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Plenty of fruit, vegetables better than a detox after the holidays, expert says

From juice cleanses to low carb diets, the long term effects of detoxing can hurt more than help.

Long-term effects of detoxing can hurt more than help, according to one dietician

Detoxing after the holidays is not as effective as people may think, says one expert. (Facebook/The Beet and VCC)

You've had the turkey, you've had the stuffing, and you've probably had one too many glasses of wine. Now, after all that holiday feasting, you just might thinking about going on a detox.

But one registered dietitian says the only detox you need is a good helping of fruits and vegetables.

Andy De Santis says that the holidays are a time where many feel most their relaxed and that as a result, people enjoy themselves. And while there isn't anything wrong with that, he says, people tend to eat more than they usually do.

"A pound or two is kind of normal for the average person to gain over the holidays," De Santis said. But not everyone loses that weight and some will resort to trendy cleansing methods to shed the pounds.

For De Santis, the trick to that lies not in fancy detox methods, but simply getting back on track with healthy eating patterns.

He says the cost and extremes that people go to in the name of detox simply aren't necessary.

Andy De Santis is a registered Dietitian from Toronto. (Submitted by Andy De Santis)

"Do you need to detox after the holidays if you gain a pound or two? No, you don't need to. You need to return to healthy, balanced eating. If you do that, your body will take care of itself," he said.

Not a fan of the juice cleanse

De Santis says trends such as the low-carb diet are fads that never really die. But the effects of those trends don't have good long-term or effective solutions for most people, he says.

He says he's not a fan of juice cleans trends because of how costly they can get. People can spend the money on vegetables instead, he says.

De Santis says he's seen some people have go as far as not eating fruits out of fear that the sugars may sabotage their weight.

"An irrational fear of sugar is pretty common," he said. "But should you be cutting out fruit? For me, those two things don't align — good health and cutting out fruit because it has sugar."

De Santis says instead of a juice cleanse detox or a sugar detox, the best thing to do is eat more fruits and vegetables. (Lindsay MacKenzie/CBC)

De Santis also says juice cleanses often don't make people feel full.

"For a very small volume, you are getting a lot of calories because there's a lot packed in there and you're drinking it quickly," he said.

When fruits are blended in juice form, people tend not to feel as satisfied because it goes right through them, he adds. 

Save the bucks, get your veggies, says dietician

De Santis says detoxes can get dangerous, depending on what form they takes. And while the effects of cleanses and detoxes may not be prominent in the short-term, they can have long-term effects.  

"I do believe it's dangerous to adopt extreme eating habits. If you allow yourself to fall into patterns where you're always  having this polarizing relationship with food, I just don't think that's good in the long-run," he said.

In the long-term, it can compromise people's ability to learn how to eat in a moderate way, he added.   

De Santis said detoxing shouldn't be about doing anything specific or drastic, but rather it should be about getting back to a more balanced routine with plenty of fruits and vegetables. He said it's important not to let the free-for-all effect of the holidays to carry over.

"You've enjoyed your holidays, no need to feel guilty about it. But sooner rather than later is a good time to get back to your normal routine," De Santis said. "Have that extra serving of fruits and vegetables and maybe have that one less dessert next week."

Have that extra serving of fruits and vegetables and maybe have that one less dessert next week- Andy De Santis, Toronto Registered Dietitian

He advised that it's important to have a moderate relationship with food, where indulgence is allowed sometimes, but most of the time, a balanced meal is the better option.

"There's nothing you can buy in a package, unless it's packaged vegetables, that's better for you than eating fruits and vegetables," he said.

For those who are determined on trying a detox, He recommends trying it for a week, then taking note of its effects, before deciding to keep it up long-term.

"If you want to do a detox for a week, it's probably not going to kill you...but let's come back to healthy, reasonable eating, sooner rather than later."

Here are some tips:

  • Have more fruits and vegetables, with an extra helping of vegetables at dinner.
  • Skip a few desserts the week after the holidays.
  • Eat out a little bit less.
  • Don't be enamoured by expensive packaging.
  • Try some plant-based protein.