Spring is a great time to hit refresh on life, so nutritionist Susie Burrell is here to break down the specifics of how to detox safely and effectively to get you feeling your best.
With spring in the air, so too is much interest in a diet detox - a reset to help rid yourself of the fluid, heaviness and extra kilos that have crept on over the past few months.
And while it should be said upfront that there is no scientific evidence to show that the body needs to be ‘detoxed’, as the liver and the kidneys already do an excellent job in ridding the body of any toxins, what a ‘detox’ or diet reset does do is remind us of how much better we feel when we eat a diet packed full of fresh fruits and veges and minimal processed foods.
So if you are keen to take control of your diet this Spring, here are the most effective ways to implement your own diet detox without causing any undue damage to your body or metabolism.
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1) Commit for a set period
The greatest benefits from a low calorie, detox style eating plan will be experienced three to five days after refocusing your diet on low calorie wholefoods. Here your body will have rid itself of extra fluid, your stomach will have readjusted to eating smaller portions and you will have worked your way through some of the glycogen in your muscles.
There is no extra benefit to be gained from following extreme low calorie diets for long periods of time. Rather you are more likely to become tired, run down and craving sugars, which will make it challenging to adhere to long term. Just three to five days of low calorie, vegetable rich eating will give you just as strong a result as a juice-only program that extends for days if not weeks at a time.
2) Swap out a meal
Often we when commit to a new food regime, the focus is often on the foods we are not allowed, or not supposed to eat. This in turn can fuel the cycle of deprivation and binge eating which so many dieters describe. On the other hand, if you focus on the foods you can and should be eating - for example nutrient rich salads, low calorie soups and delicious vegetable juices – following a particular food regime becomes a whole lot easier.
So in your own detox, if you focus on simply swapping one meal each day for a low calorie vegetable soup or massive salad, you will instantly slash your calories while the vegetable or salad bulk will rid the body of extra fluid whilst leaving your full and satisfied.
3) Focus on fluid
On a daily basis not only are many of us dehydrated, but we are drinking nowhere near the volumes of fluid we need to buffer the huge amount of salt we consume in processed and packaged foods.
For this reason, any diet reset should focus on drinking at least two litres of low calorie fluids - water, herbal tea, vegetable juices and broth style soups will help to ensure your digestive system is working as efficiently as possible and reduce fluid retention overall by buffering the impact of salt in the diet.
4) Lighten your protein
Adding lean, protein rich foods into your diet is a key to ensuring you can manage your hunger whilst following a low calorie detox plan. The key is opting for lighter and plant based options that offer much nutritionally for minimal calories.
Specifically white fish, shellfish, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds will ensure that your meals are tasty and nutritious but remain low in calories. Aim for one protein rich food per meal to keep your full and satisfied in between your meals.
5) Factor in long term solutions
It can be natural instinct to reward ourselves after a period of relatively strict eating, but there is no point in undoing all of your hard work by binge eating and drinking at the end of your healthy three to five day plan.
Committing to at least one day of lighter eating each week, and maintaining habits including loading each meal up with fresh salad and vegetables and keeping well hydrated are dietary strategies that will help to keep your at your best every single day. You will be far less likely to need to detox long term when your diet remains healthy and balanced most of the time.
Susie Burrell is a dietitian and nutritionist. Continue the conversation on Twitter @SusieBDiet.