Advocates of detox diets hold fast to the idea that the body, the liver especially, needs routine dietary tune-ups to rid itself of toxins, like a car needs an oil change to rid itself of sludge. If you believe that your body's normally functioning detox machinery needs additional help, a raw food diet might be an option.
Based on eating only healthy fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, a raw food detox diet is a more wholesome choice than one of the more severely calorie restricted detox plans. Vegans will find this detox easy to follow because it contains foods already a part of your diet.
The basic premise of a detox is that you give your bowels and liver a break from your usual unhealthy eating. If this is your first raw food detox, you might find it difficult to put a food plan together that is easy to maintain, even for a few days. Fortunately there is a long list of basic, healthy, easy-to-find foods to choose from.
The Basic Raw Food Groups
Foods allowed on a raw food detox diet include uncooked:
- Unprocessed grains
- Spices and herbs
- Oils such as raw virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil
- Raw, unfiltered vinegar
- Almond and other nut butters
- Raw protein powder
- Raw cocoa powder
Fluids You Can Drink
- Filtered water
- Unsweetened drinks
- Freshly squeezed juices
- Coconut water
- Herbal tea made with water heated to no more than 118 degrees Fahrenheit
- Non-dairy milk, such as almond or soy
Purist or Not: Your Choice
Some raw food advocates allow you to cook 20-25% of your food, such as zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus and others of your choice, as long as the cooking temperature is not above 118° F (48° C).
Raw food diet purists do not allow any cooked foods. The choice is yours, but if you are on a detox you want to be as purist as possible.
A Simple Raw Food Detox Plan
Following a simple plan can make food shopping, food preparation, and your raw food detox diet easier to follow. From each basic food groups buy foods you enjoy from the list below.
- 4-5 fruits
- 4-5 vegetables
- 3-4 legumes
- 3-4 unprocessed grains
- 2-3 nuts
- 2-3 seeds
- Herbs, spices and raw virgin oils to add flavor and necessary healthy fats
- Mix and match foods from each group to create meals and snacks.
- Plan meals ahead of time to allow for the need to soak raw beans and grains overnight so they are edible without cooking.
- Pick different foods each day for a variety of sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- The more color on your plate, the better.
- Use herbs, spices and raw virgin oils to add flavor and necessary healthy fats.
- Shake oil and vinegar together to make a salad dressing.
Drink at least eight glasses of filtered water or unsweetened drinks daily.
Preparing For Your Detox
Before you start your raw food detox diet, take the following steps 2-3 days ahead. This will ensure that these tasks do not create a source of stress during your detox.
- Plan your meals using ideas from sample recipes.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of fluids each day.
- Prepare any unsweetened drinks of choice.
- Wash and prepare portions of your fruits and vegetables, paying attention to safe food handling.
- The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a nutrition tracker you can use to find the calorie count and nutrients of many foods. Use it to ensure that your diet approximates USDA dietary guidelines.
You can make smoothies and also dehydrate your raw food ahead of your detox, to add variety to taste and texture. In addition, you can germinate and sprout raw kidney beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds to make them more edible and digestible.
A List of Foods to Choose From
Buy foods you enjoy from each group in this list. Take advantage of seasonal varieties. You can add more of your favorite foods to this list.
- Fruits: Apple, banana, grapes, mango, pineapple, papaya, kiwi, orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, pear, peaches, apricots, raisins, prunes
- Vegetables: A variety of dark green or red lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peppers, onion, green onion, ginger, garlic, parsley, celery, watercress, tomatoes, asparagus, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, seaweed, avocado
- Seeds: Raw sunflower, flax, hemp, chia, pumpkin
- Nuts: Raw almonds, cashew, walnuts, pistachio, pine nuts, macadamia
- Legumes: Raw chick peas, mung beans, kidney beans, lentils, edamame, bean sprouts
- Unprocessed grains: Oats, whole grain cereals, granola, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, bulgur
Foods to Avoid
Buy only organic foods to avoid pesticides and other toxins.
As with any detox plan avoid other toxins such as:
Also limit your salt intake.
On a raw food detox diet avoid raw sugar, raw meat and other raw foods. While these are allowed on some raw food diets, they are not appropriate for a detox plan.
Important Things to Consider
If your raw food detox diet contains less than 1000 calories a day, try not to stay on it for more than 3-7 days. Some people use detox diets for weight loss, but while a raw food detox diet contain healthy foods, prolonging the detox might lead to deficiencies in protein, vitamin B12, iron, calcium and other minerals.
- You might experience hunger, food cravings, low energy, lightheadedness, and dizziness because of lower calories.
- Be prepared to do some extra food preparation work, including washing, cleaning and chopping up vegetables, fruits and herbs.
- Eating uncooked, unpasteurized foods can lead to major food-borne illnesses, such as Salmonella and E. Coli gut infections, which can be fatal.
- Wash foods, especially lettuce, spinach, green onions and berries, very well before consuming them.
No matter what you eat, if you are healthy, your body is usually very efficient at eliminating toxins and waste. However, a raw food detox diet for 3-7 days might give you an extra boost. The healthy foods on this diet can jumpstart your path to healthier eating.
Gather enough information and prepare ahead of time so that it is easier to stick with your plan. In addition, if you have any chronic diseases, such as diabetes or kidney disease, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor first before you begin a raw food detox diet.