The holidays are a wonderful time. Lots of socialising, lots of merriment, lots of cheer and, of course, lots of nice food and drink! But in the new year, I predict that at least 8 out of 10 of us are going to be looking into a detox, or diet to kickstart a new healthy lifestyle.
But once the hangover has gone – what exactly will this detox mean for you?
Depending on what you read, how determined you are (and how guilty you feel!), you could be embarking on one of a million different detox programs.
This worries me. Not because I don’t think people should detox, but because some of the advice being dished out is pretty disturbing. And mostly because there seems to be absolutely no real definition of what a detox actually involves, and more worryingly, the terms FAST and CLEANSE are used almost interchangeably.
I see these as two VERY different concepts, and from searching around on the Internet and in magazines, the randomness of the advice given and the calls in some publications for fasting has left me a little concerned.
I have to say – this post has been inspired by a similar misinterpretation on a thread over at StevePavlina.com/forums where people are emphasising a detox as a fast (most concerning – a ‘water fast’!)
The Difference Between Cleansing & Fasting
Having scoured the web, I am struggling to find a neat single, accepted definition of either cleansing or fasting and both cross over into definitions of detoxing.
Wikipedia defines fasting as:
Fasting is the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food and in some cases drink, for a period of time.
And from the sites I have researched, there is a varying length of time for fasting, ranging from 3-100 days. Some insist on consuming nothing at all, others suggest only water while (most famously) some suggest the lemonade fast (such as the Master Cleanse). In essence, they all emphasise that by ingesting almost nothing, the body will be forced to remove whatever it can from the blood, liver, kidneys, lymph and digestive tract. The result (according to one post at the forum above) will rid your body of toxins and will lead to stools that resemble plastic.
Cleansing, to me, has nothing to do with the above.
In fact, to cleanse the body I believe that we need to give the body MORE nutrients, minerals and energy foods in order to help it to heal and detoxify itself. By this, I mean a whole load of water, fresh vegetable juices and fresh, raw soups.
So whereas fasting is based upon giving the body nothing so that the toxins are forced out, cleansing is based upon feeding the body with the tools to cleanse itself.
Dr Young has provided two of the most powerful metaphors for this process – he describes it as a ‘liquid feast’ and an ‘internal shower’.
So whereas both approaches agree that you should absolutely remove all of the crap from your diet – the key difference is what you put in.
Now, I am not a biologist, a doctor or a qualified nutritionist – so this is not me prescribing that this is definitely the definitive way to go – but it simply makes more sense to me that if I want my body to heal itself and rid itself of toxins I need to give it the tools to do so.
I need to give it plenty of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to repair itself, cleanse the blood and flush the crap out and perhaps most importantly I need to give it fibre to brush the digestive system clean.
Is it just me or does this not make a lot more sense?
I mean, why would you want to starve your body of nutrients during such a vital time? There is a lot of debate as to where your body will derive it’s energy from and whether it really is from unnecessary fat stores or whether it is from muscle – either way I see this as being wholly unhealthy. Wouldn’t you rather infuse your body with goodness rather than trick it into pulling energy from wherever it can?
Personally, I think one of the most scary things about this is that it is almost guaranteed that the vast bulk of people who will try fasting are those that are not doing it for religious or pure health reasons, but because they want to lose weight.
Now if there is one thing that fasting absolutely guarantees it is that your metabolism will slow right down to a snail’s pace.
And once your metabolism slows right down, there is only one thing that is absolutely guaranteed – as soon as you return to normal eating habits your body will pile on fat reserves faster than you can say ‘…but Beyonce said so‘.
Cleanse and Fuel Your Body
See a cleanse as a way to nourish yourself back to your best. To reset and reboot…
It is such a great opportunity to rebuild and replenish and get yourself to your dream health quicker than you could ever imagine.
Fasting and lemon-detoxing just won’t get you there…
p.s. since writing this guide in 2006 intermittent fasting such as the 5:2 Diet have emerged. These are a different kettle of fish. The jury is still out. But it’s not what this article is relating to.