Detox … if you must


Detoxing has become as fashionable as a Manolo Blahnik stiletto. In certain circumstances a gentle detox is justified. However I have several “issues” with the concept!

In fact, I was going to call this article ‘A POX ON DETOX’! Perhaps if I express my reservations first, I will be freed to go on to suggest a Beaming With Health approved version of a detox … If you feel you must!

My first concern is that for the average Joe or Josie, with an averagely healthy body, their organs of detoxification and elimination (namely the liver, bowel, lungs, skin and kidneys) do a perfectly adequate job. Day in, day out, these organs happily go about their business, in the most part willingly and without complaint. Imagine their shock when one morning they wake up to find themselves purged, rinsed and starved, what’s more… being told it’s ‘for your own good’! In general, the body prefers a status quo. It likes regular eating, sleeping and exercise patterns. Many detox programs are entered into after a period of partying or eating badly. While the intent is good, going directly from ‘very bad’ to ‘very good’ is in itself a stress. The news is boring, boring, boring. It’s much better to err slightly, and get back on a healthy balanced track, than to seesaw between two extremes.

My second concern is rather more esoteric. The word detoxification implies we are toxic. Tying in to feelings of guilt and a cult of perfectionism. Going on a detox for some people is the equivalent of wearing a hair shirt. Only more visible. We really need to learn to love our warts and peccadillos. Without the shame.

Finally, my last concern is far more cynical. (And I need to own up to personal ‘stuff’ as an ex-anorexic and exercise addict) I believe that some people go on a detox as a form of rapid weight loss diet, but it has the patina of doing it in the name of health. In the same way gym junkies pound their bodies to get into shape. It is vanity not health. Nothing wrong with trying to look your best, but both these things can verge on obsession.

Hmmmph! Now I have all that off my chest, I feel much better! Perhaps, a better way of viewing a detox is as a ‘kick-start’ to a long-term healthier way of eating. Here is the BWH approved detox plan .

Plan your detox over two weeks. Two days to ease into it, 10 days ‘hard-core’ and two days to ease out into the real world again.

Foods to enjoy

  • All fruit, vegetables. Preferably organic.
  • Legumes (eg lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh)
  • Fish (best eaten fresh,or canned in olive oil or spring water)
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Miso soup
  • Herbal teas (especially Glow)
  • Cooking spices and herbs
  • Extra virgin olive oil, other cold pressed vegetable, nut or seed oil
  • Good quality plain (unsweetened) yogurt


  • Sugar
  • Grains (wheat, rye, oats etc)
  • Tea and coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Red meat
  • Deli meats
  • Fried food (stir fry in olive or coconut oil OK)
  • Milk products (except good quality plain yoghurt)
  • Dried fruit

Days 1-14

  • Start day with juice 1/2 lemon in hot water (honey optional)
  • One juice daily – mixture of carrot, beetroot, celery, ginger
  • Drink 2 litres of water daily
  • Drink three cups of Glow tea daily
  • Food is best eaten raw, lightly steamed, stir fried or dry baked.

Things to watch out for

  1. Headaches are a very common side effect of detoxing. Headaches often occur when we remove caffeine and sugar from our diet, which just goes to show there’s a little bit of addiction happening. Usually, headaches appear 48 hours after starting the detox and should only last a day or so. However, some people may experience them for up to one week. The best thing to do is to drink plenty of water, and if you really can’t bear it take a Panadol.
  2. Irritability. No one said a detox was going to be fun. However, like the headaches, feeling blah should only last a couple of days before you feel fantastic.
  3. Constipation. For some people a radical change in diet can cause your bowels to go on strike. Ease them back on track by adding two teaspoons of psyllium husks or chia seeds to a glass of water each day.


Your detox could be a time to start or further other healthy habits such as exercise and meditation.