Every year I like to take the month between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve (ok, it’s a little over a month) and INDULGE. Aside from the smattering of holidays, there are dinners, parties, gatherings and general merriment. So I allow myself to make merry. Lots and lots of merry. Like, I am now convinced people are starving in the world because I consumed the food. All of it. And while I’m at it, most of the wine. But come January, I bang a 180 and begin a detox that lasts 10-20 days, depending on how much merry I made. Despite being fairly out of balance this time of year, I actually feel completely balanced and harmonious. I can enjoy a month of culinary debauchery, because I know in January I’ll be noshing sprouts and broccoli and sweating it out in hot yoga and intense gym sessions. And I never let myself down.
Each year the detox is a little different, but the basics remain the same. I have posted them below.
Glass of water.
Another glass of water with lemon juice (from actual lemons, not plastic ones).
Brown Rice or Quinoa with either a little tamari (it’s like soy sauce with no wheat) or maple syrup (real, grade b) and flax seed oil, I add steamed or fresh veggies to it.
Steamed veggies with lemon juice, olive oil or flax seed oil and fresh herbs. I usually add fresh basil, dill, cilantro or parsley. I also add either lentils or edamame for protein, and you can throw in a piece of fruit if you need something sweet.
Same. You can add a steamed potato at lunch or dinner for added umph if you feel really hungry. Sweet potatoes or yams are best. Try to buy organic since they grow in the ground and can absorb a lot of pesticides from the earth.
I try to get creative with different variations for lunch and dinner, like maybe a steamed artichoke one night with a little olive oil, lemon and salt, or baked, pureed butternut squash with garlic and ginger, or massaged kale salad. This detox I tried toasted garlicky hemp over spaghetti squash with a spicy tomato basil sauce and it was a hit. Experiment with different types of vegetables and ways of cooking them. Detox doesn’t mean food has to suck.
No coffee, alcohol, or ciggies. No meat, wheat, sugar, baked goods, dairy, eggs or fish. Nothing processed. I don’t even eat tofu on a cleanse. Basically, only things that look like they did when they came out of the ground. Nothing from a can etc.
Drink lots of water throughout the day, and I have one cup of black or green tea in the morning for the first few days of the cleanse, even though that’s kinda cheating. I live in the real world and need to ease into the caffeine withdrawal. By day four or five, I just have water or herbal tea in the morning.
Some people find they get jammed up on the first few days of a cleanse (although others find the exact opposite) from the changes in their diet. If this happens to you, try Super Colon Cleanse pills from a health food store, or Smooth Move tea by Traditional Medicinals.
Liquid chlorophyll diluted in water is fantastic for boosting energy, and also helps eliminate heavy metals from your body.
Probiotics definitely help move things along your digestive tract, and keep your belly calm. They also help with immunity. I take capsules during the normal detox days, and get probiotics from miso on the juice days.
Coconut water is fantastic for the juice days. It’s basically nature’s Gatorade without the nasty dyes and sugars.
I exercise normally on the basic detox days, but on the juice days stick to light hiking, walking or yoga.
I am very fortunate in that I live in a big city (Los Angeles) and I happen to live in Koreatown where there are lots of Korean spas with lots of different types of rooms and pools in which to sweat. I like Olympic Spa if I am by myself or with a group of ladies, and Wi Spa if I am co-ed. If you can get to a day spa with a sauna or steam room, this is fantastic for the detox process. I also try to get a massage or body scrub and I usually schedule this on one of the juice days to replace the pleasure I would normally derive from food.
Detox Odds and Ends:
I detox 2-4 times per year, the longest and most rigorous being in January. I usually do 2-7 days of the basic cleanse and then 2-4 days of juice fasting followed by 2-7 additional days of the basic detox. If you’ve never done any type of cleanse, you may want to wait on the juice fast as it is quite intense. It took me several cleanses to move into juice fasts. If you decide to participate in a juice fast, be sure to use all natural juices with no sugar, corn syrup, flavoring or coloring added. Fresh pressed is ideal, but I know not always possible. I’d also recommend sticking primarily to green vegetable juices. If you drink fruit juices, dilute them so you are not spiking your sugar and insulin. On juice days I also have a bowl of miso soup in the evening. As a fermented food, it is a powerhouse of nutrients and probiotics.
The days of the actual cleanse can be rough. Although they can also be marvelous. I’ve done cleanses during which I felt like someone had beaten me with a sledge hammer, and others in which I bounded out of bed each morning overflowing with energy. You may feel tired, hungry, maybe have a headache, and if you’re really toxed up, you’ll get a white tongue, which is kind of gross (but also kinda fascinating, right?) But whether I feel fantastic or awful during a cleanse, I always feel AMAZING after. Lighter, cleaner, more focused, more energy. It always works, which is why I keep doing it. Happy Health!