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

This article originally appeared on

20 thoughts on “Friday Roundup: Are Detoxes, Restriction Part of a Clean Eating Plan?

  1. Thank you for being a voice of reason on these issues! You are right, it seems like everyone these days is doing really extreme stuff like cutting grains and other major food groups (I keep hearing about Whole30). I have definitely felt the siren call to try something like that after hearing so many people rave about how much more energy they have, etc. It’s nice to hear another (saner) perspective. Eating right isn’t about 30 strict days, it’s about a lifetime.


  2. Suzanne, thanks for sharing your perspective and more of your back-story here too. Practicing consistent, clean eating has helped me so much this year. I worked with a Certified Nutrition Coach on a supervised clean eating program for three weeks to figure out what didn’t work for my body, and have really made strides in cutting back on the items that were causing mood swings and digestive woes…specifically processed sugar, gluten and dairy. But my approach is moderation and that’s how I keep a healthy, happy balance. 🙂


  3. Great perspective on both subjects. I was hesitant to discuss my own pending dietary because it’s not about jumping onto any kind of trend. I like grains. I think for most people they can be part of a healthy diet. And going gluten free can still be a diet of junk. Just because a donut is gluten free doesn’t mean it’s good for you. It’s about real food that makes your body look, perform and feel better.


    • I liked your post on this subject because you so clearly stated that it wasn’t something you’re doing to lose weight or gain energy, etc. Super intelligent thought process from a super intelligent lady.


  4. Great and balanced approach to both topics.
    Personally, I don’t see the value of cleanses or detoxes. Just in making positive changes to one’s diet, little by little, so that those changes are more likely to stick.
    And while I don’t think the average person needs to give up grains or starchy carbs completely, I do find that most of my clients who need to lose weight are more successful when they cut back their intake of both (and up protein and veggies to compensate). I like to encourage people to ‘be the detective’; figure out just how carbohydrates their bodies require for energy and can tolerate before gaining weight.


    • I love it when people experiment intelligently to see what’s holding them back. Cutting back on carbs temporarily is smart for weight loss, and then slowly returning to higher levels once, as you say, they can determine their sweet spot.


  5. I completely agree with you on this! I see too many people looking for the magic bullet and I’m sorry there isn’t one magic bullet for everyone. I also completely believe in guidance to help decide how to go about figuring out what food is best for you and what isn’t. I have some food sensitivities, but they are veggies and fruits I love so as long as they don’t cause me massive problems, I refuse to give them up. Instead I will work on moderation for them. If only there were a magic bullet I would say you could sign me up, but until then *sigh* it’s focus on better nutrition and exercise. It’s a good thing I love exercise and my fruits and veggies!


    • You’ve got a lot of common sense Jenn! The average non-fitness professional can’t know what’s fiction and nonfiction, and the pull to jump on the bandwagon is strong…


  6. I LOVE YOU!!!! We are so the same here & I know you know that! 🙂 I never got on the cleanse thing.. If you eat healthy & whole foods – well, the bod cleanses itself! 😉 There are very short ones that include food & that is fine foe a couple days but the other stuff – well – yes, too much craziness out there in sm.

    On the grains & starches – you know I love my healthy carbs & that is what you write about.. of course some have issues & have to cut back or find other foods but for the normal person, balance. I see way too many people go too low carb to lose weight BUT they love carbs.. so instead of figuring out how to manage them in a healthy way, they cut them out, lose weight, go crazy cause they miss them & then put the weight back on. You have to find the balance that works for you. 🙂

    Thank you for this!


    • Omagosh you have been very succinct here Jody! I really agree that cutting out carbs isn’t the answer and we need to learn to manage them, each finding that sweet spot that works for us. So yes, balance! Thanks for your insights as always!


  7. Hi Suzanne, I’m with you on this one. I agree that it’s about finding what works for you as an individual but it’s also about stricking a balance, as our bodies need the right nutrients to be at their optimum.


  8. I think elimination diets are a bad fad, what works for one does not work for all. I truly feel that everything in moderation is the way to go and if you are truly sensitive to something then you should avoid it, but avoiding whole groups of foods for the most part is not healthy. I don’t like cleanses either, I have tried some and usually feel sick.


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