I Survived a 10 Day-Detox (2023)

I Survived a 10 Day-Detox (1)

I felt "off."

A month ago, that was what spurred me to embark on a 10-day cleanse. I wasn't trying to lose weight to look my street style best for NYFW; I wasn't trying to make up for eating fast food at every meal or binge drinking every night.

My complaints were low-grade. I had started to slip into some bad habits: a little too much wine a little too regularly, late nights glued to my computer, snacking more often than having balanced meals, and slipping in some gluten products when I've been instructed by my GP to avoid them as much as possible. I had fallen out of practice with taking my vitamin supplements on the regular, a huge issue for someone who follows a vegan diet (I know, bad). And my coffee habit was getting out of control. In short, I was running on empty, exhausted, and feeling "meh." And after fighting off the flu, strep throat, and a couple of god-awful colds, it was clear that my immune system was crying uncle as well.

So a crash juice cleanse would do the trick, right?

But not all detoxes are created equal. I decided to go with The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox, designed by Dr. Mark Hyman, an NYC doctor who specializes in nutrition. It would be more than just a quick fix. The premise: to eliminate all foods, drinks, and habits associated with spiking blood sugar, ultimately putting a halt to all my cravings and giving my body the R&R it needed to reboot and recover. In short, I would be going back to basics, and giving my diet and my life a much-needed overhaul.

And here's the clincher: I would be allowed to eat.

In general, I eat very well. I follow a plant-based, vegan diet, avoid gluten for digestive reasons, and will choose a plate of veggies and hummus over Tofurkey any day of the week. But I've done the juice cleanse thing, and only lasted a day before concluding that green juices make wonderful snacks, not meals. A girl's gotta eat—especially on the eve of fashion month madness.

Fast forward to 10 days later: My skin was clear, I was sleeping a solid eight hours a night, a single cup of coffee did the job it was supposed to do, my digestive issues and bloating had all but disappeared. And yes, I felt a little lighter, and my clothes a little looser. There were aspects of the detox that were tough, but I emerged feeling much better than I did when I went in. And more importantly—I did it. I didn't slip, and because of it, I could reap the full benefits of remedying my various ailments. Why? Because the Blood Sugar Detox Solution is just that—a solution. The emphasis is sustainable health and introducing positive, long-term habits, whereas many of the most popular detoxes and cleanses are created with a built-in finish line. In other words, I'm pretty sure Beyoncé stopped knocking back lemon juice with cayenne pepper once she lost the weight for Dreamgirls.

Here are the exact aspects of the Blood Sugar Solution that made it different and betterthan most crash-and-burn cleanses out there, and how I still got results without feeling absolutely miserable for 10 days straight.

I was allowed to eat. Well.

Three meals a day, with snacks in between, actually. Dr. Hyman provides a very detailed menu with great recipes to follow on a daily basis, and they didn't taste like lawn or leave me feeling faint. Some of my favorites included a Thai bibimbap made with cauliflower "rice" and mock-tuna salad with sunflower seeds, which sounds gross, but is totally amazing. Also—cucumbers in my morning smoothies? A refreshing revelation.

But I wasn't allowed to eat certain things.


During the 10 days, I had to eliminate all grains—even my gluten-free go-tos, like quinoa and brown rice. Sugar was off-limits, and natural sweets and starches were also put on lock down—I was permitted a serving of fruit in my breakfast smoothie, and only a small amount of starchy veggies like squash and potatoes. Beans and legumes were off-limits, which, for a vegan who needs protein, was a little daunting.

The reasoning? Starches, sugars, and carb-heavy foods tend to cause spikes in blood sugar, which can cause cravings and energy crashes later on. Plus, beans and legumes can be pretty rough on the digestive system, and the only way to know exactly what triggers stomach and digestion issues is to get rid of all the factors, and reintroduce them slowly later. (In my case, I learned that chickpeas and I don't get along in large amounts, so I have since limited my hummus consumption from binge-levels to normal-ish.)

It was tough to restrict so many foods, especially at first. But once I made it through a few days without feeling crampy and bloated, and realized that I was actually (gasp!) not starving, seeing the rest of the program through didn't seem like an issue.

And yes, it was restrictive in some ways, but compared to swapping different green juices, I was eating like a queen.

I was still getting my nutrients.

