The principals behind detox are that by significantly lowering your intake of toxins and increasing your intake of nutrients that support liver function you can firstly give your liver a rest to recover and regenerate (yes liver cells can grow back) but also allow your body to release some of the toxins it has stored safely away in your fat cells, not only helping detoxify your body but also helping you lose weight (your body won't want to break down those fat cells containing toxins unless it thinks the liver has the capacity to detoxify them).
As I've mentioned previously I don't think that detoxing when the weather is cold is a good idea because your body is already under stress from the cold weather, and in addition will naturally want to hold onto fat to keep you warm, rather than break it down - so the body may resist the detox.
I also don't think throwing yourself straight into a deep detox is a good idea if you haven't already been following a very 'clean' diet, so it's actually good to work your way into it.
A great first step is having detox dinners. What this involves is eating a very low toxin easy to digest dinner every evening (other than one or two 'treat' evenings a week). This means that you're not loading your body with toxins just before you go to sleep, when your liver will do most of it's work, giving it more time to deal with stored toxins in the body. It's also a way to reduce your toxin intake overall as over-indulging at dinner time is a pretty embedded habit in British food culture. Another side effect is also that your digestive system is less over-loaded before bed leading to a better nights sleep.
Having detox dinners can also be a great tool to help kick start weight loss again, or lose a few extra pounds gained through a period of indulgence.
So what makes up detox dinner?
1) Vegetables - full of antioxidants needed by the liver for the chemical processes of detoxification, combined with fibre that can bind with the toxins in the gut to make sure you excrete them, rather than reabsorbing them (yes you can reabsorb toxins from your gut back into your blood stream).
2) Easy to digest carbohydrates - highly processed, refined carbohydrates can clog up the digestive system causing toxic build up, whilst alot of wheat can irritate the gut. Having low glycemic easy to digest carbohydrates such as brown rice, gluten free rice or corn pasta, gluten free brown bread or sweet potato helps your digestion work smoothly and eliminate waste.
3) Easy to digest low-toxin protein - unfortunately the way animals are farmed today and the pollution in the seas means that animal produce just isn't as clean and toxin-free as it should be. However protein is important for the bodies repair overnight so detoxing shouldn't mean going low-protein. Detox dinner proteins should be easy to digest and not derived from animal produce, such as pulses, tofu/soya (no more than three times a week) and good quality protein powders such as whey, rice or hemp that can be made into highly digestible smoothies.
4) water or herbal tea - an essential input into the detoxification process, drink regularly but have a glass before bed to make sure the liver has sufficient water supply
So what kind of dinner can you make out of this?? Here are some super-easy to prepare examples:
Home made brown rice vegetarian sushi rolls with tofu, avocado, carrot and cucumber
Lentil soup with gluten free brown roll and salad
Gluten free pasta with dairy free pesto (I like Meridian brand), baby salad leaves and protein shake
Baked sweet-potato with mashed tofu and herbs, or kidney beans and chopped tomatoes with a side of steamed vegetables.
Vegetarian lentil 'bolognese' with gluten-free spaghetti and a fresh vegetable juice (such as carrot, ginger and spinach)
Chinese vegetable stir-fry with gluten-free soya sauce and brown rice
Hummous with gluten-free brown pita strips and vegetable crudites to dip