Health break: Time for a spring clean? Here’s a detox programme that’s easy to follow

When my enforced “gardening leave” started last October, I took the advice of an old friend who’d been there, done that. Entrepreneur Jannie Mouton, who started again at 50 and has built a fabulous lifestyle and an amazing business in the last 15 years, shares in his book that after he was fired he spent a couple hours every day to write down the five things he really wanted from life. After thinking deeply about it, a surprising conclusion came top of my list every time: Good health. Perhaps it’s a function of ageing. Maybe it was because I’ve lost too many friends far too early. So instead of ignoring it until the urge passed, I started adjusting priorities. Since then, things have changed. Dramatically. A new perspective and my wife’s suggestion finally got me to join her at Bikram Yoga. It seemed all that was left after haviong sworn off running and gym after too much soccer “training” as a youngster. It wasn’t easy. But ten months later, I’m hooked. Not only is my body stronger that it’s felt for decades, but this exercise forces you to cut down on the junk food. Bikram Yoga sessions make you regret every bite of those  hamburgers I just loved. This different way of life also opened me up to other ideas. I met Celynn Erasmus at a recent professional speaker’s bootcamp and asked her to consider blogging for biznewz. She graciously agreed. So, in the interests of longer life and good health, here’s her first contribution. An appropriate place to start. With a detox. – AH

By Celynn Erasmus*

Days are starting to get longer, temperatures are rising and, while some of us can’t wait for summer, many dread the short-sleeves synonymous with the season. Can the infamous

Celynn Erasmus: Healthy mind, healthy body. And more.
Celynn Erasmus: Healthy mind, healthy body. And more.

‘detox’ help you feel better and even help you lose a little winter weight?

There are many different types of detox programmes, all typically including a period of fasting followed by a strict diet of raw vegetables, fruit, fruit juices and water. In addition, some detox diets advocate using certain herbs and other supplements along with colon cleansing (enemas) to help empty the intestines. Most detox diets last seven to 10 days. Detox, or detoxification, diets are popular, but they’re not scientifically proven.

To detox or not to detox?

A detox plan may have many benefits. It gets you thinking about how eating habits affect health and wellbeing. It encourages you to make a special effort to change your eating habits and to cut down on fatty, salty and sugary foods and to eat more fruit and vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and fish whilst cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. In addition, it gives you an ‘I’m taking charge of my health’ buzz, boosting self-confidence and motivating you to keep on following a healthy lifestyle.

Ideally, you should mostly be eating a healthy balanced diet, so an actual detox would not be necessary or beneficial. But there are times we need a little nudge in the right direction to get back on track after overindulging or a kick start a healthier eating plan.

Principles of a balanced detox:

  • Eat light and eat often.
    • Light meals will ease your digestion.
  • Eat as much plant foods as possible.
    • Plants are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals.
  • Choose foods that are high in fibre.
    • This facilitates colon health and increases the feeling of fullness.
  • Focus on unsaturated and essential fats.
    • These include nuts, seeds, avocado and olives.
  • Choose higher fibre or Low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods.
    • This helps control your blood glucose levels and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Choose foods that are high in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Eat liver and kidney friendly foods to facilitate detoxification process (cruciferous, allium and diuretic vegetables*).
  • Drink plenty of hydrating fluids
    • Good choices are water, pure juice and herbal teas.

Some vegetables are known to enhance the detoxification process. Include these foods as much as possible:

  • Cruciferous vegetables: brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, watercress
  • Allium vegetables: chives, garlic, leeks, onions, spring onions, green onions, shallots
  • Diuretic foods: cucumber, celery, cranberries, watermelon, parsley, fennel, celery, green beans, asparagus

Is there a downside?

Some detox programmes are little more than fad diets or fasts. It’s better to be balanced and try to incorporate the principles of balanced, healthy eating rather than simply going on a detox diet or doing a ‘system springclean’. It’s also important to consider possible side effects. Among other problems, detox diets can lead to fatigue, dizziness and nausea. Although detox could help you lose weight fast, safe and sustainable weight loss should be not too drastic, about 1kg per week.

Keep in mind that a detox isn’t a quick fix. Real and lasting body cleansing does not come through a fast, in a pill or a footpad – real and lasting detoxification is the result of a longterm change in awareness, choices and lifestyle.

Who shouldn’t detox?

 If you suffer from any illnesses, are pregnant, or have problems such as heart disease, diabetes, low blood sugar or kidney problems, please consult your doctor or dietitian before following any new eating plan.

A guide if you plan to do a ‘detox’:

On waking – have warm water infused with fresh lemon, mint and ginger.

Each meal should be made up of the following:

1.    Fruit, salad and/or vegetable (include as many cruciferous, allium and diuretic vegetables as possible)

2.    Low GI, higher fibre carbohydrate (legumes, beans, lentils, barley, sweet potato, oats, sweet corn, wheat free bread)

3.    Healthy fat (nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, cold pressed oils)

Breakfast ideas

Fresh fruit smoothie using 2-3 fresh fruits, a handful of nuts and lots of ice. Optional: Add oatbran for a fibre boost.


Sliced pear wedges and banana dipped into natural nut butter.


Rolled oats served with grated apple or berries sprinkled with cinnamon.

Light meal ideas

COOKING TIP: Prepare meals using garlic and onions and use lots of fresh herbs (coriander, parsley, mint, etc.)

Roasted veggies using leeks, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, squashes, etc. roasted with fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil.


Barley or sweet corn salad prepared with selection of chopped allium and diuretic vegetables such as spring onion, asparagus and cucumber.


Vegetable stirfry using cabbage, carrots, onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, etc.


Large rocket and watercress salad with spring onion, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, etc. Toss in chickpeas or sweetcorn or serve with wheat free bread.

Snack ideas

Fresh fruit, fruit bars, small amounts of pure fruit or vegetable juice or dried fruit. Selection of crudités and hummus dip. Nuts, trail mix, seeds.

* Celynn is a registered dietitian and a full time Lifestyle Balance & Wellness professional speaker. Celynn is founder and developer of the WELLCULATORTM  and has published a bestseller entitled Fast Food For Sustained Energy. Celynn is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA). She is also a yorkshire terrier, mosaic and trail runner enthusiast.

A reputable modified eating plan that serves well as a detox can be found at or email [email protected].

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