Simple Autumn Detox: Take Stock of What’s on Your Plate for a Healthier You


As summer’s wild and sunny days give way to the quieter pace of autumn, I too, find myself willingly yielding to a quieter rhythm. Within this space I do a lot of taking stock of what’s going on in my life from many angles – my health, relationships, work, etc. I do this using the total health wheel below, which I copy onto a large piece of paper, and then use to make notes about where I need to nourish my life and self (students in my course Herbal Medicine for Women learn how to make use of this wheel for themselves and other women in their lives).

In a way, the autumn for me is what New Year’s is for many women – a time of reflection and renewal as I plan and create intentions for the upcoming year.

It’s also a time when I take stock of what’s on my plate – metaphorically and literally.

I ask myself if I am taking on work and projects that “feel” good to me, that leave me with enough time to nourish myself and my loved ones, to stretch my creative wings, and also play – or am I taking on unnecessary obligations that will later leave me feeling weighted down and burdened.

And because I know that what I eat has an impact on my health on every level, I pay attention to the food I put on my plate!

Many cultures and spiritual traditions include a period of fasting – whether skipping food for a day or skipping certain foods for even weeks at a time – as part of the journey of inner reflection and mindfulness. While I do not participate in any religious fasts, I have found that rebooting my diet – by eating more simply than usual for a short period of time –  at the change of a season gives my entire being a fresh start. With a lighter diet that is seasonally appropriate I find myself revitalized.

I’ve also got a little health secret for you: Healthy eating begets healthier eating. Taking stock of what’s on your plate NOW will help you keep on track through the holidays. Rather than letting Halloween, with its more treats than tricks slowly bleed into a Thanksgiving carb fest and that into the Winter holidays with alcohol, sugar, and more carbs – by which time you’re saying, “What the hell,” “I’ll diet after New Year…,” you can nip sugar and carb cravings in the bud right now with a gentle autumn detox. Just as you’re packing away your summer clothes in exchange for your fave autumn boots and sweaters – pack away any funky little food habits you’ve accumulated in the past few months and kick start a healthy autumn!

So what’s my autumn detox? I just got through my first week and am starting my second tomorrow – and I’m feeling amazing! A little ache in my shoulder has cleared up, my digestion got a little pick-me-up I didn’t even realize I needed, my mood feels brighter, I’m sleeping really well, and my mind is sharper (I am currently in a rigorous academic project and I can really tell the difference in the past week!).

As the days shorten we could all use a little extra brightness!

Want to join me?

Here’s what I’m eating for my autumn detox.

There are only a few rules for the two weeks:

  • simple, clean food, eaten mindfully
  • no sugar, alcohol, dairy, or gluten
  • try to eat by 7 pm and nothing to eat after dinner
  • get to sleep at a reasonable hour and aim for 7 hours of sleep each night
  • if you are not having regular bowel movements consider take 300-600 mg of magnesium citrate before bed each evening with a goal of a normal, well-formed stool each morning
  • try to drink 8 glasses of water each day

I love it because I feel AMAZING. The menu is easily accessible and you can prepare a few days worth of rice ahead of time. There’s no going hungry on this plan – it’s entirely satisfying.

Pre-Breakfast: A tall glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Breakfast: Either 2 scrambled eggs with a piece of gluten free toast or a non-dairy smoothie (suggested ingredients include unsweetened almond or coconut milk, almond butter, a non-dairy protein powder, 1 banana, and ½ cup frozen berries. I like to freeze my banana, too – it makes the smoothie taste like a milk shake! Sometimes I also add 1 Tbsp. of cocoa powder for variety).

Midmorning: If hungry, a small handful of almonds

Lunch: ½ cup of cooked brown rice or millet and about 1-2 cups of steamed broccoli, kale, carrots, and onions with a dash of salt and a light drizzle of tahini. As a condiment and for their probiotic benefits, I am also having about 3 Tbsp. of organic sauerkraut (you could use any pickled vegetables).

