5 Steps to Transition Off of a Cleanse or Detox

Posted On Feb 15, 2017 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

5 Steps to Transition Off of a Cleanse or Detox

One of the main reasons I can't stand cleanses and detoxes: Most don't provide a clue on how to go from downing apple cider vinegar concoctions and nothing but cabbage and bone broth to a normal (and practical!) eating plan. And although I don't recommend cleanses and detoxes, I do recognize the appeal of having a clean slate (or plate!) and having a kick-start for weight loss or healthier eating in general.

I recently had someone ask me how they would transition from doing my own 10-day diet plan and it got me to thinking that for everyone out there inspired to do a New Year's cleanse or detox, these tips would be helpful to making more permanent sustainable nutrition changes. We aren't going to dissect the hundreds of cleanses and detoxes or discuss the pros and mostly cons of them – that's for another blog – but should you decide to embark upon a cleansing path, here's what to do next.

  1. Have a plan

    Before even starting the cleanse/detox process, develop a meal plan for immediately following the program. One of the reasons detoxes are enticing is because they're usually simple and a step-by-step plan is provided. Choose 1-2 breakfast and lunch options to have for the week with dinner being the one meal that varies from day to day. This approach works best for most people.

  2. Make a gradual transition

    Don't go from eating nothing but fruits and veggies back to your normal diet, unless you ate extremely healthy to begin with. This would defeat any benefits gained from the cleanse and it's hard on your body. Gradually add in 200-300 calories per day if you followed an extremely low-calorie program, which most cleanses are.

  3. Introduce high-offending foods including wheat, dairy, added sugar, high-fat meats, alcohol, and caffeine one at a time

    This allows you to test your body and find out if you're sensitive to any foods or beverages that you should limit or eliminate long-term. If you notice any digestive issues, skin issues, or any other reactions within three days of re-introducing one of the above mentioned items, you're probably better off staying away from those foods. Also consult with a doctor.

  4. Keep the realistic changes the detox/cleanse introduced

    Depending on which detox/cleanse you follow, there could be some great habits to continue. Things like drinking more water or unsweetened tea, eating more vegetables, or having a daily smoothie with fruits and vegetables.

  5. Aim for 80% of your plate coming from whole foods

    Like fruits, vegetables (including potatoes), eggs, lean protein, nuts, and minimally processed grains like oats, quinoa, and brown rice. For example:

    • Breakfast: Eggs, Fruit, & Toast
    • Lunch: Grilled Chicken Salad with sliced almonds and feta crumbles + fruit
    • Dinner: Lean steak, baked sweet potato, and steamed broccoli
    • 1-2 Snack Options: Nuts, hummus and veggies, string cheese and apple

If you do chose to do a detox or cleanse, think about why you're doing it first. What do you want to get out of it? Avoid the ones requiring expensive supplements, vitamins, or meal replacement products. If you feel awful during the process, follow the above steps to get into a healthier eating routine that will keep you energized and feeling great!