This time of year, the word "detox" is everywhere. Twitter is rampant with people saying "Been eating so much junk this holiday season! Can't wait to start my detox!", juice stores are marketing their juices and advocating three day juice cleanses for the new year, and when you go out to eat with a friend, they look over the menu and tell you, "I can't share the pizza with you. I'm doing a detox because my new years resolution is to get my bikini body."

As a dietetics and nutrition student with an understanding on the science behind what our body does with food when we eat it, and what can happen to it when it finds itself in a point of starvation or lack of nutrients, I have a huge problem with the diet culture we have all associated with the word "detox". This word has been twisted to now delve into the minds of those who feel they need to rid themselves of whatever it is they ate that they think is contributing to some form of a huge disease or adding thirty pounds to their scale. It's a marketing ploy added to the bottles of large bottles of sugar-crammed juices that makes consumers think they're actually doing something beneficial to their bodies, when in reality, doing that "special" three day juice cleanse is probably doing more harm than the five cinnamon rolls they had over the holidays.

beer, tea, coffee
Amanda Ryvkin

It doesn't even feel good.

I don't think I've ever not heard of case where on day three of a diet made up of pure juices, the person hasn't admitted to feeling abnormally weak and lightheaded. It's not a coincidence that everyone's feeling this way; it's the body's natural response to feeling completely deprived of what it wants, and most importantly, what it needs. Don't even get me started on seven day cleanses. Why even do something that doesn't make you feel good?

milk, oil, jug, cream, tea
Madi Fitzpatrick

When all you're drinking for three days is pure juice, your body's not getting enough macronutrients that it needs to function, and it's most likely getting pure sugar and no fiber (since the fiber is "juiced" out of the fruits and veggies), meaning your blood sugar is probably spiking.

Deciding not to eat or plan on "dieting"? I won't get too much into it, but dieting is a vicious cycle of: I can't have this...ok, I'll have a small bite...a small bite turns into twenty...remorse and depression...I can't have this (again). Who wants to go through that? Diets simply don't work, and in order to reach true health, we need to remove the diet mentality and accept the fact that our bodies are intelligent! They can do the work for us, as long we treat them well.

Huge Shout Out To Our Liver and Kidneys, You Guys Are the Real MVP.

wine, tea, alcohol, beer
Annie Slabotsky

Thinking of using your money on an expensive three day juice detox? Think again. We are all equipped with a way to detox naturally, and most importantly, for FREE! Our livers are our hardest working organs; they are continuously absorbing nutrients, releasing stored glycogen, metabolizing, and most importantly, removing toxins with the help of our kidneys!

Our liver works very hard to remove toxins and unwanted substances from our body. First, it breaks down/metabolizes our macronutrients and separates anything it doesn't want, need, or recognize. With the use of nutrients, it makes these unwanted toxic wastes water soluble to make them easier to pass, and then they are transported to the kidneys so that they can be eliminated as waste when we go to the bathroom.

To have a properly functioning liver that removes toxins efficiently, we need to make sure to be giving it proper nutrients (this mean EATING FOOD...sense a pattern here of why we need to eat to induce the removal of toxins?) and being active/moving, as well as not doing anything that can impair its function. This means having a diet low in saturated fat, excess fructose (looking at you, high fructose corn syrup), and alcohol, and making sure to decrease our stress levels and exposure to environmental toxins.

Start Thinking of the Word "Detox" Differently.

When most people think of a detox, they think of physical appearance and looking and appearing better. I challenge you to stop thinking of it that way. Trust that your organs are functioning at all times in your benefit to remove toxins from your body, just as long as you are eating well and moving. Again, eating well (not juicing), and getting plenty of exercise. By eating a diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, legumes, nuts, and seeds, our bodies will always have the necessary nutrients to perform a natural, healthy detoxification. 

Kate Spitler

Instead of focusing on detoxing your body as you go into 2018, focus on detoxing your mind and spirit. Stop associating with people who don't serve you and are persistently surrounding you with unnecessary negativity. Let go of those thoughts that say "I can't" or "I'm not good enough", and turn them into "I can" and "I will". Remove any kind of stress from your life, whether that be by meditating, doing yoga, taking a bath, or practicing any form of self care. PSA: Self care is not selfish. 

Understand that health can happen at any size, and you don't need to lose weight to be healthy. To me, one of the most important things anyone can do is have a beautiful, trusting relationship with one's body. Listen to it, treat it well, and it will work in your benefit at all times. Don't change anything about your diet just because it's January; it's only another month. You can still have your pizza and your quinoa and be completely and wonderfully beautiful. 

water, beer
Nancy Chen

Forget about the ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, five hundred types of greens, ten species of fruit juice.

Your body's got your back all year round.