Truth: I'm Convinced These 10 Unexpected Drinks Helped Me Detox in 2018

This was a weird year for me. To cut to the quick, it was the first time in a long time that I let a lot of my steadfast healthy practices fall to the wayside—at least where my diet was concerned. In high school, I struggled with an eating disorder, and in the years following, a huge part of my "recovery" (quotes because it's dynamic and I still experience ebbs and flows) was learning to appreciate food and nourish my body with ingredients and rituals that made me feel whole. A sensation I was robbed of during the darkest hours of my eating disorder and restriction.

I've been able to maintain a healthy and comfortable relationship with food for about seven years now (freshman year of college was when I became full-throttle committed to kicking anorexia to the curb), and I have prided myself on my ability to manage life's stressors in a way that wouldn't completely derail my need for control—the driving force behind my restriction in high school. Until this year, that is. Despite all the wonderful people, experiences, and achievements I was blessed with this year, 2018 was hard. Internally, I was fighting a lot of battles I felt unable to share with others, and I found it difficult to keep life and work in a healthy equilibrium. Thus, my commitment to eating healthily and prioritizing wellness began to fizzle. For the first time in years, I was sipping diet sodas, reaching for artificially flavored protein bars at breakfast, and drinking five times my weight in coffee. Not surprisingly, my body noticed the difference. I was tired, irritable, and felt all-around sick. I knew I needed to make some changes, and I knew that I had the power to feel better if I was diligent about swapping out some of my new, previously foreign habits with high-quality alternatives that would feed my soul—not starve it.

After a few months of trial and error, I found my lineup of game- and health-changing replacements. I realize the term "detox" is thrown around a lot within the health and wellness realm, and honestly, I firmly believe "detoxification" can mean something different to everyone. For me, especially in 2018, it meant exchanging the habits and indulgences that were sucking my soul for alternatives that instead fed my energy, happiness, and overall well-being. Yes, there was still some sugar, caffeine, and booze involved, which I realize some steadfast detoxistas might condemn me for, but hey, a little bit of sugar and caffeine isn't going to be the death of anyone's health—especially in small doses. What's more, I found most of my healthy alternatives came by way of drinks or drink enhancers. Curious to know what I'm talking about? Below, the beverage-friendly supplements I swear helped me detox by the end of 2018.

Soda Alternatives

Honestly, I can't really explain my random diet-soda habit this year, especially since I know it gives me the worst heartburn and the worst headaches. Alas, I found myself drinking it somewhat frequently—like once a week, which is a lot (for me) considering I went years without so much as a sip. For the most part, I think it served as a quick shot of energy when I felt I had already had too many cups of coffee, and when I also craved something non-snacky to keep me perky into the wee hours of the night if I was still up writing.

That said, you can imagine my relief when I discovered the whimsical cans of OliPop atop the freshly stocked shelves of Erewhon Market in L.A. Unlike most Stevia-sweetened drinks, OliPop isn't overly saccharine, it didn't upset my stomach or give me heartburn, and each of the three delicious flavors is filled to the brim with botanical extracts and gut-improving prebiotics and fiber. Plus, unlike soda, OliPop is nutritionist-approved. It's the perfect healthy substitute.

I was lucky enough to be sent a pack of steeped tonics from Lifehouse Tonics + Elixirs, and upon the first sip, I quickly fell in love. I actually don't love juices (my body physically rejects drinkable veggies and I would rather eat my fruit, not drink it), but these fresh and hydrating drinks from Lifehouse are different. For the most part, tasty supplemental fare like adaptogenic mushrooms, E3live Blue Majik, and herb and floral extracts make up the ingredient lists with small but delectable accents coming from non-sugary lime, lemon, and raspberry juices. They're so good and naturally give me some extra pep in my step. Bye, soda! 

Milk Alternatives

I've never been one to drink a glass of milk straight up (I've always kind of hated it on its own), but I do love a good whole-milk latte, some half-and-half in my coffee, or a chemically laden sweet creamer. Oops. Therefore, considering my aforementioned dependence on coffee this year, I was feeling the effects of too much dairy and added sugar—both of which I knew were hurting, not helping, my energy levels. So I was on the hunt for a better alternative that would still tickle my taste buds.

I love whipping up cold-brew coffee concoctions in my blender at home, and this year, Elmhurst has been my saving grace in terms of delicious dairy- and sugar-free milk alternatives. Yes, I'm still drinking coffee most days (I'm human!), but my body reacts so much better to the clean and minimal ingredient lists Elmhurst products prioritize. Plus, what's better than chocolate-covered peanuts, walnuts, or cashews with a refreshing cup of cold brew? Nothing. Even though some of the brand's milk alternatives are sweetened, the amount is minimal and from pure and natural sources—nothing artificial to be found.

