Detox diets: what you need to know

It’s been a busy wedding season for me. I’ve celebrated with long-time friends and close relatives at quaint ceremonies, late night receptions and everything in between. It’s also been particularly busy this year because it was my wedding season. I said ‘I do’ less than a month ago – but that was the easy part; there was nothing hard about saying yes to my best friend while surrounded by the people we love against the backdrop of the Italian countryside. Not hard at all. The hard part was the planning, the preparation and getting into shape for the big day.

I was lucky enough that my husband joined me in weekly spinning, pilates and strength-training classes for several months leading up to our nuptials. I’m proud to say we met our fitness goals and we’re still maintaining our workout schedule (I thought we might ease up on the intensity post-wedding… our trainer didn’t agree). However, the road to getting in tip-top wedding shape wasn’t paved with exercise alone. I had to match my passion for working out with a dedication to eating right.

I’m not keen on quick-fix detox diets that produce fast results that ultimately fade, as they can leave me feeling bored, uninspired and dissatisfied. Instead, I prefer healthy, tasty plans that get me excited to eat three meals a day. Detox diets may be efficient, but they are not effective over time, and can be quite dangerous for your long-term health. Eating a limiting, restrictive diet starves your body of the nutrients and electrolytes it needs to function, meaning you often feel weak and listless in the middle of the day. Once you stop your crash diet, introducing any foods that you cut out can often lead you to immediately putting weight back on – this, combined with fatigue as a result of a limited diet, is a recipe for disaster.

The British Dietetic Association have stated that, very often, ‘detox diets are marketing myths rather than nutritional reality‘. Extreme programmes like fasting, cleansing and juicing can often feel healthy due to social media support for these kinds of trends, but whether they make a positive impact on your physical wellbeing is another story altogether.

I believe that we should detox the way we think about dieting, instead of detoxing our diets specifically. Making small, lasting changes in your diet can lead to a sustainable, healthier and happier lifestyle. Choosing natural, unprocessed foods, eating fruit and veg everyday and getting all the minerals and vitamins you need, are essential elements of a well-rounded regimen.

Utilising the 2:1 method for meal (and plate) planning will help you keep these rules in mind. For every portion of meat or dairy on your plate, include two portions of veg – leafy greens, bright and crunchy peppers and carrots, juicy tomatoes or a creamy and filling avocado help to keep your plate vibrant, tasty and full of flavour – without compromising on any nutritional benefits.

Another way to maintain a fulfilling and healthy diet is to get creative with your H2O intake. I love to bring an infuser bottle into work, where I can get adventurous with recipes and combinations that infuse regular water with vitamins and nutrients. My current favourite beverage is mint and frozen mango, and in the colder months, warming ginger and pear helps to keep me hydrated and boosts my electrolytes too.

In addition to drinking water and portion control, a great way to maintain your healthy regime is to substitute certain foods for healthy alternatives. During our pre-wedding preparation, I would make one of our favourite meals – Spaghetti Bolognese – but swap regular beef mince for turkey, and make spiralled courgette noodles (or ‘zoodles’) instead of wheat pasta. The result? A lighter, less stodgy meal, that was still totally delicious. You can find the base recipe I used in this blog post – just add turkey meatballs and some crushed tomatoes!

What do you think my of healthy eating tips? Let me know in the comments below

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