Come Clean

Follow our simple 21-day clean-eating plan and reap the health rewards.
Come Clean
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5} Prep what you can Although most cleanses don’t require a ton of cooking, having certain staples at the ready is still important. If grains or legumes (the soakingrequired variety) are on the menu, cook up your favorites in advance so you can quickly reheat them at mealtime (use the stove, though—no nuking!). For salads, smoothies or juices and veggie snacks, wash and cut them all ahead of time. If you’re doing a program involving more timeconsuming recipes, make at least a few—and up to five days’ worth—in advance as well, suggests Wong.

6} Manage your moods Detoxing can bring up all kinds of emotions, which may become exacerbated when you realize you can’t turn to the usual suspects to numb them away. “Sometimes people who are really hooked on caffeine, sugar, chocolate, alcohol, cheese or other substances have a bit of a withdrawal during the first several days, often manifesting as lower mood, lack of energy or irritability,” Freston notes. “But as they come out of that phase, they are glad to have broken free.” Simple as it sounds, staying hydrated with filtered water, herbal teas and green juices—particularly first thing in the morning, when the body needs to rehydrate, and in the late afternoon—is one of the best things you can do to combat emotional instability. Eating enough is also a challenge—and an often-overlooked cause of mood issues—when detoxing. “You should never feel hungry while cleansing,” says Freston. “If you do, eat something. You have plenty of delicious, nutritious options!” Make sure you exercise, too. Cardio activities like running are good for releasing feel-good endorphins when you’re down, while more meditative practices like yoga can help soothe stress.

7} Conquer your cravings When your usual pick-me-up snack time rolls around and a caramel latte starts calling your name, turn to a healthy substitute such as a square of organic dark chocolate, suggests Nicole Egenberger, N.D., a New York City-based naturopathic doctor. (Some detoxes do allow a taste!) You can also try herbal tea or lemon water sweetened with stevia to help squelch sugar cravings. Arming yourself with healthy snacks—and eating them before hunger really takes hold— is also important. Reardon recommends having dried, unsweetened fruits like mangoes, 1-ounce packets of nuts and mini brown rice cakes at the ready wherever you go. For more steely souls, “simple breath work may suffice,” says Ann Carey Tobin, M.D., an integrative medicine physician in Delmar, N.Y., who also suggests inhaling therapeutic-grade essential oils such as grapefruit to stimulate focus and relaxation, promoting mindful eating. Don’t underestimate the power of a good distraction, either: Play with your dog, phone a friend, read a book or magazine. According to Haas, cravings tend to subside around day three—so you may not even need all of these strategies for the duration.

8} Outsmart your social calendar Although a detox doesn’t have to take over your life, schedule it for a time when you don’t have a lot of special occasions in your datebook. Starting on the weekend is often easier, notes Carr, so you have fewer distractions and plenty of time to focus on food prep. If you’re traveling, pack lots of portable foods (Freston recommends a bag of nuts, Granny Smith apples or pears, vegan energy bars, herbal teas, vegan protein and green drink powder) and carry a water bottle that you can fill at a fountain or café after making it through airport security. Many places, including gas stations and Starbucks, sell fresh bottled vegetable juices, unadorned salads and low-sugar fruits like apples and berries (all excellent, cleanse-friendly road foods). If you simply can’t get out of a social function, just do your best with what’s available. “Ask for a salad with oil and vinegar dressing and steer clear of dairy,” says Egenberger. To avoid awkwardness with party hosts, make sure to let them know you’re doing a cleanse, Freston adds. But also realize that having a morsel or two of forbidden food does not have to equal detox destruction. “Just resume the routine as soon as possible, without guilt,” Tobin advises. Gorging on cake at your cousin’s wedding doesn’t exactly fit this exception—but having a small bite or a few sips of red wine is acceptable. Focus on the big picture, and chances are your detox successes will be many.