Detoxes and Cleanses – Should You Do Them?

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Detoxes and cleanses - should you do them?

In the last month I’ve seen ads and promos for every detox and cleanse imaginable. Which makes sense given the timing. Many (including myself!) are still recovering from the overindulgent month of December, where we stretched our definition of “clean eating” to accommodate every sugary and gratifying desire.

If your brain is anything like mine, it has this innate ability to logically justify sweet treats. 

When a few treats spiral into a new pattern

I thought I was good after the holidays. Of course I indulged too much… just like the best of ‘em! But after feeling sluggish, bloated and all around icky (a known medical term) – I tapered off. I got back to healthy, veggie-centered, clean eating. Or so I thought.

But what I failed to realize was that my addictive sweet tooth didn’t vanish, it just quietly flipped into stealth mode. Cloaked and concealed.

Instead of the overt bars of dark chocolate I was consuming in Sydney, I was drinking deliciously sweet, high-sugar fruit smoothies in Thailand. Every day.

I was also eating fresh mangos like my life depended on it and chomping on dried mangoes for a late-night snack. Along with dried kiwi. Oh, and some dried pineapple.

Hello, concentrated sugar!

And all of this was on top of the fact that sugar is seemingly added to every dish in Thailand. The Thai’s sure do like it sweet!

But it wasn’t until I polished off an entire package of aforementioned dried mango (more than 4 servings!) in one fell swoop, that I knew I had to take more drastic measures.

To cleanse or not to cleanse – that is the question

First, let me say that I’m not one for quick fixes. They rarely work and many times you bounce back worse than where you started. Even the words “detox” and “cleanse” send shivers down my body.

Blame it on flashbacks to doing the Master Cleanse – the lemonade, maple, cayenne pepper concoction – back in college. Not only did I not feel better, I made myself doctor-visit worthy sick!

But having learned a thing or two since then, I can say that today, I wholeheartedly believe in gentle detoxes and cleanses. Versions with slow ramp-ups, gradual eliminations, educational components and more sustainable results.

As a health coach, I believe in the concept of “crowding out.” This means you consume more healthy foods throughout the day, thereby crowding out your desire and appetite for unhealthy foods.

Following this pattern of thought, I also believe in green smoothies. Not for every meal of the day, but as a replacement for one meal – to get you back on track. Because an infusion of easily digested vitamins and minerals is a good thing.

And I believe in food education and awareness, which many of today’s cleanses and detoxes bring with them.

Case in point is Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar program. I took this program with my mom last year, to help her reduce her “hidden” sugar consumption. Truth be told, I needed the program just as much. Clearly, a sugar crutch runs in the family!

After 8 weeks (along with my coaching on a Paleo diet), my mom lost 20 pounds. More importantly, her energy soared, her sleep improved and she felt the best she’d felt in years. Totally winning!

Yet the biggest take-away was knowledge. An awareness of food habits. And the realization that sugar sneaks into your diet in the most sly ways.

The I Quit Sugar program is rooted in science-based wellness, with dietitians and chef’s delivering nutrient-dense, satiating recipes that are not only low-sugar, they’re delicious. Because let’s be honest, nobody want’s to eat cardboard, even if it’s good for you.

Long-term wellness is a practice

If you read last week’s post on My Paleo Confessions, you’ll see that I am definitely not perfect when it comes to following rigid diets. I’m also not perfect at curbing my sweet tooth.

But long-term wellness is a practice – and thankfully, we all get many opportunities for do-overs. I for one need them!

That means it’s gentle cleanse time for me here in Chiang Mai. Instead of fruit smoothies I’ll be reaching for green smoothies. Instead of dried mango I’ll be reaching for a handful of cashews. And on those stir-frys I’ll ask them to hold the sugar in addition to the soy sauce.

Having quit sugar before, I know just how darn good I feel without it. 

Detox and Cleanse Programs I Personally Recommend:

I Quit Sugar: An 8-week online program (with gradual ramp-up!) to help you kick the addictive sugar habit for once and all.

21-Day Sugar Detox: A straightforward and effective whole-foods nutrition plan that will reset your body and habits.

Whole30: A 30-day clean-eating, nutritional reset program to help you curb cravings, heal your digestions and balance your immune system.

What are your thoughts on detoxes and cleanses? Have any others you’d recommend? Please share in the comments below!

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Lisa, my wife and I just discovered your youtube channel about a month ago while searching for an easy salmon recipe, and we love your content! We’ve sort of gotten into some bad eating habits this last year and are eager to start eating healthier, but as a jump start, on Tuesday we decided to do a 10 day “reboot” (or detox) program by a well known celebrity health coach from Australia who shall remain nameless on this post, which includes juices, smoothies, salads, soups and vegetable dishes. I’m curious to know what you think of his methods and if you think they’re healthy or worth doing? Or do you consider this a quick fix that will only make us bounce back even worse after we’re done with it?