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Post-Detox Dilemma: Breaking the Cleanse
There’s a lot of planning that goes into a detox. Which program will you follow? When will you start? How long will you go for? There are groceries to buy and temptations to hide (lock up the cookies!). But if the only thing you’re planning post-detox is how you’ll indulge once you’re done, you could be undoing all that work.
A bounty of benefits
“After a detoxification, most people feel better than they’ve ever felt before,” says holistic chef Adina Niemerow, author of Super Cleanse: Detox Your Body for Long-Lasting Health and Beauty. “It’s like a rebirth of sorts,” she says.
Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, author of The Fast Track Detox Diet, agrees: “If a detox is done properly, you should feel lighter and cleaner.” Many people report having more energy, and Gittleman says detoxing can even help with sinus problems and congestion. Other physical benefits may include clearer skin and better digestion.
You may also feel a renewed sense of drive and focus after a whole body cleanse. “Cleanses can be a real journey — you get a lot of mental clarity,” says Niemerow. “There’s definitely a spiritual side to it.”
Breaking your cleanse
But you won’t keep your post-detox glow by jumping back into a diet filled with heavy, fried or fatty foods. “Breaking a cleanse correctly is almost as important as the cleanse itself,” says Niemerow. She explains that it’s important to end your detox gradually, slowly incorporating your regular foods back into your diet.
“It might sound like the cleanse after the cleanse, but it’s important if you want to maintain those detox benefits,” Niemerow says.
The most important rule for weaning yourself off your detox diet is to keep it simple. “I always find it helpful to break a cleanse with easy-to-digest foods,” Gittleman says. These can include steamed or puréed vegetables or lightly sautéed greens, as well as proteins such as nuts, legumes, whey and eggs. One of her favorite post-cleanse recipes is a green soup made from puréed string beans, zucchini and celery, which nourishes the body with natural sodium, potassium and electrolytes. Add cooked carrot to the blend for an extra boost.
If you plan to re-introduce meat into your diet, Niemerow recommends doing so slowly. Gittleman suggests starting with organic poultry rather than beef or fish, which can contain mercury.
Whatever you eat, make sure you don’t eat too much of it. “During a detox people often realize that they don’t need to eat as much as they think they do,” says Niemerow. “When you eat slowly and eat smaller portions, you’ll discover how much food you really need to feel full,” echoes Gittleman. “Take time to really appreciate how good food tastes when you haven’t eaten a lot in a while.”
When to re-detox
So how will you know when you need to detox again? “Your body will tell you,” Gittleman says.
Some signs include poor elimination, sinus congestion, coughing, fatigue, trouble sleeping, skin problems, cravings for sugar or rich foods, and anxiety. “Also when you become sensitive to fluctuations in weather conditions, that’s a good indicator that you may need to cleanse,” Gittleman adds.
Niemerow says that she likes to detox seasonally as a way of transitioning into a new time of the year. “You can also use detox as a way to get yourself back on track with healthy eating and to give your body a rest from any junk you’ve been putting in it,” she says.
Everyday detox tips
Here's more advice from Gittleman and Niemerow on how to break your cleanse the right way and how to make detox part of your daily routine:
• Drink more water. It’s the best way to flush toxins out of the body.
• Chew slowly. Digestion begins in the mouth.
• Avoid overeating. Less is more, especially when breaking a cleanse.
• Keep it simple. Avoid eating too many different foods in one meal to ease digestion.
• Find a good probiotic. Good bacteria keep your digestive tract healthy.
• Pay attention to your elimination habits.
• Eat organic and avoid processed foods. Cleaner food means fewer toxins.
• Avoid alcohol. It’s toxic.
• Take time to meditate. Deep breathing helps cleanse the body.
• Get plenty of sleep. Your body heals itself as you rest.
Everyday detox foods
Detoxifying foods that you can add to any diet:
• Hot water with lemon
• Dandelion root tea
• Cranberry juice and water
• Ground flax and chia seeds
• Unsweetened yogurt
• Raw sauerkraut
• Whey protein
• Leafy greens
• Daikon radishes
• Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage)
• Broccoli sprouts
For more information, check out our comprehensive Detox Guide and shop Gaiam’s detox essentials. You can also learn more about how to detox with Dr. John Douillar’s Ayurveda for Detox video on GaiamTV.com.