If you spend any amount of time reading articles on the Internet or in magazines, or even listening to the radio, you’ll come across some group touting the unbelievable benefits of their proprietary detox diet plan.
“Drink this juice blend for just X days straight and you’ll shed pounds like never before!”
“Ready to clean out your system? It’s never been easier! Just drink water, lemon juice, and Tabasco three times a day for a week!”
These too-good-to-be-true detox diet plans are just that. They may not be healthy for your body and don’t bring any long sustaining results. If you are ready to detoxify your body of toxins the right way, here’s how to create the ultimate healthy detox diet plan, combining smart dietary choices and sauna use.
Step One – Prepare for Your Detox Diet
Jumping right into a detox diet plan can be jarring to the system if you do it too abruptly, so begin the overall detoxification process at least five days prior to the start of your new detox diet. Experts agree that those who skip this step may experience bloating, constipation, headaches, and other painful side effects of such a drastic dietary shift.
Prior to starting any new healthy detox diet plan, try to cut out sugar and alcohol from your normal routine. Artificial sweeteners, wheat-intensive products, overly processed foods, and all fast food should be eliminated during this time. Then, gradually reduce your intake of animal proteins – especially those that are high in fat, like any variety of sausage, pork, or beef. Try to eat as many fresh, raw vegetables as possible, but feel free to eat plenty of steamed veggies too.
This is a great time to declutter your refrigerator and pantry in preparation for your detox. By removing foods that may tempt you to cheat during your detoxification, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to the challenging, albeit temporary, diet plan.
If you’re worried about the side effects of dramatically reducing your caffeine levels during your detox, try to taper off your overall caffeine intake prior to beginning the new diet. Start by blending ½ decaf and ½ regular coffee for a few days, then move to ¾ decaf and ¼ regular two days before the detox diet starts. Then, go caffeine-free the last two days. If you find that a zero-caffeine diet is too tough, consider drinking green or white tea, which is significantly lower in caffeine than regular coffee – and hydrates the body more effectively.
Step Two – Plan Your Healthy Detox Diet Plan
This is a diet detox plan that includes a lot of fresh, healthy foods and a real-world focus on diet, exercise, and hydration – not a starvation cleanse. You’ll feel great and boost your overall wellness when you commit to this diet plan and combine it with heart-healthy exercise. To make the meal planning process easier, let’s break down the foods into seven key groups:
Detoxifying your body is made easier when you commit to eating one healthy salad per day. A salad full of dark leafy greens (like Swiss chard, kale, arugula, spinach, or collard greens), other healthy veggies, and a light dressing of lemon juice and a swirl of olive oil, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, or zero dressing at all is ideal. Snack on vegetables like celery, carrots, cucumber, jicama, lettuce, snow peas, squash, zucchini, yams, and asparagus.
Since this isn’t a detox diet plan focused solely on calorie control, you certainly can and should include a serving of healthy grains into your meal plan. Integrate the following grains in moderation to give your body an energy boost:
- Wild rice
- Rice bran
- Rice crackers
Try to work high-quality grains into your meal plan by adding 100% buckwheat noodles to the menu, or quinoa flakes, rice bran, or gluten-free bread.
Your healthy detox diet should be about all things natural, and nuts and seeds are a great way to get some serious protein in your system without having to eat excessive amounts of meat. Choose unsalted nuts and seeds, and always go raw when feasible. Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios are popular options. However flax seeds, pine nuts, and coconut are quickly gaining in popularity with those who appreciate a little variety in their detox diet, as well.
Fruit is a foundational element in most detox diet plans, and for good reason. You’ll get a big kick of fiber, a massive dose of vitamins, and most fruit tastes so good you won’t think you’re on any type of regimented eating plan at all. Fresh or frozen fruit is fine. Some of the top detox fruit choices are: apricots, apples, pears, peaches, papayas, mangos, kiwi, cherries, watermelon, and figs. Juice is fine if it is natural, unsweetened, and contains nothing but fruit. You’ll want to steer clear of dried fruit during a detox – so no raisins, cranberries, dates, or similar fruits.
You’ll want to use some oil during food prep, but make sure you stick to one of the following: flax oil, cold-pressed olive oil, chia oil, hemp oil, almond oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, pumpkin oil, avocado oil, and hazelnut oil. Sesame, safflower, and sunflower oils should be avoided while detoxifying.
Some detox plans prohibit the intake of animal proteins, but part of a healthy, sustainable detox diet plan is maintaining a sense of balance. Try to eat no more than three ounces of animal protein at each meal, and always select the leanest cuts. Turkey, chicken, wild-caught fish, lamb, and most wild game animals are fine during a healthy detox diet.
We talk a lot about detox foods, but what you drink is equally as important. Filtered water is the absolute best thing you can hydrate your body with, but coconut water is great as well. Flavor your water with lemon or lime slices if you’re not used to drinking a lot of water. The idea here is to aim for at least 64-ounces of fluid intake per day, but aim closer to 96 ounces if you’re spending time in your sauna on any given day.
The Benefits of Starting a Healthy Detox Diet Plan
Creating a detox diet plan and sticking to it is a great way to shift your metabolism into overdrive and clean out your system for ultimate health benefits. But what really happens when you detoxify your body?
Gut health: You reduce the amount of bad bacteria in your gut and almost immediately improve digestion and minimize bloating. Consuming a probiotic drink during a detox diet can help balance you out, too.
Liver function: After just a day or so of detoxifying, you’ll burn much of the fat in your liver, helping it to work better almost immediately. The body will then excrete stored toxins, and your liver will be optimized to better manage any new toxins introduced to your system.
Skin appearance: A few weeks after the detox diet, you’ll see a marked improvement in your skin tone and complexion. The first week or so of the detox can push toxins through the skin. Cadmium and lead are two that excrete through the skin’s pores.
Your sense of well-being: A healthy detox diet plan is challenging because many of the food items we’ve become accustomed to – and even use as a coping method for stress and anxiety – are now gone from our lives. But after you get over the initial shock of saying no to sugar, high-fat foods, and more, you’ll feel empowered and in control, and the resulting physical changes will likely give you a big boost of confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
A healthy detox diet plan doesn’t have to be a permanent change in your life, but it can help you instill quality eating habits and a sense of purposeful living rather quickly. The detox diet – combined with exercise, plenty of sleep, a lot of hydrating water, and scheduled sessions in your detoxifying infrared sauna – will help you look and feel your absolute best.