Afternoon snack: 1 organic apple – and I’m actually pushing myself to eat it even if I’m not that hungry so that I’m not so hungry by dinner that I’ve practically snacked a whole dinner before sitting down to eat one – something I know a lot of you probably do, too!

Dinner (before 7:30 pm): Same as lunch plus 4 oz. of either (low-mercury) fish or chicken – baked, grilled, or for variety, stir fried with vegetables rather than steaming the veggies. If you are vegetarian, you can use more tahini or lentils for protein during the detox. Again, I’m having a small amount of pickled vegetables with my dinner because they stimulate digestion.

If you’re still hungry at lunch or dinner, eat more vegetables, especially the greens and broccoli!

For my beverages I am drinking plenty of water (plain and with lemon), mint tea, and for variety plain chai tea (no milk or sweetener). Green tea is also fine.

This detox is not my recommendation for a long-term diet. Some of you might benefit from one or another of many possible ways of eating, whether a Mediterranean, grain-free, low fermented foods, or a Paleo-type diet. But eating simply and redundantly for a couple of weeks can give your body a much needed sense of rhythm and ease.

Taking stock of what’s on our plates  can lighten our load in so many ways!

Try it for even just one week and let me know what you notice! Sugar cravings will fall away. I suspect you’ll feel energized, and easier in your body and mind. You might just drop a couple of pounds. Inflammation will cool down.

I love it that you’re loving yourself by reading these articles! Remember to drop a comment, CLICK ON LIKE AND SHARE the information and inspiration with friends!

Happy Autumn…

AJR-Sig

 

 

 

 

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Diane Figueroa

Thank you Aviva for your timely reminder about cleansing the system for this autumn season! I didn't notice the carb cravings sneaking up on me as the days shorten and the evenings start to cool....you're article was a little nudge to pay attention. I SO look forward to your newsletter filled with valuable information, compassion and friendly style. Your style is like sitting with a friend for a brief moment with a cup of tea. Thanks for taking a chance and reaching out. I also forward your newsletters to the occasional friend dealing with whatever issue you're discussing and have had appreciative comments from them. A big hug, Diane

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Renee Williams

Aviva! I have been following you for a couple years now and always look forward to your blog posts. I met you breifly at the SEWHC last year in NC and truly enjoyed your classes and presence. You are an inspiration to me in so many ways! As serendipity would have it I woke this morning feeling achy and low in spirits. This has been escalating for a while now. This morning i decided I was tired of feeling this way and was going to do a cleanse. I have been reading about so many different ones that I felt overwhelmed by which to do and was loosing my determination. Alas, I opened my email to this new post and had my answer. Thank you...I feel hopeful now and ready to begin bringing health and vitality back to my life.

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maureen fayle

I like the suggestion of sauerkraut - I tend to forget about eating small amounts of fermented foods. You're the best Aviva, thank you for caring so much about our health!!

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Cadie

This does seem like a very nice, gentle detox. I like that you leave eggs and meat in small quantities in your meals. I'm doing my very first detox right now...yesterday was the first day. So far I feel great, although yesterday I found myself thinking about food a lot (What am I going to eat? What if I run out of fruits and vegetables?). I went grocery shopping last night to stock up on some foods that are acceptable on the detox, as well as some herbal tea (Good Earth Sweet and Spicy Roobios--it's delicious!) It does require a little bit of planning, but I think it'll be well worth it. I love the idea of assessing what's on our plates- metaphorically and literally. That makes so much sense!

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Chara

Aviva, I always look forward to your posts, and this one is encouraging, as usual. I feel nurtured just by reading what you write! The detox diet you suggest is pretty much what I have been eating on a regular basis, and now I feel encouraged to keep honoring these choices.

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Marcia

I coincidentally am on the second week of a 2-week detox I put myself on because I had hit a plateau in weight loss after having a baby 7 months ago and because I couldn't put my finger on it but something was "off". I cut out coffee (still having caffeinated green tea), sugar, alcohol, soy, dairy, wheat, and all processed food. I lost 3.5 pounds the first week and my digestion is back to normal. I'm totally satiated and notice my cravings but then they pass. I will gradually add back in the soy, dairy and wheat individually so I can monitor what happens to my body when they are reintroduced. This article makes me feel like I was right in listening to my intuition, which is nice since the response I've been getting is: "why!?!"

