Everything changes with the seasons, so your detox plan should too.
If you're someone who thinks you're going to die from days without food (or without your favorite foods), I'm here to tell you that's not going to happen.
I've personally been using the process of detoxification over the past 10 years. The first time I intentionally detoxed, I underwent a 10-day water only fast, followed by a series of shorter juice fasts, which ultimately cleared my skin of full body rashes (also referred to by my doctors as urticaria, dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema), and healed my indigestion, acid reflux, chronic syncope (fainting), severe vomiting episodes, and diarrhea. I now intermittently (and seasonally) incorporate a detox diet/plan whenever I feel less than optimal.
Where do toxins come from?
Toxins come from two environments- internal and external. This is important to understand because if you're stuck in a toxic environment all day, you are breathing in and absorbing external toxins like synthetic fragrances (i.e. Glade plugins, air fresheners), nasty VOCs (i.e. paint, furniture off-gassing), toxic chemicals (i.e. pesticides, conventional cleaning products), or perfumes (i.e. lotions, potions, body spray) that your body needs to expel.
Internal toxins are produced in your body from what you ingest: drugs, sugary chemical-laden drinks, processed foods, additives, alcohol, etc. Over time, these toxins accumulate in your body and create an imbalance that may manifest as inflammation, illness, or disease. When these biochemical toxins are counteracted or eliminated, your body can heal itself and return itself to homeostasis.
The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease
- Thomas Edison
Do you need a detox?
Individual lifestyles provide clues for determining how and when you need to detox. But, a good rule of thumb is to detox once every season.
Symptoms that indicate you may be overdue for a detox include:
Congestion/mucus (clearing your throat)
Swollen joints or edema
Digestive issues (constipation, indigestion)
Allergies, itchy nose, and environmental sensitivities
How to detox during the cold winter months
I don't recommend the same detox plan for every season, simply because the weather changes, in-season produce changes (it's important to eat seasonally for optimal health), your physiology changes, and so do your dietary needs.
You change your wardrobe seasonally, so you should change your detox plan too
In the winter, I recommend a 7 to 14-day detox diet that avoids:
As many chemicals as possible (internal and external)
Processed foods: avoid added sugar and salt, treats, chemicals, synthetic additives, food colorings, etc.
GMOs (these are heavily sprayed with pesticides), alcohol, drugs (including OTC)
Dairy and meat products as they are difficult to digest
A winter detox should be warming- consisting of cooked organic whole foods. Soups and vegetable broths are excellent for the winter!
Eat a wholesome diet consisting of whole, organic, seasonal, fresh food: fruit, vegetables, whole grains (i.e. brown rice or quinoa), legumes, seeds, and nuts.
Incorporate warming and detoxifying spices like ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper
Drink at least 8 glasses of room temperature water daily (filtered or spring water is best) *Do not drink with meals or immediately following meals, as this will dilute your digestive enzymes
Chew food thoroughly and practice mindful eating. Think about the taste and texture and enjoy your food instead of scarfing it down while multitasking (This will help you feel satiation and encourage a relationship with your food)
Incorporate saunas, steam rooms, epsom salt baths, and/or massage to help expel toxins
To deepen your detox, try:
Organic unrefined cold-pressed olive oil in your meals for essential fatty acids and to help synthesize fat soluble vitamins (use in nominal amounts, and for max nutritional benefits be sure not to heat oil)
Garlic as an antibiotic
Black pepper to help boost absorption of nutrients
Parsley for heavy metal detoxing
Turmeric for liver cleansing
Dandelion or echinacea for blood cleansing
Senna or licorice root (not the sugared candy) for colon cleansing
Peppermint or ginger root for skin cleansing (mint tea with a splash of lemon is rejuvenating in the morning or evening
Getting lots of rest (more than 8 hours if you need it)
Exercising (light exercise can be just as beneficial as a hard workout- just move)
Going sans make up and beauty products or switch to clean beauty products that won't build up toxins
What fruits and vegetables are seasonal in winter?
Potatoes (all kinds)
Listen to your body
If you feel bloated during your detox, cut down on the amount of beans, lentils, nuts and seeds you are consuming and incorporate these digestive enzymes and probiotics for 3-4 weeks to help your body transition to your new diet. Once your body acclimates to eating these foods it will start creating the appropriate digestive enzymes it needs to digest these foods and you can slowly start incorporating more of them.
Always listen to your body. We are not one-size-fits-all so it's important to know what works for you and always respect any modifications you need to make.
Need help accessing fresh organic ingredients or coming up with a whole foods menu plan? Try Daily Harvest.
*if you have a chronic disease or are taking prescription medication, you should consult with your doctor before starting a detox program