Do you need to detox?
If you’ve put on a few kilos over Christmas that you’re desperate to shift, chances are you’ve thought of doing a detox diet.
You’re not alone. According to a recent survey by the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA), approximately 42 per cent of Australian women aged 18–24 are hoping to lose weight in the new year. Detox diets are a popular choice because they promise fast results but, warns a DAA spokesperson, the outcomes are rarely optimal.
"Hopefully the findings of our survey will stop Australians, particularly young women, from trying the endless array of fad diets promoted every January," says DAA spokesperson and Accredited Practising Dietician, Melanie McGrice.
"Extreme diet measures are unnecessary and counterproductive," she says. "Like many things in life, good health takes perseverance and commitment to a healthy lifestyle."
But if you are committed to giving yourself a cleanse, try to be sensible about it.
To lose those last few pesky kilos, dieticians from the DAA suggest that you:
- Watch out for gimmicks and quick fixes. Being healthy takes time.
- Enjoy a wholesome, nutritious and balanced diet. The truth isn’t sexy, but it works.
- Skipping carbohydrates will affect your brain function. Don’t do it.
- Create a healthy eating lifestyle that includes half a plate of vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter carbohydrates for every meal.
- Don’t ban foods — you’ll just crave them more. Plan in some treats to help keep yourself on track.
Sonya Reynolds, nutritionist at The Rite Bite, suggests using a detox diet to help remove the "toxic load" on the body.
"In the modern world we live in there are so many toxins — from our environment, our food and everyday products such as makeup and household cleaning items. Every day the body has to eliminate these toxins, as well as its own waste products, so by reducing and removing the toxic load on the body it allows the body’s innate detox system to work at its optimum," she says.
Results will vary depending on the type of detox you use and your current level of health but many people report an increased level of energy, better mental clarity, weight loss and clearer skin after completing a detox, says Sonya.
Top 4 detox diets
No bones about it, there are some bad detox diets out there. From ineffectual to unhealthy, members of the DAA recommend dieters steer well clear of the Lemon Detox Diet, the Acid and Alkaline Diet and the Six Weeks to OMG Diet.
"More than 230 members of Australia’s peak nutrition body, the Dietitians Association of Australia took part in an online survey to uncover the worst diets to avoid in 2013," says Ms McGrice. "From a list of nine popular diets, the Lemon Detox Diet was deemed the 'worst' by experts for the second consecutive year, with almost three quarters (74 per cent) of the dieticians voting against it. The Acid and Alkaline Diet and the Six Weeks to OMG Diet were amongst the worst three diets for 2013, attracting votes from 42 and 40 per cent of nutrition experts respectively."
When choosing a detox diet, try to pick one that is no longer than three days, includes an intake of at least 1,000 calories a day and is based around eating "real food" — fruits and vegetables at a minimum. Here are four diets that will provide a leg up to a healthy new you.
The liver cleansing diet
This diet is the cream of the crop when it comes to detoxes. It's an eight-week eating plan that gives you plenty of variety and well balanced, nutritional meals. Red meats, sweeteners, preservatives, alcohol, salt, fried foods, carbonated drinks and caffeine are all on the naughty list, but after a few months of over-indulging, cutting back on a few foods won't hurt you.
Better still, the plan will help you get into healthy eating habits that you can keep for life. You can add red meats back into the mix after the initial eight weeks but for a healthier you, try to steer clear of the rest in your everyday diet.
7-Day simple cleanse
Rather than following an extreme detox plan that limits just about every food except fruit and veg while at the same time getting you to down a nasty "detox" drink every day, this plan is safer and more sensible and shouldn’t leave you short on nutrients if you follow it for just one week.
Designed by dietician Juliette Kellow, you can eat almost everything on this diet in moderation, except for meat (fish is okay), dairy, wheat, salt, alchohol, sugar and processed foods. Similar to the liver cleansing diet, this diet promotes healthy eating and is useful to help you break nasty holiday habits.
The raw food detox
We all know that the less processing our food has the better it is for us. A completely raw diet might not be ideal and may be hard to achieve, but bringing more raw food into your diet isn’t a bad thing.
This diet goes through five levels with the aim of having you eating a completely raw diet by the end of the plan. While a completely raw diet isn’t for everyone, the raw food detox is a safe and healthy option for those looking to detox and make a few lifestyle changes along the way.
Dr Oz’s 48-hour cleanse
Got a spare weekend coming up? Then Dr Oz’s 48-hour cleanse may be for you.
Based on eating certain "detoxifying" foods that will keep your liver, kidneys and colon running smoothly, this two-day plan includes a shopping list and PDF instructions that detail exactly what you need to eat and when. It is perfect for those who want to cleanse in a hurry without fasting or guzzling juice.