide as a reminder for what seasonings and flavors I can add.
And when it comes to my shakes, I most often use water or unsweetened almond milk along with some frozen berries, nut butter, raw spinach, and some extract (like vanilla or almond) to give it a little flavor boost.
When you know, plan, and shop for what you’re going to eat, you’ll be more likely to stick to the program.
Double Your Produce Intake
My goal during a detox is to eat as much produce as possible. I usually double my produce intake, primarily focusing on greens and vegetables. I put cruciferous veggies at the top of my list, which include broccoli and cauliflower because they contain certain nutrients that bind to toxins so they can be excreted, preventing cell damage and also supporting the liver.
Batch Cook One Day Per Week
I shop on Saturdays based on my meal plan and batch prep and cook on Sunday. It’s so motivating to see such lovely colors and meet the farmers. Seeing everything so fresh usually inspires me to try a new veggie or recipe.
Depending on the season, I usually have a few recipes that are D.TOX-friendly that I keep on rotation. I’m a big fan of making stuffed peppers during my spring and summer detoxes. In the winter, I enjoy making chili.
I also like to remind my clients that there are several ways you can actually meal prep or batch cook. When I batch cook, I make one meal that I’ll eat for lunch every day (because I don’t mind it), but it’s easy to change it up, too.
I’m also a big fan of batch cooking and prepping ingredients that I can store in my refrigerator and quickly grab or throw together to make easy and simple meals. I might batch prep a ton of chicken, roast a ton of sweet potatoes, or simply just wash and prep all my produce. Whatever works for you is what you need to focus on, but make sure you are allotting time each week to prep or cook to help you in the week ahead.
Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
Eventually I’ll crave some of the foods and drinks I’ve taken out. If you’ve ever been on a diet or detox, you might relate. When you don’t have something healthy to replace your craving, you may end up with some regrets later. Because I’d rather not, I make sure to prepare cut veggies and hummus, and portion out seeds and berries. I usually do this on Sunday when I’m batch cooking, and it’s a fun project to have my daughter help with.
Drink a Shake For Breakfast
The dietitians at Life Time formulated a detox product and program based upon scientific research and our common nutrition knowledge and experience.
I really love using D.TOX™ shake mix, because along with ample protein, it includes not only everything a multivitamin does, but also botanicals that support the detox process. I have to admit, it’s become my “treat” while detoxing.
I personally don’t change my shakes up too much. I mix them with a little almond milk, and enjoy playing with extracts, such as almond or orange, and add in some of our Life Greens.
Water, Water, and More Water
Water is a tough one for me, and drinking a ton of water is critical to an effective detox.
I usually bring a 24-ounce water bottle to work. I fill it three times, and then I know I’ve had my water for the day. I also have water bottles designated for home, work, and the gym.
Some of my clients mark amounts on their water bottle to track it. I love that idea, too. The first few days of my detox, I’ll actually chug water in the morning to help get me through that coffee craving.
Sleep 8 Hours Every Night
I have to admit this is a habit I’m already in, so it’s not much of a change for me. But I mention it because sleep is critical when the body is undergoing any changes or new stresses. Sleep is essential in the detox process, and it allows our brains to detox and repair as well. I love setting the stage for a good night’s sleep with essential oils, such as lavender, in my diffuser.
I usually start my day with 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of strength training. I work out in a fasted state and drink my shake after. I usually take a Pilates class once a week, but when I’m detoxing, I’ll do Pilates twice and add in a yoga class, too. It’s important to include these restorative exercises during a detox.
Also, I take a dry sauna daily. I have to say, I’m surprised how few people use the sauna, and it’s an amazing way to detox. I just go in with my gym clothes — it feels amazing. I never start a new exercise program or class while detoxing.
Minimize Exposure To Toxins
We talk a lot about what we put into our bodies, but we don’t spend enough time talking about what we put on our bodies or what we are exposed to on a daily basis. One of the main reasons I use our program is to minimize the impact of environmental toxins on my health and body.
I can’t live in a bubble, but I can minimize what I’m exposed to. This is why I stick to organic produce and food as much as possible, and do what I can to purchase toxin-free cosmetics and cleaners for my home. I even share a few of my favorite homemade recipes for cleaning in my D.TOX class.
One of the most common mistakes I hear people make with a detox is to add everything back in after two weeks. Almost always, they feel absolutely awful. I always ease back into foods slowly. It’s one of the benefits from detoxing; we can find out if we have sensitivities. I start with my favorite: eggs.
Then, I wait a few days to add in the next. I watch for any reactions, such as skin sensitivities, and if I notice something after adding a food back in, I might decide to take that food out of my diet for awhile. It’s amazing what you find out about your own body.
I love coffee, and I’m human, so there are days that I’ll have a little coffee. Or, if there’s a birthday party at work, I might have a little dairy.
It doesn’t mean that I can’t continue my detox. I just say, “OK, well that happened,” and move on. The farther I get into my detox, the more I notice how bad it feels to consume something my body has a sensitivity to.
I’ve realized over time that I can’t consume much dairy or gluten. I also find this way of detoxing helps me to become more compassionate and in tune with my body. With so many benefits, can you understand why I detox?
If you’re interested in our D.TOX program, check it out here. If you have any questions, I’m passionate about this topic and would love to hear from you!