A detox diet might sound amazing — change what you eat for a few days and cleanse it of scary-sounding ‘toxins’. But can a detox diet really get rid of toxins?
Some people choose to follow detox diets because they’d like to lose weight. We asked Christine Stent-Pinha, dietitian at the Exec|Care executive wellness centre in Joburg, to tell us the truth about detox diets: do they work, are they good for you and can they help you lose weight?
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Your body is detoxing all the time
“When we look at all the studies that researchers have done on detoxing, we can see that a healthy person’s body has the ability to detox itself. Your liver, skin, lungs, kidneys, the lymph nodes and colon are organs that all play a part in getting rid of toxins,” explains Christine. “When you use your diet to ‘detox’, science shows it’s not really effective.”
While a detox diet is not superior to your body’s own detoxification abilities, it’s not a complete waste of time and effort, adds Christine. She says, “You’re likely to feel good after a detox diet. When you cut out sugar, fizzy drinks, too much coffee, eat more fruit and veg and increase your water intake, you’ll naturally feel better.”
Where detox diets can fall short — and even have negative consequences — is if you’re detoxing to lose weight.
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Why you shouldn’t try fad detox diets
Celebrities are commonly used to promote detox diets, especially for weight loss. From the cabbage soup diet to cutting out entire food groups, they promote extreme methods for losing weight and they sometimes call them detox diets.
Sure, you might see results on the scale, but it’s not a sustainable diet. This means at the end of it, you’re likely to put all the weight back on because you’ve starved your body and brain of calories, which might mean you’ll overeat when you return to normal eating patterns.
The other reason fad detox diets aren’t recommended is that they’re heavily based on restriction. When you constantly tell yourself you can’t have something, subconsciously you’ll crave it more. Saying no to everything you like about eating can damage your relationship with food.
“Any diet that is not sustainable long term, or that has not been discussed with you by a professional, is not a good idea. Extreme diets can slow your metabolism, leaving you hungry and prone to over eating,” Christine explains.
If you’re looking to improve your health and you find yourself wanting to improve your eating habits, there is a way to do it.
Healthy eating is a more sustainable way of eating
Some people find it easier to stick to a form of eating when they call it a detox. They think they’re doing something drastically different for their body and it’s easier to convince the mind to continue.
There is however, a way to make this a sustainable way to eat, which will give you the results you’re looking for, long term.
Christine (like most dietitians) recommends you eat a variety of foods across all food groups. For the first few days, stick to whole foods only, but don’t restrict your calorie intake too much. If you want to, you can add soups and juices into your diet, or replace one meal a day with one of them, but don’t only drink juice, or only eat soup, for example.
Instead, eat lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, good carbs and lean protein and experiment with herbs and spices to enhance their flavour and keep your food interesting and appetising. Eating more varieties of fat-containing food like avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon, and coconut is a good source of energy for the body and because they’re calorie dense, you’ll feel more satisfied.
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Don’t let food control your life
If you eat this way most days of the week, the odd pizza, beer, burger, glass of wine or chocolate won’t ruin your health. It’s a sustainable way of eating without the extreme calorie restriction, saying no to the foods you love and feeling stressed about what you eat.
We should all be able to enjoy our food, and there’s a lot to be said about allowing yourself to do so. If you’re constantly battling with your relationship with food and you’re not getting the results you want out of your eating plan, seeing a professional about it can really help.
We all have our own lifestyle restrictions and individual needs, and a professional will be able to help you tailor your diet to something that suits your everyday habits. Food is the essence of your health and your life, you owe it to yourself to get it right!
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Republished from e|Care, an online portal for health and wellness by Health|Insite. Website: www.healthinsite.net. Tel: 0861 066 666