How to Prepare for a Detox

If you think detox preparation starts and ends with finally choosing that calendar date and committing to a week or two of starvation... well, I got news for ya.  There's more.  Much, much more.  But it's good, non-restrictive news.  A detox regimen doesn't have to be- shouldn't be- an extreme dive into the dietary deep end.  As we discussed in an earlier post, that approach can actually hurt more than help.  The healthy detox is something that you ease into and out of, and it supports the body with ALL the nutrients, not just the ones found in green juices.  Because of that, preparation is more than just picking a date; it's part of the detox diet bell curve.

But don't tuck your calendar away yet; it IS important to make sure the 2 or 3 days where your detox peaks do not conflict with any major events.  You want a full break from physical and mental demands and a place of calm to maximize your detox's effects.  So look for a few days that allow for relative hermit-dom and circle them with your green, non-toxic pen.

Now that you have your all-star detox days chosen, count back about 3 weeks to mark the beginning of your preparation.  This will give you about 2 weeks of preparatory eating, 1 week of intro cleansing, and will culminate with your 2 or 3 detox days.

And before you get scared away by the ten or fourteen day commitment you thought you were going to make turning into a month-long endeavor, fear not; these two weeks aren't about restrictive dieting that leaves you feeling deprived, but about elevating your usual eating.  The goal is to prepare your detox pathways so they're ready to fire on all cylinders when the time comes.  You just might find yourself feeling clearer, more energetic, and balanced during this preparation phase.


Here's what to do for your detox prep.

Focus on eating clean, whole foods, hydrating well, and avoiding toxin exposure (think body care products, cleaning products, etc.).  This is a good time to cut out all processed snacks and reduce or eliminate refined grains, added sugars, processed dairy (raw is OK if it agrees with you), gluten, and alcohol.  Buy organic wherever possible, especially for delicate produce like berries or thin-skinned vegetables like zucchini (get the EWG guide for more details on what to prioritize).  If this sounds like your everyday, congrats and carry on #preparationislyfe.  

Be sure to bump up your intake of brassicas -cabbage, brussels, broccoli, etc.; their sulfur content will boost your body's detoxing powers.  Save your veggie scraps and simmer them into cozy, mineral-rich broths.  (Bonus points if you sip a mug in your cleansing, Epsom salt bath.)  Begin each day with a tall glass of warm lemon water or apple cider vinegar water; for extra tonic powers, swap this out a few days a week for kvass or rejuvelac.  


The colon and liver should get special consideration during this preparation phase.  They'll be doing they heavy lifting in removing toxins so you want to ensure you've got the 1-2 combo of healthy bile production from the liver and efficient motility in the colon.  Increase your fiber intake with plenty of vegetables and consider adding psyllium husk or ground flax for more.  Hydrate heavily, get your EFAs, and try adding a little grass-fed liver to your world.  End your days with a steaming cup of milk thistle or dandelion root tea for their liver-supporting powers.

This is also the time to dig through cabinets and check your counter-tops for products that contain toxic chemicals (pretty much any unpronounceable word on the ingredient panel).  Swap out commercial cleaning products for simple alternatives made from vinegar, baking soda, vegetable oil, and castile soap.  Many companies are making excellent, non-toxic body care products that can be purchased at any health food store, or you can DIY most anything with a quick Google or Pinterest search.  The Think Dirty App is a great tool for scanning products in-store to see where they rate on the detox cleanliness scale.


Finally, practice making some whole-food, detox-friendly dishes ahead of time.  Get familiar with new vegetables and get used to soaking your whole grains or legumes for 1-2 days before cooking.  Try out new recipes.  Batch-prepare vegetable broths, fresh-pressed juices, light soups, and cooked whole grains and freeze these in portion containers for healthy, grab-and-go detox foods.  Remember, convenience can make or break even the most delicious of diets!

Lastly, work some self-love into your regimen.  This can be yoga, meditation, walks, baths, or all of the above.  Give dry brushing a try to appreciate your body and stimulate your lymph system.  Go outside and take 10 giant breaths a few times a day.  Meet more friends for more coffee dates (just watch the caffeine...).

Unexpectedly loving this detox preparation diet?  Good news, my friend: you can stay.