Action Plan Detox: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

During a detox, it's important to have a solid, healthy meal for lunch. Get inspired by these detox-friendly lunch recipes, or feel free to create a meal from any of the "Foods to Include" listed below. 

Aim for variety, and take care not to supersize your portions. A lunch salad might include 4 ounces of protein, 1/2 cup of grains, greens, a cup or two of vegetables, a tablespoon of oil, and several herbs and spices.

Our detox guidelines, including which foods to eat and which to avoid, were adapted from "Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself" (HarperOne; 2009) by Alejandro Junger, M.D.

Foods to Include

  • Dairy substitutes: Rice and nut milks such as almond milk and coconut milk
  • Non-gluten grains: brown rice, millet, amaranth, teff, tapioca, buckwheat, potato flour, quinoa, gluten-free oats
  • Fruits and vegetables: unsweetened fresh or frozen whole fruits, water-packed canned fruits, diluted fruit juices and raw steamed, sauteed, juiced, or roasted vegetables
  • Animal protein: fresh or water-packed fish, wild game, lamb, duck, organic chicken, and turkey
  • Vegetable protein: split peas, lentils, and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds: walnuts; sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds; hazelnuts; pecans; almonds; cashews; nut butters such as almond or tahini
  • Oils: cold-pressed olive, flax, safflower, sesame, almond, sunflower, walnut, canola, and pumpkin
  • Drinks: filtered or distilled water, decaffeinated herbal teas, seltzer or mineral water
  • Sweeteners: brown rice syrup, agave nectar, stevia, fruit sweetener, and blackstrap molasses
  • Condiments: vinegar; all spices, including salt, pepper, basil, carob, cinnamon, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, and turmeric

Foods to Exclude

  • Dairy and eggs: all
  • Butter and mayonnaise: all
  • Grains: wheat, corn, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, triticale, most oats (oats are usually contaminated with gluten unless you can find a gluten-free brand)
  • Fruits and vegetables: oranges, orange juice, corn, creamed vegetables
  • Animal protein: pork, beef, veal, sausage, cold cuts, canned meats, frankfurters, shellfish
  • Vegetable protein: soybean products (soy sauce, soybean oil in processed foods, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, soy yogurt, textured vegetable protein)
  • Nuts and seeds: peanuts and peanut butter
  • Oils: shortening, processed oils, salad dressings, and spreads
  • Drinks: alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and soft drinks
  • Sweeteners: white and brown refined sugars, honey, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and evaporated cane juice
  • Condiments: chocolate, ketchup, relish, chutney, barbecue sauce, teriyaki

Things to Watch For

  • Corn starch is often present in baking powder, beverages, and processed foods.
  • Vinegar in ketchup, mayonnaise, and some mustard usually comes from wheat or corn. 
  • Breads advertised as gluten-free still might contain coats, spelt, kamut, or rye.
  • Many amaranth and millet flake cereals contain oat or corn.
  • Many canned tunas contain textured vegetable protein, which is from soy; look for low-salt versions, which tend to be pure tuna, with no fillers.
  • Multi-grain rice cakes are not just rice. Be sure to purchase plain rice cakes.

Use this shopping list to stock up on everything you need for the Action Plan four-day detox. 

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Comments (26)

  • Iclifeservices 3 Sep, 2012

    I have been using small amount of coconut oil for my cooking. I also add a small amount of olive oil. However I did not see this on either the excluded or the included list. Can you tell me your opinion about using coconut oil during the detox period, and even into the next phase of this great meal plan. Thank you much.

  • BrendaL2000 4 Jan, 2012

    This is the most helpful list. I was a bit confused with what is in and out. This list is buried pretty deeply. It should be one off the squares on the main weekly page.

  • healthyguy411 22 Jun, 2011

    I like this article a lot. Short and to the point! No wasting our time with fluff or anything, wel done. I was really shocked about peanuts I thought they were good for you.

  • nursewendy 1 Aug, 2010

    It took me two days of shopping just to gather the items needed to make the smoothies. I had to go to a co-op and a grocery store. Some of the items are expensive. I can see how some people will not be able to afford to eat these meals. You need to have another group of selections which costs less .

