Do Tell: Diet Detox

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{What Would Gwyneth Do?}

Lately, it seems like everyone is talking about detoxing. While I don’t usually jump on every bandwagon that passes my way, I have been giving some thought to trying some sort of detox program for the past few weeks. After all of my health issues last year, i.e. having my gallbladder and my appendix removed in the span of six months, I am concerned that my seemingly healthy diet may not be so healthy after all. While I indulge every once in a while, I am pretty sensible when it comes to what I eat, but I worry that my body needs to de-stress. I want to cut out processed foods that make my body work harder than it has to and have already started reducing my intake of dairy and red meat. I bought myself a Vitamix for Christmas and start each day with a fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie instead of the cereal and skim milk combo that was my breakfast of choice for most of my life.
Anyhow, I don’t want to get too long winded here, but I am wondering if any of you have any feedback on the Paleo Diet or Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean Detox? I worked on a shoot with a producer last year who had been doing Paleo for over a year and he told me all about it. It seems fairly simple—cut out all the processed junk, look better, feel younger, and most likely lose some weight along the way. He was thrilled with it and really seemed to love the lifestyle. I first read about Dr. Junger on GOOP and saw a segment with him on Dr. Oz last week. His approach is much more strict, with only 12 foods making it to the “ok to eat” list. His plan is more short-term, 21 days on average as opposed to Paleo which you could probably do forever if you chose to, but he helped Gwyneth feel better than ever before, as she mentions in her interview in the current issue of SELF. Have you tried either of these plans? I don’t want to do anything extreme and want to make sustainable changes that will have a positive effect on my overall health as well as possibly helping to alleviate the effects of my PCOS. I know some of you have reached out to share your own experiences with PCOS. Have you experienced any positive changes regarding PCOS by eliminating certain foods from your diet? Paleo followers, I would especially love your feedback! Was it hard to go Paleo at first? What differences have you noticed? I know you’re not supposed to have grains, legumes, dairy, or alcohol, but how bad is it to have oatmeal, black beans, Greek yogurt, or red wine on occasion?

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  1. I have never gone paleo. I did a cleanse once which made me feel great temporarily. But I think moderation is key. I also have PCOS I am breast feeding my 5 mo old twins now so I am not dieting at all right now…but when I was trying to get pregnant after i learned about my PCOS I cut out most grains and stuck to mainly fruits, veggies chicken fish with the occasional red meat meal. I would have a small amount of whole grains daily like whole grain bread but only a slice maybe. then i would also have the occasional cheat day. It helped alleviate my PCOS symptoms along with taking metformin. I do think women w/ PCOS have a hard time with carbs because our glucose intolerance making us very susceptible to sugar and carb intake. So very low carb, whole grains only is the way to go. I will be starting that back up in the near future when I stop breast feeding. Without carb I would not be able to take in enough calories while breast feeding to produce enough milk… so dr. said eat what I like. I still lost all the baby weight… breast feeding burns major calories!

  2. I actually just did Dr. Junger’s cleanse in January and am going back to many of the things I learned in his book. I had a rough few days to start but there were visible improvements to my skin and hair, I slept better, had improved focus. My blood sugar NEVER crashed, I never got ‘Hanger’… I would highly suggest the Clean Cleanse. Dr. Junger actually allows for some meat products for sustainability and he discusses many fad diets in the book. I sound like a cult follower- but his methods make so much sense. Good luck!

  3. As a nurse, I don’t really see the benefit of a cleanse or detox diet. Most of these end up being starvation diets that do horrible things to your body. You need certain vitamins and nutrients to function. There’s nothing that cleanses your body other than a long-term nutrition plan. I do see the benefit of less processed foods and I try to buy hormone/antibiotic free meats for my family. Just my 2 cents!

  4. I’ve been paleo for 2 years. Started out cutting grains & dairy out of dinner because I had GERD symptoms. After seeing positive results, I was able to cut these foods out completely. My body looks and feels totally different, of course with addition of active lifestyle & minimal exercise. I have added Greek yogurt back in to my diet as a protein/probiotic during pregnancy. Surprisingly easy to cook meals. Try looking into primal eating which is similar. Mark’s Daily Apple is a great informational blog. Good luck!

