Detox Without Starving

Tips from two new books help you cleanse toxins with real foods

Pancakes from The 5 Day Real Food Detox
The 5 Day Real Food Detox features amazing-looking dishes like these cinnamon and turmeric-spiced pancakes.

Updated Jun 29, 2017 @ 4:19 pm

Juice fasts. Master Cleanses. Tea-toxes. Every year, a new and more extreme way to detox the dietary junk from your body becomes trendy. But are these liquid plans healthy? Opinions diverge, yet one thing is certain: most require you to deprive your body of essential macronutrients for days.

For those wanting to support their bodies’ natural detoxification processes—or simply hit the “reset” button on their diets—without feeling hungry, two new books offer a novel way to detox: with real food! The 5 Day Real Food Detox by Nikki Sharp and Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body by Amie Valpone both recommend disciplined yet satisfying regimens of eating organic, plant-based foods to safely detox in the short term and to establish a foundation of wellness for the long term.

Sharp is a model-turned-health coach who used to yo-yo between bingeing on processed foods and nearly starving herself, which led to a range of health issues from insomnia to acne and depression. Her dietician-approved detox plan involves eating three meals and two snacks per day (tasty recipes included!) that incorporate vegetables, fruits and plant-based proteins whose nutrients directly nourish the body’s cleansing organs, like the liver and kidneys.

Valpone is a former marketing professional who battled gut infections, inflammation and other health woes, which inspired her to become a healthy cook and blogger. Her 21-day elimination diet offers a way to identify trigger foods that may be wreaking havoc on your digestion, immunity and more. Her delicious vegetarian recipes are free of common dietary irritants including refined sugars, gluten and soy.

While the books take different approaches, they cover a lot of common ground. Here are five nuggets of shared wisdom that will help you happily eat your way to detoxification:

  1. “Pre-tox” and cut the junk: Before beginning your cleanse, give your fridge and cupboard a makeover (what Nikki Sharp calls “pre-toxing”). Eliminate foods with harmful chemicals, additives, preservatives, excess sugar (or artificial sweeteners), dairy, alcohol and caffeine (except for green tea).
  2. Go organic: Give your body a break from pesticides, artificial hormones and other toxins present in conventionally farmed foods by restocking with mostly (and exclusively, if you can) organic ingredients.
  3. Eat primarily plants: Fruits and vegetables are nature’s detoxifiers—their phytonutrients combat free radicals and optimize the body’s detox system. For your daily dose of protein, turn to plant-based sources like nuts, seeds, beans and quinoa.
  4. Substitute smartly: Continue with your daily pleasures by substituting cleaner options. Temporarily, instead of coffee, begin the day with dandelion tea or warm water with fresh lemon juice. Swap that candy bar for raw almonds with fresh berries.
  5. Enjoy yourself!: Get creative within limitations by creating colorful, enticing dishes that truly satisfy. Even when not on a cleanse, we’d love to eat Sharp’s sensational stir-fry with cauliflower mash and Valpone’s lemon basil millet burgers with mango salsa.