  • mrsjloadams 12 Jun, 2010

    I loved the challenge from last year. It was easy to follow, inexpensive, filling, healthy and worked wonders. This year's challenge is too much for me! I wish I'd printed out the whole plan from '09. Is there any way I can still access it?

  • Dantea 1 Apr, 2010

    Gluten is not a "contaminant": it is a naturally occurring protein. I personally am not going to go out of my way to leave gluten out: it's kind of ridiculous.

  • Dantea 1 Apr, 2010

    Gluten is not a "contaminant": it is a naturally occurring protein. I personally am not going to go out of my way to leave gluten out: it's kind of ridiculous.

  • naturallysweet 16 Feb, 2010

    Unfermented soy contains phytic acid which is not good for us, certainly not in the quantities consumed by most people. If you are vegetarian, rely on legumes or eggs for your protein.

    Beware of agave. It is not what it is made out to be. Huffington Post had an article today about agave. This backs up what my nutritionist said-agave is popular because of a savvy marketing campaign. Better to forgo all sweeteners or use stevia if you must use something.

  • allylynn 10 Feb, 2010

    this is going to be a tough plan for me to follow I don't eat much, and I eat very little meat, i don't eat ANY fish and very little red meat
    what do i do to get started

  • cathyms 2 Feb, 2010

    I still have not seen an answer to 'why no soy products?' Can anyone tell me?

  • garveyk 10 Jan, 2010

    NORTHERNFLASHER - I believe soy products are "binding agents" and will work against the body's ability to flush out the toxins. They are good for you, just not during the detrox phase.

  • northernflasher 8 Jan, 2010

    Does anyone know why soay and oats are on the banned list? I always thought these were excellent weight loss foods?

  • stef42678 8 Jan, 2010

    I was surprised to see so many whole grains on the don't eat list, so I will really have to watch the ingredients in what I eat.

  • Jannzzee 7 Jan, 2010

    I do not see the shopping list - help !

  • Jannzzee 7 Jan, 2010

    OK -- it is day 1

  • EMaile 6 Jan, 2010

    Hi Lbuser--Thanks for looking. I found the contradiction on oats (above) and page 12 of 14 in detox lunch recipes. Oats are "included" on that page...I will just not use them until Monday on.

    Good luck with your detox!

  • lbuser 5 Jan, 2010

    Well, EMaile, I do not know where you are looking. I have hunted through everything and I cannot find oats in the detox section anywhere - lunch or otherwise. Maybe you are looking in one of the weeks that follow the detox days. Quite frankly, for the first 4 days it looks like you would just exclude them.

  • EMaile 5 Jan, 2010

    I am confused--do we include oats or exclude them during the detox? Above it says to exclude them but on the lunch list oats are included. Thanks.

  • IzziGirl 5 Jan, 2010

    Will this be enough calories to work out with? I'm a runner and I have an 8-miler scheduled for the first day of the detox. I'm still not convinced of the science of detoxing-- aren't our bodies pretty well equipped to handle food?

  • JDaddario 4 Jan, 2010

    I am not a fennel fan... is there anything that can replace fennel in these recipes?

  • marethefair 4 Jan, 2010

    They seem have to forgotten about vegetarians when composing this plan! There's little I can eat according to their lunch recipes. And why should I exclude soy? It's my major source of protein!

  • bellaree1 4 Jan, 2010

    Does anyone have any additional recipes for lunch or detox smoothie/soup ideas?

  • coletteam 1 Jan, 2010

    I just posted the instructions on the recipe page. I found the full recipe at http://www.cleanprogram.com/files/clean-program-recipes.pdf

  • bniebuhr 31 Dec, 2009

    The bass recipe never really mentions how or when you actually cook the bass.

  • TruthCPA 30 Dec, 2009

    Yes, I believe it is a typo. They listed 'agave' syrup as an ingredient in one of their smoothie recipes.

  • UUjerri1 30 Dec, 2009

    For "sweetners" is agate a typo? Is it supposed to be Agave?

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