Eating clean might conjure up images of upper-class families walking into Whole Foods Market to buy some $4 organic apples and $5 avocados. It may seem exclusive and out of reach for the average Trader Joe, but it does not need to be an expensive trend or status symbol.

Contrary to you Instagram feed, it does not require pre-made juices or teas with pretty labels.

There is no denying that a meal delivery service and a supply of pressed juices would be helpful for staying on track with a healthy diet or cleanse; however, anyone can start detoxifying by first taking a close look at his/her lifestyle and dietary choices and applying small changes (and then big ones).

Below are some tips ad tricks I suggest implementing to be healthier and still stay under budget.

Tip 1: Incorporate some calorie restriction

We see a common theme amongst scientific research studies and expert opinion; caloric restriction while avoiding malnutrition is beneficial to our health. The last thing that an overworked organ needs is more food and toxins to process.

Cells need a chance to digest and process what we consume, but also to carry out metabolic functions that are put on hold during digestion – functions such as healing and autophagy.

Caloric restriction (even 20-40%), fasting, or a low glycemic diet that somewhat mimics the effects of fasting can improve insulin sensitivity and decrease oxidative damage.[1]

Consider it a spring cleaning for your cells!

Fasting can last 12 hours to several days and can include broths, vegetable juices, or just water.

You can expect a reset in cellular function, optimal organ health, a decrease in inflammation, and weight loss. This, in turn, lowers the risk of chronic diseases correlated with high BMI, chronic inflammation, and slowed metabolic function.

These include but are not limited to the highly prevalent diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.

You can also experience almost instant gratification with improved skin, senses, sleep, gut health, and energy [3].

If you choose to do a juice cleanse and have a limited budget, refer to the EWG’sClean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” lists, and investigate whether your local farmer’s markets offer their less beautiful organic produce at a discounted price [2].

As Dr. Haas, author of The Detox Diet, says, “enjoy more from less” [3].

Lastly, in this budget-friendly themed tip, drink more water upon waking and between meals. Bonus points for lemon water.

I want to make a big disclaimer here. Make this temporary and intermittent. DO NOT confuse the suggestion to temporarily calorie-restrict or fast as advice to simply adopt unhealthy restrictive behaviors. You may, for example, just fast in the morning every other day, and you may not necessarily even eat significantly fewer calories, but you’ll still be reaping benefits. You may choose to just ensure you fast 12 or 13 hours overnight. It is also important to note that by eating too little for too long, or fasting chronically, can negatively impact your metabolism. The key is to be gentle with yourself and do what feels right. Your body will go through seasons, so work with it, and not against it. Don’t stress your body by trying to force anything. 

Options for putting these tips into action:Replace refined carbohydrates and sugars with fibrous vegetables. They will provide more vitamins and minerals per calorie and promote digestion –bowel movements are important!

  • An intermittent fast, one that involves getting your necessary calories in a window between 6-8 hours, or whatever you feel comfortable with, is a good option for beginners. I practiced intermittent fasting for many months with an eating window of 1400-2000. I felt less bloated, more energetic, and had more mental focus. I then took a break from this extended fasting, and did a more gentle 12-14 overnight fast. Currently, I only fast strictly for 12-13 hours, and occasionally push that to 15 hours, depending on my hunger cues and my digestion. 
  • Teas such as peppermint, chamomile, and ginger root, are great for curbing cravings and reducing inflammation. Your tea does not need to be marketed for detox purposes.
  • Add turmeric and cayenne pepper to meals or juices, and incorporate apple cider vinegar and olive oil into your salad dressings.
  • Avoid poisons! At least try a fast from one single poison for a week – nicotine, sugar, dairy, your choice!

*Always start small and discuss fasts with your physician, naturopath, or nutritionist, especially if you have a medical condition.

Tip 2: Get the most bang for your buck.

Hopefully, once you start to save money by not spending it on toxic foods, you can start putting that money to good use to buy healthy food.

