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Taking a drug holiday

How to Detox: Items to Eliminate

By Dr. Mark Hyman

If you’re hitting a plateau, don’t feel like you’re making progress or want to faster results, consider a food detoxification which can make you feel better, and jump-start the process to weight loss and vital health.

During a food detox, you eliminate specific items from your diet for a period of time to identify if you suffer from food allergies and inflammation, and allow your body to clean out the toxins that may be holding your back.

By eliminating sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, caffeine, and alcohol you can experience profound effects on your weight and the way you feel in a very short time, even if you do nothing else!

Take one week to eliminate the items below from your diet entirely. Remember, in some cases they are hidden in places you may not expect. Be as vigilant as you can about reading labels and making sure the foods you eat do not contain the following:

  • Caffeine
  • Processed and refined carbohydrates and sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Hydrogenated (trans) fats
  • Processed, packaged, junk or fast foods
  • Alcohol

Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates

Eating sugar and refined, high-glycemic-load carbohydrates (like bread, potatoes, and white rice all of which raise your blood sugar quickly) fuels the hormones that keep your appetite out of control. Stopping this process for one week will change your outlook forever.

Are you having a panic attack right now just thinking about giving up sugar? You are not alone, and you are probably addicted to sugar. But relax. Despite your disbelief, the cravings will disappear within a few days. That may seem hard to believe, but it does happen. Facing these cravings is the beginning of detoxifying and rebalancing your metabolism. By doing this you won’t be fighting all your urges and cravings for the rest of your life.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

You also need to stop consuming high-fructose corn syrup.

These super-sugars quickly enter your bloodstream and trigger hormonal and chemical changes that make you feel even hungrier.

Consuming any type of sugar or anything that quickly turns to sugar in your blood also causes insulin surges that start a cascade telling your brain to eat more and your fat cells to store more fat.

High-fructose corn syrup is the predominant sweetener in all drinks and processed foods. Keep a keen look out for it on the labels.

Trans or Hydrogenated Fats

You should also eliminate trans or hydrogenated fats. These man-made fats are completely foreign to our biology. They are very toxic and inflammatory.

Trans fats, putting it mildly, are not good for you or your metabolism. They block fat burning, cause diabetes, promote weight gain, create inflammation, raise cholesterol, and are even associated with cancer and dementia.

Eliminating trans fats will, with one quick change, leave your diet free from almost all processed and junk food (although now many companies are replacing trans fat with other poor quality fats and call their food trans fat free). If you find yourself thinking there will be nothing to eat, you might need to just take the leap and trust that you won’t starve to death.

Trans fats are used to keep foods fresh on the shelf for a long time, because they don’t break down. So keep an eye on any foods that come in a package or are processed in any way. And keep in mind that even “trans fat free” foods can have up to 0.5 grams per serving, so if you eat 4 servings from a package of cookies or crackers with trans fats you will still be getting 2 grams of trans fats. Not good. Beware! Look for the word “hydrogenated” on the ingredient list.

Caffeine

We use caffeine to keep us awake and to compensate for lack of sleep, but it's a false energy that ultimately creates more stress in our bodies. It's a quick adrenalin rush. Then we crash. And that's when we start looking for something else to perk us up like some sugar! Try to get off it slowly, the way I recommend, and you will realize that you were more tired on the coffee than off it (but give yourself a few days to catch up on the sleep that you missed having all those triple lattes).

Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the nectars and sweet pleasures of life, but many of us rely on it to relax and regular use dis-inhibits us around food. Ever wonder why you are always asked to give your drink order first at a restaurant, and then you get a breadbasket? It’s because if you eat some sugar (in the form of white bread) and drink a glass of wine you will likely order more and eat more. Taking a holiday from alcohol, besides getting rid of additional sugar calories, will help you tune in to your true appetite and prevent you from overeating.

Here is a little math that might make you think twice about those 2 glasses of wine at night. If one glass of wine (or any other drink) contains about 100 calories, then 2 glasses a night amounts to an extra 1400 calories a week, or 72,800 calories a year. If you gain one pound by consuming an extra 3500 calories, then 2 glasses of wine a night will add 20.8 pounds a year to your weight!

To help make this transition as simple and painless as possible, follow the steps below. They will help you eliminate caffeine, sugar, and white flour from your diet. These are the items people usually have the most trouble giving up and getting these out of your program before the program starts will make the program immeasurably easier.

