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When a detox diet is really necessary

Carrie Kelly, a registered dietitian, is a food and nutrition expert at Active Center for Health & Wellness in Hackensack, New Jersey. Carrie earned a bachelors degree in nutritional science and has maintained her RD for the past nine y...

Are detox diets really necessary?

With the summer season right around the corner, more and more people are looking to get it in gear and get fit with intensified workout routines. But if you’re just working out, you may not be seeing the results that you want, and this could be because of your eating habits. Have you considered a detox diet to see if it makes a difference? If so, make sure you know whether or not you really need one, since detox diets should not be taken lightly. Here are some tips to determine when a detox is really necessary.

Woman on juice diet

Diets are no fun

Most people hate the word "diet" because they think it means they have to get rid of everything they love eating and stick to wheat bread and fiber. Not so! Dieting can be fun and delicious, but you have to get your body and mind into healthy mode. As more and more people are looking to jump-start a more nutritious diet in conjunction with exercise regimens, many consider a detox plan as a jumping-off point to a healthier lifestyle.

Detox diets are not diet plans

A detox is not intended to be a diet plan and should never be treated as such. It is a way to reset your body, allowing it to start up again in a cleaner, calmer, more balanced way. A detox is an excellent way to jump-start a healthy diet (be it for the summer season or beyond) and be on your way to a more balanced lifestyle and improved well-being -- for the long-term.

Beware of fad diets

Many fad detox plans involve a liquid diet for three days or more, but these diets can leave you unfulfilled, hungry and irritable. A detox should never be about starvation or extremely low calorie intake. Instead, a successful detox plan should reset your gut and provide your body with pure, unadulterated food as fuel. The focus of a detox diet should be on fresh and nutrient-dense food that relies heavily on plant-based foods and limited animal proteins.

Do you really need a detox diet?

Determining if you need to detox is simple -- just ask yourself the following:

  • Are you dieting, but still the pounds refuse to melt away?
  • Do you eat processed foods more than twice each day?
  • Do you eat fast food one or more times each week?
  • Are you in a food rut (eating the same things day in/day out)?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any of the following: hypertension, high cholesterol, Type II (adult onset) diabetes?
  • Do you suffer from constipation?
  • Are you consistently tired, no matter how much sleep you get?

If you answered YES to two or more of these questions, then you may need to revamp your eating strategies, starting with a simple detox plan!

Example of a detox diet

There are many detox diets on the market -- just do a search on the Internet and you'll find websites, books, and detox centers. But which one is right for you? The one that provides healthy food and drink while clearing out the processed junk and teaching you the basics of healthy eating. For example, the Active Center for Health & Wellness' approach to detox involves a three-week program.

Week 1: The first week starts with elimination -- moving away from processed foods, decreasing your caffeine consumption and keeping a food diary of your daily intake.

Week 2: The second week will bring you into the detox phase which involves two "liquid" meals a day (either homemade shakes, juices or soups) and one "solid" meal per day, which should include carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Whether your meal is solid or liquid, you should keep the ingredients fresh and healthy -- and consider that organic foods are even better for your body.

Week 3: The third week will transition you back into a normal eating routine, combining aspects of week one and two into your daily routine and will also create a menu/meal plan that works for you specifically for the long term. This week will also allow you to slowly introduce some eliminated foods back into your diet.

The goal of a healthy detox diet is to teach you how to eat healthfully as part of your lifestyle, not to deprive you of wholesome, nutritious foods that are vital to your overall health and wellness.

More on fad diets

What works and what doesn't?

From cabbage soup to grapefruits, Atkins to the Zone - there are so many diets out there. NewYouTV's Dr. David Bull separates the good, the bad, the pointless and the dangerous.

More tips on detoxing

Demystifying the detox diet
How to select a safe detox
Yoga poses and detox diet tips for spring

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