Skip the Cleanse: Easy Ways to Detox without Driving Yourself Insane

A certified personal trainer and health coach shares her tips for easy detoxing

Type the word “detox” or “cleanse” into Google and you’ll find an array of liquid diet plans that promise to help you lose weight quickly, improve your health and rejuvenate your life.

In fact, juice cleanses in particular are all the rage right now.

In theory, consuming nothing but fresh juice for a few days might sound like a fast and easy way to de-bloat, lose some weight and “detox” your body, but in reality it’s much easier said than done. And not always the best option either. 

“I once went to a fancy juicing retreat in Martha’s Vineyard for a three-day detox…. On my birthday….. With my mom,” says Justine SanFilippo, author of Lose Your Inches Without Losing Your Mind! 10 Simple Weeks to a Slimmer Waistline and a Healthier You. “Why I thought starving, detoxing and only drinking juice for my birthday and dragging my mom into it was a good idea, I’ll never know.”

SanFilippo says that she’s tried several different detox methods and has found that when it comes to weight loss, none she knows of work for the long run.

“If a person goes into a ‘detox’ with the intention of just cleansing their body—not to lose weight— they could be successful,” she says. “If a person only intends to drop weight fast, they will be sorely disappointed that most, if not all of the weight lost will come back the second they eat normal food.”

Instead of dealing with low energy levels, nausea and constant headaches—all side effects SanFilippo says she experienced during her juicing retreat—she recommends natural detoxing strategies that incorporate simple healthy habits as opposed to complete deprivation.

“Every single day, the body detoxes naturally through the liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs and skin,” says SanFilippo. “Eating organic and natural fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins and unprocessed foods helps the body be more efficient. Sweating through exercise helps the detox process as well.”

Want to detox without driving yourself insane? SanFilippo suggests following these healthy habits:

  • Drink enough water – aim for at least 64 ounces a day (8 cups)
  • Eliminate or reduce beverages like sodas (both regular and diet) and alcohol
  • Reduce caffeine consumption – caffeine can cause dehydration, which can lead to water retention
  • Add a wedge of lemon or lime to your water
  • Have a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar a day (improves digestion and promotes alkalinity – get the apple cider vinegar with the “mother” in it)
  • Eat enough fiber (28g/day for women and 35g/day for men)
  • Add more dark, leafy greens to your diet such as kale, Swiss chard and spinach
  • Drink herbal teas, such as decaf green tea
  • Watch the sodium – too much sodium can cause water retention and bloating

“One of my favorite ways to naturally detox is to make a fresh juice drink each morning,” says SanFilippo. “This starts off the day right and you get a super boost of vitamins and minerals.”

Below is the recipe for her favorite juice mixture.

  • 1 apple
  • 1 to 2 carrots
  • ½ cucumber
  • Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach or Swiss chard
  • Parsley
  • Wedge of lemon

SanFilippo says that a successful detox will result in increased energy levels, better sleep quality, less bloating and cravings for healthier foods.

“As an added bonus, your skin will be clearer and brighter, your hair will be silkier and you’ll just feel really good,” she says. “When you start to follow a healthier lifestyle, you’ll find that when you do fall off the bandwagon and have some sweets, junk food or too much alcohol, you’ll feel it.  Listen to your body.  It will tell you what it needs… And doesn’t need!”