Come Clean

Follow our simple 21-day clean-eating plan and reap the health rewards.
Come Clean
Pin it courtesy of Shutterstock

Change is hard, but these strategies for completing your cleanse—straight from our panel of bona fide detox deities—will make it a whole lot easier.
1} Clean house No, we’re not talking about scrubbing down your cupboards or counters, but getting rid of the wrong foods (at least temporarily) and stocking up on the right ones. Go ahead and leave your condiments in the refrigerator, but dump—or at least lock up—all the stuff you might be unable to resist in a moment of weakness. In place of the junk, load your fridge and pantry with organic vegetables, low-sugar fruits, gluten-free grains or whatever’s on the menu for the detox you’ve chosen. If you’re doing a program that involves lots of juices or other liquid concoctions, you’ll also want to invest in or borrow a quality juicer or macerating blender (check out ones by Vitamix and Breville).

2} Get a detox buddy Pairing up with a pal (or several) might just be your single best insurance policy for completing a cleanse. “Support from others keeps people motivated and emotionally connected,” says Elson Haas, M.D., an integrative physician in San Rafael, Calif., and author of The Detox Diet, Third Edition (Celestial Arts). Choose someone who’s as excited to detox as you are (and who won’t agree when you propose trading the cauliflower and kale for a night of cocktails). Cleansing with family members and co-workers can be a good call because you spend so much time together, but you don’t have to limit yourself to people in your immediate area. Invite a friend from across the country to detox with you (commit to checking in with each other daily by phone, text or email), or cleanse with a larger group on a social media site. Plenty of programs—including Haas’s ( and that of Kris Carr (, Woodstock, N.Y.-based author of Crazy, Sexy Diet (skirt!)—also have communities you can join for extra motivation and support.

3} Ease into it Taking baby steps toward your start date is crucial when doing a detox. “It’s best to have a wean week during which you have no more than 6 to 8 ounces of meat, and two or three servings each of dairy and gluten over the course of seven days,” says Carr. Even when not weaning, she recommends no more than three servings a week of meat, dairy and gluten. Coffee is the real kicker here, because caffeine withdrawal can be crazymaking— so try mixing in decaffeinated with regular coffee over the course of a few days, suggests Cathy Wong, N.D., C.N.S., a Boston-based naturopathic doctor and author of The Inside-Out Diet (Wiley): Use 75 percent regular and 25 percent decaffeinated the first day, 50/50 the second day, then 75 percent decaf and 25 percent regular on the third. By day four, you should be drinking 100 percent decaf. Also, Wong suggests using Swiss Water Process decaf, as the standard method involves chemical extraction of the caffeine. While you’re weaning yourself off forbidden foods, start ramping up the good stuff, too—including plenty of filtered water (steer clear of bottled water, which can contain toxins) and lots of organic vegetables, Carr advises.

4} Conquer the caffeine If you’re still missing your cup of joe during the detox, Carr recommends green or white tea, yerba mate or cacao (check out drinkchoffy .com), all of which contain only trace amounts of caffeine. Other options include Teeccino, made from grains (note: it has a bit of gluten in it), chicory or a tall glass of the juicy green stuff (veggies and herbs). “The more green juice you drink, the fewer outside stimulants you’ll need, because it’s loaded with a hefty blast of sustainable energy,” Carr notes. Another tip for the sluggish from Freston: “Substitute 10 to 30 minutes of exercise for your morning cup(s) of coffee.” If you’re getting caffeine withdrawal headaches, Haas recommends either aspirin, Advil or white willow bark (a total of two capsules three times daily) or 60 to 120 milligrams of salacin (the active ingredient in white willow bark), along with vitamin C powder crystals with calcium, magnesium and potassium ascorbates—alkaline minerals that counter cravings. The good news, he says, is that true caffeine withdrawal only lasts about 48 hours, so you should be well out of the headache stage by the end of wean weak. “Most people need only a dose or two of a pain reliever to get through,” Haas adds.