  5. From one Anonymous to another Anonymous:

    Interesting comment about PCOS and glucose intolerance. Would you might sharing more of your knowledge about this? It’s the first time I’ve heard of it but it makes complete since to my situation and my own struggle with pregnancy. Thank you so much in advance!
    PS- I eat a combo of the Warrior/paleo diet. In doing this I also enough alkaline foods to maintain a balanced blood Ph. That alone has helped with overarching digestive issues.

  6. My husband and I started doing the Paleo diet last year and had great results (my husband lost 60 lbs and has kept it off for a year!) however, we probably did Paleo about 80% of the time and then allowed ourselves to indulge a little bit the rest of the time. However, with the holidays back at the end of 2012 I really fell off the bandwagon a little bit and ate way too many sweets…so I thought that doing a 21-day sugar detox would be a great way to get back on track. The detox was basically like 3 weeks of a super strict version of the Paleo diet that cut out all sugar (no alcohol, no fruit, etc) and I completed the detox without cheating once…however, once it ended I feel like I totally swung back the other way and have been honestly eating pretty bad the past couple of months! So while more extreme detoxes might work for some, I think they can also set you up for failure because you create this extreme back and forth instead of creating healthy habits long term and finding balance. However, I do wholeheartedly believe in the principles of the Paleo diet as I think that eating things real, unprocessed food (meat from quality sources, fruits, veggies, healthy fats) is definitely the best way to go. However, you’ll find some people in the Paleo community are very rigid about constantly adhering to the rules, and that’s just not realistic (for me) to be so strict. I think that eating Paleo 80-90% of the time is great, and then if you want to indulge a little bit now and then you should! xoxo

  7. Hi Paloma,

    I haven’t been following the Paleo diet, but I also wanted to eat healthier, I started working on it last year. I’ve read a few different books on the subject (haven’t read the Paleo yet) but I found one book that really reasonated with me – it’s Kim Snyder’s Beauty Detox so I’ve been sticking with it. I really liked how she explains everything, it’s changed the way I see eating. I consider myself a pretty healthy eater like you do, but this got me looking at things differently. Since reading it I don’t look at whip cream or mayo the same way anymore! I’s funny what an effect it has had. I’d also never thought of that you should eat foods in a certain order which she talks about in the book. I’d like to see the science on this, but once you do it it does seem to make sense. I am starting to sound like an infommercial here! I haven’t been following it strictly, but it has made me more mindful of what I eat in a way that I wasn’t before. I am slowly incorporating it and I do see and feel the difference. You might want to check out her first book if you’re not sure about going with the Paelo Diet it does look similar from that little summary photo you posted except for the fact that she doesn’t have meats, but I’m not a vegetarian (long term goal) and it works for me. I’m going to order her second book soon, so if you are curious about it let me know!
    And yikes, Gwyneth just keeps on getting prettier and prettier!


  8. Ok – I studied this for awhile and have been following a book called Eat to Live for about 5 months. Its dr. fuhrman and he has been featured on both dr. oz and has been on pbs as like a faux documentary. I started it as a cleanse bc I knew I couldnt do a full on liquid diet. And I don’t want to stop like eating this because I have never felt better. I feel 20 years younger — no joke. It is a plant based diet that allows you to eat as many fruits and veggies as you want on the diet but limit nuts and whole grains. In order to really understand you have to read the whole book. I follow it 80% of the time — I think he recommends 90%. But I do the best I can. I lost 10 pounds and am as strong as I’ve ever felt eating a mostly plant based diet and doing bikram yoga. Give it a try!!

  9. I’ve been eating Paleo since June 2011. By far the best choice I’ve ever made regarding food. It was difficult at first but well worth it.

  10. Started paleo three years ago. Paleo for us has been two- thirds veggies, nuts and fruits and one-third meat. Was serious the first six months, lost weight and felt tremendously better. Triathlete husband finally lost his mini love handles after starting paleo shortly after i did. It’s a lot of prep work, especially since I make everything at home. When we eat out out, it’s always what we strive for. Yes, we have started to give into grain based foods here and there but we always go back to paleo, especially when we start feeling fluffy again 🙂 There are a few recipes From Dr. Junger’s book Clean that are a staple, especially the kale avocado smoothie, after watching him on Martha Stewart’s show a few years back. And yes, I totally agree, eating healthy and eliminating stress are key. Also, trying to get rid of all synthetic chemical use in our day to day life. I have spent a tremendous amount of time doing the research and applying to our lives. Hopefully my family and I benefit in the long run. Good luck! Love your blog (design and decor are another passion of mine).

