For the past 8 years or so I have been doing detoxes a few times a year to boost my health and get back on track to feeling good inside and out. We all slip into bad habits during the year, typically in december when we chow down on all the good christmas food on the “julbord”, summer is usually when we binge on beer, summer drinks, BBQed meat (even though summer isn’t very long most swedes brave the rain and wind to get some use out of that expensive grill before it is tucked away for 9 months again). Business travel can be difficult for some that turn to fast food, food-on-the-go and whatever is served at business lunches and coffee breaks. So for these reasons a detox works wonders to get back on track to health and sometimes even lose a few kilos.
And so the time has come for yet another detox. A period of not finding the motivation for cooking, giving in to cravings, living the good life have left me feeling a little less “detoxified”, so here we go. While I’m at it I thought I’d share my plan with you. Hopefully some of you would like to try it. Please let me know if you do!
About My Detox Plan
I am so glad to share this detox with you!
I know it is not without trepidation, worry and skepticism one agrees to do a detox. Hence the following explanation about what Detox is, what it does, why we do it etc. A detox can absolutely be customised for each and everyone and is totally appropriate for the whole family. Most people do a detox once a year and then go back to their usual eating lifestyle. That said; detox can be a yearly cure but should preferably be seen as a tool to a lifestyle change. So, let’s get into the why, what and how to Detox.
Alert body and mind
Detox means cleansing your body from chemicals, strong substances, toxins and other garbage that is put into your body on a daily basis. Consider the difference in the food humans used to hunt and gather compared to the mass produced food we get at the supermarket. In order for food to have a long shelf life, survive transportation across the globe, maintain vivid colours etc chemicals are used and these are put in our bodies.
Strong substances gives you highs and lows unbalancing your body and mind. Coffee and sugar are the most common strong substances used in everyday life. Why do we drink coffee? Because we are tired. What we really need when we are tired is rest. Coffee gives us an energy high so that suddenly we don’t need that sleep,…just yet. After the caffein is gone, back comes that tired feeling and there is our low. Sugar is another good example where we get a sugar high followed by a sugar low. During detox you cleanse your body and create balance without highs or lows. Instead you will feel a constant energy and alertness in body and mind without the need for substances.
A cleaner and more beautiful inside (and outside).
The body is designed to grow, heal and stay healthy through cell regeneration. This is a natural process which occurs if our bodies get the proper nutrition every day. Without the right nutrients the cells regeneration slows down and results in early cell death, rapid ageing and increased exposure to diseases. There are cells that don’t regenerate. These are located primarily in the brain, eyes and nervous system. If they are not nourished they die and are lost forever. The Detox menu contains a lot of vegetables, fruit, raw foods and meats that nourish all of our cells. Common results are healthier skin, nails, hair. Healthier intestines and bowl movements. Faster recuperation after workouts.
Losing weight (optional)
If you want to loose some weight you can during your detox. However it is not a requirement or even the main purpose of the detox. I feel it comes as an added bonus during detox and is part of becoming more balanced. I find it is easier to loose weight during detox because it is not my main focus or goal. My focus is instead on the nutrient part and achieving a cleaner and more alert body.
Tightening the tummy string
Imagine a string connecting your bellybutton to your spine. When we don’t eat properly i.e eat a lot of sugar, irregular meals, gluten (for some), lactose (for some) or eat fast etc the stomach swells and the tummy string gets stretched out as the distance between bellybutton and spine increases. The stomach feels bloated, bubbly, uncomfortable and out of sorts. A goal during detox is to shorten the string and make it as short as possible without using ab muscles or sucking in the gut. By eliminating food from your diet that causes bubbles and bloating the gut will find a more natural balanced state in which it can process and handle whatever is sent down the hatch in a calm fashion and even rest in-between meals.
