It’s A Food Thing: Why I don’t believe in the “Detox”

It’s the Monday after a long holiday weekend and all I see in my Instagram and Twitter pages are people posting about how they are going to “detox” after the holiday binge eating. “Ate too much junk this weekend, so this week I’m going to detox it out!” and other posts much like that. Time to boost the fiber and eat nothing but veggies to purge all the crap we eat! Huzzah!

Which to me reads as “I’m going to punish my body after enjoying a weekend relaxing with friends and enjoying a cook out, knowingly eating all the foods I should have avoided that made me feel like a beached whale! Huzzah!” And this – my friends – is why I don ‘t “diet” and don’t “detox”

It was a holiday weekend that centers around food, and I get that. Hamburgers and hot dogs, ice cream and potato chips, all kinds of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, the works. And I get it. I know that there was a lot of processed foods eaten and high calorie drinks and all that fantastic stuff … but that doesn’t mean you need to “detox” does it?

According to dictionary.com, a “detox” is a process the body goes through to rid itself of poisonous substances, especially drugs and alcohol. I know there are a lot of people out there who see processed foods and unhealthy eats as “poisonous” but to me – that reads as things like snake venom, or accidentally drinking liquid bleach, or legit alcohol poisoning or hazardous drugs. I’ve seen people detox from drugs, hell – I even did it myself after my surgery. After years of being on medications wrecking my body to prevent a migraine, it took almost two months to get it all out of my body.

But a dotox of food? I’m a skeptic.

A nutritionist I was seeing for a while once told me that the best way to rid your body of the things that you don’t want in it is to simply stop eating those things. The liver and the kidneys detox your body naturally, so there isn’t any special reason to do a special “detox” to purge your body of the crap you put into it. She told me that if I wanted to “detox” the gluten out of my body to simply stop eating it and let my body recover as it naturally does and then stop eating it period to keep myself from having a bad reaction to it. And I did. And it worked.

And another thing – most of the “detox diets” I have seen have been things with super high amounts of fiber. Some even include a legitimate meal of a “high fiber drink” and if that means what I think it means, you better be close to a bathroom at all times. (and isn’t all that high fiber crap actually BAD for your gut?)

I know there are a lot of people out there looking for a quick fix. I know these “detox diets” make tons of money promising real results in a short amount of time, and I can see how that will work. I have a few friends who swear to the “detox diet” every quarter and claim that they feel better, their skin is clearer, their energy is higher and the like. And I think that’s awesome for them… but then I watch as they go back to their old habits and see them go back to where they were before. Then they detox again. And then they go back again. Again. And again. And again.

You can’t tell me that’s healthy for your body, or for the image you are portraying to little eyes that are watching you.

I’m not saying detoxing is stupid. It’s not. For some people who are jumping on the health bandwagon for the first time, I can see how a detox can be beneficial… if you want to call it a detox. I call it purging the junk out of your life and accepting a healthier eating habit, which we all know is the start of everyone’s weight loss journey. I also think that detoxing dangerous chemicals from your body – drugs, alcohol, and the like – is a great thing as well.

If you are the kind of person who needs a detox diet of some kind to help you feel like you are jump starting something, then by all means go for it. I’m not a doctor and I can’t tell you to do it or not do it, and if you feel it works best for you, then by all means – do what you need to do to make yourself feel better because ultimately that is what is  most important. But  in my experience, it’s better to just continue on your merry way, eat and drink in healthy moderation and allow your body to do what it naturally does… and stay away from the things that make you feel lousy to begin with. And to stop beating yourself up for one weekend’s worth of letting go. One weekend won’t wreck your entire world.

Unless, of course, that weekend was spent in Vegas and you had a drive thru wedding with some random person you met at a casino or bar or whatever. I hear that kind of thing is legal and legit.

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4 thoughts on “It’s A Food Thing: Why I don’t believe in the “Detox”

  1. Jennifer LE (@runningwithpugs) says:

    I have a very similar philosophy. I think many people do detox to jumpstart a new lifestyle, but I don’t know that doing an “emergency flush” of the system after a weekend of “bad” eating is the healthiest way to go. Not that I’m any kind of expert on the matter. I support an overall lifestyle of moderation, where a weekend of indulging isn’t going to throw me into a tailspin.

  2. Jen says:

    Agreed with all your points. I feel like “detox” is a marketing term that is being waaay overused. If we actually had that many toxins in our bodies, we wouldn’t be walking around! My stand is that if you feel like you fell off some kind of regular routine, get back on it. You don’t need to announce it on social media or beat yourself up over it. Find the foods that work for you and cut out the foods that give you problems. You don’t have to make it seem trendy or hard core or whatever the image is that people want to project about their eating habits. Just do it.

  3. Amber says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! As a PT, my patients are always asking me about dietary stuff. Since I’m not a dietician, I can’t give specific recommendations, but I can educate regarding healthy options. Detox is one of those things. In the medical field people will never go through “the DTs” by giving up ice cream. They will have DTs from, like you said, actual withdrawal from toxic substances. Apparently “detox” is the new hipster word/flavor of the year.

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