How Not to Retox After a Detox

Photo cred: Brook Lark

Photo cred: Brook Lark

So you completed the Whole 30 or a different cleanse/detox program in January, now what?  Even if you didn't do a formal reset program, you probably set a goal or intention about avoiding certain foods or beverages like coffee, soda and alcohol.  

Everyone can benefit from some form of a "detox" a few times a year.  This provides our body the opportunity to perform its functions without having to work extra hard to get rid of the toxins found in so many processed foods and drinks.  That said, we need to incorporate more of these healthy habits on a permanent basis so that we don't retox and start this vicious cycle all over again.  Yes, it's great to eat clean for a few weeks.  But, if you do this only to fall completely off the wagon when your program ends, then I'd ask yourself to look deep into the reasons for your repeated behavior.   Only after these underlying reasons are addressed will you be able to make permanent and sustainable changes in your life.

As a holistic health coach and someone who leads clients through my whole foods "cleanse" several times a year, I love hearing how great people feel after this program.  They have more energy, fewer cravings, improved sleep, mood and skin...the list goes on.  What I continue to hear is how people tend to lose momentum and fall at least slightly off the clean eating wagon after a few weeks/months.  Remember, once you slip a few times it's so easy to throw in the towel and declare that you "might as well eat the pizza and cookies being served because you already got off track last night when you were out to eat".

Eating in such a restrictive manner is not necessarily healthy on a long-term basis; however, eating a primarily whole foods and plant based diet to varying degrees is a good idea for everyone.

Here are my tips on how to love yourself and continue eating clean beyond the first part of the year.

  • Allow yourself a cheat meal (or two) each week.  No one should expect to eat "perfect" 100% of the time nor is it healthy to operate with this mindset.  Often when you set this expectation you beat yourself up over any slip-up, which usually sends us in a downward spiral.  Maybe you even schedule these fun meals in your calendar?  I recommend not allowing yourself to have back to back cheat meals but make sure that the morning after your dinner out with friends that you start your day with a nourishing smoothie.  Drinking a fruit/vegetable based liquid meal is easy on your digestion, which is very important the day after your body had to work extra hard to eliminate the toxins you may have consumed in your food and drinks.   Give yourself a couple of clean meals before you have your next cheat meal.  This will ensure that you get back on track with the habit(s) you want to create.

  • Continue meal planning and prepping.  You may decide to add back gluten and dairy into your diet but that doesn't mean you should stop planning your balanced meals and incorporating a lot of leafy greens and a rainbow of veggies.

  • Choose minimally processed gluten-based grains and dairy, if desired.  Adding back gluten doesn't mean a free for all with eating goldfish, cookies and bagels.  Choose whole grains like farro, bulgur, wheat berries and a true sour dough bread.  When it comes to dairy enjoy organic full-fat plain yogurt and add berries, a clean granola and maybe a little honey to sweeten.  Add a little goat or feta cheese to your leafy green salad or sprinkle Parmesan on your roasted broccoli.

  • Every time you reach for a cheat food ask yourself if this is going to help you feel your best and live your best life.  Think about how you want to feel the next day and if it's worth it.  If/when you do decide to indulge use a small prep size bowl to portion out the snack and put the bag back in your pantry before you sit (yes sit) down to enjoy it.  Savor every bit allowing yourself to enjoy the food and don't look back with any regret.

  • Find a replacement (upgrade) to the habit you're trying to permanently break.  So, if you gave up coffee for 2 weeks I recommend adding it back slowly with the goal of maybe consuming a third or half of your normal consumption.  There are so many new beverages out there to replace diet soda and sweetened coffee drinks.  I am personally a huge fan of the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixirs including the Matcha Powder10 Mushroom BlendHot Cacao, Cordyceps (energy), Reishi (relaxing).  My husband and parents recently tried their mushroom coffee and said it didn't taste any different than their normal cup of joe (but has anti-oxidants to support immune function and well-being).

  • Identify what it is you like about the food that you are craving.   Is it a sugar or salty craving?  Ask yourself if you're bored, stressed, dehydrated or nutrient deficient. Maybe your afternoon coffee and treat is out of habit.  Drink a glass of water or herbal tea before allowing yourself to succumb to your craving.

  • Don't re-start buying highly processed snacks again just because you "can".   If you found good alternatives during your program that you enjoy, why not keep buying them?  I've found that if a junk food is in my house that it will win and I'll eventually eat it (even when it's hidden in the top cabinet).  

  • Enjoy your cheat days when you're out with friends/family or at a party enjoying good conversation.....not on a Tuesday afternoon when you get stressed and succumb to eating a cookie in the break room at work or your kid's snack.  When these moments hit (and they do for most of us) walk away from the situation, take some deep breaths, maybe go on a walk and then come back to where the temptation is and ask yourself if you really want it?


If you'd like to discuss how you can continue eating clean and keep your good habits up in the midst of your busy life then schedule a free 30- minute consult and start living your best life today! Sign-up HERE.

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Stephanie Potter