Friday Roundup: Are Detoxes, Restriction Part of a Clean Eating Plan?

This week I read two articles that made me ponder: How do detoxes/cleanses and eliminating grains/starches fit in with a clean eating plan? If you’re suffering from digestive woes or want to lose weight, there’s a strong pull to try these two “remedies.” And it’s tough know what’s right when everyone – including the latest best-selling book and everyone in your office – is pushing a new idea.

But making major changes to your diet and suffering through fasting can be tough too. It’s your job to question the diet and nutrition advice you hear.

clean eating planDetoxes and Cleanses

Article 1: 4 Bad Justifications for Detoxing

I see people who have gained a significant online following leading detoxes/cleanses for their readers. This is disturbing to say the least.

Some detoxes are benign – a soothing spa, a smoothie, water with mint – anything can be called a “detox.” Others involve fasting and can induce flu-like symptoms.

Ironically, when people do a detox or cleanse they’re usually looking for a natural remedy for their ailments. But do you need to use a product or juicing to “flush out” toxins that have accumulated due to the environment or your own bad habits? The answer is NO.

Our bodies have natural ways of eliminating toxins. The need to do detox is marketing-driven. We don’t need to starve ourselves and suffer side effects of a liquid diet to help our bodies get rid of waste. I always say that if you feel guilty or apprehensive about built-up toxins or weight gain, stop putting junk in your body.

The article, over at, sums it up well:

“A healthy dose of fear, combined with the prospect of rapid weight loss becomes a tempting proposition for even the clearest of thinkers.  While it’s not easy to consistently eat well, lift heavy things and move often, consistently doing those things is the only tried and true way to achieve better health and a leaner frame.”

A clean eating plan doesn’t include spontaneous attempts to purge your body of toxins; it’s a lifestyle of making healthy choices every day. A clean eating plan means prepping ahead, knowing what to buy and what to avoid, and sticking to your core beliefs around healthy eating.

Follow the nutrition advice of online gurus with caution. Just because they have a large following and push a detox doesn’t mean it’s healthy or necessary. Check to see if their credentials are up to date or even used professionally. Those with only personal experience to draw upon have no business giving out nutrition advice.

Avoiding Starches and Grains

Article 2: Is Starch Dangerous? Why You Maybe Shouldn’t Worry About Grain Brain

Books such as Wheat Belly and Grain Brain have scared a lot of people about eating grains. Plus it’s fashionable to avoid grains and starches even if you don’t have Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance.

The CrossFit culture and many experts in strength circles prescribe to a Paleo or at least gluten-free existence. Others push the idea that carbs in general are evil.

If you suffer from bloat or other digestive woes, of course you’re looking for answers. And the weight-loss population is too. But unless you have a medical reason to do so, reducing carbs to a trickle or cutting out a major food group is not necessary or a good idea. Making major changes to your diet is stressful and not needed for a clean eating plan.

I agree with the article about why we shouldn’t avoid starches. Since I’m not a doctor nor an anthropologist, I can’t say whether eating grains destroys your gut or causes neurodegeneration. But I do know that cutting them out may cause more problems than it solves.

If you’ve read my bio you know I’ve overcome a debilitating case of irritable bowel syndrome in the last five years. I fixed this problem by eliminating packaged and highly processed foods – clean eating. Look at these new books and fads with a critical eye and don’t feel pressured to jump on the bandwagon.

Before you make big changes to your diet, be sure to consult with your doctor, a registered dietitian, or your personal trainer (as the situation dictates).

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo source: Healing and Eating, Flickr Creative Commons

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