What to Do Instead of a Detox

No one can live on green juice alone

Green smoothie topped with strawberries

As a dietician, I’m often asked about detoxes. Celebrity-endorsed crash diets and cleanses come and go, but what people are really asking me stays the same: Is there a way to get my habits back on track, to feel better after a period of over-indulgence? Everyone wants a quick fix.

The popular plans have always seemed sketchy to me, especially when they involve expensive shakes or bottles of questionable supplements. I have never done any of them myself, and I recommend against them when people ask. But there is another way—something you could consider instead of a fad diet. Let’s call it a food reset.

A dietitian colleague of mine, Danielle Omar of FoodConfidence.com, created a 21-day program called Nourish that’s meant to help clients move toward a sustainable, healthier way of eating. And though I’ve never been one for detoxes, this was an alternative I wanted to try for myself.

I learned that Nourish is three weeks of fresh, whole foods (no sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy, or refined anything). I temporarily gave up a lot of my favorites. No cheese! No sweets! Was it hard? Definitely. There were many things I had to pass up, like birthday cake and pizza.

Though I started the program as a doubter, I finished a believer. I couldn’t argue with the fact that it changed my health habits for the better. Now, I know my body feels better when I don't overload it with starchy carbs. I'm also more aware of how much sugar I’m eating. I discovered new foods to love, like green smoothies, cold quinoa salads, and energy bars made with dates. 

You don’t need to sign up for a program to get the benefits of a food reset. You can make your own rules for what you’ll eat based on your health goals. Make an appointment with a registered dietitian to talk over what kind of eating plan works best for you if you don’t know where to start.

A good plan will…

  • Focus on health, not weight.
  • Encourage whole foods over highly processed foods.
  • Provide small steps to prevent overwhelming you.

A good plan won’t…

  • Focus on counting every calorie.
  • Promise a dramatic weight loss.
  • Cut out entire food groups.

When you shift into a healthy lifestyle, which includes an eating plan that makes you feel well and energized, you just might find that you aren’t interested in detox diets after all.