I've always been a huge fan of collagen powders and supplements, but after discovering my body prefers a vegan lifestyle a couple of months ago, my previous formulas were no longer a good fit. So when Moon Juice debuted this magical vegan mushroom elixir designed to protect our natural collagen stores while promoting skin glow and elasticity, I was thrilled. I realize this isn't a milk, per se, but when blended with water, it literally transforms into a creamy and delicious milk-like alternative, and it's become my go-to enhancement in tea, smoothies, everything. The starring ingredient lineup? Hyaluronic acid, Silver Ear Mushroom, and tocotrienols. I'm obsessed and so glad to have found such an amazing collagen substitution that's 100% vegan-friendly. (If I could add a heart emoji here, I would.)

Coffee Alternatives

Okay, so if you've been following me on Byrdie and The/Thirty at all (or just paying attention to anything I've written thus far in this article), you get that I have a somewhat tumultuous relationship with coffee. But I have found some helpful workarounds to help me combat the jitters, nerves, and overall unwell-inducing side effects it can curse me with. One such workaround? CBD coffee. You can click here for the entire tale of my love affair with the combination, but essentially, mixing the nerve- and anxiety-soothing effects of CBD and the energy-enhancing benefits of coffee has been game-changing for me this fall. You can make your own mix at home (which I sometimes do), but Kickback's formulas are dreamy AF and they also offer non-coffee options if java isn't your thing.

I'm normally not really into protein drinks, as they're often filled with bloat-inducing sugars and additives, and far too much protein. That said, I was eating (or should I say drinking?) my previous words of indifference after accidentally discovering these super-addicting bevies from Après a few months ago. They're rich and creamy without being overly sweet or sickening. They don't make me bloat, and they're filled with healthy ingredients like coconut oil, plant protein (from pea, chia, cacao, and hemp), coconut water, and other healthy fares that make them a great, appetite-satisfying substitute for coffee, desserts, or mid-afternoon snackage. I love all the flavors, but the sea salt chocolate is by far my favorite. 

Hangover Cures

In my efforts to feel better this fall, I did scale back on the number of sugary cocktails and wine-brimming glasses I imbibed per week. Alas, sometimes you need a really great night out (or in), and alcohol is still a part of my life. Hey, it's all about balance, people! Alas, I've discovered some pretty nifty antidotes that pretty much trick my body into thinking I went to bed at 9 p.m. sans shots and 2 a.m. pizza binges. One such being these miracle-working, peach-flavored drinks from Morning Recovery. They're filled with hero ingredient DHM and some other healthy botanicals I can't really pronounce, but when I drink them in tandem with alcohol, I wake up the next morning feeling like the previous night never happened. 

When I read that the Sakara Life Detox Concentrates can help repair the damage of one too many vodka sodas, I was skeptical, to say the least. But when I noticed how much better they made me feel on regular (non-hungover) mornings, I thought I'd put them to the test on a full-fledged night out. Suffice to say, they work. I added them to eight ounces of water while drinking and then sipped down another serving before tipsily hitting the sheets when I got home, and I swear the detoxifying and natural likes of chlorophyll, magnesium, and trace minerals helped revive me into a totally normal non-hungover person the next day. Seriously, so handy

Unhealthy-Breakfast Alternatives

I'm a breakfast person through and through, and I pretty much need to eat or drink something the second I get up or else I get hangry fast. I've always really loved to take a little bit of time to prepare something really nourishing and satisfying—be it eggs and avocado toast, a warming bowl of oatmeal, healthy pancakes, or a bowl of yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola. But since I'm usually most productive (and on the go!) early in my morning, my previous slow-paced breakfast ritual fell by the wayside this year, and I all too quickly became reliant on nutritionally devoid convenience foods. And my body was not happy.

Not only would I be ravenous two seconds later, but I would also reach for not-so-healthy options as a desperate attempt to get some kind of energy into my body soon after. Eventually, I realized my system needed some kind of alternative, and I've found nutritionally packed smoothies to be a great compromise. They're quick and convenient, and I'm especially obsessed with these ready-made cups from Project Juice featuring freshly frozen fruits and superfoods. All you have to do is dump the cup's contents into your blender, add your liquid of choice (I do coconut water or nut milk), and then blend, baby, blend. Then, just pour back into the cup or whatever you feel like drinking or spooning your smoothie out of.

I'm a huge fan of Sakara Life. In fact, after recently committing to its two-week plant challenge, in which I went 100% plant-based for the first time ever, I've now adopted a fresh 80/20 vegan mindset my body has been thriving on (something I never would have believed if you had asked me a few months ago). Therefore, I couldn't wait to try the brand's Life Source Super Powder, a still relatively new launch. 

The powder comes in handy packets which are perfect for enhancing a morning smoothie, and according to the brand, the green-tinged supplement is specifically formulated to improve energy (thanks to B12 and L-theanine), relieve bloating (digestive enzymes), and improve the skin's natural glow (phytoceramides and a blend of daily greens). It also boasts 12 grams of satiating plant protein, and like everything from Sakara Life, it's dairy-, gluten-, and soy-free. It's the perfect way to ensure I start my morning off on the right foot. Plus, I'm convinced it helps curb my cravings for unhealthier fare later on. 

Next up: I Tried a Buzzy New Supplement Instead of Coffee for a Week—Here's What Happened