It's that time of year again.
My instagram and blog feeds are FULL of juice cleanses and detox diets and summer-influenced clean eating nonsense. Other than a few weeks in January when people feel the need to do penance for an indulgent holiday season, you rarely hear of people cleansing or detoxing in the middle of winter.
Warmer weather brings out the urge to detox, cleanse, reset, whatever. And I get it - bathing suit season is storming towards us, and for some folks that is a daunting prospect.
But let me tell you this important truth: you don't need to do a detox to wear a bathing suit.
You don't need to do a detox, period, and I'll get to that, but let's start here.
I spent 16 years working as a lifeguard, and have seen people of every shape and size wearing bathing suits. People in big bodies, people in small bodies, people in round bodies, people in hairy bodies. Alllllll the bodies. So I can tell you, with authority, that literally anyone can wear a bathing suit. Body + bathing suit = bathing suit body.
And what's more, people can wear any kind of bathing suit they please. One-piece, two-piece, string bikini, burkini, just put it on. Last year I shifted from a bikini to a schmancy pants one piece that I love a lot. I had a baby and my body is fundamentally different than it was before, so my old bikini (which was quite old) didn't feel as comfortable.
With my changing body has also come a fundamental shift in mindset; a realization that my body is a freaking miracle.
And guess what? Your body is a freaking miracle too! You have strong legs that carry you around, or arms that give hugs, a heart that loves people, and a stomach that digests food to fuel your awesome body and brain.
Guess what you also have? A complex and wonderful system already in place to clear your body of waste and toxins.
Which bring me back to the detox/juice cleanse/spring cleaning situation, and why you don't need to do it. First of all, your body is NOT full of toxins!
Each and every day our bodies are exposed to a variety of substances, ranging 100% natural to synthetic. Some of these substances, even the totally organic ones, are incredibly toxic to the human body.
Luckily, our bodies are smart little machines and come naturally equipped with a system that both defends against and gets rid of unwanted or harmful substances. This system includes our skin, gastrointestinal system, lymphatic system, kidneys, and liver.
Ah yes, the liver. The kidneys. Don't those hard-working organs need our help to do their jobs? No, no they don't.
It's true that the liver and kidneys are filtration organs, but it's not like say, a swimming pool filter (something that I have been intimately acquainted with) that needs to be shut down and cleaned out on a regular basis.
No, your smart AF body does the cleaning all by its self AND keeps working at the same time. The liver performs a series of chemical reactions to break down toxic substances into ones that can be eliminated in either bile or urine. And the kidney excretes waste products into our urine. Just like that! Like I said, your body is a miracle.
And hey, if listening to your body and real-life experience has taught you that you genuinely feel better when you consume nothing but juice for 3-5 days, then power to you. If I've learned one thing over many years of studying nutrition it's that we are all unique creatures and what works for one doesn't work for all.
But, if you're contemplating a cleanse or a detox with a sense that you should be undoing some wrong, or a sense of shame, or a hope that doing so will help you become a certain size and that becoming that size will make you a happier, healthier person, then please, please reconsider.
Instead, let me offer you this list of things that your body, including your miraculous already-in-place detoxification system, appreciates:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits. Lots of them.
- Movement. Walking, swimming, biking, yoga, running, whatever. Your body wants to move.
- Adequate sleep.
- Carbs - for real, friends. Your brain thrives on carbohydrates. I prefer mine complex and whole.
- Protein - plant-based or otherwise.
- Healthy fats, like avocados, nuts, olives, etc.
- Water! To drink, bathe, and swim in.
- Appreciation - be good to your body, it's working around the clock for you!
Originally published May 2017. Last updated May 30, 2019.