Detox Demystified

The best part about a healthy detox is that it can help you to transition into a healthy and sustainable diet for the life.

There’s no denying there are a lot of ‘stop-start’, ‘quick-fix’, dodgy detoxes out there so the trick is to distinguish between a healthy and unhealthy plan.

The main purpose of a good detox is to take the load off the organs that detoxify the body – your liver, kidneys and bowel – while at the same time supporting and improving their performance while getting you mentally prepared for taking a more long-term approach to how you eat and drink.

Where to start

If you have a lot of caffeine-containing drinks then it is important to cut down gradually, to help reduce side-effects like headaches, low energy levels and feeling snappy and stressed.

The same goes with reducing alcohol in your life. Gradually reducing the amount you rely on alcohol will give you a more sustainable template for moving forward compared with going totally dry for a month at the beginning of the year and then getting straight back to bigger intakes four weeks later.

Other things to reduce while detoxing are sugar- and salt-rich foods.

Happily you can however up your intake of vegetables and fruit and enjoy plenty of wholegrain carbohydrates like porridge, wholemeal bread, brown pasta and brown rice along with some lean protein-rich foods like lean chicken, steak, fish, pulses, eggs and low fat dairy foods.

Typical Menu

  • Breakfast: Porridge with sliced banana / two poached eggs with grilled tomatoes and mushrooms / fruit salad with low fat Greek yoghurt and sunflower seeds
  • Snack: Two squares dark chocolate and a pear
  • Lunch: Wholegrain wrap with tuna and salad / Chicken salad with brown rice or quinoa / lentil and vegetable bread with wholemeal roll
  • Snack: 50g of cashew nuts, peanuts or almonds and an apple or pear
  • Dinner: Chicken casserole with boiled potatoes / chickpea curry with wholegrain rice / lean steak with baked potato and roasted vegetables
  • Drinks: Decaffeinated teas and coffees / herbal teas / water

When the ‘weed’ stage of your detox is complete, the focus shifts to the ‘seed’ element; this transitional stage carrying you from detox to a lower-tox lifestyle.

It gradually ‘sows’ the seeds of good health, and takes you onto a healthy eating plan that you can keep up during the year ahead. This is much easier to achieve if you have approached the first weeks of your detox as a pathway to a healthier future.

So, if you do feel like adding caffeine back into your day, try to keep tabs on your intakes. Ask for just one-shot of coffee in coffee bars (most put two shots into cappuccinos and lattes) and keep caffeine-containing drinks for the mornings so that they don’t disrupt your sleep patterns.

And, if and when you drink alcohol, remember the new guidelines, which are no more than 14 units a week for both men and women, with several alcohol-free days every week. Sticking with these will help you to not overload your body.

When it comes to sugar and salt, try to have sweet fruits like pineapple and mango for a more wholesome ‘sugar-high’, along with dark chocolate flavoured for example with orange, caramel or chilli.

Salt is probably the easiest of all to cut back on for the long-term as once your taste-buds have got used

to lower intakes during your detox, higher intakes taste dreadful and naturally curb your future desire for salt-laden foods and meals.