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12 Must-Do's for a Healthy Detox

The goal of many people who decide to do a detox naturally is to become healthier.

The foods we eat can become addictive and certainly can be toxic to our system.  It can be a steep hill to climb to health because of the lack of disclosure and confusion about what is in our food. Food can be or become toxic because of something specific going on in our body, but it can also be because of how much of something goes into our body.  It is our responsibility to know what is going into our body but that can prove to be hard.  Add to that all the psychological reasons we eat food.

I use the word elimination and detox interchangeably. They are both about getting rid of food that is not good for us.  Part of my work as a nutrition and health coach involves guiding clients through eliminating or detoxing foods that are unhealthy for them specifically.  Sometimes healthcare providers will prescribe these elimination diets or clients decide to try an elimination or detox on their own to figure out if specific foods are culprits to why they are feeling bad and/or gaining weight.

Before anyone goes on a detox, I highly recommend to consider, and do these 12 things:

1. Know what you are detoxing

If you decide to do a natural detox understand specifically what you are detoxing.

Some foods/drinks that might be eliminated in a detox:

  1. Sugar, sugar substitutes

  2. Gluten

  3. Caffeine

  4. Dairy

  5. Meat

  6. Processed foods

  7. Soda

  8. Nicotine

  9. Alcohol

  10. Nightshades

  11. Eggs

  12. Corn

  13. Unhealthy Oils

  14. Soy Products

2.    Discover why you are detoxing specific foods

For example, why are you detoxing sugar?  Sugar is a toxic substance and is added to a lot of our foods. This is a food that you absolutely need to detox from and one that is the hardest food to avoid.  For each food, you are detoxing it is so crucial to understanding why that food is or might be toxic to your body.  There are foods that are toxic for all of us and there are other foods that are toxic bio-individually.  I believe the true purpose of a detox is to take out those general toxic foods that none of us should be consuming and discovering foods that individually are toxic for us.  Write down why you are detoxing from each of the foods you are detoxing.

3. Be clear about why YOU are participating in a natural detox?

Are you deciding to detox because you want to lose weight?  Are you experiencing symptoms that are continually affecting your quality of life? Do you currently have an understanding that certain foods are not good for you and are ready to make a change for a healthier life? Do you have an autoimmune disease and believe eating clean food will have a positive effect on your symptoms?  Is it for several reasons?  If you decide to do a natural detox write down all the reasons why you want to detox.

Symptoms you may exhibit when you are toxic:

  1. Headaches

  2. Depressed

  3. Acid reflux

  4. Diarrhea or constipation

  5. Extra weight

  6. Cravings

  7. Trouble sleeping

  8. Inflammation

  9. Unexplained fatigue

  10. Sluggish elimination

  11. Irritated skin

  12. Allergies

  13. Low-grade infection

  14. Puffy eyes or bags under the eyes

  15. Bloating

  16. Menstrual problems

  17. Mental confusion

4. Write down symptoms you are having before starting a detox

It would be helpful If you kept a journal about symptoms you experienced before the detox.  If you have not kept a journal write down all the symptoms that have been going on with you for the past year or so. You need to be able to measure your progress.  When we start feeling better sometimes it is hard to remember how bad we felt.

5. Understand the benefits of detoxing

Whether you are detoxing for 12 days for a jump-start or deciding to detox certain foods for life, understand what the specific benefits might be for you.  Be aware that if you detox for a short amount of time and go back to your old ways of eating you will become toxic again.

Some Benefits of Detoxing:

  1. Clearer skin

  2. Weight loss

  3. Increased immunity

  4. No more cravings

  5. No more food intolerance

  6. Improved clarity and sense of well-being

  7. Cleans away excess waste

  8. More energy

6. Journal during and after the detox

Not only is it helpful if you have journaled before you start a detox, but it is also important to journal during your detox and continuing after.  Detoxing is all about self -discovery.  Your success depends on your understanding of how foods affect you.

7. Educate yourself about what foods/drinks are clean

Have a cheat sheet of not only the foods you should not eat but also the foods that you can eat/drink.  From a psychological perspective knowing what foods are good for you is more important because knowing what foods we can add in is a better perspective than what we can’t have. Here are some (not all!) typically clean foods:

  1. Greens

  2. Fruits

  3. Water

  4. Lemon

  5. Vitamins

  6. Legumes

  7. Nuts and seeds

  8. Herbal teas

  9. Stevia

  10. Vegetables

  11. Spices and herbs

8. Track your progress – take measurement

Take measurements before you begin to track your progress.  For example, if you have headaches measure intensity and duration.  If your goal is to lose weight then measure weight, hips, chest, and waist.

Journaling and self-discovery are the most important part of your health journey.  Know where you were, where you are now, and where you want to be.  Look a little at the past and future but stay in the present.

9. Before you start the detox be very clear about how you will handle a relapse during the detox and how you will reward yourself for finishing the detox

These are the psychological aspects of detoxes.  I am in favor of thinking these things through before they come up.  Whether you cheat on the detox or accidentally eat something that you should not have, what do you do?  Are your guilty feelings going to help you stop the program? I call this spiraling down.  Know how you will get back on track.  After you finish your detox how will reward yourself?  When you first start this detox process I don’t recommend you decide to splurge after the detox.  This can send you spiraling down. If you choose to splurge, choose the cleanest ingredients.  Sometimes this is hard to do when you are beginning your path to health.  If you want to have a reward my recommendation is to choose something healthy like a massage or facial.

10. Prepare, prepare and prepare

Keep it simple, but be prepared.  You don’t need to get super fancy.  Get your kitchen ready.  Clean out the pantry and refrigerator.  Go grocery shopping and have some idea of what your daily meals will be.  Be willing to be flexible with your meals depending on your personality.  Meal planning is very individual.  Be prepared and have your pantry and refrigerator stocked well enough so you can throw together a few meals.

  1. Prepare your kitchen

  2. Clean your pantry, toss out the toxic foods

  3. Gather recipes that are cleansing and create a shopping list

  4. Plan your menus

  5. Journal for clarity, stress reduction and internal cleansing

  6. Plan and schedule your exercise

  7. Make time to slow down, meditate, pray and create quiet time

  8. Get your doctor’s okay

  9. Let your family and friends know what is happening

11. Get support

Set your intentions by speaking it out loud to supportive family and friends. Letting people know what you are doing will help you stay on track during the detox.  Remember we all need props sometimes. For many of us, being held accountable can prove to be very supportive. Hiring a health coach will not only help you be accountable but will also help you break down nutritional information into manageable, bite-size pieces and guide you in creating and implementing a plan that will meet your specific nutritional and lifestyle needs.


Post detox follow up and plan. Set your intentions.

This will be different for everyone, but you need to have a plan of action for your post-detox. This plan will likely change some after you start your detox. You may discover that you will not include a certain food back into your diet. Start with a plan with the ability to be somewhat flexible.  It is a balance.  Maybe you will be ready to begin integrating some of your old foods with what you’ve been eating during this program and you will create strategies with that in mind.  Or you’re ready to continue focusing on your health and you might want to discuss options with a health coach to discover the support available to you. You will find the balance that works for you.



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