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.
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 deprivation. I believe in a gentle, nutrition-focused plan that supports the body’s natural detoxification system.
I eliminate foods that cause inflammation in the body: alcohol, caffeine, eggs, dairy, tree nuts, wheat and gluten. One reason these foods cause inflammation is they’re over-used 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 the race. Coffee is the hardest for me — 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
Let me tell you a quick story: I remember seeing a woman garden when I was about five years old, and she asked her children as they were picking veggies, “What should we eat tonight?” I thought, “I want to be like her when I grow up.” That’s also how I look at planning my meals during detoxes. I start with the produce and plan my meals around a beautiful carrot or multi-colored kale. But I also ask myself, “What am I going to eat, realistically?” I start with the produce I know I’ll eat, because it won’t do me any good aging in the fridge.
DOUBLE PRODUCE INTAKE
My goal during a detox is to eat as much produce as possible; I usually double my produce intake. I put cruciferous veggies at the top of my list, which include broccoli and cauliflower. Why? Because they contain chemicals like DIM (diindolylmethane) and sulphoraphane that bind to toxins and flush them out, preventing cell damage. Cruciferous veggies also detox the liver. Interested in the reading more about these detoxing veggies? Check out this article about cruciferous veggies.
BATCH COOK ONE DAY OF THE WEEK
I love detoxing during this time of year because, “Hello, farmers markets”! 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. I like bringing my daughter with, too. I should mention: The way I detox brings my family closer at mealtime. Because I’m focusesd on making healthy food, we all benefit. We eat together and cook together more often, too. I shop on Saturdays based upon my meal plan and batch cook on Sunday. I’m a big fan of making stuffed peppers during my spring and summer detoxes. In the winter, I enjoy making chilli. If you’d like to check out more of the recipes that I use while detoxing, sign up for our free D.TOX class.
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. Sometimes I’ll make another protein option or a big salad to throw into the mix. I’m not isolated by what I eat; my child can eat these meals and I usually have my partner choose a recipe. It becomes a great habit for our family.
KEEP HEALTHY SNAKS 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.TOXSM because the formula, Mediclear-SGS™, includes not only everything a multivitamin would, but also botanicals that support the detox process. I have to admit: it’s become my “treat” while detoxing.
There are also fun recipes to try, like mixing the Mediclear into overnight oats, creating a smoothie bowl or a chocolate “pudding.” I personally don’t change it up too much. I mix it with a little almond milk and enjoy playing with extracts, like almond or orange, and add in some of our Life Greens. You can easily make this inclusive for the whole family by using protein powder instead of the Mediclear. Starting my day with a shake really sets the stage for my day and keeps me on track.
WATER, WATER & MORE WATER
Water is a tough one for me, and drinking a ton of water is critical to an effective detox. My goal during a detox is to drink half of my body weight of water in ounces. 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, like lavender, in my diffuser.
I usually start my day with 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of strength. 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 retorative exercises during a detox. My daughter and I do yoga together, too; it’s one of our favorite activities. Also, I take a dry sauna daily. I have to say, I’m suprised 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. I keep it simple because the less stress we put on our bodies, the better it will respond to a detox.
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 envirponmental toxins on my health and body.
I can’t live in a bubble, but I can minimize what I’m exposed to. I like using the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website to research what personal products to use. One easy thing I do at home is make my own soap. It’s so easy! We talk about how to detox home and personal products in our D.TOX class, too.
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, like 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 there’s a birthday party at work so 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!
In health, Anika Christ – Director – Digital Programming & Events – Life Time Weight Loss