Tastebuds adjust to what you eat. If you eat a lot of sweet things the tastebuds will get accustomed to the higher level of “sweetness” and everything will taste less sweet. If you eat a lot of junk food your taste buds will get accustomed to that too. Junk food tends to contain a lot of salt and sugar to add taste. This will give your tastebuds a higher tolerance for salt and sugar.
All this means that your tastebuds will get blunted and loose the ability to appreciate raw, fresh produce, fruits and veggies because they a perceived as tasteless. The most common result after your Detox is that food tastes different because the tastebuds have been rebooted or renewed. Junk food doesn’t taste good anymore while fresh produce does.
Part I Cleanse
The Cleanse is a 3 day raw cleanse to jump start the detox and your body. You will eat a lot of veggies and drink a lot of water. It is the toughest part but it lasts only 3 days and is a very good start. An obvious bonus is that you look forward to Part II when you can start eating food again.
Part II Detox
The Detox is a 3 week plan. In it you eliminate ALCOHOL, RED MEAT, SUGAR, LACTOSE, COFFEE and GLUTEN. In this part it is also good to do a liver cleanse once every week to get a boost and get rid of toxins.
Part III “Five count allowance”
Part III is health for “the rest of your life” part and it is highly individual. You have to make your own plan. A plan that will work for you and your family in the long run.
The purpose of part III is to avoid diving into the same pattern as before the detox. The purpose is also to adjust to a healthier lifestyle. Free of prohibitions while at the same time enjoying all the benefits mentioned above.
Part III for me (now again this is individual) is called the “Five count allowance”. It is a continuation of Part II but in it I include that which was eliminated but in limited amounts. Specifically 5 times a month (hence the name “5 count allowance”). This means I allow myself to drink ALCOHOL 5 times a month, eat SUGAR 5 times a month, eat MEAT 5 times a month etc… More details on this further on.
Hiccups in your detox
Obviously there will be times when it is difficult to maintain your Part III like when you are visiting family or friends, holidays etc. When that happens just embrace it while it lasts and then as soon as you can jump back into Part III for a few weeks and you will be back on track. If that doesn’t feel like enough then do Part II. If you are really off the bandwagon do Part I for 3 days and then get on Part III. Whatever floats your boat.
Individual plan – everyone to his/her own
Now you understand that you can plan your own detox. Personally I like to do all parts in order in January after the December Christmas binge. Six months later I like to do Part 1 Cleanse to remind my body of the feeling I want and get jolted back on track.
You can do Part I Cleanse only but the results will be short lived as it isn’t long enough to change tastebuds and get used to another type of cuisine, cooking, grocery shopping.
Part I Cleanse works well to lose a little weight and bloat for a special event or a specific dress.
You can skip the cleanse all together and just get on Part II Detox.
I recommend doing all three the first time to get an idea of how your body reacts and what you like. In Part I Cleanse I make additional food for the kids like bread to go with the soup or pasta in their salad. Part II Detox and Part III “5 count allowance” are great for the whole family.
Headache, fatigue, irritation, nausea and even heart palpitations are common reactions in the beginning of a detox. It doesn’t matter what part you start with, you will notice side effects to some degree. It lasts a couple days so just stick with it. “It too shall pass”.
The side effects are your body’s reactions to abstaining from the strong substances it has become accustomed to. Withdrawal from coffee and sugar commonly gives a headache. It goes away and when it does it takes with it the urge to eat sugar or drink coffee.
The cure: drink lots and lots of water. Drink herbal teas, ginger water, lemon water. Busy yourself with something that takes your mind off of food.
The Detox plan in full
Part I – Cleanse
Plan your cleanse when you have 3 days with nothing planned and no engagements.
Put your coffee cup away. Buy a new shiny water bottle for your detox. Keep it filled with water, maybe even some ice and a lemon wedge, and keep it with you at all times.
Keep workouts to a lower intensity. You can still work out but you may feel a little fatigued. The food you will be eating these 3 days are not enough to build muscle. So take it easy.
Download the app called “3 day cleanse“. All you have to do is follow the plan. Easy.
