My 21 days of ‘detox’

just 22 days before Christmas?


What am I thinking

…going on a strict diet, just before the holidays? If anything, this is the time to hit the gym hard and put on some muscle, using surplus holiday food to my advantage!

On the other hand, I’m entering the holiday season a little less lean than would be ideal for a “bulk.” I’m not fat by a long shot, but I’m not rippled and ripped and showing my six pack, either. If history serves, I’m pretty confident that I’d add plenty of fat along with my muscle, and since I’ve already got “plenty of fat,” now’s not the time to add more.

Also, I’ve been feeling run down a bit. Between the stress of the book edits, a quick, emergency fix to the book cover, food poisoning, a couple of nasty colds,  moving my dad and selling his house, and various other stressors, I feel too close to my own personal tipping point to add in the stress of more time in the gym and more time under the bar[bell], both of which would be necessary to effectively put on muscle.

No, now is not the time.


Holiday food challenges

On the other hand, I’m heading into a season where unhealthy foods abound, so an excuse to abstain can be welcome. Strangely, it’s often easier to tell someone that you are on a 14, 21, or 30 day detox or cleanse than it is to explain that “I don’t eat grains,” or “I’m on a diet.” Try telling someone someone that you don’t believe grains are all that healthy, and they’ll whip out a box of cereal proudly displaying the USDA’s My Plate, where “healthy whole grains” are shown as essential! …and the “I’m on a diet” line? The response is often something clever, like “come on, live a little.”

Yet, for some reason, many people see some sort of value in a detox, where there’s actually little evidence to prove its value, than there is to a diet that eliminates or minimizes sugar, grains, legumes, or dairy, even when there is more evidence that those are bad. What can you do? People believe what they want to believe.


Why 21 days?

It’s short, sweet, and doable, and in this case, I timed it so I still get to enjoy my meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas. …in moderation of course.

If you’re going strict, you’re bound to fail, unless the time period is short enough to tough your way through. I like 14 days, 21 days, and 30 days for this type of thing. Manageable.


Cleanse, detox, or just a reality check?

One paragraph up, I said there’s little evidence to the value of a detox or cleanse, and it’s true; our bodies rarely need our help, they are detoxing all day long, as evidenced by our many disgusting and smelly bodily functions. So why do it at all? Because, detoxing or cleansing aside, the value comes from gaining insight into your potential issues with food; be they mental, emotional, or physiological.

There are many foods that don’t do our body good, either because we have an allergy, intolerance, or our body is already somewhat sick or stressed to the point where it can’t handle that particular food.

There are many foods that don’t do us any good, either because they make us fat, sick, sad, depressed, or lead to binges, purges, guilt, anger, and more.

There are many foods that fall into both categories. In fact, look hard enough and I’ll bet most troublesome foods overlap categories quite a big. Sugar, anyone? Booze? Chocolate?


Addiction, habit, or just routine?

I’m a firm believer in food addiction, despite the general disbelief in the dieting and nutrition communities. But, think about it; we know alcohol and many naturally occurring drugs are addictive, so why is it a stretch that certain foods are also addictive? Coffee and tobacco are two prime examples of natural things that are addictive.

Somehow, food addictions get the rolled eye treatment. I think it’s likely because foods like sugar, chocolate, coffee, and certain grains, have been such a big part of our eating culture for millennia. Still, these foods are big problems for many, and no problem for others; just like drugs and alcohol, whose addictive qualities few dispute.

After a period without the foods that you eliminate, you’ll have a much better understanding of just what these foods mean to you and what they might be doing to you. Are you addicted? Are they a habit? Are they just a part of your daily ritual?

No matter what part they play, the only real way to find out if they are negatively effecting your mental, emotional, or physical health is to do without them for a while. Unless you already know. Do you?


My own detox


These foods are, at best, optional to our diet, and at worst, detrimental.

  • dairy (a small amount of grass fed butter excepted)
  • grains
  • legumes
  • sugar
  • fruit
  • starchy carbs
  • bad vegetable fats (soybean, corn, ‘vegetable oil,’ and most seed and nut oils)
  • faux foods (protein pancakes, and gluten free muffins)



These foods fall into the necessary and/or healthy categories. We don’t need them ALL, but we need what they all have.

