The sparkle of the holiday season is long gone and you’re emerging from a hangover of mashed potatoes, Christmas cookies, and too much brie. You’re ready to get back on track. New year, new you. Right? Time to “cleanse your system.”
You've heard of the many detoxes and cleanses guaranteeing you will “lose 10 pounds in seven days.” Maybe you want to "reboot and re-energize in just five days." A quick and easy way to lose weight and revitalize sounds pretty harmless, so why not give it a try?
The summer before I entered college, my mom and I decided to give one of these detoxes a try. We cut out almost every food group, sipping expensive and scary-looking juices for seven days straight. It was miserable. Tired, cranky, emotional, depressed, and headachy, I steered clear of the kitchen all day in order to avoid the sight or smell of any real, solid food. I was so damn hungry I resented anyone spotted chewing their meal.
So how do these detoxes even work? Often, detoxes completely eliminate solid or substantial food for three days, seven days, even two weeks. You cut out the obviously harmful foods like sugar and other chemically processed foods, but you also run the risk of eliminating some essential nutrients, particularly protein and fat. Without protein and fat, you rid your body of its healing nutrients, resulting in muscle loss and a weakened immune system. This explains that tired, weak, and sick feeling. Who wouldn't be cranky and sad?
Everyone's doing it and the temptation is undeniable. Avid Pinterest-ers and health-blog readers are inundated with the newest, hottest, easiest cleanse or detox you “have to try today.” Many even have celebrity support. The “blueprint cleanse,” “master cleanse,” and Beyonce’s “lemonade detox” convince us Hollywood has the answer. Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Drew Barrymore have also attached their names. They not only look great, but claim to feel great also, who wouldn't want a piece of this magic?
Then there's the cost. While money is no object to these celebrities, most of us can't afford an expensive juice cleanse every week. It's no big deal for Sarah Jessica to shell out $200 for a five-day supply of juice, but personally I'd rather spend that $200 on weeks worth of groceries with enough left over for a movie ticket. Weeks of groceries, or just 5 days of juice? You decide.
While these extreme detoxes may result in temporary weight loss, the pounds may return rapidly when you begin eating a normal, nutrient-rich diet -- the kind you chew. Doesn’t sound quite so glamorous anymore, does it? People are meant to eat. Your body neither wants nor needs to be detoxed. So grab a fork and eat, just eat sensibly.