Cleanses and Detox Diets- Are they for me?

Many articles have been written about the virtues or vices of doing a detox or cleanse. I just did a quick Google search and was astounded to find nearly 20 million articles on the topic! Proponents of cleansing (however it’s defined) argue that is detoxifies your body, improves health, and can jump start metabolism and weight loss.  Critics argue that we have amazing internal organs that cleanse for us and that following a strict regimen is just not necessary.

First, I want to make it clear that there are many behaviors that can either support or antagonize the amazing internal system we have that rids our bodies of toxins. We know that getting plenty of sleep, not smoking, drinking alcohol moderately, eating a high antioxidant diet (i.e. plenty of fruits and veggies), and staying hydrated strengthens our health and optimizes how our bodies work. I advocate all of these things!

But when it comes to the question of whether or not to participate in a more rigid or structured cleanse I’d like you to consider your health in a more multi-faceted way. I want you to truly consider not just your physical health but also your mental and emotional health. For instance:

  • What could you imagine happening to how you think about food and your body during and after a 7-day juice cleanse?
  • How well could you function and what would the long-term benefits (for YOU) be if you ate and drank nothing but tea for a day?
  • What might be the consequences of cutting out processed sugar from your diet for one month?

Your answers are personal and so is your health and quality of life. While the actual benefits of cleansing is up for some debate, I truly believe that for many people the potential physiological benefits of cleansing could become null and void if they really considered the full impact of committing to a cleanse. If the program results in increased preoccupation with food, irritability, increased urges to binge, and outright compulsive eating or binge eating after the cleanse period is over I have to wonder how this actually improves health?

Often, nutrition is considered through a purely physiological lens and I really believe that this is problematic. We have to consider not only our body but also our mind and spirit when it comes to eating. When we make choices based on honoring our whole selves we will truly be on the road to not only health but also greater peace.