14 Day Detox

Toxins are all around us – in food, water, the air, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, even our electronic devices. We have built-in detoxification systems, but they can benefit from extra support with a 10-14 day basic detox program (without pills, flushes or cleanses) as described below. I have done this plan myself and will explain how it worked for me. Detox plans can help in many ways. One is to help identify a food group(s) that may be inflammatory, but have been consumed for so long, the person is not aware. The effect may not be obvious, but may adversely affect the body in a more subtle way, as in excess weight and/or increased waist circumference (both factors in chronic health risk.) Another benefit is to train ourselves to reduce cravings, particularly for sugar, alcohol and caffeine. A moderate weight loss may occur, either during or after the detox (as the body “resets”). Additionally, many people experience increased energy, improved mood and self confidence, and a feeling of “lightness.”

There are three stages to this Detox Program:
Prepare (5-7 days pre-detox)
Begin to decrease consumption of alcohol, caffeine, simple and refined sugar. Remove temptations from your home and grocery shop for what you’ll need. Plan your meals and the tools you’ll need to prepare them (eg, a blender for a protein shake) and purchase whole, organic and fresh foods. Increase daily water intake to half your body weight in ounces (e.g., if you weigh 150 lbs, drink 75 oz. of water daily.)
Detox (Days 1 -14)
Follow a physician/nutritionist approved detox program. The one outlined below is a common one, applicable to most people, but your doctor may have specific recommendations or contraindications based on your individual health status.
Restore (Day 15 and beyond)
Slowly reintroduce one food group at a time (with a few days in between) so you can determine what, if anything causes a change in how you feel.
Foods groups to avoid in THIS plan
  • Dairy (cow, sheep, goat)
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Gluten/Wheat
  • Soy (including soy sauce)
  • Peanuts (which a legume, not a nut)
  • Added sugars/sugar substitutes (which of course includes candies, confections, etc.)
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Artificial  foods or ingredients, fillers, etc.
This probably will not be easy, as many  of us consume these often. However, there are plenty of foods you can eat. This is not a calorie reduction diet. Food groups that you CAN eat with the exceptions noted in parentheses. Choose grains; rice, potatoes, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, oats, “milk”; coconut, hemp, almond or cashew, nuts and seeds (no peanuts) all veggies (except corn) all fruit (except grapefruit) animal proteins (except tuna and swordfish, preservative laden meats like cold cuts, hot dogs, canned meats) all legumes like peas, beans and lentils (no soybeans/tofu) unrefined virgin oils (no margarine, butter, shortening or mayo) and herbal teas.
A good way to jump start caloric and nutritive requirements in the beginning of the day is to have a healthy and calorie dense protein shake for your breakfast ( example: high quality protein powder free of the “foods to avoid” list + unsweetened coconut milk + scoop of almond butter + spinach + blueberries + chia seeds + cinnamon powder.)  Be sure to eat at least 3 meals and if you’re active, add a small snack. Avoid eating after dinner and give yourself at least 3 hours before bedtime. Again, drink plenty of water.
Possible side effects (good and “bad”):  change in energy levels, weight, sleep, digestive function, mental focus and mood, fluid retention, complexion, headaches, body fat, muscle tenderness. The negative side effects should decrease and go away over time, and the positive ones will likely stay with you if you effectively utilize what you learn.
  • Buy organic and wash your produce.
  • 6-8 servings of fresh veggies per day and 2 servings of fresh fruit per day.
  • Eat enough calories and consume high quality protein at each meal.
  • Hydrate throughout the day.
  • Add extra fiber to your meal plan if you have digestive issues. A spoonful of Psyllium Husk Fiber powder can help with both constipation and diarrhea.
  • Experiment with new spices and herbs (include anti – inflammatory ones like turmeric, ginger, oregano and cinnamon). 
  • Add a multivitamin to your biggest meal.
  • Watch portion size; eat slowly and stop a little before you’re completely full. In 15 minutes, you’ll feel full.
  • Caffeine withdrawal? – Try a cup of green tea on occasion, and reduce that over the 2 weeks.
  • Reduce/eliminate your use of plastics (use glass and stainless steel.)
  • Consider using natural-only beauty products and cleaning supplies (home and laundry) avoiding parabens and phthalates in particular.
  • Mindfulness practices – gentle yoga, meditation, reiki, our new self-care class.
  • Continue to exercise, but be mindful of your energy levels.
  • Get enough sleep and keep regular sleep hours.
  • Spend time outdoors.
  • Get a massage.
  • Do this with a friend!
  • Use a journal to document your efforts, feelings and status.
My personal story: I did this 14-day detox this past January. No food sensitivities, but I felt better, lighter and reduced sugar cravings! I used to “need” chocolate every night, right after dinner, but no longer. It’s really true that when you reduce your sugar intake, you crave it less. I did not lose weight during the 14 days, but lost a few pounds in the weeks after. I’m eating better and feeling better. It is empowering to know you have more control than you thought possible. (See previous blog posts: Good Health is Exercise and…!) I’d be happy to discuss this plan with anyone personally.  Email me at sangeeta.benbow@theconnectiononline.org
Submitted by:
Sangeeta Prasad Benbow
Program Director, Adult Fitness & Wellness