The Problem With 'Cleanses'

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Cleanses and detoxes always seem to crop up at the same time every year, around new year and in the run up to summer, because you know, we all need that summer bod, right?! (wrong, literally any body is a 'summer body'). Through social media, I've come across a whole range of detox style diets ranging from 'clean eating' to juice fasts and even water fasts (crazy right)?! And while there isn't an inherent problem with wanting to improve your diet, the promotion of the idea that an extremely 'clean' way of eating (or drinking, as the case may be) can somehow purify your body is both irresponsible and quite frankly, incorrect.

As both a vegan and an advocate of eating a diet based around whole foods, I do believe that dietary choices can have some pretty impressive impacts on your health. But, as we all know, health isn't just physical, so it doesn't matter how many nutrients are in your kale and celery juice if that dietary choice is coming from a place of restriction. While I eat a lot of fruits and veggies (green smoothies are actually my jam), I also indulge in my fair share of vegan junk foods because (shock horror) you can actually still reap the benefits of health foods without cutting out all other foods from your diet - crazy, right?

Detoxes and cleanses often promise 'amazing' results - fast, but in reality, it's not the juices and powders that the diet prescribes that will get you fast results but the sheer lack of calories included in these diets. So it's hugely important to remember that as humans, we need to eat - food isn't conditional, it's necessary. So, by all means, include green juices in your diet, but make sure that you're also intaking adequate nutrition and above all else, sufficient calories.

I often use the concept that 'health is wealth' to guide a lot of my dietary choices because it simultaneously reminds me that while I ought to eat nutritionally dense foods, I also ought to simply eat, because it's never worth jeopardising your long term physical and mental health for the short term 'benefits' (and I use that term loosely) of a tea-tox or juice cleanse. Noticeable improvements to your health can take time but long term results are often much more sustainable.

Aside from the obvious promotion of calorie restriction, the primary issue with cleanses lies in their tendency to monopolise on the demonisation of entire food groups, thereby creating a relationship with food that centres around guilt. Ultimately there are some foods which are more nutritionally dense than others, but there are not 'good' and 'bad' foods. If you're taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle, try to focus on things like; drinking more water, eating more whole, plant foods and moving your body rather than demonising 'unclean' foods. Green smoothies may be packed with nutrients, but hot chocolates are good for the soul, and a healthy lifestyle rather than a short term diet can include both!

Above all else, I believe that food should provide you with energy, nutrition and crucially, enjoyment! It's taken me a long time to realise that your relationship with food should enhance your life, not dictate it  - so don't be sucked into a detox fad that's really only designed to financially benefit someone else. Eat the foods that make you feel good and own it!

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