21 days to a new you: Detox your body

Ready to jump-start your whole body? Consider doing a detox cleanse over the next three weeks or month.
© MSN Healthy Living // © MSN Health

Eliminating toxins and possible allergens from your diet helps reduce intake of bad stuff, and by necessity, increases your intake of really great stuff, including nutritious greens, root veggies, fresh fruits and whole grains. You can do this with the supervision of a naturopath or other doctor, but you can also do your own version which will save money and introduce a lot of great habits that you may find yourself wanting to stick with after your detox period is over. Shall we begin?

By Anne Hurley for MSN Healthy Living

1 of 23 Walking (Moof/Getty Images)

Day 1: Make a plan for a month of elimination

Most elimination or detox eating plans last a month, which helps give structure to your new eating plan – and your shopping list. (Try to shop for everything you'll need for the month before you get started.) Week one: Eliminate all red meat. Week two: Add poultry to what you eliminate. Week three: Eliminate all fish and seafood, and eat a completely vegetarian or vegan diet. Week four: Gradually add back in foods to your diet that you especially miss, and leave out anything that you felt better not eating.

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2 of 23 Make a plan (RunStudio/Getty Images)

Day 2: Resolve to eat whole foods for a month

This may be tough, but that means ditching all those convenient prepackaged foods – including microwaved meals – you love so much. Soon, you'll find it's easier than you think. Instead of buying fruit-added, sweetened yogurt, get creamy nonfat Greek yogurt, chop up your own favorite fruits (and nuts) and drizzle in a smidge of honey if you like. You'll know exactly what you're eating, which is far better for you than ingesting a lot of chemicals you don't know. Read labels; if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it.

3 of 23 Whole foods (Image Source/Getty Images)

Day 3: So long, sugar!

Cut out as much added sugar and sugary processed foods as you can. Try baked apples or fruit salads for dessert and eat lots of fresh fruit every day. As you're weaning yourself from sugar, you can indulge in a little honey here and there, but try to cut back on that as well. If you're like many of us, you could be addicted to sugar, so withdrawing from it may take a toll on your mood. The good news is it's honestly hard only for the first three days or so. After you've kicked it, you will not notice the cravings.

4 of 23 No sugar (Diana Miller/Getty Images)

Day 4: Ditch the soda

That means diet as well as regular soda. There's growing evidence that the fake sweeteners and chemicals in diet pop can actually make you gain more weight than the sugar-loaded regular kind. The chemicals in the sweeteners seem to trigger the body's cravings for sweets, so you may subconsciously be reaching for the candy dish at work even more when you're chugging the diet soda. Swap in fizzy water, flavored seltzer and ice water flavored with slices of fresh lemon and cucumber.

5 of 23 Flavored water (JFCreative/Getty Images)

Day 5: Switch up your caffeine choice

Give up coffee. Instead, drink green tea, which has a small amount of caffeine (so you're not likely to get those evil caffeine-withdrawal headaches) as well as a ton of amazing antioxidants. Try different varieties, too. Some Japanese and Hawaiian brands have a distinctively nutty, delicious flavor; some are blended with rose hips or freeze-dried bits of citrus for a livelier kick. Drink it hot, and brew up some iced green tea, too; you may need it to help replace soda.

6 of 23 Green tea (Jessica Antola/Getty Images)

Day 6: Get thee to a sauna

If your gym has a sauna, make a point of going two or three times a week, either after a workout or just on its own. Saunas are an excellent, natural way to help the body eliminate waste quickly. Try starting out at 10 minutes at a time, and work your way up if you can tolerate the heat. Saunas also help relax your body and mind and help your muscles bounce back after a workout. Just remember to stay hydrated – bring water into the sauna to sip on regularly.

7 of 23 Sauna (John Giustina/Getty Images)

Day 7: Make an appointment with a nutritionist

If you've always wondered whether you have gluten sensitivity or why you have so many migraines, a nutritionist may be able to help you with an additional, targeted plan to eliminate wheat, dairy, soy or other potentially allergenic foods. Try to resist the urge to self-diagnose where food sensitivities are concerned and get professional guidance. Nutritionists also are well-versed in creative cooking to get around food allergies.

8 of 23 Nutritionist (Jo Unruh/Getty Images)

Day 8: Make a toast to no alcohol for a month

Yes, you heard right. No liquor, wine, beer or anything else in between. This will help your liver rest up and refocus; instead of working mightily to get the alcohol's poisons out of the body, it can focus on eliminating other toxins. No pouting – taking a break from alcohol is also a good reality check to see if you feel different without drinking (and if so, how) and to see if your relationships change in any way. Bonus: You'll save a lot of cash this month, and with the extra fizzy water or juice drinks you'll be having instead, your skin is going to look amazing.

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Day 9: Ditto cigarettes

I know this isn't going to be easy, but if you truly want to detox your body, you have to get it off nicotine and cigarette smoke. You already know those two things are super-toxic to the body and cause all sorts of health issues. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be quite so daunting. Anyone can do almost anything for three or four weeks. If you look at it that way – as if you're conducting a science experiment on your body – you should be able to get through it. If it's just too much to do all at once, try having one cigarette every other day, and then reducing that amount as time goes by.

10 of 23 Cigarettes (Monzino/Getty Images)