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Healthy Eating

To detox or not to detox, that is the question.

By Agnés Joffre and Rebecca Connell

Hurrah! 2009 is finally here! Unfortunately, ushering in the New Year doesn't end with Champagne and kisses. Oh no, inevitably the next bit is not quite so joyful. Traditionally, it involves 5 stages:

1. Pain- the hangover from hell, potentially/probably accompanied by swearing, and a resolution to never again succumb to that 2 for £10 deal on Champagne. It might look okay but the next day you definitely wont feel it.

2. Sickness- A general feeling of icky-ness and inertia which potentially has something to do with having consumed 3 times your body weight in Turkey and the entirety of Marks and Spencer's canapé range these last two weeks.

3. Realisation - A creeping and slowly intensifying feeling of guilt as you regain basic brain functions and start to put two and two together.

4.Horror - You suddenly realise that all those resolutions you enthusiastically declared to everybody at midnight on New Year's Eve now actually have to be put into action. Darn your decision to dramatically shout them out from the table tops, that means that this year there were actual WITNESSES!

5. Determination - As the hangover slowly wears off, a new found self-belief appears. You WILL buy AND read at least 5 of this years best sellers. You WILL re-organise the house and create a temple of minimalism and calm. You WILL renew that gym membership and become a dazzling model of human perfection. Goodbye ready-meals, carbs, alcohol, sugar, fat. Hello the latest ridiculous celebrity diet: your body IS your temple! Health happiness intellectuality are all within your reach!
6. and finally, DETOX - By february you will have heard this word so many times you will want to flush it down the loo along with the wheatgrass, lemongrass and numerous vitamin supplements you bought en mass in January.



As with most health fads originating from the US of A, the Detox phenomenon has now firmly established itself in British life. From food to body lotions, shampoos to exfoliators, drinks to capsules; even tea  becomes detoxing! But what exactly does detox mean?

Detox diet
Detox diet

Detox is based on the idea that modern life-style exposes the human body to a high level of toxins such as pollutants, pesticides, fat, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes… However, the human body has to get rid of these bad toxins in order to purify itself. And it needs help. That sounds good but how does one help their body to clean up? Detox diets are based on water, fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals. Processed food, fat, salt and sugar have to be avoided and alcohol, caffeine and tobacco are simply banned. Herbal teas or lemon are often used as a major aid to drain. All products MUST be organic and fresh.



However, detox is not only about dieting. It also implies sport and a specific state of mind. Those pro-detox claim that it is most of all based on balance, harmony and a "Zen attitude". A real lifestyle? Maybe,  it has certainly seduced a lot of British people.


Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman

Detoxing is now so ingrained in our culture it has become an almost traditional post-festivities ritual. Men and women want to purify their body. For instance it is not rare to hear someone saying he will not absorb any alcohol for a month in order to compensate for previous excesses. Supermarkets are simply bursting with detox products from food to body care and detox even has its own stars in the UK such as Carol Vorderman who credits a detox plan for her amazing weight loss and has subsequently launched her own range of books on the subject.

In France, detox doesn't seem as popular. Have you ever heard a French man saying he wants to purify his body? I certainly haven't and I know that French people don’t have any qualms about eating a “galette des rois” on January the 6th, even after having consumed mountains of foie gras. In fact, generally speaking, they just don't seem as willing to broadcast their feelings of guilt.

British people, rather un-stereotipically, are much more upfront about admitting their sins. Let us compare and contrast a typical post-drunken- evening statement: whilst an English man would say "God, was I drunk last night!" you would be more likely to hear a Frenchman saying “I might have drunk slightly too much yesterday”.  So, do French people need to detox as much as the British? The phenomenon is certainly becoming more popular over there. However, though articles on it can be found in womens' magazines its coverage has not yet reached the proportions of the UK press.

So, fact or fad? Is detox really beneficial for our body? And if so, should we all detox?

Detox products
Detox products

Actually, UK press is currently debunking the myth of detox. Firstly, detox products could be totally useless since some researchers have proven that no two pharmaceutical companies have the same definition of the word "detox" and that no miracle products can actually eliminate toxins. So is buying detox products just an unnecessary waste of money in these credit crunching times? Producers are trying to defend themselves but it is not that easy. It seems that the best way to get back into shape after Christmas overindulgence remains the age-old, logical approach of eating healthily and getting good sleep.  Does this mean that all this detox theory is really just a marketing manipulation? There must be some benefits to it, surely so many people would not inflict it on themselves otherwise...

The basis of detox itself is actually questioned. In fact, dieticians have pointed out that detox diets are short on many nutrients and therefore cause a lowered immunity. Side effects may also happen, from headaches to feeling tired and demoralised. Moreover as far as weight loss is concerned, once again, detox’s effect cannot be proven. Detox diets imply, most of the time, starvation and lack of basic food groups. So, when you stop it and start eating normally again, usually, you put the weight straight back on. That’s not healthy and could even be dangerous, leading to some food obsessions and eating disorders.

However, this is not a good reason to eat voraciously and detox diets still have some good points: They encourage eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol… Only good habits to get into for the New Year, don’t you think? Actually, as always, it is really just about balance: if excess of food and alcohol is not good, starvation and strict privation are not good either. So as the French would say, everything is good in moderation...


Nutritional balance
Nutritional balance


08/12/2011 - payettemuseum said :

Action reiquers knowledge, and now I can act!


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