What to Eat While Detoxing

Eat These Foods to Hit the Reset Button

Whether it’s because of holidays or a hectic schedule, sometimes our eating habits can use a little prodding to get back on track. That's when some people turn to a detox diet or cleanse, which can be as gentle or extreme as you like. For some, it may be about curbing refined sugar altogether, while others may simply want to cut back on meat and other animal products, alcohol, or 3 p.m. sugary snacks.

You don't need a juice cleanse to detox or reset your diet. Focusing on home-cooked meals with vegetables, fruit, lean protein, unrefined whole grains, and healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts allows you to get back on the right track, and hopefully continue to make these healthful foods part of your everyday routine.

For help recalibrating your eating and getting back on course, consider including the following detox foods in your diet.


fresh vegetables

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Vegetables are rich in phytochemicals (naturally-occurring plant chemicals) that are being explored for their potential to regulate hormones, stimulate the immune system, and prevent damage to our body's cells.

A good rule of thumb is to incorporate vegetables into most meals, filling at least half of each plate with a variety of brightly colored (or strongly flavored) vegetables.

Vegetables thought to be particularly good for a liver detox include onions, garlic, beets, artichokes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

Other vegetables to eat include asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumbers, endives, jicama, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, okra, parsnips, radishes, rutabaga, snow peas, spinach, sprouts, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, yucca, zucchini, and sea vegetables including arame, dulse, hijiki, kelp, nori sheets, and wakame.


fresh fruit

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Like vegetables, fruits contain phytonutrients that may provide health benefits. The USDA dietary guidelines recommend healthy adults incorporate at least 1.5-2 cups of fruit per day.

Choose whole fruit (fresh or frozen), such as apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, figs, grapes, guava, kiwi, lemon, lime, loganberries, mango, melon, nectarines, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, pomegranate, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, and watermelon.

Whole Grains and Complex Carbs

whole grains

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Everyone has their go-to carbs (often pasta and bread), but this is a good time to experiment and try other sources of whole grains and complex carbs, such as:

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Farro
  • Freekeh
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice 
  • Sweet potato
  • Tapioca
  • Teff
  • Wild rice
  • Winter squash

Unrefined whole grains are preferred, but also try products made from the above ingredients, including brown rice pasta, buckwheat soba noodles, glass noodles, kelp noodles, mung bean noodles, shirataki noodles, rice crackers, quinoa flakes, gluten-free bread, and rice bran.

Beans and Legumes

beans and legumes

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Beans and legumes are high in fiber, protein, and iron. They're also less expensive than animal protein. Try:

  • Split yellow and green peas
  • Lentils (red, brown, green, yellow, French, du Puy)
  • Other beans and legumes, such as adzuki, cannellini, chickpeas, black, black-eyed peas, kidney, and lima.



Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

During a cleanse, focus on fats from foods like avocado, raw nuts and seeds, and nut and seed butter:

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chia
  • Coconut
  • Flax seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Hemp seeds, hemp nuts, hemp hearts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Nut and seed butter, such as tahini, almond butter, cashew nut butter
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Pumpkin
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

If you're cooking with oil, try to use high-quality, cold-pressed, unrefined oils, such as:

  • Almond oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Flax oil
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Hemp oil
  • Olive oil
  • Pumpkin oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Safflower, sesame, and sunflower oils in limited amounts
  • Walnut oil

Dairy and Dairy Substitutes


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Although cleanses will often recommend that you drop dairy temporarily, some include probiotic-rich organic yogurt and kefir.

Instead of cow's milk, consider trying one of these plant-based milks:

  • Avocado milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hemp seed milk
  • Nut milk, such as almond or cashew milk (unsweetened)
  • Rice milk (unsweetened)



Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

In general, it's a good idea to use your thirst to guide how much you drink, although some people have conditions that may require them to drink more or less.

You may decide to limit your alcohol and coffee intake, swapping in herbal, green, or white tea. Here are some beverage options:

  • Coconut water
  • Drinks or smoothies with allowed ingredients
  • Herbal teas, such as rooibos tea, cinnamon tea, ginger tea
  • Infused water (sometimes called "detox water")
  • Kombucha (unsweetened)
  • Lemon water
  • Mineral or seltzer water 
  • Plant-based "milks" such as rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk.
  • True tea such as green tea and white tea
  • Unsweetened juice made from allowed fruits and vegetables

If you simply can't give up your morning cup of coffee, try limiting it to no more than one 8-ounce cup (and avoid added sweetener).



Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Fresh and dried herbs and spices can make any meal more flavorful, without adding sugar or salt. Chop some fresh herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, or thyme.

Spices you can cook with include allspice, anise, caraway seeds, cardamom, celery seeds, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, saffron, tamarind, or turmeric.

Fresh or raw ginger and garlic can instantly make meals more interesting. Here are some other condiments and ingredients to consider:

  • Baking soda or baking powder
  • Cacao powder and cacao nibs
  • Carob powder
  • Coconut amino acids
  • Fish sauce 
  • Lemons and limes
  • Miso 
  • Mustard
  • Nama shoyu
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Olives
  • Sea salt
  • Vinegar (e.g. apple cider vinegar, balsamic, coconut, red or white wine, rice vinegar)
  • Wheat-free tamari 

Sugar and Other Sweeteners


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Limiting your overall intake of sweets and sugar from all sources will go a long way. If you are going to use a sweetener, choose natural sources such as the following:

  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Coconut nectar
  • Dried fruit, sparingly
  • Fruit jam
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Monk fruit
  • Stevia

For dessert, choose whole, fresh fruit or try frozen desserts or puddings made with nut milk (or yogurt) and fruit.

Animal Protein


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Detox diets differ on the question of whether to include animal protein. If you're going to eat it, consider the following options:

  • Anchovies and sardines
  • Lamb
  • Organic turkey
  • Organic chicken, preferably pastured
  • Wild, cold-water fish, such as Alaskan salmon
  • Wild game, such as bison, pheasant, quail, venison, buffalo, ostrich

A Word From Verywell

Cleanses don't need to be about depriving yourself, skipping meals, or completing an overly restrictive juice cleanse. The ultimate goal is to make these healthful and tasty foods a part of your everyday routine and to make positive lifestyle changes that will last even after the detox diet is over.

Use this time to experiment with new recipes and cooking methods. You may discover, for instance, that spaghetti squash isn't much harder to prepare than pasta; roasted cauliflower can be a satisfying snack if seasoned with herbs; or that nut milk is a delicious alternative to cow's milk. Most importantly, look for healthy foods that you will enjoy eating.

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2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Legume lentils.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get the facts: Drinking water and intake.

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