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5 Critical Questions to Ask Yourself Before Trying a Detox

gwyneth-made-me-do-it-logoprepping-juice-veggiesThe Internet is ablaze with talk of diets and detoxes and juice cleanses, oh my! Several friends on social media have put out feelers, asking for testimonials on juice cleanses and if they really work, and some have even reached out to me, asking for recommendations on juicers. It’s exciting and inspiring to see so many take an active interest in their health, and grabbing the opportunity to start fresh with the new year.

Our pal Gwyneth is of course doing her part to flush out toxins after some holiday indulging, and she recently shared how she’s detoxing in the new year on Goop. The three-day menu includes instructions on what to eat and drink from the moment you wake up till the moment you hit the pillow. While three days sounds like a piece of cake (because can’t we all do anything for three measly days?), the portions and amount of liquid meal replacements one has to make seems a bit extreme. In fact, this Warming Winter Detox menu is much stricter than her Detox Menu from It’s All Good, which at least allows you a green juice for breakfast and a handful of raw almonds for a mid-morning snack. But whether you’re wanting to go extreme or a little more subtle, or whether you want to do a juice cleanse or a just a general detox, there are a few things you may want to know before you start, as well as a few concerns to address.

Here are 5 critical questions to ask yourself before trying a detox:

1.) Do you have a post-detox plan for eating right once you’ve completed your cleanse?
Nutritional experts refer to it as “breaking the cleanse,” and agree that the benefits and any positive effects of a detox are meaningless and quickly lost if you jump back into your old habits of processed junk foods. In order to maintain the positive results, you’ve got to clean up your diet and keep your body going on nutrient-rich foods. Confused as to how to start “eating clean”? Refer to these 10 ways you can make the switch, which I highlight in my previous post.

2.) Do you have an understanding of why you’re eating certain foods, and avoiding others, in your detox?
You’re much less likely to stand firm in your resolve to avoid certain foods, and swig that green juice, unless you understand the benefits of doing so. For instance, in Gwyneth’s new year detox, foods like tomatoes and potatoes are off limits, but why? Potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes are in the nightshades family, and these types of plants have been reported to have adverse effects on some people, causing inflammation in the body, resulting in joint and muscle pain. And drinking green juice, a common cleansing diet, is said to be one of the best ways to absorb all of the wonderful nutrients, vitamins and minerals found in vegetables.

3.) Do you have certain food triggers and weaknesses that may sabotage your detox, and a plan to avoid them?
Does stress lead to emotional eating? Does your daily lunch routine always end with a frappucino? If you’re really going to stick with a detox, you need to plan ahead so you can best avoid these pitfalls. Being on a detox is hard enough, but giving into temptation is likely to leave you feeling like a failure, which leads to even more emotional eating and negative feelings.

4.) Have you primed your body for your detox?
As I discussed last week, diving in head-first into a rigid cleanse, immediately following a wild junk food bender, is a sure-fire way to sabotage your plans. Or at least make you feel miserable. Read my tips to prime your body for change to help achieve detox success.

5.) Strategize and set health goals for the new year.
Who wants to detox every other month, or feel like they need a cleanse several times a year, just to feel good? I know I certainly don’t. Consider making a list of goals for the new year, so you can continue taking care of yourself all year long, and just maybe you won’t feel the need to cleanse come January 1st, 2015. Committing to exercising 3 days a week, chugging more water, or saying goodbye to fast food forever, are all ways to take charge of your health, which can have life-changing results.

In the end, everyone’s body is different, and not every cleanse or detox will work for every individual. But going into a detox with a positive attitude and the intent of jump-starting new health goals is always worth a try. If you’re unsure the detox you’re considering is right for you, consult with a medical professional before starting. If you recall, the last time I tried a detox, I found out 24 hours in that I could potentially be harming my baby, who I was still nursing. I felt silly and naive for not fully considering the consequences, but I was thankful I found out soon enough before any potential harm could be done.

Whatever you decide, good luck and good health!

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