The popular detox diets often touted by celebrities and so-called “health gurus” run the gamut from extremely restrictive to downright zany. For instance, you may come across a detox diet that instructs you to consume only cranberry juice, or some combination of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper, all while eating absolutely no solid whole foods for several consecutive days.
Sound healthy? Of course not. Our bodies need consistent nutritional replenishment in the form of whole foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, proteins and complex carbohydrates, and a super-restrictive “detox diet” will do little more than strip your body of the nutrients it needs, potentially interfering with your metabolism in the process. Instead, a natural detox diet may be more appropriate.
Basic Dietary Tips and Techniques for Natural Detox
Keri Glassman, a certified nutritionist and avid contributor to Women’s Health magazine, has a superior solution for those looking to detox their bodies in a more natural and comfortable manner: eating certain healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy dietary choices. According to Glassman, it’s possible to achieve “extreme results” without resorting to an “extreme diet.”
Here are a few of Glassman’s more basic tips for conducting a detox diet:
Avoid packaged foods
They’re normally highly processed, containing loads of artificial ingredients as well as added sodium and sugar. In short, our bodies are not designed to adequately digest and absorb nutrients from processed foods, which usually contain little nutrition to begin with.
Stop adding salt to your food
Eating too much sodium causes your body to retain extra water, adding to your overall body weight and giving you a puffier appearance.
Avoid alcohol for a while
Your internal organs work hard to process alcohol, and abstaining from beer, wine and liquor during your “detox” diet will help to refresh the health of those organs.
Some of Glassman’s tips focus on what you should be doing, rather than what you shouldn’t:
Drink more water
Adequate hydration levels differ for men and women, and recent studies indicate that they’re higher than you might expect. Women should drink at least 9 cups of water per day, while men should drink over 12. You should probably aim even higher during a detox diet in order to properly flush your system. As an added bonus, staying hydrated will reduce your hunger levels.
Don’t sacrifice sleep
Although you may be surviving on 6 or fewer hours of sleep per night, you’ll want to get at least 7 in order to optimize your long-term health. Getting 8 hours of sleep per night is even more ideal, if your schedule allows. Beyond 8 hours, you may experience grogginess and feel sluggish from an excess of sleep.
Focus on antioxidants
Eating various vegetables and fruits such as berries will help to improve your health at the cellular level, isolating and eliminating toxic free radicals to boost your immune system and protect against chronic diseases. Green tea is an excellent antioxidant source that will keep you hydrated, and some studies even indicate that it may naturally boost your metabolism.
Detox Foods for Every Meal
From here, Glassman gets more specific with her recommendations, offering food combinations that will help to detoxify your body at every meal.
For breakfast, consider consuming the following:
Grapefruit or Cantaloupe or Orange
Quinoa or Oatmeal or other whole grain
Eggs contain plenty of protein, and eating protein for breakfast may reduce your overall calorie consumption over the rest of the day. The whole grain is there to provide fiber, ensuring that you stay full until your next meal. Each of the aforementioned fruits contains crucial vitamins in addition to lots of water, adding to a sense of fullness.
For a mid-morning snacks, consider consumimg the following:
Celery sticks + Almond butter or Peanut butter
Cucumber + Guacamole
Both vegetable choices contain plenty of water, keeping you full. The dips are rich in healthy fats, and almond butter and peanut butter have lots of protein. Almond butter is perhaps the best choice, though natural peanut butter with no added sugar is a good choice as well.
For lunch, focus on consuming foods like:
The vegetables will allow you to continue the trend of boosting your hydration while satiating your hunger with fiber. The salmon is an excellent source of both protein and healthy fats.
For an afternoon snack, you can keep your options more open and consume basically any healthy snack that matches whatever you’re craving. Good choices include apples, mixed nuts, tuna with whole grain crackers, and more vegetables.
For dinner, focus on combining multiple vegetables with lean protein. Good options include homemade soup with plenty of vegetables (split pea comes to mind) or a large salad with an olive oil-based dressing and a grilled chicken breast.
Natural Detox for Weight Loss: The Bottom Line
When it comes to detox diets, there’s no reason to restrict yourself to liquids, or follow any other diet that doesn’t make good nutritional sense. Instead, consume vegetables with a higher water content while eating foods rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and antioxidants. Get plenty of sleep and water for best results.