Doing a detox or cleanse is becoming more and more popular. But, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it a good idea. There are noted risks to restricting your food intake to only liquids, fruits and vegetables or not eating altogether. Below are some good references that outline these risks:
Detox Diets. Juice Cleanses. Could they be making you more toxic?
Experts Warn of Detox Diet Dangers
Spring Cleansing: Assessing the Benefits and Risks of Detox Diets
The most troublesome side effect in my experience is psychological. Because food is one of our basic needs, you can’t mess with it without psychological repercussions. The more extreme you get, the more likely you are to experience a negative relationship with food. The first time you do it you might feel really good, but you will find that with each successive attempt at a detox, cleanse or diet of any kind, it becomes more and more anxiety producing. It’s very easy to fall prey to the Restriction/Chaos Diet Cycle and that diet mentality is very difficult to break. So really, you are better off saying no the first time.
However, there is a type of detox I fully support. Here is a list of what I would strongly encouarge to be completely eliminated from your life:
1. Negative self-talk. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. By speaking unkindly about yourself or to yourself, you slowly errode your feeling of self-worth, competency and value. If you don’t feel valuble or wortwhile, there is no way you would want to make choices that value YOU! Trying to implement self-care behaviors while feeling unworthy of care is impossible. Change the way you talk to yourself and watch your entire life change.
2. Diet talk: As an avid supporter of Inuitive Eating, I have seen first hand how Rejecting the Diet Mentality can work wonders in improving someone’s relationship with food. Often we think that if we micromanage our food intake we will feel in control. I disagree. Diets cross boundaries against our natural sense of autonomy, so whatever amount of control you feel will be short lived. While you might feel that the urge to rebel is a lack of willpower or self-control, it’s actually deep seated wisdom for rejecting anything that overrides your natural, innate ability to self-regulate your food selections. The issue is not a lack of willpower but a lack of self-trust (and you CAN trust yourself, contrary to what our nutrition culture would teach you). By eliminating diet talk, you can start to cultivate your natural ability to listen to your body.
3. Social media: I would encourage you to be mindful of what you let into your heart, mind and soul. We are innundated with media messages all day that may not be edifying or inspiring. Take some time to detox your social media feeds of anything that makes you feel discouraged, overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated. Some examples might include unrealistic beauty standards, restrictive diets, negative messages, offensive topics, etc. You know your triggers, so set appropriate boundaries.
4. Toxic relationships: While you may not be able to completely change who you interact with each day, you can set boundaries. I would encourage you to consider the amount of emotional energy and power you give other people – no one should have that kind of control over you. Be clear about how you would like to be treated, and communicate this in a calm and peaceful way so it’s received in a way that will be effective.
The results of a traditional detox diet are often short lived. We at Movara encourage you to look at your food, exercise and body image issues in a new way. Work to change from the inside out, starting with THIS type of detox.
We would love to hear from you! What is something you would add to our detox list?
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD