7 Days to a Celebrity Body! The Miracle Cleanse! The Fast Track Detox Diet! With the beginning of summer comes a whole host of new detox diets, touted as a fast way to purge your body of toxins, boost your metabolism and energy, get you that bikini body, and make you feel lighter and rejuvenated.
Sounds tempting, right?
OK, sure—but you also know it’s important to look beyond these big promises and claims. Many of these “healthy” diets aren’t exactly so. They often consist of a very low calorie intake from liquid drinks or small amounts of fruits or vegetables for at least a couple of weeks, and many recommend herbs, supplements, powders, enemas, and other forms of intestinal and colon cleanses. But none of that is going to help you develop the sustainable, long-term habits that’ll really make a difference in your life.
The truth is, you don’t need a juice diet or fancy powders to feel better. My advice: If you want to try a cleanse or kick-start a healthier lifestyle, keep it simple, natural, and within moderation.
The Natural Cleanse
The idea of most detox diets is to rid your body of toxins from artificial foods and the environment, so it will function better overall. But this doesn’t need to be extreme—you can do it easily by eating plenty of whole foods.
Try focusing on a plant-based, whole foods diet for about three weeks. (In my experience working with women, that’s about how long it takes for your taste to reset, minimizing your old food cravings and making it more likely that you’ll stick with healthy eating habits).
This means, eliminate or reduce dairy, meat, poultry, and eggs, as well as caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Most importantly, think about the processed foods that you eat regularly (white flour, white rice, white pasta, most cereals, chips) and substitute whole grains instead.
So, what’s left to eat, you ask?
Actually, plenty. That’s the great part about spring and summer—fresh, delicious produce abounds, and it’s easy to come up with a variety of healthy meals. Load up on colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those high in antioxidants, which supply the body with glutathione, the protein that serves to neutralize toxic waste in your liver. Look for asparagus, kale, and Brussels sprouts as good sources of this antioxidant.
You can also eat whole grains (such as millet, brown rice, oats, rye, whole wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, and cornmeal), protein-rich beans and legumes (like lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans), and heart-healthy nuts and seeds.
In addition, increase your water intake. Regularly drinking some good old H2O will ensure that toxins are flushed out of your organs.
Most importantly, take one day at a time, don’t worry about being perfect, and always look for new, fun recipes to try. My blog has a list to get you started.
Beyond the Food
Many popular cleanses only focus on what you eat and drink, but there are a couple more parts to the equation. First, I recommend breaking a sweat at least three times each week. A good workout followed by stretching generates better blood circulation and brings oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. And the warm weather is a perfect opportunity to engage in outdoor activities that make exercise fun and enjoyable.
Also remember that how you nourish your physical body is only part of cleansing and detoxing. As you’re focusing on eating well and exercising often, also think about ways that you can clear your mind. From yoga and meditation to a spiritual practice to simply carving out some “you” time, there are a variety of activities to help clear your mind of the stressful chatter of your daily life.
A brief shift in your diet can be a good thing—but that’s because it can help you develop healthy habits for life, not because it will have instant results.
By skipping the fad diets and instead adopting simple and natural cleansing practices, you’ll not only feel great, but you’ll develop positive and sustainable habits that’ll enable you to live better in the long run.