How to Eliminate Caffeine in 7 Days

If you have been drinking caffeine for a long time, you have to get off it over a few days. Minimize your pain and the difficulty of giving up your addiction by following these steps.

Step 1: Start on a Weekend

Begin one week before you start the program. Ideally you will start on a Sunday, so the Sunday before you start the program you would start eliminating caffeine. This will allow you to take naps as needed, since your body will be recovering from the caffeine and you are liable to be fatigued.

Step 2: Reducing Your Caffeine Intake

For the first 3 days (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday), cut your daily intake of coffee, cola, black tea, or other caffeinated beverages caffeine in half. That means if you usually have four cups of coffee in the morning you would have 2 cups of coffee in the morning on Sunday, 1 cup on Monday and ½ cup on Tuesday. Doing this helps you wean your body off the caffeine, which should reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Step 3: Drink Green Tea

For the next 4 days (the remainder of the week) you can drink 1 cup of caffeinated green tea steeped for 5 minutes in boiling water. You may continue drinking green tea for all its wonderful health and weight benefits. (Note that green tea is an important part of the program.)

You can switch to decaffeinated green tea if you want to eliminate caffeine completely. Otherwise it is fine to have one cup of caffeinated, organic green tea every morning. The caffeine is minimal and the health benefits are great.

Step 4: Take Vitamin C

Throughout this process I recommend taking 1000–2000 mg of buffered pure ascorbic acid (vitamin C) powder or capsules. This may help you detoxify and balance your system.

Step 5: Drink Plenty of Clean Water

You should also drink at least 6–8 glasses of filtered water a day. You should do this regardless of whether or not you are getting off caffeine, but it is especially important for this process because it will keep your body well hydrated and can reduce headaches, constipation, and flush toxins out of your system.

How to Eliminate Sugar and White Flour

Eliminating sugar is hard, because it’s an addiction. But the physical cravings dissipate quickly once you stop eating it. Here are some tips for how you can successfully do this.

  • Start 5–7 days before you begin the program—you will not regret this! It will make your transition into the program easier. I would recommend starting the same day you cut your caffeine intake in half (the Sunday before you start the program).
  • The tried and true method from my experience with thousands of patients: Go cold turkey from all white flour and sugar products. (Don’t cheat—it will only make it worse!)
  • Include protein for breakfast, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters, or a protein shake. Once you are on the program you will have plenty of protein for breakfast with the UltraShake.
  • Combine “good” protein, “good” fat, and “good” carbs at each meal. (Good fats are fish, extra virgin olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Good carbs are beans, vegetables, whole grains, and fruit. Good proteins are fish, organic eggs, small amounts of lean poultry, nuts, soy, whole grains, and legumes.)
  • Don’t go low fat. Consume olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds, and avocados every day. Despite commonly held beliefs these fats are NOT fattening.
  • Eat every 3 hours. Snack on nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds (raw or dry roasted only). 1 serving is a handful or 10–12 nuts.
  • Drink at least 6–8 glasses of filtered water a day.

In addition to eliminating the items above, there are a few other things you should prepare before you start the program. Preparation is the key to your success on the program, so follow the steps and recommendations below as carefully as you can to ensure the results you are looking for.

Items to Prepare

I strongly encourage you to get all the supplies you need, prepare some food, and get organized in advance of starting the program. It will make your week easier, more fun, and more effective.

Here’s what to do.

Go shopping. Get all the food you need. Get a blender if you need it for the UltraShake. Get the supplies for your UltraBath. Order or get the supplements you will need if you are doing the enhanced program.

Prepare some food in advance. Cook your brown rice. Chop enough vegetables for a few days at a time. Cook up some UltraBroth and have it ready. It will all store in airtight containers for days 2-3 days in the fridge.

Start the day before the program (Saturday), and prepare food for the first four days of the program (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). Then set aside some time on Wednesday evening to prepare for the last three days of the program (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).

By getting all the ingredients ahead of time and spending some time prepping the items to be cooked as prescribed above, you will minimize the amount of time you spend in your kitchen during the week and make it much easier to follow the program.

If you work, I have included some tips in chapter 7 for making the program easier to integrate into your schedule. Review these tips. They should make your preparation process a bit easier.

Get ready! You are about to take a journey toward health with no return ticket!