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Meg

I really like the idea of a natural detox diet, and have been working towards that by reducing sugar, eating more foods that are either, "hunted, fished, or plucked" (fruits and veggies) as well as organic food. I'm still not 100% sugar free, but I did notice recently that when offered a "treat" at an orientation, I only ate a few bites before throwing the rest away. So I'm getting there. I would love to know if we could get a copy of the wheel chart for personal use and reflection. I do have a spiritual practice that is in a "turning within" cycle soon, and this would be a great way to get a lot of reflection and insight for the upcoming year. BTW: my inflammation, and weight are both down (about 40# so far!) so I'm really motivated to continue!:)

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suzanne mccullough

hi, i'm currently trying to detox, 1 raw garlic clove 3 times a day, an apple or 2, yarrow tea, and and a kale etc, blueberry smoothie. i was diagnosed with intestinal parasites last year and went thru a few doctors and a few rounds of antibiotics.i've not felt well for quite sometime. do you have any advice? i long to feel healthy. thank you for sharing your vitality for life. love, suzanne

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    aviva

    i would consult with a functional medicine MD who can test to see if you truly or still have any parasites and come up with a reasonable and safe plan. or check out dr hyman's 10 day detox plan on his website --- he's got a new book coming out and some great detox materials. also check out my autumn and spring detox plans. good luck!

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Jess

You recommend toast and eggs for breakfast. Should we be using a gluten free toast? I feel pretty clueless as to what grains are and are not acceptable when trying to exclude gluten from your diet. Can you offer any info on that? I am a true believer in eating for health, but I am such a food lover, that I've never had the strength to cut out dairy, sugar or gluten from my diet-although I have always wanted to. I am craving more energy in my days and this has inspired me To give it a real go. I am going to get my husband and daughter on board to see what changes we all feel after two weeks. I will send you an update. Thanks for all the work you do and for sharing with us!

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    aviva

    Yes, if you gluten intolerant or trying to get the most bang from the detox -- definitely gluten free! more to come in an upcoming blog called "should you be gluten free?" warm wishes!

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Virginia

I just need a little clarification. Are you supposed to follow the menu exactly as written for two weeks or just follow the rules using the menu as a guideline? For example, my lunch of 1/2 c brown rice with broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, onion dandelion greens & ginger sauteed in ginger infused red wine vinegar and olive oil and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds definitely follows the spirit of the rules if not the letter. Also, you said no sugar but fruits seem to be okay according to your menu. If I substitute a date paste or honey for sugar in my morning dandelion root tea (so that I can also kick the coffee addiction) are those okay as well? As long as moderation is the key honey and fruits are fine to curb a sweet tooth?

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    Amber

    That's way more clever than I was exieptcng. Thanks!

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Brooke

I'm loving this idea for a detox! And that wheel of health is genius :-) Just curious...why wouldn't you recommend the detox diet you are doing for long term? Do you feel dairy and/or grains provide something beneficial in our diets that we can't get elsewhere? I'm sooo happy it is Fall. It just reminds me of relaxation and cuddling up under blankets with hot cinnamon chocolate or hot cinnamon cider.

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Rebecca

Thank you so much for posting about your detox program and encouraging your readers to join you. I was eating way too much sugar and after adapting your program to my sugar addiction for seven days I'm now only eating sugar every other day. This is so much better than it was. I have more energy and started including more fermented foods. I feel great! Keep posting-I enjoy reading your blog!

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Hannah

Basically if you eat the same meals for 3 weeks, you're training yourself to avoid anything else. Sweets or otherwise.

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Viri Colon

Hi Aviva!! Thank you for the post, this is awesome! I am so motivated now! Keep posting! :) I hope to start my detox now!!! :) Will keep you posted, thank you for caring!

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Jennifer

I just did a two week cleanse not long ago but have gone back to eating horribly. I'll have to try this, thanks!

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