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Detox Without Deprivation by Sara Niven

8th Jan 2019

January is the month we try to make up for the toll December takes on our waistlines and liver. Generally, this tends to involve restriction and deprivation. All helpfully during what for many (including me) already view as a pretty miserable month.

‘Detox’ is the word on everyone’s lips with promised rewards ranging from a clear and glowing skin to reduced cellulite and the vitality of a teenager (perhaps a bad example if you know one who rarely surfaces before noon.)

Of course, no one feels at their best after weeks of diving into the Roses and hitting the Rioja. But does that mean building up dangerous levels of toxins we need to go to extremes to address? Personally, I don’t subscribe to the view that we do and thankfully the British Dietetic Association agree.

“The body has its own mechanisms for removing waste products without needing any input from us,” confirms Chloe Hall, Community Dietitian & Spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. “If toxins were to build up in the way some claim we would quickly become extremely ill as oppose to simply feeling somewhat sluggish. There is nothing wrong (and a great deal right) with eating a healthier diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and doing more exercise. However, there is no magic pill or regime that is going to “cleanse” us and neither do our bodies actually need that.”

As someone who was once invited to spend a week reviewing a raw food retreat that comes as something of a relief. Don’t get me wrong, it was a positive experience in many ways and having to go cold turkey on what had become a nightly glass or two of wine on top of numerous daily caffeinated drinks certainly made me evaluate my vices. But I spent the week feeling peculiarly light headed, as a result of my caffeine levels dropping to non-existent and by day three was craving the warmth and comfort of a fluffy baked potato with beans. Personally, a morning coffee and hot food are small pleasures I don’t see any harm in or want to give up in the winter months. Again, I’m relieved to be told I don’t have to.

“Very restrictive diets are unsustainable and if your aim is losing weight you are unlikely to keep it off in the long-term by taking extreme measures,” adds Chloe Hall.  “For long-term health you are better off focusing on smaller changes rather than sweeping ones. If exercise is your goal then pick something you enjoy doing rather than seeing it as a punishment.”

With that in mind my aim for the coming weeks is not to give up anything. Instead I’m making an effort to increase the number of steps I take each day, keeping a bottle of water on my desk to replace some of the coffees and aiming to spend at least half the week minus the Merlot.

There’s one form of detox however I have no objection to; one that leaves me feeling indulged as oppose deprived and that’s a ‘detox’ spa treatment. Of course, no one could claim an hour’s massage or similar is the easy solution to less than healthy habits. But taking time out to experience something relaxing and luxurious in a lovely environment can help kick start a healthier attitude in addition to improving mood and skin tone.

And if you do give in to temptation and follow it up with a latte or even a glass of bubbles, I won’t tell if you don’t. In my book there’s a lot to be said for the saying “A little of what you fancy...”

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Detox Without Deprivation | SenSpa Blog, New Forest Spa


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