Call me crazy, but I'm not sure maple syrup, cayenne, and lemon juice provide all the essential vitamins and minerals a functioning adult human needs. I was given supplements and instructed to take additional ones daily. The fine assortment below includes an omega-3 (a natural mood-booster, and great for skin, hair, and nails), Vitamin D (which most adults—and particularly city-dwellers—need help with), Vitamin B-12 (which prevents a variety of issues from anemia to fatigue, and can be problematic for vegans and vegetarians to find in their diets), and magnesium (an aid in blood pressure regulation and bone strength). And after being so bad about taking my supplements every day, the program finally kicked my sorry rear end into gear. Needless to say, I feel worlds better now that I've ensured that my nutrient consumption is on point.

I Survived a 10 Day-Detox (3)

Yes, I had to give up coffee.

Cold turkey. And I was 175% certain that of every rule on the program, that was the one that I would end up breaking. I've gone on many a caffeine detox, but always work my way up to my four cups a day again—I can't function without it. And full disclosure: I'm almost a month out of the program, and I'm inching my way to three cups a day again. But the point is that while the first day sans caffeine was truly brutal, and the second just awful, I slept like a damn baby for the first time in I can't remember when. As in, at 9pm, I basically crawled to bed, and didn't wake up once until my alarm went off at 6:30 the next morning. And once I got over the first few days of withdrawal, I was fine.

(Video) 10 Day Surviving Vegan Detox Challenge | A Physical, Mental & Spiritual RESET | My Detox Experience

I will admit, however, that on the first morning after the detox ended, I leapt out of bed and brewed up the best mug of coffee I have ever consumed. Ten days of anticipation makes anything taste like heaven.

...and alcohol.

Foregoing a glass of wine after a rough day at work was doable, especially since I was so freaking tired without coffee that I just wanted to collapse into bed. The weekend, however, was another story. I really can't tolerate the late-night bar scene without some whiskey, so my usual weekend shenanigans were cut short, and I binge-watched Netflix at home instead. I happily used the detox as an excuse for my lameness.

It wasn't just about the food—I got to pamper myself.

One of the really great things about the Blood Sugar Detox Solution is that, again, it emphasizes creating a healthy lifestyle. Just like life is so much more than what we eat, so was this plan. Basically, I was told to pamper myself (I think Dr. Hyman and his colleagues even referred to it as a "vacation," but let's not get ahead of ourselves.) I was instructed to take a 30-minute walk every morning, which were admittedly curtailed, because the program happened to coincide with two polar vortexes, and I wasn't about to exercise as tears froze to my cheeks.

But one of the best aspects of the plan was that I had to take a relaxing bath infused with baking soda and Epsom salts every night. The salts I found at Duane Reade were infused with lavender, making for the most glorious evening ritual ever.

I had to unplug.

This was probably the only part of the program that I really couldn't follow to a T. Dr. Hyman proposes that we all use the 10 days to heavily limit our use of social media, the Internet, and electronics in general, and I just couldn't do that since my livelihood depends on my media usage. Taking two weeks off from work wasn't exactly an option, so I decided to impose a set "turn-off" time: After dinner, I had to turn off my computer. The prospect of kicking my habit of falling asleep to Netflix was daunting, but when I woke up in the mornings feeling that much more refreshed (electronic use before bedtime really impacts sleep), I realized I didn't miss it so much. Plus, it served as a great reminder that after staring at a screen and immersing myself in the Internets all day long, it can be really nice to take a break for awhile, shockingly enough.

I had to take stock of how I was feeling.

I was instructed to journal every night, answering prompt questions to go with the theme of each day—how I was feeling, whether or not I noticed any changes, the positives and negatives, etc. When I actually had to sit down and think about it, it was a lot easier to stop the "Woe is me, I miss caffeine" babble and tune into the good. It was a great way to pay attention to my body and mind, and gauge my progress as a result.

I had a support system.

This was vital, because there's nothing like sloggin' back your Hail to Kale whilst your BFF unsympathetically chows down on a burger. Luckily, Dr. Hyman arranged for me and my fellow detoxers (who were testing the program simultaneously) to join a daily conference call with a dietician and life coach, during which we could ask questions and ask for advice. We also had a Facebook group for the same purpose, and it was amazing to see the stories and journeys of the people on the program—all of whom came from different walks of life and were trying it out for different reasons. Plus, if a person posted "I really think I need a cup of coffee; this is so hard," there was a chorus of people who were going through the exact same thing to offer their support.


I've read countless stories about trying out Master Cleanses and soup diets. And while the tales of getting "hangry" and hallucinating cupcakes and Big Macs are entertaining, hilarious fodder, they're usually all told with the same undercurrent: "What the hell did I sign up for?!" The moral of my story is that a detox isn't necessarily a sentence to deprivation. It doesn't even have to be synonymous with weight loss. In this case, it was about "cleansing" the bad, sure, but in a way that emphasized the good with sustainable, lifelong habits. In other words, the 10-day mark wasn't the finish line, but kind of the "restart" mark.