  11. You might want to research the whole 30 while you are deciding what plan to follow. I remember reading some miraculous testimonials about pcos on that site.

  12. I think that eating minimally processed, whole foods is the way to go! I like the Eat to Live book too and even though I haven’t personally tried Paleo I think it’s worth a shot. It’s very true you are what you eat. We’ve cut out all dyes, preservatives and artificial flavoring because my oldest son was very affected by them. It’s been easier than I thought it would be because he’s so much happier. Give it a try you won’t be disappointed!

  13. I just bought the Clean book. I would say before you start the Paleo diet it’d be wise to try an elimination diet (such as Clean) first for a few weeks so you can pinpoint which foods are causing you problems. I think there are many foods off the Paleo list that would be fine for some people’s body and metabolism but you have to find out which those are first. I’ll let you know how the Clean diet goes. I think a cleanse like that one isn’t harmful at all.

  14. I do agree with Jennifer to a point. But the concept of Dr. Junger’s book isnt too far fetched (like the grapefruit juice cleanses!? haha) and the point is to rid your diet of all the junk long term. You’re still eating fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts… The REAL benefit the 21 day cleanse is that you give your body a chance to detox and then you start fresh and can see what you are sensitive to (dairy, peanuts, ect).

  15. ive been doing paleo for about a year. i have NEVER in my life felt better. actually.. the photo you posted about the paleo diet is from one of my friends books, “Make it Paleo”. (check out their latest called “Gather”.. so beautiful..) anyway.. the hardest part for me was cutting out dairy. i honestly don’t miss it anymore. i’m training right now for a figure competition (bodybuilding) and incorporated oatmeal back into my diet just for this. i can tell you that eliminating dairy and grains for so long has alleviated so much bloat that i never knew i had. my skin is so clear, i’ve lost weight, i feel so light and ‘clean’ if that makes sense. i do eat diary every now and then and have a glass of wine on occasion.. but when i eat those things, my body definitely knows! i feel bloated almost instantly. paleo is a lifestyle change.. not a diet. it’s something that is so easy to stick with once you get started. start off slow.. eliminate what you can.. maybe cut out your morning toast or dairy from your snacks. see how you feel. and there is such thing as ‘paleo dessert’! and paleo bread! and they are DELICIOUS.

  16. This one’s an oldie, but a goodie:

    It’s also by Dr. Junger. I don’t like the idea of completely cutting anything out of my diet completely (except processed foods and refined sugars). The 7-day detox is totally doable and pretty tasty. I’ve made the detox chicken teriyaki and pureed soups on non-detox days on many occasions. I also felt AWESOME after. The ingredients are a little difficult to find, but worth it.

  17. I’ve been doing paleo for almost a year. Since I have no will power and I intend for this to be a lifelong thing I started out slow and I’m still not 100% compliant. But I still see the results! More energy, lost about 20lbs, dermatitis cleared up, heart palpitations stopped, never hungry, joint pain gone etc. The science behind it is what really spoke to me, that our bodies run so much better on cleaner fuel. It takes a commitment to do the initial change in how you eat but the food is delicious and easy to cook (and I hate to cook but somehow manage to do it). I cheat when I want to but I always notice the effect of it which in turn makes it easier to stay away from it the next time. Cravings more or less go away with paleo because the food is so satisfying. is a great source of info and testimonials and I highly recommend his book which explains the science behind it. PCOS is one of those things that can dramatically change for the better with paleo from what I’ve read. And I think paleo is what you make it to be. Some are pretty fanatical about it but if you want to have some wine or beans it’s not like the paleo police is going to put you in jail. It’s up to you how strict you want to be with it. As long as you do most meals in a paleo fashion I think you’re still going to see some results. Of course, the stricter the diet the faster you’re going to see results and most likely better ones too. In the long run I think you’ll do yourself more of a favor by slowly working into a new way of eating that you’ll be able to do over the long haul than just a quick cleanse for a short period and then back to normal. Slow and steady wins the race, right? 🙂

