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How to Detox Without Starving Yourself

How to Detox Without Starving Yourself

Photo by Robert Gourley

Photo by Robert Gourley

Earlier this year my husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. If you were following along, you might remember that we didn’t get to have much of a honeymoon after our wedding since my book was scheduled to launch just four weeks later. (Yes, I regret these events being so close together. C’est la vie.)

So for our first anniversary we felt we deserved a real break, a relaxing trip with no friends, family or even Toaster. We took five glorious days off and chilled on a beach in Mexico, making a point to spend more time in the spa than in the gym.

As you might expect we felt a little doughy when we got home, so we immediately called our local juice company and ordered a 7 day detox cleanse to make up for it.


I know the temptation is there to combat what feels like extreme “bad” behavior with extreme “good” behavior. I get emails nearly every week from someone slyly asking me if it’s cool to try something intense like a juice cleanse or fasting to “get back on track” after a particularly decadent holiday.

Of course, moralizing your food choices in this way is the first part of the problem. There is nothing inherently bad about enjoying yourself, and nothing inherently good about starving yourself. As a foodist I’d argue that the opposite is closer to true.

But I can still understand the desire to right the ship when it feels like a large deviation from healthy has occurred. It sucks to feel unhealthy.

Finding a better way starts with your mindset. Combating extreme behavior with more extreme behavior undermines your healthstyle, because it undermines your habits. A foodist must remember––and believe––that attempting to build health through suffering hurts rather than helps.

Besides, you don’t need it.

When I get back from a long trip or encounter something else in life that takes me away from my normal healthstyle, I double down on my efforts to defend my Home Court Habits as soon as possible.

This usually starts with a trip to the farmers market or grocery store to stock up on healthy foods. I am sure to make my favorite breakfast every day, try to cook at home as much as possible. I focus on vegetables, beans, eggs and meat, and neglect sugar and refined grains. I get 10,000 steps a day and train at the gym.

In other words I do what I always do, without cutting any corners.

One of the greatest things about my Home Court Habits is that they are already designed to account for occasional indulgent behavior. When I follow my habits more tightly it creates a slightly negative energy balance (aka weight loss) while boosting nutrition and decreasing “toxins” (I hate that word) from processed foods.

It’s essentially a detox without suffering, though I don’t like to call it that. For me it just feels normal, and good.

Focusing on the healthy habits I already know and love certainly takes some work, but it doesn’t feel like suffering at all. It feels awesome. And it is usually just a matter of days before I’m back to my normal fit and happy self.

How do you recover from an indulgent period? Have you been tempted to do a cleanse or detox? What was the outcome?

Originally published July 21, 2014.

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