Every New Year, people around the country resolve to make positive changes in their lives. While this promoting this behavior isn’t inherently bad, it is often delivered with some problematic messaging around food, weight loss, and diets, by many “fitness professionals”, gyms, and marketers.
In 2019, Pongo Power encourages you to STOP participating in harmful behavior that ultimately has no lasting positive impact on your mental and physical health.
One of those behaviors is undergoing a “cleanse” or “detox”, or committing to a fad diet.
Cleanses and Detoxes
Cleanses and detoxes often involve fasting, eating very little, or drinking only certain liquids (lemon waters, juices, etc), in attempt to “detoxify” your organs and “cleanse” your body, supposedly in the name of “health”. In reality, these types of behavior modifiers are most often utilized by those looking to shed a few pounds quickly, and are marketed heavily in the fitness industry as being a quick fix for the holiday weight gain that we all experience.
There is very limited research supporting the efficacy of cleanses to actually promote positive physiological change in the body. In fact, your body’s organs (specifically, your liver, colon, lungs, and kidneys,) are quite capable of cleansing themselves, and have for centuries. Further, people choosing to only drink juices or lemon water blends end up missing vital micro and macronutrients from their diet for the cleansing period, which could result in feelings of fatigue, muscle loss, and a future obsession with food.
Bottom line, any weight lost on a cleanse or detox diet is most likely the result of fluid loss from the body, a lack of carbohydrates to retain water in the muscles, and the laxative effect of some juices/salt water blends. After the cleanse, most people regain the weight within one to two weeks.
Fad Diets and Elimination Diets
Fad and elimination diets (think, paleo, keto, atkins, zone, south beach, etc) rely on the participant’s constant ability to eliminate entire food groups or the bulk of a macronutrient (often carbs or fat) in order to speed up weight loss.
While these diets aren’t as bad as cleanses, eliminating categories of foods that you don’t have an allergy to, could cause long term negative side effects such as micronutrient deficiency or too much or too little fiber. If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. The best way to get everything your body needs is to eat a wide variety of foods, not cut any out because some celebrity claimed gluten was bad, or a TV doctor swears that eating sugar is as bad as smoking.
In addition to the fact that fad and elimination diets are not exceptionally helpful for health or weight maintenance, they can create an unhealthy mindset around food. For some, labeling certain foods as “good” or “bad” creates guilt when eating, avoidance, or even an obsession with, certain foods. The “I want what I can’t have” mentality leads many people to “fail” at the diet once the give into their urges, starting a shame spiral around weight, food, and health.
This New Year’s, we recommend you just skip all of that. Try eating when you’re hungry. Fill your plate with a variety of foods. Enjoy the holidays and the extra weight that sometimes accompanies them! Life’s too short to spend it drinking lemon cayenne water.