So, you’ve been thinking about doing a detox diet?
I can relate. If you’re a regular reader, you know that I finished up a 10 day detox diet just a few weeks ago. I’ve been writing this post in my head, over and over again, ever since. I really want to share the experience with you. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not trying to coerce you into a detox. Rather, I thought that sharing my experience, successes, and failures with you might be helpful for anyone already considering trying some sort of detox. I think it can be a great experience (or it could also be a horrible experience), so I’ll share what worked for me… And, what didn’t.
Detox Is a Four… Wait, No Five… Letter Word
First things first… Let’s talk about the word “detox.” I’ll say right off the bat that I don’t like it. I don’t care for “cleanse” all that much, either. A lot of articles that I’ve read indicate that our bodies don’t really need help to detox or cleanse. (Here’s one from WebMD.)
My detox was outlined in the book The Daniel Plan… They used the word “detox” to describe the first 10 (or up to 40) days of the plan, which is the reason I have used it. In that first 10 days, I cut out all gluten, dairy, sugar, and caffeine. Also, pretty much all processed foods were cut out… Though, that is the long-term plan, not just a 10 day detox.
But, rather than a “detox” or a “cleanse,” I found it more useful to call it an “elimination diet.” After all, that’s what I was doing… I was eliminating things from my diet to see how they affected me.
I’m an organized person. I have experience as an analyst and project manager. I love lists, schedules, agendas, and plans, almost to a fault at times. It can drive my husband crazy. A short weekend trip to “relax” requires multiple drafts of a packing list, a detailed itinerary, and a backup plan (and even a backup to the backup plan).
Crazy habits aside, being prepared and having a plan was key to my success when it came to drastically changing my diet. Before getting started, I created a meal plan for the whole ten days. I stocked the fridge and pantry with plenty “detox-friendly” whole foods. And, when I was going to be away from home, I planned ahead and always took snacks and a bottle of water along with me.
Know Your Intentions
A lot of people go on a detox diet to lose weight. That wasn’t the case for me. While I did want to lose some weight long-term, that wasn’t my focus for the 10 day elimination diet. I knew that I didn’t intend to cut out all dairy, gluten, sugar, and caffeine for the rest of my life. So, even if I did lose some weight in those 10 days, it might not be permanent. It wasn’t the point.
Rather, my purpose for the 10 days was to identify if I had any issues or sensitivities, particularly with dairy and gluten. Additionally, I cut out sugar (in all forms, except for whole fruit), not because of sensitivities, but because I knew I had a problem with it. I had tried to simply cut back in the past, and it hadn’t worked for me. My hope was that by cutting it out completely, my cravings would start to subside. And, they did.
Have a Support System… And, Plan Something Fun!
Whether it’s your best friend, sibling, cousin, neighbor, or spouse, find someone who will support you. Better yet, find someone who will participate with you.
I did my 10 day elimination diet with a group of friends in our study group from church (including my husband). Knowing that we were all doing it together (and would have to fess up to the whole group if we cheated) made it a lot easier. We shared tips and ideas, and we also shared cravings and whined to each other on Facebook. It was a great experience, and all of us made it for the whole 10 days.
While having friends on board was helpful, knowing that we all had something to look forward to in the middle of the 10 days made it even better. We planned a potluck dinner where everyone brought an “approved” food to share. That way, we had plans on the weekend that wouldn’t tempt us to eat anything we shouldn’t. We had fun together and we ate well.
Variety, Variety, Variety
Here’s where I went wrong. In my meticulous meal plan, I planned to eat a lot of salads. That might be fine for someone who loves salad, but I am not one of those people, especially in the middle of the winter. By about Day 6, I didn’t even want to look at a salad. While I never cheated, I ate fewer veggies than I should have for a few days in the middle. I kind of binged on homemade hummus, roasted beets, and gluten-free flatbreads that I made. Granted, of all of the foods to binge on, those certainly aren’t the worst. Regardless, if I was going to go back and do it again, I’d be sure to add a bit more variety into the meals I was eating.
I suppose this goes along with the whole variety thing. I found that cutting a handful of things out of my diet made me more creative with what was left. It may sound like a death sentence at first, but there are a whole lot of fabulous foods left, even after cutting out dairy, gluten, sugar, and caffeine.
I’m not telling you to try to create the perfect gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free Oreo or Pop Tart. You’ll find plenty of recipes like that online. They’re not necessarily bad, but they also won’t encourage you to make healthy changes to how you eat. Rather, come up with new dishes that highlight the great foods you can eat. We had really great chicken tacos with fresh guacamole, sauteed vegetables, rice, and beans. I’ve learned to love salmon with roasted potatoes and asparagus. I also discovered that I really like to have a smoothie and some scrambled eggs for breakfast (and hardly miss having pancakes and muffins).
Beyond the Detox…
I survived my 10 day journey… Actually, I kind of enjoyed it. But, now what?
I think that what comes after a detox diet is just as important as the diet itself… Perhaps it’s even more important. So, I’ll be talking about that in the next few days. Be sure to stop back!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Have you done any detox/cleanse/elimination diets? If so, what did you think? Any advice for anyone who is considering one?
Please Note – I’m not a doctor… I don’t even play one on TV. Before making any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle, you should consult your doctor and make sure it’s a healthy choice for you.