Oh detox’s and cleanses.
For some reason detoxes and their hype haven’t died yet, and that’s not for lack of scientific evidence to support the fact that they are bull shit. I am continually seeing more and more companies spread their false marketing claims to make a buck, and it saddens me that people are still wasting their money.
To clarify, (in general) a detox or cleanse is a diet that limits you to eating or drinking only certain foods or supplements, often in the form of a drink or juice, for a certain period of time. This time ranges from one day to one month or longer. This “detox” or “cleanse” is supposed to purify your body by ridding it of ‘toxins’ and waste that have accumulated in it over time, often due to unhealthy eating habits. Often, they refer to refined sugar, caffeine, red meat, alcohol, gluten and various environmental substances as toxins, and according to the “detox” people, we need help getting rid of these things. They cite a wide range of conditions such as overweight and obesity, fatigue, skin irritations, cancers, bloating, mood disorders, sleep disorders, joint pain, food cravings, headaches, irritability, congestion and the list goes on and on as evidence of toxicity we need to rid. Often, they start with discussing the colon, and that these toxic substances stick to and irritate the colon’s lining, increasing our risk of illness unless we remove the “sludge” with a special diet or cleanse. There is however, no evidence to support these claims as our fecal matter does not harbour “toxins” that can make you ill and honestly, cleansing your colon is unnecessary, you do #2 for that!
If you have 45 minutes to spare, I highly suggest watching the ever-entertaining Timothy Caulfield talk detox’s here! If you don’t have 45 minutes I will leave you with his quote:
“Detoxing is a science free trend driven by marketing, misinformation, and fear-mongering, it’s time to detox the detox“
If you are considering a detox, I ask you this: what are the chemicals and ‘toxins’ you are removing? where is the evidence that they need to go? What are the symptoms you are trying to eliminate with this detox? Your symptoms may be related to a medical condition that likely has an evidenced-based method to aide in their relief. Talk to your doctor or registered dietitian to find out the best route for you, minus all the bunk and money spent on the cold-pressed juices.
Interested in how this dietitian detoxes?
I am human. I drink alcohol (sometimes too much, too often), I eat pizza, french fries, deep fried fish, poutine, chips and dip, cake, desserts and all other delicious things in the world, honestly, the only foods I don’t eat are the foods I don’t like. I am positive there have been days where I didn’t even eat one full serving vegetable or one full serving of fruit. Life happens. Over the past couple of weeks there has been a lot to celebrate; bachelorettes, birthdays, business’, baby’s, weddings, reunions, etc. With celebration comes alcohol and a lot of the delicious food I mentioned above, and I am certainly not one to pass up birthday cake! With all the celebrating I can say that my diet was less than nutritionally balanced. Do I dwell? No. Do I feel guilty? No. Do I put myself down? No. Am I happy I was able to be there and participate in my friends and family’s milestones? Hell yes!
But all the drinking and nutritionally inadequate foods had me feeling bloated, drained and a little unwell. This is not the point where I go to a detox or cleanse, I am well aware that my liver, kidneys, lungs, and skin do an excellent job at this cleansing process all by themselves, as they for thousands and thousands of years. I do, however, work on making me feel my best. If you too have been celebrating hard this summer and are looking to feel a little better before the holiday season begins, here are my five steps to detoxing like a dietitian:
- Hydration: First things first, take a breather from the boozy drinks. With alcohol comes sugary, salty, calorically dense drinks that leave you dehydrated and craving grease. Focus on drinking plenty of fluids daily such a water, tea or coffee. We want to stay away from sugar-sweetened or carbonated beverages such a fruit juice and pops. The best way to tell if you’re well hydrated is to look at your pee, if your pee is a light, transparent yellow color, you are well hydrated! I keep a water bottle with me at all times and takes sips throughout the day. I also usually enjoy a small coffee, a cup of green tea and a cup of sleepy-time tea daily and I am for ~2 liters of water.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals fruits and vegetables will have you feeling well-nourished and full. Aim for 2-3 servings of fruit each day and 5+ servings of vegetables will help you meet your vitamin and mineral requirements, and who does love a colorful plate? ½ cup of fresh, frozen or canned veg, ½ cup leafy cooked vegetables, 1 cup leafy raw vegetables, 1 fruit or ½ cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruit are all examples of 1 serving. Personally, I don’t consider fruit or vegetable juice as a fruit serving because it’s missing all the fibre goodness!
- Lean Protein: Protein helps us feel full for longer and is packed with the vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are the building blocks for our muscles and tissues. Aim for 20 grams of protein at each meal to keep you feeling full! 20 grams of protein could be 3.5 oz of cooked chicken, poultry, beef or fish, 1 cup lentils, beans or chickpeas, 2 eggs paired with 1 cup of white milk. (Protein content can vary, these are approximations.)
- Fibre: Typically, appetizers, restaurant meals and ‘party’ foods are, for the most part, pretty low in the fibre department. Fibre is important for keeping you full for longer, but also really important for keeping you regular. Bran buds, sprouted grain bread, oatmeal, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, fruits, and vegetables are some of my favorite ways to increase my fibre intake to keep my bowel happy.
- Movement: Though dancing and walking the hills of Halifax are great forms of movement, having a movement schedule really helps me stay on track throughout the week. This doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout routine (it can if you want!) but can include yoga, walking, biking, swimming or participating in a sport. Monday-Friday I plan at least 4 activities for the week that are aimed at making me sweat, for me this is yoga (Hot / Flow), running, lifting weights or walking while the weather cooperates.
So, detoxing like a dietitian really isn’t all that hard! It’s certainly more cost-effective than purchasing expensive supplements and pre-made juices and I bet you’ll be feeling full and satisfied throughout the whole process.
Have you ever tried a detox? Tell me about your experience!