Juice Cleanses: Don’t do them!

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Ahh.. spring! What a wonderful time of year it is. Flowers are blossoming, exciting fruits and vegetables are in season again and its time for your first detox to help you shed that “winter coat”

Wait.

 What?

Even though the weather might be reluctant to admit that its spring (nearly summer, in fact) the detox and weight loss companies have been quick to remind us that its nearly bikini wearing time so better lose those embarrassing winter rolls!

If ever there was something that makes my eyes roll, it’s the detox and cleanse programs.

 In a medical sense, a detox is a supervised program that someone might go on when they are addicted to drugs and or alcohol and want to stop.

 In a marketing sense, a detox or a cleanse is something someone needs to do in order to clear out those pesky “toxins” that accumulate in perfectly healthy and functioning bodies.

 They claim that despite eating well and exercising that you need to use these products to “reset” your body as “toxins” somehow build up. Or they claim that a detox is a great way to atone for all that over indulging that you’ve been doing.

 Bull. Shit.

 Juice cleanses and detoxes are completely unnecessary

 Did you know that you are “detoxing” in a sense all the time. Yup, your awesome body is doing it all for you, 24/7.

Every time you exhale your lungs are detoxing you by getting rid of the excess carbon dioxide in your system.

Your kidneys are constantly filtering out excess minerals and waste products that your body doesn’t need.

Your skin is not only providing a physical barrier to help keep unwanted things out, its also helping to balance the mineral and water levels in your body through your sweat.

Your liver helps to clean your blood and helps you break down substances that your body can’t use, like alcohol.

Even your digestive system is busy at work extracting all the nutrients from your food and letting the waste products pass through.

So you see, your body is hard at work to keep you healthy. While you can help it along by eating a wide variety of foods and exercising in enjoyable ways you do not need a juice cleanse to help with that.

 Detoxes might even be harmful

While the actual process of the detox might not cause direct harm in healthy individuals, detoxes promote this idea that living is all about restriction and binging and while this is a common idea in our society it is not normal!

They claim: drinking nothing but a sour, spicy drink for 10 days will help you lose weight

Truth: Technically true. When you go from eating food to only drinking liquid, you will see the scales go down. This “weight loss” is water and stored energy that your body is burning through so that you have enough energy to go about your day. It isn’t fat loss and when you start eating again guess which direction the scales are going to go in?

They claim: having headaches is proof the detox is working

Truth: having a headache when you go on a fad diet means that your body isn’t receiving enough energy. The headaches might subside after a few days, as your body gets used to having less energy.

They claim: feeling shaky, fuzzy and light headed is proof its working

 Truth: see above. All of these feelings are a result of not having enough energy to meet your needs. And again, you might start to feel better after a few days because your body adapts (psst… this isn’t a good thing!)

 And do not even get my started on colonic irrigation! Just. Don’t Do. It. Having your large bowel flushed with water will disturb the natural and incredible helpful micro organisms that live in your gut and this might mean that you have some side effects such as altered bowel movements (not pleasant!)

 I get it that detoxes are often selling you “the dream.” Slick marketing might make it seem like a detox is THE answer, but they aren’t. Healthy eating or using nutrition as self care, is not a 10-day program or a 12 week one. Eating is something that you will do for the rest of your life. It’s therefore my philosophy that:

  1. You may as well enjoy it
  2. You should be able to eat in a way that will support you for life. Ups and downs come with the territory but this shouldn’t extend to your relationship with your body and food.

photo credit: Rob Bertholf

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