Each day is started off with a tall glass of infused water followed by a smoothie and chia pudding. Snacks consist of veggies, berries and nuts. Lunch is a raw salad of some sort while dinner is a cauliflower or pumpkin soup with a side raw salad. It may not be your favourite foods and it will probably not satisfy your tastebuds but its only for three days, suck it up.
Part II – Detox
During this part you simply eliminate ALCOHOL, CAFFEINE, SUGAR, GLUTEN, LACTOSE and RED MEAT.
Alcohol needs no explanation.
Caffeine includes coffee, black tea, soft drinks and energy drinks.
Sugar includes all sugars; white, brown, syrup. Artificial sweeteners are also off limits, firstly because they are chemicals we are trying rid your system of. Secondly because we are trying to ween the body off of sweetness. If you want to add sweetness to anything use fresh fruit, honey or spices like cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla but use them sparingly.
Gluten is anything made with flour or traditional grains. Instead of pasta use zoodles; zucchini spaghetti. Use quinoa, a seed with lots of protein. Use red or black rice. Bread is also a no-no. You can however enjoy some crispy crackers made with cornflower or my favorite gluten free bread that I have previously posted about.
Lactose means dairy such as milk, yoghurt, cream, sour cream, ice cream etc. Where appropriate use coconut milk. On occasion you can use lactose free yoghurt for a sauce but don’t do it on a daily basis. Butter is ok. So is hard cheese which makes for a great snack cut in cubes served with a few grapes and nuts.
Red meat like beef, pork, veal, sausage, deli meats all slow down your digestion and clogs the bowels. “White meat” like chicken, turkey as well as any fish is more easily digested and is great during detox.
Workout as much as you want. Find recipes on the internet or in your cookbooks that qualify as detox meals. Detox food is nutritious, tasty and satisfying for the whole family.
Start your day with a liver cleanse. Don’t eat for the next couple of hours but do drink a lot of water and herbal tea.
- 1 red grapefruit
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 thumb ginger
- 2 tbsp oliveoil
- 2 dl water
Press the grapefruit juice and the lemon juice into a cocktail shaker, add pressed garlic, grated ginger, oil and water. Add some ice cubes and shake.
Part III – Your personal plan
This is my plan. You are free to make your own. This is to give you an idea of what a plan can look like.
ALCOHOL – COFFEE – SUGAR – GLUTEN – LACTOSE – RED MEAT
Allowance 5 times each per month. One time is not defined in amount. Sugar “one time” can be a whole bowl of candy on movie night or a piece of candy from that candy bowl on the hotell reception desk. This means choosing wisely when to indulge.
N.B. Untapped allowance is not transferrable to the next month!
It isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’ll typically have herbal tea during the week and enjoy a nice frothy latte (caffeine allowance) on Saturday or Sunday morning with a plate of pancakes or french toast (gluten allowance). Friday or Saturday night Peter and I will indulge in 10 pieces of pick n’ mix candy (sugar allowance) with a movie. Our weekly dinner menu consists of one meat day (red meat allowance), the rest being fish, vegetarian or chicken. Occasionally I will have yoghurt, cheese platter, cream sauce accounting for the lactose allowance. In one month that amounts to 4 times per group. This means I have one per group extra. A few weeks in and you can’t imagine having more of every group. Usually I might skip the coffee because I just don’t feel like it, same with candy.
Detox can be difficult on your own. While living here in Brazil we have managed to do two detoxes in a big group. A majority of the expats joined in. The great thing about doing the detox together is that we have our very own support group. We pep talk each other through the tough parts. We share recipes, tips and ideas. Many may have done it before and can share some pointers, recipes, experiences. We started a WhatsApp group and used the chat to complain, spur and share your recipes and tips but also to share our success and adversity.
So, as I start my detox once again I hope some of you will want to try it out. If you do please let me know. I would love to be your support group!
Good luck and have a great detox!