But it doesn't need to start on January 1st - or last a month!

I can’t get my head around the 1st of January Detox, and miss the opportunity every year. My husband starts each year on the 2nd January, announcing a drop of alcohol won’t pass his lips for the remaining month.  But for me the kids are still off school: stopping for coffee and snacks is part of our routine at least until they’re back at school.

There’s also the added factor that I’m still catching up with people I couldn’t get together with pre-Christmas, so I don’t want to appear totally boring and decline everything I’m offered because I’m on a detox. Planning a shorter ‘mini-cleanse’ at some point in January works much better for me.

I also like the ‘mini-cleanse’ terminology – it sounds less daunting, but serves the purpose admirably. After Christmas I take stock of life and my goals for the coming year. I mull through over seed catalogues and choose what’s being planted in my garden.  I figure out what I want to achieve this year and how I’m going to do that. I like to feel I’m entering the coming year with a clear mind and a cleanse helps support this – but it doesn’t need to start on the 1st January.

And it doesn’t even need to last a month. I don’t want the stress of cutting everything I like out for the most miserable month of the year. Winter is a time to nourish ourselves as we wait for the lighter days to come.

Most people, even those with low willpower like me, can make it through a week without lapsing. I then find that many of these more healthful habits are carried on for longer, because it’s a choice not an obligation.

A mini-cleanse isn’t daunting, it’s exciting for a week. The first thing to do is look at what foods to avoid (gluten, dairy, coffee and alcohol are a good start!) and which liver supportive foods you like. I then make a list of drinks, meals and snacks. As with any detox, going cold turkey is not the way forward.  Cutting back slowly over a few days means I won’t experience the horrid first days of a proper detox, with withdrawal symptoms such as caffeine headaches. Three teas and a coffee a day might go down to one tea, and a couple of green teas. Embarking on a detox the day after the excesses of New Year’s Eve is quite possibly the worst thing you can do. You’ll likely experience blood sugar fluctuations and feel pretty rough – giving up after a couple of days. Entering a detox or cleanse slowly avoids this.

Read more about the top 6 foods for detoxing here – and whether detoxing is actually worth it here.

broccoliromanescoAt this time of year, liver supportive seasonal foods include onions, leeks, garlic, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, apples, pears, cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, kale, greens and purple sprouting broccoli. So I look for recipes which include those.

Fresh coriander, ginger, papaya, pineapples, lemons, and frozen or fresh berries are my other non-seasonal essential fruit and veggies. Spices, pulses, seaweed, brown basmati rice, quinoa, coconut milk and a couple of non-dairy milks (such as almond, soy or rice) are my store-cupboard essentials.

It’s easy once you get going:

Drinks: I treat myself to an expensive and indulgent looking tin of green tea leaves and some muslin-bagged herbal tea bags. Ginger chunks and lemon slices in warm water are a cleansing start to the day and a little green or white tea each day is a good substitute for coffee and black tea with milk. If you’ve got a juicer or NutriBullet, now’s the time to make use of it – take a look at our drinks tab for inspiration!

Breakfast: boiled, scrambled or poached eggs with spinach, asparagus or gluten-free bread, oat or other gluten-free porridge with non dairy milk and blueberries, chia pots with coconut yogurt, overnight oatssmoothies, gluten-free pancakes…check out our breakfast category for more ideas.

Lunches: to be honest, it’s the one meal which is easier to have at home when you’re ‘cleansing’. It avoids the whole sandwich problem. Soups made with pulses and lots of different veggies and stock are easy. Hummus and other dips with oatcakes and veggie sticks, jacket potatoes, sushi, quinoa salads…..

Snacks:  bowls of blueberries, popcorn, nuts, savoury seeds, mugs of miso, kale chips, hummus or lots of recipes from our sweet treats category, such as coconut chips, energy balls, chocolate flapjacks

Evening meals: this is the easier bit: Chilli, lentil dahl, prawn curry, courgetti, stir-fry with or soba or rice noodles. Grilled or baked fish with lots of herbs, lemon and stacks of veggies. There are so many options for protein + veggies!

The planning process in itself is motivating for me – and I look forward to all the delicious foods I’m going to be eating. Just writing this has made me want to look through my diary to get a start date sorted, then sit down with a few recipe books tonight.

Who needs a full-on month’s New Year detox?  A January mini-cleanse is so much more exciting, not to mention manageable.

We hope you enjoy this blog post, let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on social media – we’re on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to receive a monthly update of our recipes, nutrition tips and expert advice.