Juice cleanses, colonics, special diets, fasting, and crash dieting—these are mainstays of the detox industry. But underneath the popular “science” of commercials and often outright bogus claims, there are some other, deceptively simple “truths” that turn out to be myths.
Myth #1: The Mediterranean diet is perfectly balanced.
The Mediterranean diet is a sneaky “solution” for dieters who might otherwise feel the need to detox. Detox haters hold up this diet and say, “Hey! The science of ‘detoxifying’ your body isn’t real, but the benefits and preventive health effects of this balanced diet are.”
However, there’s a little more that they leave out.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. It also replaces butter with “healthy fats, such as olive oil,” and uses herbs and spices in place of salt.
The main health issue here is the oil. Yes, even if it’s olive oil! Although olive oil contains some polyphenols and healthy, monounsaturated fats, it is also pure fat—packing an insane 120 calories per tablespoon—and there are much better ways of consuming and absorbing those nutrients.
Try sprinkling raw, unsalted nuts or seeds onto a salad or slicing some avocado to jazz up your whole wheat toast (enhanced version: with garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes).
To be fair, a truly healthy diet is in some ways similar to the Mediterranean diet—largely plant-based, with plenty of green, cruciferous vegetables, colorful fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds—and therefore rich in phytochemicals and micronutrients, but the key differentiators are:
Fish, limited amounts of meat, breads, and cheeses tend to sneak their way back into the Mediterranean diet, or actually define this diet style for some people. These foods are higher calorie and higher in macro- but not micronutrients, which are crucial to your body’s health. If fish is a part of your diet, some doctors recommended it be consumed only once a week at most and be the types of fish low in environmental toxins, such as mercury.
High fat content, even in olive oil alone (not to mention those other food groups mentioned), is one of the fastest ways to sabotage your weight loss.
Myth #2: The juice cleanse is the end-all of cleanses and diet help.
In reality, the juice cleanse is not the king of cleanses, nor the Holy Grail of diet and nutrition it claims to be. Juices can be a tasty, refreshing supplement to your meal or a post-workout treat, but beware of the following:
Juices can have the same amount of calories as green smoothies, yet leave you feeling less satisfied. This is because juices lack the plant fibers and fats (from nuts and needs) to keep you full for longer.
The high glycemic load of juices can wreak havoc on blood sugar.
Juices can have fewer nutrients, since micronutrients are often bound to plant fibers that are usually removed through the juicing process.
Myth #3: Colonics and laxatives are the, uh, jumpstart your body needs.
This is perhaps the most toxic of detox claims—that the junk you feed your body hardens or turns to gunk inside your colon, or that pills and dissolvable powders will help magically “cleanse your system.”
Physicians and nutritional researchers have proven this to be false. What’s more, the products that cause your system to flush itself out—like laxatives—irritate your bowels and can ultimately make your body dependent on them. Beware!
The best way to keep a healthy body and regular, smooth trips to the bathroom is to pile on the greens and other plant-foods. Get full on fiber! At the very least, try to fill up on soups and salads first, and that way you can start to cut back on the junk that adds pounds and disrupts digestion.
Myth #4: Crash Diets Will Never Work.
“Crash diets” have taken a lot of flack and attracted negative press over the years—but it’s possible that this type of diet is exactly what you need.
If you’re dissatisfied with your weight or afraid that your health and life are at risk due to a long-time chronic disease or a recent diagnosis, then a radical change might be the answer. Radical and safe hold different meanings, but, when it comes to dieting, they don’t necessarily need to be at odds with one another.
I’m talking about taking the plunge. Clearing the pantry and leaving chips and pasta behind. Diving into that bowl of broccoli and not looking back.
If you can, take this intense and “cold-turkey” approach. If you do it with healthy foods instead of gimmicks, deprivation, and diet pills, then you might have better chances of success and improving your health. If you do things too slowly and too sporadically (e.g. fad diets, taking baby and/or incremental steps toward your goal), then you might sputter out before you can really get started. You might trick yourself into thinking you’re making progress when you’re not. Here are some tips:
Of course, always consult your doctor before making significant changes to your medications, eating habits, or exercise regimens.
Find friends (or make new ones!) that encourage and support your transition to better health.
Seek the advice of experts, like nutrition and health coaches, who are trained to help you soar, leap over the hurdles of emotional eating and common weight loss mistakes.
If you think you might be interested in free health coaching, send us an email. In the next few weeks, we will be reaching out to members with an introductory free 30 minute coaching session (no credit card required).