Anna Wootton

A Gentle Spring Detox to Have You Summer-Ready in No Time

My view on detoxes is simple: if you are in the throes of emotional eating – really down in the ditches with it – avoid. Anything that’s restrictive or limiting will just send you into a further emotional eating spiral, and it’s safest to just try to remind yourself of the beauty and wonder of food; of its nourishing nature, its delicious flavours and its many origins so you can sit back and really enjoy your meals and learn to love food again, rather than use it as a tool to self-harm and to suffocate your emotions.

That’s step number one. If you feel pretty on point with your eating, in that you feel that you largely eat in the right way but that you’re simply making poor choices, my gentle spring detox may be for you. And no, this is not a program to be purchased. I have linked many free recipes below for sample days on how to get through this detox while enjoying foods you love and staying full.

The idea of this detox is to reset those tastebuds and reduce any inflammation in the body by avoiding or limiting common irritants like sugar, gluten, dairy and meat. Easter candies, nights out drinking and in general, the stress of our day-to-day hectic lives, can catch up to your body and lead you to pack on extra pounds and get you trapped in a cycle of craving the very foods that are harming you. The idea of my gentle detox (and yes, I keep using the word gentle because that’s important!! More on that in a moment) aim to break that cycle, reset your tastebuds and revamp your lifestyle so that weight falls off effortlessly.

Now, why ‘gentle’? I’m not a fan of intense detoxes. They don’t serve you. They either send your body’s metabolism into crisis mode because they so heavily restrict calories, or they have you grumpy and in pain because your body is flushing out every toxin it has all in one go, or they have you miserable because you feel like you’re surviving on cardboard. While these detoxes may only be 3 or 5 or 7 days, one day spent that way is too many, in my humble opinion.

So…the idea of this ‘gentle’ detox is longer, and slower, and steadier. It’s a lifestyle shift. Follow it for at least 3-4 weeks before evaluating to see whether it’s working for you or not. If it is, keep going baby! The aim of this is for life, so while I encourage you to follow it for at least six weeks before reintroducing the occasional treat or drink here or there, the aim is that the principles of this detox stay with you long term (or, you know, at least until your next vacation when pina coladas and French fries derail you again – but then this can be your friendly gentle reset waiting for you when you get home!).

There’s only one green smoothie in sight on this detox plan – and I promise it’s a yummy one!

Enjoy – really! This should be kinda fun ;). (And I’ve only given you ONE SALAD!)

Sample week:

Day 1:

Breakfast: Almond Butter Acai Bowl + herbal tea
Lunch: Sweet Potato Lentil Stew
Mid-afternoon snack: Halle Berry Fruit Skewers
Dinner: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Anna’s Asian Lettuce Wraps

*Try not to eat after 7pm and not eat before 7am. We are aiming for a minimum 12-hour fast overnight – if your schedule doesn’t usually follow these hours 8pm-8am or 9pm-9am works too, just try to give your body that really good break overnight.

Work out in a gentle way – a long, 45-minute walk or a yoga class is ideal today.

Bubble bath time! Take a soak tonight.

Day 2

Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa + herbal tea
Lunch: Vegan ‘Cream’ of Tomato Soup with a slice of two of gluten-free bread
Mid-afternoon snack: Anna’s Date Dough Balls
Dinner: Mushroom Risotto

Weight train. Just hit the gym for 20-30 minutes, or do an at-home video using your own body weight if you don’t have the equipment. You want to gently work your muscles so they tone up!

Try a 10-minute guided meditation. It’s nice before bed as you tend to drift off to sleep easily – try downloading apps like Headspace or Guided Mind.

Day 3

Breakfast: Vegan Gluten-Free Overnight Oats + herbal tea
Lunch: Crispy Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Mid-afternoon snack: Almond Butter Acai Bowl
Dinner: Marinated Portobello Mushroom with Sweet Potato Mash

Combine body and mind today with a rest day by taking a yin yoga class or a yoga nidra class (you can stream free classes online as well if you can’t find one at your local studio). These classes focus on deep relaxation and deep stretching and will rejuvenate your body and mind.

Day 4

Breakfast: No-Bake Chocolate Nut Butter Protein Balls  + herbal tea
Lunch: Gluten-Free Mediterranean Olive Pasta Salad
Mid-afternoon snack: Baked Apple
Dinner: Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger patty on gluten-free bun

Get some cardio in with a run, sports match or cardio class of your choice. Aim to break a sweat for at least 30 minutes straight today.

Deep breaths – set a reminder in your phone for 4 times throughout your workday, and, when the reminder alerts you, stop what you’re doing and take five deep breaths. Inhale through your nose while counting to 6, hold your breath for a count of 8 and exhale through your mouth to a count of 10.

Day 5

Breakfast: Banana Protein Pancakes + herbal tea
Lunch: Mediterranean Stuffed Whatevers
Mid-afternoon snack: Anna’s Falafels with hummus
Dinner: Chinese vegetable stirfry

Enjoy a gentle long walk or yoga class today (similar to Day 1).

Start your day with a simple stretching sequence you can do in bed – begin with some cat/cow stretches and then finish in child’s pose, holding each pose for a minimum count of 5.

Day 6

Breakfast: Hemp Heart Porridge + herbal tea
Lunch: Healthy Cobb Salad
Mid-afternoon snack: A serving of Red Lentil Soup with Balsamic Onions
Dinner: Carrot, Chickpea and Date Tajine served with quinoa

Try some high-intensity interval training. Don’t go too crazy with this; we are trying to reduce stress in your body so I don’t want to send your cortisol into overdrive. Try downloading a Tabata timer and choosing four simple exercises – say, mountain climbers, jump squats, high knees, etc. – and complete a Tabata routine with them. Do this at least 4 times, resting as long as you need in between to bring your heart rate back down in between.

Get outside, in nature. Eat your lunch outside, go for a walk or spend some time in your garden. Really focus on the nature – don’t look at your phone or spend the whole time talking to someone.

Day 7

Breakfast: Anna’s Favourite Green Smoothie + herbal tea
Lunch: Stuffed Mushrooms on Herbed Rice
Mid-afternoon snack: Zucchini chips (slice up a zucchini, season with salt and pepper and toss in olive oil; roast 1 hour at a very low temperature, until crisped)
Dinner: Vegetarian Tacos on gluten-free wraps

Rest – but rest well! Go for a long walk, enjoy some dancing, do some light activity. Keep your body moving and mobile but give your muscles a chance to relax.

Pick up a book and read! We don’t carve enough time out for this but try to give yourself an hour to read. If your baby is down for a nap and you usually crash as well, then instead of napping try reading for a bit. You may fall asleep in the end anyway, but at least you’ll have refreshed your mind a little in the meantime…!

If you try my Gentle Spring Detox share photos of yourself eating one of the detox meals or indulging in the mind or body activities on social media with the hashtag #GentleSpringDetox and tag me in it @AnnaWootton on Instagram or Twitter or post to my Facebook page. I can’t wait to see your photos!