It’s the beginning of a new year, and after an indulgent few weeks many of us are ready to get back on track with our health goals. The term ‘detox’ can be intimidating, but you don’t need to exist on green juice and air alone to effectively support the body in eliminating unwanted toxins and reset the digestive system. Counterbalancing all those rich holiday meals, the guide you’ll find below lays out 10 simple rules to help rejuvenate the body and mind after a long period of overdoing it.
What to expect: It’s normal to feel tired and slightly run down during a cleanse, even if it includes practices designed to soothe and restore like this one. As toxins are released and eliminated, you might experience some withdrawal symptoms like headaches, irritability or mood swings. This is totally normal, and often a result of cutting back on caffeine, sugar, and gluten. If you’re able to stick with the program, don’t stop. By the end of the week you’ll have better mental clarity, a surge in energy, and any symptoms of imbalance will be greatly improved.
1. Liquid meals
Removing solid meals 1-2 times a day reduces the workload on the digestive system, allowing it to redirect energy to properly detox and eliminate waste. During The Gentle Reset, aim to include either a soup, smoothie, or vegetable-based juice in place of at least one meal a day. Because less energy is required to digest liquid meals the nutrients enter the bloodstream faster, so be sure to pick recipes with the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals. To boost results further, make every liquid meal entirely vegan and plant-based.
2. The 12-hour ‘fast’
When we snack or graze consistently throughout the day, the digestive system never gets a break. During the program do your best to avoid snacking by ensuring your meals have a healthy balance of satiating fats and enough protein. More importantly, don’t eat between your last meal of the day and your first one in the morning. Following the 12-hour rule is easy: If you eat a soup for dinner at 7pm, wait until 7am to have your AM smoothie.
3. Prep is key
As with most things, the chances of successfully completing a full week sans booze etcetera lies in preparing adequately. Before you start, set aside time in your calendar to remove temptation from your kitchen and go food shopping. Better yet, start preparing your food early: Roast trays of root vegetables to throw into your lunchbox, soak and simmer dried beans from scratch, whisk up a whole bottle of healthy dressing, and cook enough quinoa to see you through the week.
4. Enhance elimination
Detoxification is at its most efficient when the inner and outer body work in unison. This means eating simply, but also it means sweating, shedding dead skin, and going to the bathroom regularly. Consider scheduling in a deep tissue massage to help shift some of the more stubborn toxins towards the end of the week, or book in an infrared sauna to help kickstart your lymphatic drainage system. Bathroom trips are different for everyone, but ideally you should be drinking enough water to pee once an hour and doing the other business on the daily.
5. Foods to add in
This is the fun part. Head to the farmer’s market and stock up on seasonal fruits and vegetables, and any sturdy greens like collards, cabbage, and kale that catch your eye. At the store, fill your cart with nutritious options. Brown and wild rice, lentils, quinoa, nuts, coconut milk, sea vegetables, seeds, extra virgin olive, herbs, spices, and even raw chocolate. Frozen fruits and veggies can also be good if you’re strapped for time throughout the week.
6. Foods to leave out
Most people know intuitively what works for their body and what doesn’t, but sometimes we could all use taking a break from some common tasty irritants. First on the hit list to avoid is alcohol and added sugar for obvious reasons, but you might also want to say no to coffee, dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and white potatoes), processed meats, canola oil, and any ready-made salad dressings, dips, and spreads with hidden sugar.
Without sounding like a broken record, probiotics are the essential component to keep your gut happy and your immune system healthy. There are approximately 500 different species of bacteria inside the gastrointestinal tract at any time, with a collective weight of around two to three pounds. Scientists recommend an optimal balance of 85% “good" versus 15% “other” bacteria to feel your best—and probiotics make maintaining that level far more achievable.
8. Immune support
As soothing as The Gentle Reset is, it’s still a cleanse and your body will be working overtime to release and neutralize any toxins. Because of this, you might feel less than sparkling initially. Taking an immune support (like this one), can help.
Our body does miraculous things when we sleep, so make sure you’re getting enough of it. At the beginning of the week you might experience some fatigue, so clear your calendar of evening plans and allow yourself to go to bed indulgently early if you feel like it. Have trouble drifting off? Try running a warm bath and dosing up on a natural sleep aid and magnesium.
10. After the cleanse
Following the previous steps for a full week should leave you feeling noticeably different. If you’re enjoying the results, carry on: This program is gentle enough to maintain for weeks. If you’re ready to stop, however, be sure to ease back to your usual routine gently. Taking even a short break from inflammatory foods like sugar offers insight into how they affect our physical and mental well-being. Incorporate any observations into your daily life and improve your health for the better.
Photograph Grégoire Alexandre for The Nue Co.