My Experience With a Self-Managed Detox

I have mentioned in a few posts that I did a self-managed detox to help me balance out my hormones and lose weight, and promised to share more about it, so here it goes….

Before we get started I need to take care of a few house cleaning items (you know how it is :).

  • I am not a detox expert; this is based off my own experience, research, and healthcare knowledge
  • I did A LOT of research before I started my detox
  • I leaned on my experience and knowledge as a healthcare profession (registered nurse) before, during, and after my detox
  • I did a mild month long detox
  • Please consult a physician before making drastic changes to your diet – a severe detox is not something you want to mess around with by yourself

Now that we have that out-of-the-way we can get started.  I knew I had some hormonal imbalances I was dealing with, and I knew there really wasn’t any medication available that could help (note: I did have low thyroid levels, but they were just barely low, and didn’t really warrant medicinal treatment – medication can be helpful for severe hormonal imbalances, but that wasn’t the case for me).  I was 1 year postpartum with the following symptoms:

  • I couldn’t lose weight – no matter what I did (I list this first, because this was by far my most frustrating symptom)
  • I kept waking up in the middle of the night wide awake – for no reason – even though my baby was sleeping through the night.  
  • I had low energy levels
  • I had irregular and heavy menstrual cycles (something I had never dealt with in the past)
  • I was always craving sugar and simple carbs
  • I still felt like I was 6 weeks postpartum – I described it as the postpartum cloud never leaving
  • I was very emotional – my poor husband (he’s a good guy for putting up with me)
  • I was depressed (I will talk about my postpartum depression in another post)

I knew something had to change.  I was at my breaking point, and it was started to affect me as a wife and mom (my two most important roles).  I started doing a lot of research on natural ways to balance hormones.  I read multiple books, articles, and blogs and came to the conclusion that a detox maybe a viable option.  I also went to see an acupuncturist (for postpartum depression and hormone balance).  I consulted with the acupuncturist about a self-managed detox.  He gave me some ideas, and I decided to give it a try.  I decided to try it for one month and then re-evaluate.  I also came up with the following guidelines:

  • I did not want to deal with severe digestive issues, enemas, or herbs that are suppose to aid in digestion during a detox.  I didn’t know enough about the herbs to trust them and I wasn’t about to give myself an enema.  My nursing brain didn’t think either option was a good idea.  In order to avoid these I was careful about the amount of raw produce I consumed, I used other detox methods (detox bath, lots and lots of water, sauna, etc).  If my stomach started to bother me I cut back a little bit on the produce I was consuming.
  • I cut all grains from my diet.  This was really hard for me, and made me realize that the Paleo diet was not something I could stick to long term (I have nothing against the Paleo diet – it’s just not for me)
  • I cut out all animal products except eggs, salmon, and goat cheese
  • I cut out all sugar (except for fruit) and processed foods
  • I ate as many fruits and vegetables as I wanted
  • I started the day with a green juice (I found a good deal on a Breville juicer)
  • I did not allow myself to go hungry.  I made sure I was eating throughout the day.

I wish I could say the first 3-5 days were hard, and after that I felt great…but realistically, I would say the first 3 weeks were hard (really hard).  I thought, if I see another piece of lettuce, I am going to throw up…but I stuck with it (detox symptoms, salads, and all) and toward the end I started to notice things improving.  My body was starting to crave the green juices that I loathed drinking every morning (they seriously taste awful, and the taste didn’t get any better, but my body loved the flood of nutrients), I didn’t feel hungry all the time (I am pretty sure my leptin receptors had been a little bit sluggish [more on that later]), I didn’t depend on nuts and nut butters for comfort foods as much, and I genuinely felt better.  

Once the month was over I can honestly say I felt better, it’s important to note that I didn’t lose any weight (I was eating a lot of caloric dense foods)… BUT it didn’t cause a huge mental breakdown.  I could feel my body healing, and knew the weight loss would come with time (and it did).  I actually decided to quit weighing myself at that point, and successfully went 9 months without getting on the scale.

After the initial detox, I started adding foods back into my diet.  I added high quality grains, small amounts of chicken (I ate very little animal products for awhile.  Meat didn’t make a big appearance back into my diet until I started fine tuning – that came about 9 months later), dark chocolate, and natural sweeteners.  Slowly my symptoms started to go away, the weight started to come off, and I started feeling like myself again.  It was the most liberating feeling!

In conclusion; do I think a detox is for everyone (of course not – everyone and every situation is different), but it did help me.  It allowed my body to heal after a stressful pregnancy and difficult postpartum recovery.  It also taught me how well the body responds to adequate nutrition.  I did my detox in conjunction with acupuncture treatments (some do them in conjunction with chiropractic treatments – neither is necessary), which I do think helped speed up my healing process.  

My symptoms were relatively mild, and I was lucky to be able to get to a point where my body could start healing on it’s own.  I know some that have had more severe symptoms, and were very successful with a more aggressive detox (they had a professional managing their detox).  

I added examples below of what I ate before, during, and after my detox, and you can refer to my What I Ate Wednesday posts to compare them to how I eat now (if you wish).  Please remember, these are just examples of what worked for me.  

Before my Detox

  • Cream of wheat
  • Egg whites
  • regular peanut butter
  • Sugar free Nestle chocolate milk powder
  • Apple
  • String cheese
  • Reduced Fat Wheat Thins
  • Wheat pita pocket
  • Deli turkey slices
  • Light mayo
  • Homemade protein bar sweetened with Splenda and Crystal Light
  • Skim milk
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder
  • Sugar free Nestle chocolate milk powder
  • popcorn
  • fat free “butter” spray
  • I would be really good about not eating treats for a long time (3-4 weeks), get discouraged from lack of results, and then binge and eat 5 cookies in one sitting (and no, it wasn’t 5 Oreo’s – it was 5 bakery style cookies) 


During My Detox

  • Green juice
  • Veggie omelet
  • Fruit
  • Apple
  • Almond butter
  • Salad
  • Apple 
  • Goat cheddar (it’s not as bad as it sounds)
  • Cauliflower “rice”
  • Salmon
  • Cooked veggies
  • Nuts
  • Banana


After my Detox

  • Green juice
  • Oatmeal topped with almond butter
  • Salad
  • Almond butter freezer fudge (almond butter, coconut oil, and honey)
  • Toast with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes
  • Tomato soup
  • 2-3 ounces of dark chocolate


Related posts:

My Story

Heal First

Small Changes; Big Results


Have you ever done a detox?  What was your experience?


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