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Don’t fall victim to fad diets


It’s 2023 and the New Year, New You fad diets are hitting social media hard. The cleanse or detox diet trend is saying do a cleanse or eat this way and eliminate harmful toxins from your body. Typically, during a cleanse you must first fast, then follow a strict diet of fruits and vegetables and drink some sort of concoction that will give you the runs. Once you have done this you have rid your body of what toxins?

Wait, what toxin did that coffee enema just clean out of my body. That’s right, we have no idea because these diets never tell you which toxin it is targeting. And in fact, there is no evidence that supports these diets remove any toxins from our bodies.

Our body is smart folks, it already has mechanisms in place to cleanse our body. The liver makes toxic substances harmless and ensures you poop, pee or sweat them out. And don’t forget about the kidneys and lungs who are also working together to maintain our body pH and ensure our body stays in an acid base balance. There are many social media posts out there telling you these are signs you need a detox. Here are six signs I have seen lately, that I can tell you are not true signs you need a detox.

• Bloating — When we eat food our body has to work to digest it. This can sometimes cause bloat as your body works, 100% normal. This should be mild. If you have sustained bloat or discomfort, you should seek medical attention. This could be signs of constipation or other gastrointestinal problems.

• Food cravings — When your body needs food, it causes an imbalance of your hunger and fullness hormones, making you crave food. Food cravings can actually be caused by many things such as PMS, lack of sleep, a poor diet, dehydration, and an increase in physical activity. Besides that, stress can cause cravings for comfort foods and we just finished the holidays, a certain time of year or location can cause you to crave certain foods. But if you ask me that detox diet is only going to increase cravings.

• Constipation -— as mentioned with the bloat. Constipation is normally a reason for bloat and so you need to increase physical activity and drink plenty of water to help get some relief, or see a doctor if these typical methods aren’t working. When people change their diet, they often increase their fiber consumption. While fiber helps with bowel movements if not paired with water things can get stuck. And yes being plugged with feces is definitely toxic.

• Constant colds — while you won’t need a cleanse to help with the constant colds a well-balanced diet can help. I know you have all heard the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away. When you eat a well balance diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

• Fatigue or trouble sleeping -— Before we go claiming our diet is the problem for our fatigue, maybe we should check how many hours of sleep we are getting. Lack of sleep is a major problem for U.S. adults, and the overconsumption of alcohol and high calorie meals doesn’t improve our sleep. There is a lot of research currently going on about sleep and body weight. Stay tuned for a future article on this.

• Headaches could be from alcohol, smoking, changes in your sleep, dehydration and even a sinus headache.

It’s the New Year and plenty of people are trying to sell you the next life changing diet. Please think twice before buying into these new trends. I know eating a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, lean proteins and whole grains isn’t exciting and flashy. But you know what, it works.

If you made a new year’s resolution to change your diet, physical activity or the way your body looks. Elimination diets are typically a quick way to fail. My suggestion is finding something you can add. Adding is always more appealing than having to remove something. And typically, when you add, you are inadvertently not leaving room for something else. When I fill my plate with fruits and vegetables at lunch time, I have filled my plate and stomach with nutrient dense food instead of the bag of chips that I would normally eat. I didn’t have to remove the chips there just simply wasn’t room for them. But of course, if you need that salty crunch, let yourself eat those chips, otherwise that food craving is going to backfire on you.

If you are looking for more information like this. Find me on Spotify for my Bite by Bite: Nutrition for Life podcast.


Monica Nagele is the Montgomery County Extension Educator and County Extension Director, Health and Human Science. She is a registered dietitian. The Extension office is at 400 Parke Ave., Crawfordsville; 765-364-6363. She may be reached by email at mwilhoit@purdue.edu.


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