Is detox the solution for those last few holiday pounds?

Are you still trying to chase away that extra helping of turkey dinner that’s stubbornly sitting on your belly? Then a detox or cleanse might seem like a tempting quick fix. We give you the scoop on whether such fad diets help you out or perhaps do more harm than good.

green detox smoothie

a quick fix for the post-

holiday bulge?

Are you still trying to chase away that extra helping of turkey dinner that’s stubbornly sitting on your belly? Then a detox or cleanse might seem like a tempting quick fix. We give you the scoop on whether such fad diets actually help you out or perhaps do more harm than good.

What are detoxes?

Googling the term “detox” or “cleanse” will lead to a wide assortment of strict regimens that promise extreme results in short amounts of time. Laurie Barker Jackman, a professional dietician in Halifax, Nova Scotia, explains that a detox is a program or diet believed to remove toxins from the body, but she goes on to say that scientific research doesn’t support these detoxification and cleansing diets.

Do detoxes work?

It can seem a lot easier to abide by a set of rules for a few days rather than work on establishing new habits for the rest of your life, but unfortunately the majority of detoxes are not the “miracle cures” they claim to be. Jackman explains that the truth of the matter is that we have internal organs working on a regular basis to cleanse our bodies and remove harmful toxins, so a strict or limiting diet won’t necessarily help to eliminate anything more efficiently.

Can detoxes be helpful?

Although Jackman would never put one of her own clients on any kind of restrictive detox program, she does report that some detoxes can give individuals the kick-start they need. But it depends on the type of detox. Those that promote eating vegetables and fruit while limiting caffeine and junk food can be a step in the right direction. A diet that encourages fibre, antioxidant and water intake can be helpful, but it is by no means a “quick fix.” Severely reducing your caloric intake — as many detoxes would have you do — is not a healthy or maintainable solution.

Are detoxes dangerous?

Jackman cautions against pursuing long-term programs and those that encourage you to purchase supplements or pills. Long-term programs could mess with your fluid and electrolyte balance and leave you deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals, while those that require pills might just be encouraging you to buy products that claim to accomplish tasks your body does naturally on its own. She also warns that detoxes can be particularly dangerous for people with diabetes, low blood sugar, a chronic disease or for women who are pregnant.

Why do people on detoxes show results?

You’ve likely heard different celebrities crediting certain detoxes for their substantial weight loss, and that can make the concept incredibly tempting. But Jackman explains that these strict regimens show immediate results simply because the individuals are restricting their food intake, causing them to lose water and muscle. However, when they start eating normally again, the weight they lost will surely creep back on. So don’t let impressive before and after photos convince you to undertake a radical weight loss regimen.

So what can you do, then?

While a “quick fix” or “miracle detox” might not truly exist, there are weight loss methods that work, and they’re not nearly as hard to stick to as ingesting only water, lemon juice and cayenne pepper for days. Jackman encourages clean eating, which means following a diet high in fibre and water and low in caffeine and processed foods. But she stresses that “the message here is not to be perfect all the time.” Life isn’t like that. It’s just about understanding what healthy eating is and aiming to do that most of the time. You don’t have to constantly restrict yourself as many detoxes suggest you do. Quite the opposite! Instead, Jackman encourages eating every three to four hours and drinking plenty of water.

Trust your body

Many detoxes pit you against your body. They suggest that all sorts of toxins are inside you and that the only way to eliminate them is through extreme measures. But you should trust the fact that “your body is your natural cleanser,” explains Jackman. When you eat a meal that’s half vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter grains, you’re likely to feel strong and healthy. But if you eat half a bag of chips, your body will signal that it feels a little undernourished. By making the base of your meals vegetables and fruit and by exercising as much as possible, you can prevent chronic disease as well as cleanse the body naturally. Bottom line: You can achieve the best results by eating well — you don’t have to rely on restrictive detoxes. For tips and recipes that will help you lose those stubborn holiday pounds in a healthy way, check out Jackman’s website, Just Ask Laurie.

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