Weekend Detox

This gentle cleanse won’t leave you starved—and it allows time for contemplation to help break bad habits for good.
Weekend Detox
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BREAKFAST Upon waking, drink two cups of warm or room-temperature water. This will flush the kidneys and stimulate peristalsis, the contractions that move food through the digestive tract, says Alex Jamieson, a holistic health counselor and author of The Great American Detox Diet: Feel Better, Look Better, and Lose Weight by Cleaning Up Your Diet (Rodale, 2006). For your first meal, combine fruit with protein for longerlasting energy. (If you eat fruit on its own, its high sugar content sets you up for a sugar crash later on.) Jamieson recommends a creamy porridge made with quinoa, a light grain that’s high in protein. Rinse 1 cup of dry quinoa in cold water, then boil with 2 cups of water for 20 minutes; add 1 tablespoon chopped almonds and 4 apple slices. Sprinkle with some cinnamon and nutmeg, spices that help stabilize blood sugar.

LUNCH Prepare a seasonal soup that will last for days: Sauté 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 diced onion in 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Add 2 cups of vegetables like parsnips, butternut squash, and carrots, and enough water or vegetable stock to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Check after 20 minutes to see if the veggies are fork-tender. Add salt to taste; serve hot.

SNACK Mix protein and healthy fats for an energy boost: Spread 1 tablespoon of raw almond butter over a sliced green apple. The malic acid in green apples is good for your liver and helps with cellular metabolism, says Elson Haas, M.D., an integrated medicine practitioner and author of The New Detox Diet (Celestial Arts, 2004). “It helps everything work better, including detoxification.”

DINNER Bake a chicken breast in the oven and serve it over 1 cup of uncooked spinach. Raw foods are rich in enzymes that help the body process food more readily and use it for energy, says Haas. Cooking food can dilute the vital nutrients. Serve with 1 cup brown rice, which is more easily digested than other grains, allowing your body to focus on releasing rather than digesting toxins.

CLEANSING YOGA POSE Reclining Bound Angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) Calming poses, like Reclining Bound Angle pose, help you focus on letting go and emptying out, says Janice Gates, author of Yogini: The Power of Women in Yoga (Mandala Publishing, 2006). Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together with the knees open, and place a rolled blanket under each knee for support. Lie back on a bolster that supports your spine vertically, and rest your buttocks and calves on the floor. Place a folded blanket under your head to support your neck, and rest an eye bag on your eyes. Allow your arms to relax by your sides. Feel your breath flowing in and out. Stay here for five minutes.

CLEANSING RITUAL Dry Skin Brushing The skin is the largest organ of elimination, so it’s important to remove dead cells to improve its ability to excrete toxins, says Courtney M. Miller, a yoga teacher and coordinator of detox programs at Universal Force Healing Center in New York City. Dry brushing also stimulates the lymphatic system, says Haas, enhancing the detox process. Using a natural body brush with a long handle, start at the soles of your feet. Make circular strokes using a light touch, adding more pressure “depending on what your body can handle,” says Haas. Slowly move up the front of the body to the ankles, calves, thighs, and stomach. Continue on to your hands, arms, and shoulders. Then brush the back of the body in the same pattern. Always brush toward the center of your body, and avoid the face or any areas with irritated skin. The whole process should take under five minutes.

CLEANSING HERBS Psyllium and Slippery Elm Both psyllium and slippery elm are good for tummy troubles: Psyllium helps loosen toxins from the large intestine, and slippery elm helps with digestion. Buy them in powder form at a health food store. Mix a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of psyllium and a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of slippery elm into 1/2 cup of apple juice and 1/2 cup of water. Shake until mixed thoroughly, then drink. Have water throughout the day to avoid stomach upset. Do this twice a day: morning and night.

DAILY DETOX TEA Mullein A strong herbal tea can help cleanse your body. According to Carrie L’Esperance, author of The Seasonal Detox Diet: Remedies from the Ancient Cookfire (Healing Arts, 2002), different organs should be cleansed during different seasons. In the fall, it’s the lungs and large intestine, so drink teas with herbs that help cleanse these organs, like mullein, which helps remove and loosen mucus from the lungs. To prepare a medicinal-strength dose, buy loose herbs at a health food store and steep 2 tablespoons of mullein and 1 tablespoon of peppermint (to add flavor) in 2 cups of hot water for at least 20 minutes. Strain and drink. When taken as a tea, “herbs are absorbed into the bloodstream immediately,” says L’Esperance. “They’re easy to digest, and effective and gentle on the system.” Drink 1/2 cup three times a day: morning, noon, and night.