Nutrient density is worth the investment. Quite frankly, your apple-a-day can wait.

Assess what will get you the most nutrients for your dollar. For example, a head of broccoli is more expensive than a head of iceberg lettuce, but the broccoli is more nutritious.

Apply this rule to food and supplements alike. Supplements are expensive, and if you find one that is relatively cheap, take a good look at the ingredients because you are probably better off without it and its fillers.

Pharmaceutical-grade or high-quality supplements are worth investing in if you can fit them into your budget, so make sure you dedicate the time and research into finding what specific nutrients might be the most beneficial for your particular needs. Instead of running to buy the new supplement that a television personality recommends, pay attention to what you could be lacking in your diet or what your symptoms might be telling you.

This day in age it is difficult to get optimal nutrients without some supplementation, but food needs to be your priority.

For safe detoxing, consider a fibrous diet consisting of mostly vegetables, then worry about adding vitamins, minerals, oils, and herbs. If you are looking into more intense detoxifying goals, consider resveratrol, vitamin C, and glutathione. For a slightly different approach to detox, activated charcoal (in pill form), bentonite clay, or taking a 30-minute magnesium bath can also be useful [4].

Tip 3: Detoxify your surroundings for (almost) free.

We get plenty of toxins from our environment. Not only through air pollution and things that we put into our mouths, but also from our lotions, soaps, perfumes, cleaning products, and countless other sources.

Since the theme is budget-friendly detoxing, let’s not focus on throwing out all of our chemical-laden products to replace them with pricier ones.

Start by replacing your lotion with coconut oil. I buy a cold expeller-pressed one in a glass jar for cooking purposes, but as a body lotion, I settle for the massive 84 fl. oz. bottle sold at Costco for under $20. I occasionally use it for oil pulling, which is thought to pull toxins from the body and promote good oral health [5].

For cleaning, you do not need to run and buy every product in the Mrs. Meyers line. Start by incorporating vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, and lemon. The options are endless, and all you need is a quick google search to find the answer to any of your toxin-free-living questions.

Sweat, sleep, and sanity. Exercising will not only promote lymphatic drainage but also cause a release of toxins via sweat and even deep breathing. Focusing on quality sleep will help your body recharge and recover.

My tips for great sleep include limiting technology in the evening, magnesium supplements every night, a low-dose melatonin supplement or calming tea, and sleeping in an entirely dark room. I love to be woken up by natural sunlight, so I use an eye mask in place of blackout curtains.

Meditation or stress-coping mechanisms will also help detox your mind, body, spirit, and environment.

Ditch the bad habits. Smoking is doing you no favors and if you must drink at social gatherings, stick with clean liquor and use sparkling water, lemon, mint, and ginger as mixers.

Get extra antioxidants (Vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, selenium) and use cleansing herbs (milk thistle and dandelion root) [3].

Living clean is not boring!

Bonus tip: When adopting new lifestyle choices, we typically end up with food in our pantries that is off-limits but difficult to throw away as to avoid being wasteful. Use those old sodas for cleaning your bathroom and consider donating unopened canned goods.


References (for you science nerds like me)

[1] Anton, S., & Leeuwenburgh, C. (2013). Fasting or caloric restriction for Healthy Aging. Experimental Gerontology, 48(10), 1003-1005. doi:  10.1016/j.exger.2013.04.011
[2] EWG. (2017). EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
[3] Haas, E. M., & Chace, D. (2012). The detox diet: The definitive guide for lifelong vitality with recipes, menus, and detox plans (3rd ed.). New York: Ten Speed Press.
[4] Petersen, D. (2011). You are what you eat, think, & eliminate [Online lecture]. Retrieved from https://achs.instructure.com/courses/677/pages/module-3-video-lectures?module_item_id=53696
[5] Singh, A., & Purohit, B. (2011). Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 2(2), 64-68. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.82525

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