Case in point: Last week, I slept horribly for several days. But while my first instinct was to make my single espresso a triple, I took pause. I thought about what exactly was ailing me, and made the adjustments: turned off my TV earlier, cut out some sweets, scaled back on the coffee (yet again). And I slept like a baby, as promised.

The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox by Dr. Mark Hyman is available now.

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Images: Getty Images and Victoria Hoff

I Survived a 10 Day-Detox (4)

Victoria Dawson Hoff

(Video) Quitting sugar: A 10-day detox plan for weight loss

Associate Editor

Victoria Hoff is the associate editor at ELLE.com, covering everything from fashion to beauty to wellness. She first joined the team as the editorial assistant in 2013. When she isn't working, she spends her days in Brooklyn eating (vegan) tacos, yoga-ing, and curating her collections of healing crystals and mom jeans.


What can I expect from a 10-day detox? ›

A detox will boost your metabolism, flush toxins from your body, and re-energize all of your major systems. After the 10 days are up, you're likely to notice some weight loss, clearer skin, greater mental clarity, and more energy than you've felt in a while.

What is the best detox to reset your body? ›

Here's How to "Detox" Your Body — In a Healthy Way
  1. Cut inflammatory foods.
  2. Try probiotics.
  3. Drink more water.
  4. Add more whole foods.
  5. Consider supplement.
  6. Eat mindfully.
  7. Start to reintroduce foods.
  8. Take good care of your skin.
Nov 3, 2022

What should you not do after a detox? ›

Try to avoid dairy, meat, and refined sugars for the first 5 days or so after your cleanse has finished. Over the next few weeks, gradually add back in animal protein if you choose to do so.

How long is a good detox? ›

Detox programs tend to last anywhere from three days to two weeks. Many different factors play into how long each specific detox program lasts. The main factor is which substance(s) was/were being abused. Some substances are able to be removed from the system faster than others.

What does your body do when detoxing? ›

Basically, detoxification means cleansing the blood. This is done by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and skin during a body detox.

What happens to your body when you start detoxing? ›

Nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. Shaking and shivering. Sweating. Runny nose.

What is the most powerful detox? ›

The Natural Detox Guide: 11 Most Powerful Detoxifying Foods
  • Goji Berries. We all know vitamin C is what you need to avoid getting sick, but it also helps your body remove unwanted waste. ...
  • Flaxseeds. Did you know there's a thing called the Flaxseed Cleanse? ...
  • Ginger. Good in tea. ...
  • Beets. ...
  • Red Cabbage. ...
  • Green Tea. ...
  • Garlic. ...
  • Cinnamon.

What is the fastest way to flush your body of toxins? ›

Drinking water is one of the best and fastest ways to flush out toxins from your system. Water transports toxins through your system via your bloodstream, making sure they're expelled from your body. Try to get the recommended 8 glasses of water per day (tip: herbal tea counts towards your water intake, too!).

Should you exercise while detoxing? ›

In fact, exercise can enhance the health boosting benefits of a detox plan. Physical activity improves digestive function and boosts the metabolic rate, helping to stimulate elimination channels through breath, sweat and circulation.

Can I drink coffee while detoxing? ›

The short answer is no—your relationship with coffee needs a break. Not only is it recommended to nix the coffee during a juice cleanse but it's advised to taper your caffeine consumptions before and after a cleanse.

Can you get sick after detoxing? ›

Some people on detox diets and cleanses can have problems with diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. A lot of detox diets have people eliminate certain foods that are believed to cause the buildup of toxins.

How do you feel on a detox? ›

An addict going through detox experiences heightened levels of anxiety and restlessness as the body and mind learn to function without drugs or alcohol. Typical emotional states include irritability, social isolation, depression, and feelings of extreme loneliness.

Do you gain weight after detox? ›

A cleanse or fast may help you lose weight initially. “Any time you eliminate certain factors from your diet you're likely to lose weight in the beginning,” Rush says. But after the cleanse or fast is over, you may gain the weight again. “These types of diets aren't sustainable over a long period of time,” he says.

What organs can you detox? ›

Did you know there are six organs that support your body's natural detoxification process? These include the liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph, colon, and skin. Each organ works to eliminate excess waste that's produced by natural metabolic processes, otherwise known as toxins.


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