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Make a fresh start of the year with wellness consultant Naini Setalvad’s gentle detoxification diet

After the New Year festivities, the season of weddings and the party indulgences you had to give in to, it’s time to cleanse your body of all the toxins. The best way to do this is to undergo a detoxification process.

So, what is detoxification?

The food we eat includes white flour, white sugar, aerated drinks, processed foods and junk foods that are full of chemicals and do more harm than good. Such foods are taxing on the digestive organs, owing to which the body’s efficiency to eliminate toxins decreases. The liver is unable to cope with the overload and the excess toxins make the body sluggish, leading to mental, emotional and physical stress. Also, the cell reproduction of the body slows down as you age, making it harder to recuperate from stress and illnesses.

Detoxification is a harmless and effective natural strategy to remove toxins and regain your health, thus aiding the body’s organs to work efficiently. It is important to understand the Indian diet with a scientific viewpoint and know what foods help you detoxify and strengthen your immune system quickly. The best way to detoxify your body is to first detoxify your kitchen. Start by getting rid of the white flour, sugar-laden foods, packaged and comfort foods from your kitchen shelf and replacing them with organic meals. Organic foods are largely categorised as fruits, leafy greens and vegetables; ensure they are local and seasonal. Food grains such as bajra, jowar, nachni, brown rice, sprouts, cold-pressed oils, rock salt and sea salt are organic in nature and easily available in the market. Consumption of organic foods helps reduce the intake of chemicals in your body, saves the environment, and boosts overall mental well-being.

Detoxification gives you positive direction and heightens your self-awareness. Spiritually and scientifically, it improves your self-discipline. Even the most basic changes, like drinking more water, adding fruits to your diet, increasing your greens, opting for organic foods and avoiding processed foods, can greatly reduce toxicity in the body. The best time to detoxify your body is after the New Year festivities are over; you can also do it on a weekly basis throughout the year. Before that, understand the signs that tell you whether you need a detox.

Heed the signs

Do you…

  • Feel tired when you wake up in the morning?
  • Drink more than three cups of coffee a day?
  • Rarely eat fresh fruits or vegetables?
  • Suffer from bloating after meals?
  • Eat fried and junk food?
  • Skip meals, especially breakfast?
  • Eat red meat more than twice a week?
  • Have an alcoholic drink most days?
  • Smoke or live with smokers?
  • Have mood swings?
  • Gain weight easily?
  • Feel lethargic most of the time?
  • Suffer from frequent colds, fever or allergies?
  • Have irregular bowel movements?
  • Have muscle or joint aches?

If you suffer from five or more of these symptoms, you definitely need to go for a detox diet.

Benefits of detox

  • Boosts immunity
  • Removes accumulated waste via sweat, faeces, gases and urine
  • Helps in weight reduction
  • Delays premature ageing and degeneration
  • Regulates sleep pattern
  • Improves emotional well-being
  • Makes blood parameters better

Planning a detox diet?

Keep a few pointers in mind before you start your detox plan. Have as much organic food as possible. Maintain a daily diary to ensure you are drinking enough water, eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting down on grains, alcohol and caffeine, and getting enough exercise and meditation. Ensure your cooked food is steamed or lightly sautéed. Consumption of sprouted and cooked pulses is beneficial as they are high in vitamin content. Flavour your food with spices and condiments like cumin, turmeric, rock salt, ginger and herbs such as coriander and mint. This boosts nutrient content and makes it easier to digest, assimilate and eliminate the food.

For cooking, make use of use organic cold pressed oil or cow’s ghee. Garnishing with freshly grated coconut is great for health. Fruits such as lemon, papaya, pumpkin and white gourd are good to eat during detox. Avoid dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and paneer along with eggs and animal products. Fried food, chocolates, sweets, white flour and white sugar foods are a strict no. Eat slowly, chew properly and concentrate on your food while eating; never skip your meals. Detoxification is like any normal diet and can be practised by all silvers, even those suffering from age-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Just ensure you continue your medication even during your detox plan.

A sample detox plan

  • Start your day with lemon water
  • Follow it up with a fruit or fruit smoothie + herbal infusion or green tea
  • Mid-morning, have a vegetable juice
  • Lunch can consist of salad + seasonal vegetables + dal + roti
  • Mid-evening, have a seasonal fruit + saffron tea
  • Dinner can consist of vegetable soup + sweet potato or yam or vegetable khichdi
  • For dessert, have prune and fig compote

Do this after for a week, once in three weeks, to rejuvenate your body.

Detox recipes to stay healthy and active




  • Bananas: 1 or 2
  • Strawberries: 3-4
  • Ice (or cold water): a little


Peel the bananas and chop them. Cut the strawberries. Mix the fruits and blend with ice. Serve cold.



  • Prunes: 6
  • Figs: 6
  • Cinnamon sticks: 2; ¼-inch each
  • Water: a little


Chop the figs and prunes into four pieces each and soak in a bowl of water. Place both the cinnamon sticks on either side of the bowl. Let them remain soaked for at least 12 hours. Serve warm or chilled in a serving bowl.



  • Water: 4 cups
  • Saffron strands: 4
  • Cinnamon stick: ½-inch piece
  • Clove: 1
  • Almond: 1; de-skinned and grated
  • Organic honey: 1 tsp


Add saffron strands, cinnamon stick and clove to water and boil for 10 minutes till the water reduces to half its quantity. Strain the water and add honey. Sprinkle grated almond on top and serve hot.



  • Beetroot: 200 gm; boiled
  • Lemon juice: ½ tbsp
  • Garlic paste: ½ tsp
  • Walnuts: 5 tsp; crushed
  • Salt to taste


Boil the beetroot; peel and mash well till you get a paste with no chunks. Add lemon juice, garlic paste, crushed walnuts and salt and mix well. Chill and serve with vegetable crudités.



  • Fenugreek leaves (methi): 1 bunch
  • Sesame seeds: 3 tsp
  • Walnuts: 3-4; chopped
  • Raisins: 5-6
  • Olive oil: 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds: ½ tsp
  • Asafoetida (hing): a pinch
  • Honey: ¼ tsp
  • Lemon to taste
  • Salt to taste


Wash the methi leaves and leave to dry. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add hing and switch off the flame to allow it to cool. Add salt, lemon and honey and mix well to prepare the salad dressing. Cool in the refrigerator. Add walnuts, raisins and sesame seeds to the methi leaves and then add the salad dressing. Mix well and serve.

Setalvad is an obesity and lifestyle disease consultant who offers diet counselling at Health for You, a wellness clinic in Mumbai, as well as online. Visit for more details or write to if you have any queries for her

Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
January 2018