Planning a Detox or Juice Cleanse? 5 Dos and Don'ts

Don't Pull a Double Whammy and Work Out Too

Detoxes and cleanses are all about ending erratic, unhealthy eating, and rebooting and resetting your metabolism. This is much easier to do when you give your body a brief break from exercise. And trying to work out while following a limited eating plan can create unwanted side effects, because cleanses and detoxes generally don't provide the extra fuel needed for exercise, or the added raw materials required for healing and recovery. As a result, doing both can leave you feeling tired, dizzy and nauseous. It can also result in breaking down muscle mass, which can up your injury risk and lower your metabolic rate, the exact opposite of what you're aiming for. Subtle Signs of Eating Disorders

Do Use a Detox or Cleanse as a Gateway to a Healthier Diet

In my experience, the greatest benefit to a detox or cleanse is its ability to start fresh, and transition to a long-term, healthy way of eating. Many of my clients, and people who have followed the 5 Day Fast Forward cleanse from my latest book have told me that even within five days, their cravings for salty, fatty or sweet foods disappear, they begin to appreciate the natural flavors of whole, fresh foods, and they're able to reconnect with normal hunger and fullness cues. In addition, losing some pounds and inches quickly can create the motivation and confidence to embark on a longer journey. 

More: 10 Bitter Foods That Cleanse the Body and Boost Performance

Finally, detoxes and cleanses prevent you from being able to act on your usual emotional, social, environmental, and habitual eating triggers, which can be the first step to breaking unhealthy patterns. All of these benefits can make committing to healthy goals—like cooking at home more often, eating breakfast each day, and bringing your lunch to work—a whole lot easier. Your Guide to Popular Juice Cleanses

Don't Use a Detox or Cleanse as a Way to Purge

I've seen numerous people get stuck in the trap of bouncing back and forth between a cleanse or detox and bouts of overindulging. Because cleanses and detoxes have become so popular, this seesaw syndrome can be socially acceptable. But emotionally, using cleanses and detoxes this way can become a lot like other methods of purging, including over-exercise, or taking laxatives or diuretics—it can feel like something you don't want to do, and know isn't healthy, but feel like you have to do, in order to undo the effects of overeating.

More: 13 Strategies to Prevent Overeating

If you've found yourself on this roller coaster ride, reach out for help. While black and white, all-or-nothing relationships with food are common, they aren't good for you physically or emotionally, and striking a sustainable, healthy balance is possible.

Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's Health's contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

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