This time of year, the word on everyone’s tongue seems to be detox. There are fancy juice cleanses, organic meal delivery programs like Sakara (my favorite but it’s pricy), and of course, Goop’s famous (or infamous, depending on how you feel about her – I’m a fan!) annual cleanse. But is detoxing really worth it? Does it really work? And what exactly are all of these toxins that our bodies need to eliminate!? Here’s the thing. Our bodies are naturally great at detoxing on their own. But sometimes they just need a little bit of extra help (especially after the holidays and/or a big trip)… any time you start to feel like you need to hit reset. Detoxing can help you to lose a few extra lbs, aid with seasonal allergies, and even balance your hormones.
Personally, I am not a fan of juice cleanses (or anything terribly drastic, for that matter). I’ve done them in the past and while I do think they can be a great way to eliminate cravings and hit reset, I always end up feeling deprived and hungry (and more likely to reach for something unhealthy afterward). They can also be really expensive and I’d personally rather spend half of the money a juice cleanse costs and splurge on amazing produce + meats from the farmer’s market.
I do think this is something that really depends upon your personality. Some people do really well by making a drastic change… I do better when I make smaller changes and stick with them. So here is what I do when I want to detox. Nothing too crazy (the diet part is hard but still manageable) along with a few things that are actually really fun (dry brushing, sweating, taking a detox bath)!
* Change your diet. // This part is the hardest. For two weeks (or longer!), cut out all the bad stuff. Alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten, and dairy are the main culprits. In Goop’s detox they also recommend getting rid of corn, soy, and nightshades. Cutting out these things will get you the same results as a fancypants juice cleanse, without leaving you feeling deprived. Think big salads with leafy greens, lean proteins, steamed veggies, soups… the works. You can get creative and still have delicious (filling) food… you just have to put in the legwork and cook. It won’t be easy (I always get a sugar/caffeine headache) but after a few days the headache will be gone. Goop has lots of great detox recipes and I also love her cookbook It’s All Good (one of my all-time favorite cookbooks) for even more recipes.
* Eat organic. // So yes, organic produce costs more than regular produce but the difference really is not that significant… especially if you are cooking at home and not eating takeout/going out to restaurants.
* Eliminate sugar but also artificial sweeteners. // We touched on sugar above but artificial sweeteners are just terrible for you. Besides the fact that you are eating chemicals, studies show that they can actually lead to weight gain because they make your body crave real sugar and sweets. Oof. If you are consuming a lot of artificial sweetener, start by cutting back gradually. If you really need something, stick to stevia (but after your detox)! I am not perfect… I will confess that I had a nasty Splenda habit until Julia and Jess yelled at me about it on this trip!
* Lemons // Lemons are a great detox fruit – and while they are acidic in flavor, they can help to reset the body’s pH balance. Lemon also encourages digestion… moving things right along if you get my drift. I love drinking warm water with a slice of lemon before bed and first thing in the morning, and then I drink lemon water (from my handy infusion pitcher) all day long.
* Dry Brushing // I did a dry brushing tutorial last year and swear by it. Dry brushing is one of the most effective (and also cheap, easy) ways to detox your body. Your skin is the body’s largest organ and is actually responsible for 10-15% of elimination… this will help to jump start that process. Spend about 5 minutes brushing your skin with a dry brush (I love this jute brush) before the shower. Do this every day for amazing results. It unblocks pores, sloughs off dead skin cells, increases circulation, stimulates your lymphatic system and can even help reduce the appearance of cellulite. It also feels really good and makes your skin super soft.
* Sweat! // Sweating is the easiest way to naturally detox. Hit the gym, get out for a run, whatever! If you are really focused on detoxing though, you’ll want to do the thing that makes you sweat the most. For me that’s hot yoga. I love Y7 Studio’s classes here in New York – the music is amazing and they turn up the heat… not to the level of Bikram, but enough that you sweat a lot. If you don’t like hot classes like that, just do your regular workout and then spend some time in the steam room or sauna afterward.
* Take a Detox Bath! // After you do your dry brushing, hop in the tub for a nice long (twenty minute) soak. I personally swear by Refinery 29’s detox bath recipe. I bookmarked this post when it first came out and have since probably made this bath at least a dozen times. The ingredients are nothing fancy, but it feels amazing and leaves skin so soft. Afterward, slather your body in organic almond oil and shea butter. Ahhhh.
* Ginger Tea // Ginger tea is so good for you. My mom got me hooked on this one, it’s the best! It’s amazing for your digestion, it soothes your stomach and hydrates you, and it’s packed with anti-oxidants. As an added bonus, tea also helps to fill you up so that you eat less. You can also make your own by grating fresh ginger into hot water but I’m not quite that fancy.
photography by Trent Bailey.