  • raw veggies
  • cooked veggies
  • meat
  • eggs
  • fish
  • good vegetable fats (coconut and coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, palm oil)
  • fish oil
  • animal fat


I’d like to point out that this is my own list, based on my needs, and it’s not the be all, end all of healthy foods. Many of the “out” foods are fine in moderation, but for 21 days, I wish to be better than moderate.

How strict am I going to be for these 21 days? Pretty strict; it’s only 21 days.


And then?

But then what? Without a logical follow up to a strict diet, you’re right back where you started, and all of these days will have been wasted!

I’ll be back to let you know how it’s going, and tell you what I plan to do at the end.

11 thoughts on “My 21 days of ‘detox’

  1. Jane Gsellman

    I think it’s a splendid idea, and one I tossed around myself, actually. I had thought of the exact timing as you, too….just in time for Christmas Eve/Christmas festivities! I may just join you, but I’m afraid there might be some roadblocks that could crop up — a holiday luncheon or cocktail part, maybey. But, I can try!!

  2. chrysta

    I think its a great idea! Im starting something similar just the respect that Im being a bit more diligent about certain foods. (Like starchy carbs, they are my vice!) Although Im lucky in the aspect that my family eats great even around the holidays. Only veggies and proteins really so they isnt really alot of other stuff around. Good luck on your cleanse!

  3. Galina Ivanova Denzel

    My goal is just to do the best I can. I’ve had a couple of months of feeling like getting enough protein has been a big challenge. Once dairy is out I have no choice but to have meat once a day and fish once a day, so that will allow me to bring protein up. I also like to ”test” and see my tolerance to dairy. I still have to remind myself this is not a low carb diet, I was making jicama salad tonight and checked how many carbs, and then I was like, oh we are not looking at carbs 😉 Funny! I have to admit I quite enjoy my bulletproof coffee in the a.m. 🙂 Good luck everyone!

  4. Roland Denzel

    I’m normally the 80% type, unless I’m really knuckling down, in which case I’m more like 90%. In this case, for 21 days, I’m shooting for 99%!

    I haven’t blacklisted incidentals in a larger food (like a pinch of sugar in tomato sauce, for instance) unless it’s something that I think I’m sensitive to or have problems with. So, I will eat holiday foods that look safe, even if I’m not sure. That being said, I have no allergies or sensitivities that I’m concerned about. My biggest question is dairy, since I’ve never gone long without SOME dairy.

    I’m also allowing myself a little of the distilled spirits in small amounts and on special occasions, but no sugary mixers, wines, or beers; not for 21 days. I feel like I still have options!

  5. Milena

    I’m into this with you , day 3 🙂 No grains, no sugar, no legumes, no starchy carbs (all of these i don’t eat 80 % of the time) and NO dairy is the new thing for me. I do eat fruits though. a few days brfore you wrote this post i tried a whole day without fruits. Galya knows that 2-3 bananas( and a lot of other fruit) and 1kg yoghurt is something i eat daily just for breakfast. Even though it was just one day experiment i noticed that I’m not really hungry at breakfast if i know i’m not gonna eat fruit. Also, no sweet/fruit cravings for the day and a sense of fullness with less food ( i usually feel hungry even after a bigger meal than my husband’s ). Although the time was too short for big conclusions i think eating too much fruit or even some but whenever i feel i need makes me more hungry. But i also noticed some negative things: i felt really thirsty although i drink a lot of water, i also had difficulties going to wc which makes me think i need those fibers and i cant get enough from veggies. That’s why i chose to have my fruit for those 21 days.(or i have to turn orange from eating too much squash) I really hope to see some good results from cutting off the dairy. Thank you for being an inspitation!

    1. Roland Denzel

      You’re welcome, and thanks for writing!

      That’s great that you’re noticing how you respond without fruit at breakfast. A huge part of this for me is learning how my own body responds, so I can decide how I can best do this going forward!

      I’m one week in, just today! It’s getting easier. 🙂

    2. Galina Ivanova Denzel

      Glad you are experimenting and finding what works/doesn’t work. It’s possible to be thirsty with less sugars, drink a bit more for a few days and it should go away. Add a pinch of salt to your water. You can get TONS of fiber from veggies, I really don’t think it’s the fruit that you need so bad, it’s more of an adjustment process with the water and fat to figure out your bathroom situation. 😉 Have you tried chia seeds at all? Do they help?

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