So, a few people have been in touch asking if I could post up an autumn detox. When I’ve overdone it (last last week, for example) I usually just shrug it off and get back to my normal eating. I know the things that don’t suit my body – sugar, wheat, alcohol, heavy rich fried foods – and so I just cut them out again and start to feel a whole bunch better.
But a lot of people like to follow a plan. So, here’s one of my favourite autumn cleanses, based on ayurveda. I like it for this time of year because it's warming. As we prepare for colder weather, it's best not to chill the body with lots of cold juices and frigid salads. Think warming, comforting, soothing.
Ayurveda has a whole science of detox – known as panchakarma. It was designed as a potent revitalization and rejuvenation program and was taken by ancient Indian princes three or four times a year. If you get the chance to do a full panchakarma, grab it with both hands. It’s not just wishful thinking: the ghee, sesame oil, massage and heat treatments of panchakarma loosen lipid peroxides (free radicals which cause cell damage), which are then eliminated in the weeks after detox. In addition, panchakarma has been found to "significantly" lower stress and anxiety, to improve cardiovascular health and to scavenge other kinds of free radicals which cause ageing and disease.
This is a very modified version of panchakarma but it will still have a profound effect on body, mind and soul.
If you possibly can, get hold of the ayurvedic preparations Trikatu and Triphala. Follow the instructions on the product you buy (I like Pukka herbs products). You should expect your bowels to become quite loose while undergoing this detox. However if this becomes extreme or uncomfortable, reduce your intake of Triphala.
Although the major part of this detox does fall over the weekend, you will need to start preparing mid-week so it’s not too much of a shock to your system.
Start the day with about two fluid ounces of warmed, liquefied ghee. Swallow it quickly (it doesn’t taste unpleasant, just strange) then suck a piece of orange to take away the oiliness in your mouth. Taking ghee internally in this way prepares the body for your detox, loosening ama (toxins) from the body.
Start the day with ghee as for Wednesday. You can follow it with a mug of hot water and freshly squeezed lemon which will help your bowels to move.
Eat your usual meals throughout the day but try to keep them light and avoid rich, heavy foods. Avoid alcohol and any sugar. Keep away from fried food or junk food.
Boil up four large glasses of fresh water and keep in a thermos–sip the hot water throughout the day. This will help to release ama. In addition you can drink another four glasses of water that has been kept at room temperature (don’t drink very cold water–it stops the digestion). As you won’t be drinking tea or coffee (or alcohol) you may want to find something to take its place–try herbal teas or freshly squeezed vegetable juice.
Before you go to bed, have a warm (not hot) aromatherapy bath with your choice of oil (juniperberry, vetivert or eucalyptus). Take Triphala with lots of warm water.
Again, start with liquefied ghee. Follow with a mug of hot water and freshly squeezed lemon.
Eat a light diet today. Cut out heavy proteins such as meat, cheese, eggs and milk. If you drink tea or coffee you can continue up until the end of your working day, but cut down your intake.
As yesterday, drink eight large glasses of mineral water–at least four should be hot.
Avoid salt and sugar.
Breakfast could be fruit compote; stewed fruit; fruit salad; oatmeal porridge made with water and served with nuts and seeds (plus a little maple syrup if you like – yes, it’s sugar but it’s not too bad).
For lunch choose something like steamed vegetables with a little lean chicken or fish or tofu.
After each meal take Trikatu.
Prepare yourself a light supper: a bowl of vegetable soup or dhal and basmati rice. Eat it as early as possible-around 6pm is ideal.
If you want a hot drink from now on, choose herbal tea (make sure it’s caffeine free), ginger tea or hot water.
Take Triphala with lots of warm water before bed.
On waking, have a mug of hot water and freshly squeezed lemon (tip: prepare a thermos just before you go to bed and keep it by the side of your bed).
For breakfast gently stew some seasonal fruits (eg apple, pear, raisins). Add a mug of herbal or spiced tea. Finish with Trikatu.
Lunch is a small bowl of kichadi. Chew each mouthful mindfully. Take Trikatu.
Make sure you drink at least eight glasses of water throughout the day (remember, don’t drink cold liquids with your meal). If you can drink it hot, so much the better. If not, make sure it is room temperature rather than straight from the fridge or tap.
Mid-afternoon you can have some fruit (either fresh or gently stewed). Or a handful of nuts and seeds.
Eat your supper at around 6pm. Once again, have a light meal of kichadi followed by Trikatu.
Don’t forget the Triphala before bed.
Have your usual hot water and lemon on rising.
For breakfast have stewed fruit and herbal/spiced tea followed by Trikatu.
For lunch have kichadi followed by Trikatu.
Remember to drink your warm water throughout the day.
Have your evening meal at around 6pm. Once again have kichadi and Trikatu
Have an early night. Triphala as before.
Have your usual hot water and lemon juice.
Breakfast as for Saturday and Sunday.
Today you can return to a more varied diet but don’t race into it. Stick to vegetable soup for lunch or maybe a light pasta with vegetable sauce. Follow meals with Trikatu.
Continue to drink warm water. Avoid coffee and tea, sodas and alcohol. Herbal teas should be your substitute.
Supper should be light–vegetable risotto or paella, root vegetable stew, soup, pasta. Try to avoid meat as it’s hard to digest. Steer clear of dairy for the same reason. Bread is also difficult to digest–if you must have it, toast it. Follow it with Triphala as before.
After Ayurvedic Detox
You may be able to take longer for your home detox. If so, that’s great and you can safely repeat the guidelines for Saturday and Sunday for as long as feels comfortable.
Whether you just do the weekend or continue for a longer detox make sure you ease yourself gently back into normal living. In other words, don’t suddenly start eating a full diet (packed with meat, dairy, stodge); drinking alcohol and coffee; staying up late etc. Your system won’t know what’s hit it.
It’s all safe to continue on a regular basis–except the internal taking of ghee, the ayurvedic preparations (Triphala and Trikatu) and the very modified diet.
There are a whole bunch of things you can do to support yourself while on detox – I’ll post some more over the next few days (if I can remember!).
I’ll also put up a Cheat’s Detox. J
For longer detoxes see my book The Detox Plan which also gives lots of advice on supporting therapies and DIY tips for home detoxing
For more on ayurveda see my book Live Well - how to work out your prakruti (mind-body type) and how to adjust your diet, exercise and lifestyle to suit your individual type.
This post is getting too long - I'll post recipes for ghee and kichadi on a separate post.