Forget everything you think you know about detox. No fasting, no scary laxatives—this cleanse is about pure, natural, delicious food. Whether you follow these tips for a weekend or a month, we guarantee that you’ll feel refreshed inside and out.
Become an antioxidant addict
For 3 days, focus on eating brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Antioxidants activate liver enzymes that "knock out" harmful substances and make them water soluble, so your body can get rid of them more easily. Spinach, kale, and cranberry are super-antioxidant-rich.
Practice chemical-detox warfare
Garlic, onions, and eggs are rich in sulfuric compounds that help your body produce its own antioxidant, glutathione. This homegrown helper is especially good at ushering out toxins, including heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic.
Pesticides are toxins, "and I think there's good cause for worry about them," says Purdy. A new study in Food and Chemical Toxicology links pesticide-laced feed to tumors and early death in rats. Organic is ideal, but if that's not possible, pick produce with thick skins that peel off, because they're less likely to be contaminated.
Part of the goal is to pee, poop, and sweat toxins out of your system, says Purdy, so drinking 8 to 12 glasses of water or decaffeinated tea a day is essential.
Avoid processed foods (anything containing ingredients you can't pronounce or don't recognize), fast food, fried food, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, red meat, sugar, and white flour. You don't want to eat anything that contains the toxins you're trying to eliminate.
If you must nibble between meals, choose organic fruit and nuts, or have a small salad topped with a few slices of chicken or salmon. Dress it with lemon juice and a little extra virgin olive oil.
Bust sugar cravings
Brew a cup of licorice tea. Licorice contains a compound that's 50 times sweeter than sugar, so it can tamp down your holiday sweet tooth.
Consider eating lighter for 24 more days
"After a few days, you'll lose that 'can't get off the couch' feeling because the effects of sugar, starch, and alcohol will begin to recede," says Martha Howard, MD, medical director of Wellness Associates of Chicago. Continue for a full month and you'll multiply your energy as your weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol tick down.