Detox Your Body: How it can fit into a healthy diet

 Whew, what a weekend! I need another weekend just to recover from my weekend. It was a great one though — fun, productive, relaxing, and celebratory! Here’s what we fit into a single weekend:

I ran my first race of the season on Saturday morning. I couldn’t have asked for a better race to start the season off; it was perfect weather, a great course around Lake Monona (one of the two lakes in Madison if you’re unfamiliar with the area), and (most importantly) the food at the end was a full on smorgasbord.

Lake Monona 20K

The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent cleaning out our garage (this is the productive part of the weekend). It was the final “room” that needed to be cleaned out since we moved into our house in December. What a great feeling to have everything finally all cleaned and its place!

A date night of sushi and ice cream (we’re keeping it classy) followed our productive day and the fun just kept on going into Sunday with a wedding for two of our close friends from Madison. Couldn’t be any happier for the couple!

It certainly felt like summer was here — or at least just around the corner — this past weekend! With all this spring cleaning and donation trips to Goodwill going on, it got me thinking about the importance of spring cleaning our bodies, too. Instead of a normal recipe post today, I thought I’d share a little bit about my dietitian thoughts on detoxing…

What comes to mind when you hear the words “detox” or “whole body cleanse”? A great way to lose weight and feel better? A big hoax that doesn’t work at all?

To be honest, I have fallen into the latter category. As a dietitian, I automatically cringe when I hear about detoxification diets. How can drinking lemon juice with maple syrup and cayenne pepper for a week scientifically even work? Let alone taste good or leave you satisfied?

But sometimes it’s best to take a step back and re-evaluate. The word “detox” has gotten a bad reputation by health professionals, including dietitians like myself. The actual definition of “detoxification”, though, is nothing but when “you stop taking unhealthy or harmful foods or drinks, or drugs into your body for a period of time, in order to improve your health.” Now that’s not so bad, right?

I’m not entirely off target when it comes to detoxification diets, though; several different types of cleanses and fasts on the market simply do not work. New, fad cleanses seem to pop up almost monthly, ranging from an array of pills to diets containing a cocktail of strange ingredients – all of which are very popular, I might add, due to their luring potential benefits of fast weight loss. However, none of these are proven to do what they say they’ll do – flush toxins with lasting weight loss.

I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and start a juice fast anytime soon in order to flush out toxins, but there is some truth to the word detoxification. Our bodies are naturally detoxifying our bodies daily via our liver, kidneys, and skin. So it’s not a question of whether detoxification happens or matters. It does. However, there’s no need to add something foreign into our diet to do all the work for us. Our bodies are doing a pretty fantastic job already.

While our bodies do a lot of the work for us, it still may be helpful to rethink what we’re eating to help our bodies out a little bit more. For instance, we’re constantly surrounded by toxins in our environment and foods. To keep our bodies from going into overdrive eliminating the toxins we’re constantly putting into our bodies – like processed foods, soda, or added sugar – a good detoxification regimen I can put my name behind is simply a healthful eating plan with plenty of fruits and vegetables and adequate fiber and water. This is a lasting and healthy way to give your natural detox system additional support.

To make sure your “detox healthful eating plan” is a good one, first ask yourself if it includes:

  • Foods from all five food groups (vegetables, fruits, protein, grains, and dairy)?
  • The right number of servings from each group?
  • Food you will enjoy eating for the rest of your life?
  • Foods you can buy at the supermarket?
  • Some of your favorite foods?
  • Foods that fit your budget and lifestyle?
  • Regular physical activity or exercise?

While the fad diets and cleanses aren’t something to be drawn into, I’m pushing aside my negative connotations to the word detoxification and am starting to embrace it for what it really means.

Have a great week, everyone!




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