The morning after a night of over-indulging, have you ever slithered yourself to the bathroom, regretting your food and alcohol decisions? Staring back at you in the mirror is a puffy face, dark eyes, and a facial expression that suggests we have seen better days. In these moments, and let's not pretend we all haven't had at least one, did you hang your head and say to yourself, “That's it. I need to detox."
Detoxing has become de rigour over the years – a way to reset all lousy food habits to only start them again in the future. We're told that to be healthy, we have to periodically cleanse our colons and give our stomach or liver a break by avoiding cooked food, processed food, solid food, certain types of food, or including a particular ingredient in our daily diets.
Even the humble juice has had its moment. I can see the appeal of juicing - it's easy, involves very little thinking, and watching a juicer churn pulp and spit out droplets of juice is oddly satisfying. However, we seem to believe that those droplets of juice are the difference between having the energy of a sedated sloth and our true, superhuman selves. People will start to rave about how their bodies feel. I hear people say that they feel "lighter" and less bloated, and their weight has gone down. However, when they return to normal eating, the benefits mysteriously disappear. Returning to normal is inevitable, as detoxing is a dramatic, short-term solution. For most of us, this abruptly ends the moment after the third green juice, and we start craving something that tastes better than vegetable compost.
Taste aside, detoxing can be problematic for other reasons as well - no one has defined what "toxin" we are actually "detoxing," nor is there a way to determine if we are successful at detoxing anything from our bodies. In addition, many medical professionals aren't even on board with the idea of requiring a detox as our liver and kidneys detox our bodies for us. On top of that, we all have different desired outcomes for a detox; therefore, no single detox program can universally solve our problems.
Some people are inspired to detox by wanting to lose weight or cleaning our insides out when our food and alcohol choices finally catch up with us. Some people want to eliminate environmental toxins or pesticides used in growing our food; others want to detox from the addictive effects of sugar or processed foods that make us feel sluggish and slow. Some people like to "give their bodies a break" from food or reset their poor food choices. Some of us want to periodically "cleanse" our bodies and make them sparkle from the inside out – simply because it feels good or like the "right" thing to do. But how can a poorly defined detox help us accomplish all of those things? The British Dietetic Association went so far as to publish an article titled The Truth About Detox Diets, where they firmly assert that detox dieting is indeed a myth.
I'm not an advocate of dramatic dieting or detoxing methods. If there is a moderate approach available, it's the one I will support the most with my clients. After all, if you detox for three days once a year, what are you doing on the other 362? And secondly, if you are doing so much daily damage to your body that your liver and kidneys can't keep up, that's not good news, and perhaps you should get assessed by a medical professional.
But don't feel despondent; there are plenty of lifestyle changes that you can make to detox the waste from your bodies and live a happier, healthier life.
#1: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains & lean meats
If you got the sense that if the nutrients from fruit and vegetables were good enough for your body in a juice, imagine eating them in their solid form! Eating a whole fruit or vegetable is more filling because of the fibre content, which helps keep your gut healthy and your bathroom schedule on track - eating enough fibre each day makes you feel fuller for longer.
Reducing your processed grains (items made from white, processed flour) and replacing them with whole wheat and grain are better options for the sake of your body.
Choosing meat from animals that are organically fed is ideal. However, not everyone has access to this. If this is something you struggle finding/affording (because it can get pricey), simply try and choose leaner cuts of meat.
#2: Limit processed, deep-fried, and packaged foods
These foods are high in sodium, processed carbohydrates, calories, and saturated fats, and limiting them from your diet will improve your cardiovascular health.
#3: Fill up your water bottle
One of the significant ways to eliminate undesirable things from your body is to keep your kidneys in good working order. Our kidneys thrive off drinking lots of water, so make sure you're drinking at least eight glasses of water daily and more on days you may be sweating or exercising.
#4: Limit problematic foods
Not all foods agree with each person, and there are times when eliminating them is the best course of action. However, you don't need to replace these foods with juices or perform a dramatic elimination quest. If, for example, you may have a problem with lactose, a common dietary allergen, try eliminating only dairy-based products for some time and slowly reintroduce them to see if your body is unhappy with the re-introduction. If your body reacts with an unfavourable response, you should continue to avoid these foods in the future.
#5: Look at your skincare
And finally, your skin is the largest organ that helps your body detox, so how you treat your skin matters. Aim to get a sweaty exercise session in as often as possible and limit the chemicals you rub into your skin daily.
Also read: Can you really change your body in 30 days?