The juice cleanse, skinny tea detox, herbal tea liver detox, and even a colonic or colon cleanse are all popular diet trends when January rolls in. These fad diets are built on the premise that the body needs periods of cleansing to help it remove toxins, refresh the gut, reset your metabolism and even weight loss, or an energy boost at the end of the diet.
The truth is, any benefits you experience is from the removal of junk and highly processed and sugary foods, as well as a calorie deficit from your diet. In fact, “your body is capable of cleansing itself through the liver, feces, urine, and sweat. Your liver makes toxic substances harmless, then ensures that they’re released from your body.”
I promise you – you do not NEED any of these “detox interventions” to start the new year right. There is no scientific evidence that a detox is beneficial or necessary. In fact, some research point to how physically and psychologically damaging the repeated use of these cleanses are.
A Better Detox Approach
Most disturbing for me is the fact that women’s bodies are the targets of these fad diets, especially after the Christmas festivities. It can be especially hard to ignore these messages about how broken our bodies (and our will powers) are especially for those with eating disorders and on an emotional rollercoaster due to hormonal imbalances.
Why should you feel guilty for having Christmas cake and sorrel or prioritizing visiting your family over hitting the gym? There are ways to have fun in moderation. But let’s say you in fact overindulged. You did have too much alcohol and went crazy on the Christmas ham and now feel bloated and lethargic. Ok, no big deal, the abundance of food was made to make you overindulge. It’s ok… you now notice where you went off track, and can gently and sustainably get right back to making better choices at your next meal.
No. Big. Deal.
So, here are my steps to a better “detox”:
- Eat more whole, unprocessed foods (plants and meat) and reduce your sugar consumption.
- Nix dessert
- Eat when you’re hungry and until you are comfortably satiated
- Drink more water. Think you’re drinking enough? Drink some more
- Drink regular, readily available herbal teas – peppermint, chamomile, moringa, hibiscus – whatever you fancy
- Get out into the sun and sweat
- Get enough sleep each night
Under some conditions and with the right supervision, periods of fasting and elimination can be beneficial for some. Work with a qualified nutrition specialist and consult your GP when implementing any such changes.
Cheers to the New Year!