Your 3-Day Winter Detox
With a whole lotta’ buzz about juicing, cleansing, and detoxing, going on, it’s really important that folks do the right type of detox for their body — and for the season — in order to retain or restore health balance.
In fact, some patients have come to me because they’ve developed health problems after doing a cleanse or detox — improperly.
One common mistake is doing the wrong type of detox for the season, particularly a detox that is cooling and depleting in the dead of winter’s cold.
In traditional medical systems, such as Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, paying attention to “food energetics” is an important part of restoring health. Various foods are recognized as having cooling or warming properties. In cold weather, it's considered important to consume more warm-natured foods to preserve the body’s optimal metabolic state.
The following is a 3-day Winter Detox that allows you to eat healthy, clean, nourishing foods without going hungry, while rebooting your digestion and promoting the natural detoxification processes of your body.
It’s a way to simplify your diet and lighten your toxic burden of environmental chemicals, sugar, and other burdens of the Standard American Diet, and this time of year it’s a nice way to reboot after dietary indulgences during the holidays.
The detox is completely gluten-free and dairy-free, with a low allergenic, anti-inflammatory profile. And it’s filling enough that you can even do it while going to work, as long as you prepare your snacks and lunches to take with you.
This is a light detox that does not aggressively mobilize stored toxins or deplete your nutrients, so you will not likely experience some of the side-effects that often accompany more extreme cleanses, such as headache, nausea, hunger, or fatigue.
To prepare for the detox, gather all of your supplies, including your groceries. You don’t want to go shopping during a detox because you might be tempted to go off of the plan! Having everything you need at home allows you to focus on your nutrition and health.
Ideally, do this over a weekend when you don’t have to go to work, with Day 1 being a Friday.
Three important principles to help you to mobilize and lighten the burden on your detox systems are to
- Stay well hydrated by drinking 8 to 10 large glasses of water (or water with lemon) daily
- Keep your bowels moving
Optimally you may have water with lemon, or a daily maximum of 1 cup of green tea with lemon (unsweetened).
During the detox, it is optimal to get at least one massage and do a sauna at least twice. If this is not possible, plan to at least do yoga or some form of light exercise daily for 45 minutes, and take a daily hot soak with 2 cups of Epsom salts and 7 drops of lavender oil in your tub.
Plan to purchase only organic foods for this re-boot — you don’t want to add environmental chemicals while you are trying to remove them!
You will have to eliminate all sugars (natural and refined), alcohol, coffee, and wheat-containing products for 3 days. If you are a daily coffee drinker, substitute it with green tea with lemon – this is a natural antioxidant that supports detox and will prevent you from experiencing a caffeine withdrawal headache.
Each day for 3 days:
Vegan smoothie: Blend 1 banana, 1 tbs. organic raw or roasted almond butter (omit if you are allergic to nuts), 2 tsp ground flax or chia seeds, ½ cup of frozen blueberries, 1 tbs. pea or rice protein powder, ½ cup of coconut water or almond milk, and optionally, add your daily probiotic to the smoothie.
Winter veggie juice: Juice 3 large organic carrots, 2 stalks of organic celery, 1 cup of fresh spinach or kale, 1 organic apple (choose your favorite type!), ½ of an organic lemon including the peel, and a ½ inch slice a of fresh ginger root.
This will make about 10 ounces.
Choice of ½ cup of cooked brown rice, millet, or quinoa
Choice of: 4 oz steamed or broiled chicken, fish, or tofu, or ¼ cup of toasted sunflower seeds, walnuts, or 2 tbs. tahini
1-2 cups of steamed vegetables, including kale, broccoli, carrots, onion.
Season with olive oil, lemon juice, dulse flakes, and if you’d like more flavor, fresh grated ginger, 1 clove of fresh pressed garlic, chopped fresh basil or cilantro if available.
Potassium Broth (see recipe below)
1 cup of miso broth with dulse (to prepare dissolve 2 tsp red or light miso paste to 1 cup of boiling water; add dulse flakes).
If you're still hungry, have 1 small handful or nuts, preferably raw almonds or walnuts
Eat by 7 pm and do not eat anything after this hour.
Choice of ½ cup of cooked brown rice, millet, or quinoa
Choice of: 4 oz steamed or broiled chicken, fish, or tofu, or ¼ cup of toasted sunflower seeds or walnuts, or 2 tbs. tahini (Season as for lunch)
Steamed or lightly sautéed vegetables including kale, broccoli, bok choy or nappa cabbage, carrots, onion, and if you’d like, add ½ cup of steamed winter squash or ½ of a sweet potato.
Optional dessert or snack
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen organic blueberries that have been brought to room temperature before eating.
- If you are not having a bowel movement at least once daily, add 400 mg magnesium citrate and 500-1000 mg of buffered ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the morning, and if needed, again in the afternoon.
- Take a probiotic each morning. For reliable information on selecting a probiotic, go here.
- B Complex: B vitamins help to calm and restore your nervous system. Rainbow Lite Makes a great product called Complete B Complex) that contains L-glutamine, and amino acid that helps to heal gut tissue.
Recipe for Antioxidant-Potassium Broth
Potassium broth helps to alkalizing your system and provides you with essential electrolytes to keep your cells happy and energized while you detox. It is easy and inexpensive to make. The addition of turmeric and rosemary adds an antioxidant boost that also lends some support to your liver.
This recipe makes 6 to 8 cups. Prepare it the day before you begin your detox. It keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days and can even be frozen for future use! If you feel hungry, have an extra cup!
- 4 medium organic white potatoes, cleaned but not peeled
- 6 large organic carrots, cleaned but not peeled
- 2 large organic yellow onion
- 6 stalks of organic celery
- 1 cup of chopped fresh organic parsley
- 1 Tablespoon of turmeric powder
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 12 cups of filtered (or pure) water
Chop all the veggies and place into a large stainless steel pot.
Add 2 teaspoons of good quality salt.
Cover with water.
Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 hour.
Strain out and discard the vegetables, saving the broth.
After your 3-Day Detox, you may feel so great that you wish to continue an expanded version of this diet for longer – feel free to continue this program for up to 1 week.
Aviva Romm, M.D. is both a midwife and an Internal Medicine and Board Certified Family Physician with specialties in Integrative Gynecology, Obstetric and Pediatrics, with a focus on women’s endocrinology. She’s also a world renown herbalist, and author of the textbook, Botanical Medicines for Women’s Health, as well as 7 other books, including The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. A practitioner, teacher, activist and advocate of both environmental health and women’s reproductive rights and health, she has been bridging the best of traditional medicine, total health ecology, and good science for over three decades. She practices medicine in both NY and MA, and lives in the Berkshires of Western MA.