Just as your home can become dusty and dirty, so can your body become clogged up with toxins and waste matter from a less-than-healthy lifestyle, stress and the environment and, therefore, requires some cleaning. The following diet tips will help you do the job.

When your body is overloaded with toxins due to overindulging in food and drink, you will end up feeling lethargic and tired, having body aches and pains, a dull skin and not to mention being overweight. Spotty skin, energy slumps, aches and pains, and mood swings are all signals that your organs of natural detoxification, including the liver and digestive system, are struggling to cope with toxins in your body.

When your body is healthy and strong, it can eliminate toxins efficiently, but when it gets overloaded, you can become sluggish, overweight and more susceptible to illness. Going on a detox programme to cleanse your system does not mean going hungry, but eating simple, nutritious, cleansing foods to ease the pressure on your digestive system and encourage your body’s routes of elimination to work efficiently.

A cleansing diet will include a high percentage of raw foods because they contain enzymes that are normally destroyed by cooking and food processing. These enzymes help to quickly initiate digestion in the mouth and stomach, which saves some vital energy and boosts levels of fresh nutrients in your body. Raw food is nature’s nutritional bundle, complete with tools to assist its absorption without robbing the body’s finite resources.

A diet reduced in enzymes is associated with a shortened lifespan, illness and lowered resistance to stress and disease. Nutritionists and dieticians recommend that you eat raw food to keep your energy up. However, going wholly raw is not a good idea since some ingredients are more easily absorbed when lightly cooked, for example in the tomato.

The following cleansing plan is easy, affordable and flexible and suits different lifestyles and taste. It is manageable even when you are busy or short of resources and there is no starvation or rigid meal plans using complicated recipes. Simply choose from the suggested foods and mix and match to create your daily meals and snacks.

WHAT TO EAT

Fruit: Enjoy a variety of fruits including fresh, frozen, dried or canned in natural fruit juice. We are lucky to live in a country where a variety of fruit is in season all year round. Take advantage of that. But if you have fruits such as sutlanas, raisins, pineapple, mango or bananas, ensure you only eat a small portion (half a large banana or one sweet banana, a tablespoon of dried fruit, a cup of cubed pineapple or mango), as they are high in sugar.

Vegetables: Eat plenty of vegetables, ensuring to mix a variety of colours and types – green, yellow, red, leafy and roots. At least half of your food plate should be vegetable based. It is easier than you might think – add a side salad, make a large salad-based meal, add a starter of a vegetable-based soup or choose main meals with a high proportion of vegetables, such as stir-fries. Vary your vegetable choices as much as possible and the more fresh, the better.

Beans and lentils: Dried or canned in water (without added salt or sugar) are recommended. Add tofu, soya beans and organic eggs for a complete supply of protein.

Nuts: Nuts are good but eat no more than one small handful per day because they are high in calories. Only eat unsalted nuts and avoid the honey coated or deep-fried varieties.

Fresh fish: Any fish is good but limit seafood and tuna to a maximum of once a week to avoid toxins that will load the body you are trying to cleanse even more.

Lean meat: Chicken, for example, can be eaten two to three times a week but focus more on vegetable-based meals while you are cleansing your body.

Seeds: Have these raw or cooked up to one tablespoon per day but ensure they are unsalted.

Carbohydrates: Limit your intake of carbohydrates to brown rice, noodles and oats.

Dairy: Have natural yoghurt and low-fat milk in small amounts. You can use a thin spread of butter on wholemeal bread; a topping of goat’s cheese on your salad or some Parmesan cheese shavings, but avoid cheese in general.

Flavour boosters: Use extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, fresh herbs, ground black pepper and drizzles of honey or agave nectar to flavour your salads and food. You can also buy organic, salt-free herbs and spices but fresh is always best.

Water: Drink at least eight glasses a day. Also enjoy herbal or fruit teas throughout the day. Drink fresh fruit juice but if you buy the packaged variety, dilute it like a cordial.

WHAT NOT TO EAT

Red meat or meat products: Avoid all red meat and processed meats such as sausages, bacon, burgers and smoked meats.

Dairy: Cream, margarine, flavoured yoghurts, ice cream and cheese.

Wheat-based foods: Such as bread, especially white, biscuits, cakes and cookies.

Snacks: Avoid snacking on crisps, chevda and other savoury snacks including salted and honey coated nuts.

Sugar: Avoid sugary foods such as chocolate, cakes, jam and sweets. Use only jam that is naturally sweetened with apple juice. Other suitable alternatives include organic agave or maple syrup and honey.

Processed foods: Anything that is refined or contains high quantities of salt, sugar and fat is to be avoided. Also avoid fast foods and takeaways.

Alcohol: Cut it out completely – at least for the two weeks of detoxing.

Caffeine: Including coffee, tea and cola drinks.

Sauces: Pickles, processed salad dressings and mayonnaise.

Salt: Don’t add salt to your food.

Fizzy drinks: Including squashes and diet drinks.

10 delicious detoxing juice combinations

Clean the ingredients thoroughly then juice using a blender. Have a glass with breakfast or at any other time of day. Do not exceed two glasses a day. Vary the juices.

1. Two small cucumber, one green apple, two tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley and juice of half lemon.

2. Half a small pineapple, half a thumb- sized piece of fresh ginger and one carrot.

3. One celery stick, 300g carrots and 150g grapes.

4. One pear, half cucumber and quarter of a pineapple.

5. One apple, one pear and quarter of a sweet potato.

6. Half pineapple, quarter of a lime, and quarter of a sweet potato.

7. One apple, one pear and quarter stick of lemon grass.

8. One sweet potato, half a pineapple, quarter of a lime and quarter stick of lemon grass.

9. One apple, half a beetroot and six black grapes.

10. Quarter of a sweet potato, half a beetroot and one carrot.

Published April 2016