My Three Step Method for Detoxing (That Doesn't Involve Green Juice or Suffering)

After a period of indulgence, it's tempting to get back on track with a detox. However, that does more harm than good. Learn my three step method for 'detox' that will have you feeling great in no time! 

After a period of indulgence, it's tempting to get back on track with a detox. However, that does more harm than good. Learn my three step method for 'detox' that will have you feeling great in no time!

As I’m typing this, it’s been almost three weeks since I enjoyed my last home cooked meal. First I was sick with a cold, then as soon as I got back my cooking energy, I was in Nashville for FNCE followed immediately by our trip to Vietnam. As you can imagine, my diet has been pretty far from my usual eating pattern. Although it's been fun living off rice noodles and deep fried dumplings of goodness, I'm feeling pretty bleh. Even before jet lag set in, I haven't had much energy. My digestive system doesn't know what hit it...we'll just leave it at that. And although I don't weigh myself, my clothes aren't fitting the same.

I'm ready to feel like to myself again. ASAP.

So, I'll be embarking on an intense 5-day juice cleanse. It consists of specially formulated green juices made with produce scientifically proven to eliminate toxins at the cellular level. At night, I'll treat myself to a cup of homemade almond milk mixed with colon cleansing tea to reset my digestive system. After the 5 days, I'll be slowly reintroducing whole foods. First whole fruit, raw and lightly cooked vegetables, then gluten free whole grains and finally, lean organic proteins. It will be at least 3 months before my body can tolerate dairy.



Right now I feel generally sucky. I completely understand the desire to reset 'bad' behavior with extreme 'good' behavior. Plus, when you're feeling crappy, you want to get back to not feeling crappy as quickly as possible. It makes sense that a detox would be a quick fix way to do it.

Friends, there is nothing healthy about starving yourself. No matter how much pizza or hamburgers you've eaten, your body still needs the nutrients, satiety and energy provided by real, whole foods. If you want green juice, drink green juice (I'm definitely craving some!), but don't subside on it.


There are a few science-backed detox regimens, but these are meant for people who are chronically ill, not someone who had a few too many margaritas on vacation. The juice systems and 'liberal' whole food cleanses you see don't actually cleanse or detoxify. Your body does that for you. It's kind of awesome like that. Assuming health is a green juice or colon cleansing tea away makes it hard to sustain healthy eating habits in the long term. Why wouldn't you go on a chicken tender bender if you can easily right your wrongs with a quick cleanse?

Detoxing moralizes food choices. It's essentially saying 'I was really bad, and I can fix it by being really good'. But what's wrong with enjoying yourself? There's nothing inherently 'bad' about having fun and indulging. Labeling it as such will make you feel guilty, and we know where guilt leads.... 

[Tweet "Tempted to #detox after too many indulgences? Read this first."]

That said, there are a few things I do differently after a particularly indulgent period of time. It won't deep clean your organs or help you drop 10 lbs in a week, but it will have you feeling better again in no time.

  1. Stop and listen to your body. Take a step back and pay attention to how your body feels. What's your energy level? How is your digestion? Do you feel comfortable in your clothes? Feeling great is the most powerful motivator for living a healthy lifestyle, not achieving a certain number on the scale. Use this opportunity to reinforce your usual habits by reminding yourself how icky you feel when you don't.
  2. Get back to what you do best. Now. What steps do you normally take to maintain or achieve health? For me, it's meal planning/prep, regular running,Pure Barre and yoga, and covering half my plate with nonstarchy vegetables. As soon as I return from vacation, I get back to those habits immediately (I planned our weekly menu on the plane ride home!).
  3. Practice the 90/10 principle. My usual eating habits follow the 80/20 principle. I aim to eat nutritious food I love 80% of the time, and not so nutritious food I love 20% of the time. While there's no need to eat 'perfectly' to get back on track, it's a good idea to tighten things up a bit. Although I never give up food groups, when I pick what recipes I'm making for the week, I focus a bit more on intact whole grains vs flour, limiting meat (which I usually don't even want after vacation), and cutting back on cheese. I'm also more mindful with my splurges. With the 80/20 principle, I typically plan in 2-3 splurges a week, but with 90/10, I try to keep it to one. For example, this week, I'm passing on my usual pre-kickball game tacos and corona, but I still plan to indulge a bit for the hubs birthday this weekend.

[Tweet "Learn #dietitian @RHartleyRD's detox-free method for feeling great after overindulging"]

Essentially, do what you normally do (or strive to do) but slightly better. A suffer free detox if you like! The best part is that I feel back to my usual self within a few days.

Have you ever done a detox or cleanse? What was the result?