5 steps to detox without detoxing

Tidy up your diet without a detox with this 5-step advice from dietitian Susie Burrell.

While we regularly hear about detoxes, fasts, cleanses and juice diets, it’s important not to get caught up in the hype. Few of the claims made by these programs are proven, and the fact is that the human body does not need to be “detoxed” – our kidneys, liver and immune system do a good job of getting rid of nasties daily.

There isn’t any one product or supplement that holds the key to weight loss and health. But we do know that you’re more likely to stick to a new diet when you get fast results.

For this reason, eating only natural, whole foods with the goal of “cleaning out” your diet for a short amount of time (while helping shed a few kilos) is not a bad thing. In fact, it can remind you of how much better you feel when you’re eating well. The key is to know how to kick start your diet the right way. Here’s how.

1. Commit for a brief period of time

Generally, there isn’t a problem with eating only fresh fruits and vegetables for a short period of time, say 3-5 days. After this, nutrients that the body requires to function optimally like protein, iron, zinc and calcium should be reincorporated into the diet. Committing to a “diet detox” for a week or less when you can stay 100% focused on your nutrition is the key to success.

2. Base your meals around fresh fruits and vegetables

A diet detox doesn’t need to be complicated, and in fact can be as simple as a few days of eating only fresh, unprocessed foods. Look to base your meals around fresh fruits and vegetables — soups, salads, stir fries, smoothies and juices will load your body full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, eliminate excess fluid and help you drop a kilo or two without skipping meals or drinking only juice.

3. Drop the snacks

We rarely feel hungry between meals. Shifting your dietary pattern away from eating every couple of hours to leaving 4-5 hours in between meals is an easy way to kick start your metabolism and get into good eating habits. Cutting out snacks also eliminates many processed, high-carb foods from your diet.

4. Drink only water

A really simple way to reset your diet is to drink a couple of litres of water each day in place of caffeine-rich drinks and high-sugar juices and smoothies. It’s an easy way to reduce your calorie intake, and all the extra hydration will get your digestive system working efficiently.

5. Limit your eating hours

Modern life means many of us eat across a particularly large portion of the day, having breakfast early and leaving dinner till late. The body needs several hours without food to manage fat metabolism in the body — ideally 10-12 hours overnight. Having as little as 6-8 hours break between eating results in the body storing more fat. To change this, all you need to do is have your final meal by 6 or 7pm each night and leave breakfast until 8 or 9am in the morning.