  18. I am a big fan of the no processed foods way of living and eating. I have also found that cutting out gluten makes me feel better (note: I do not have a gluten allergy, but I notice that I just feel sort of genetically better when I don’t make gluten a part of my regular diet. I do still eat it from time to time, probably once or twice a month, and I don’t suffer any adverse consequences, but for me it’s something that’s best treated as a treat. Most recently I had a really great piece of crusty bread along with my white bean soup. Other times it’s been a cupcake). That said, I do think paleo is a bit extreme, particularly on the grain front. Disclaimer: I am not facing any health challenges and, if I were, I would give paleo a try to see how it made me feel. I personally cannot sustain a grainless diet, though I do notice that I having a variety of grains (and eating less brown rice, which can be a crutch, particularly in a natural foods diet) does feel good. I also think that some of the lifestyle changes the paleo diet (or any super healthy approach) tends to involve does give you an opportunity to discover for yourself how you actually feel when you do or don’t eat different foods. That alone is worth the price of admission. From there, though, I would craft an approach of my own (rather than slavishly following someone else’s plan) based on what you actually notice in YOUR body when you eat or do not eat this or that.

  19. I’ve been doing paleo for about 2-3 years. I started doing it after being in Iraq and eating processed foods all of the time. It definitely takes more time and planning, and I think it’s more expensive, but it is well worth it! I have more energy, I rarely get headaches, less intestinal cramping, I rarely get sick, and my skin is brighter. I definitely have less body fat now too. My sister has lost 40lbs doing it and her husband has lost about 50lbs. I definitely get more lax around the holidays, but then I suffer the consequences. So every once in a while I will be super strict to get back on track. I’d say I do complete paleo 80-90% of the time and this works for me. When I go out to dinner or to someone’s house to eat, I do the best as sticking to it, but still enjoy myself. It’s funny, people sometimes criticize how I eat, but then when they see my food they often comment on how good it looks. There are so many recipes out there now it is easy to find good ones!

  20. My husband and I read Junger’s Clean book a couple of years ago and it is well worth the read. We decided to do the21 day cleanse and both liked it so much we kept going, which he says you can do. While it is not intended to be a life long plan, most aspects off it can be easily incorporated into your normal routing- smoothie for breakfast, heaviest meal at lunch, light or liquid meal at dinner. We are still having our morning smoothies. My husband’s experience was far more dramatic than mine. He immediately felt awesome- almost giddy, I’d say. Great mood, no knee pain which had been constant and terrible, and he lost about 42 pounds. I didn’t feel too different, although I would say somehow cleaner, lighter inside. I lost 13 pounds and could hardly stand it because my husband was having such better success! I would do it again definitely. I think it’s a great program and makes total sense to me. The recipes are almost all really good. We loved the food. And we loved the results. My husband also stopped snoring when we were following it exactly. We didn’t buy any of the mixes or supplements. We just cut out the foods he said to and ate the foods he recommended. And we never felt hungry or deprived. It takes preparation and a bit of discipline, but it was not awful or hard. It was fun to try new recipes(lots of chopping) and we really didn’t miss much of anything we were doing without, for the first 21 days. Fatigue does set in it seems with almost anything and sometimes you just want some chips, salsa and margaritas! And chocolate!

    Try both- Dr. Junger suggests starting with a 7 day detox and reevaluating- if you feel good and want to continue, try another 7 days, and repeat again if you feel like it. He suggests trying variations- one week each month, one 21 day detox each year, one day each week- tailor it for you. It really did isolate which foods may be problematic. My husband discovered that tomatoes and potatoes (any nightshade, but those 2 are the worst) give him horrible knee pain, but without those in his diet it completely and within about 2 days disappeared. For him that was miraculous. He has much less knee pain now because he avoids those 2 foods almost completely and suffers when he doesn’t.

    Good luck! It’s all a struggle and you just have to do the best you can and what works for you.

  21. Paleo is fantastic. I lost 60 lbs in one yearvdoingbit. The biggest plus? My sinus and headache issues disappeared. I find anytime I consume regular ice cream or milk, my sinus problems return. If I eat pizza or pasta, I get so bloated, face swollen and stuffiness in my nose. I think it’s fine to incorporate beans once in a while. As far as the yogurt, I would try to find an almond milk yogurt substitution. I think eliminating dairy is a huge part of feeling good and eliminating any ails. Try it- I think you will really see and feel the results! Good luck! Ps do you juice? I just started doing that and LOVE it.