Friday, 6 May 2016


By this time of year I'm guessing we've all been bombarded with our fair share of bikini body detox adverts. It's becoming almost impossible to flick through Instagram without seeing someone holding up a posh packet of laxiti - sorry, detox tea, and telling the world how it helped them achieve their dream body. People are genuinely convinced that their bodies are full of toxic, fat inducing substances that they need to get rid of not only to get thin fast, but to get healthy. Now let's be real for a minute, there is nothing healthy about self induced diarrhea, starvation, or food obsession, but in the name of losing weight, promising 'health' is a well practiced strategy of diet culture. So exactly what kind of detoxes are people buying into?

1) The juice cleanse. Feel revitalised and refreshed by living on nothing but juice for several days. Cleanse your body of those pesky nutrients you get from actual food, give your digestive system a well earned break from it's vital function, and feel how energised you are when you rid yourself of all that toxic sustenance you get from eating solids. We all remember Beyonce's famous 2 week cleanse of consuming nothing but a cocktail of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. Reportedly Beyonce lost 20 pounds, but I bet she lost a whole lot of her sanity along with it. Not to mention muscle wastage, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and potential organ damage - y'know, the usual effects of STARVATION.

2) The teatox. Tea based detoxing is the latest evil spawn of the diet industry. People are paying extortionate prices for these 'all natural' remedies in brightly coloured packages, with the seal of approval from their favourite celebrity (who are sometimes paid millions to make a few posts about this poison). Plenty of people use these teas, notice that their stomachs feel flatter after a few days and immediately think hallelujah praise the diet gods a miracle weight loss treatment has been discovered! What's actually been discovered is dehydration stemming from another 'd' word I've already mentioned. 

The crucial ingredient in most detox teas is senna. In the words of "senna is an FDA-approved nonprescription laxative. It is used to treat constipation and also to clear the bowel before diagnostic tests such as colonoscopy". So when you shell out $29.99 for a month's supply of teatox goodness, all you're getting is a standard laxative mixed with some other fancy sounding 'extracts' that have no effect whatsoever. And other than the inconvenience of being glued to your toilet for days, the prolonged usage of these substances is actually incredibly dangerous. At best you'll be dehydrated and tired, and at worst you could suffer an electrolyte imbalance that leads to an irregular heartbeat, seizures, and sometimes, death. In the brilliant book Losing It, Laura Fraser speaks to multiple relatives of young women who, while previously completely healthy, have suddenly died after religiously drinking their diet teas every night. That cute pink packet doesn't look so enticing now does it?

And you know the most ridiculous thing about any detox diet? YOUR BODY ALREADY DETOXES ITSELF. The entire concept of needing to detoxify, purify, or cleanse your body with these regimes is literally made up by the diet industry to sell us more shit (that doesn't work) to fix our bodies (that don't need fixing). There is zero legitimate scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of extreme detoxing, and any fluid based weight loss achieved will be undone quicker than you can drink a glass of water. Our bodies naturally detoxify themselves via our kidneys, liver, and skin, and drinking nothing but kale flavoured mush for 14 days doesn't make them any more efficient at it.

So now that we've gone over what utter rubbish detox diets are, here are a few things you should cleanse yourself of to actually feel better about your body (and food isn't one of them):

  1.  Social media accounts that make you feel like sh*t. If you're still following that fitspo page that makes you feel worthless because you don't have perfect abs, click that unfollow button right now. You don't need to be 'inspired' into extreme diets and exercise obsession, and you don't need to be comparing yourself to an unattainable ideal every time you scroll. What we see everyday massively effects how we see ourselves, so detox your feed, and follow accounts that nourish your mental health and self love instead. Here are some of my favourite accounts: @chooselifewarrior, @nourishandeat, @yourstruelymelly, @mswink, @anastasiaamour, @chubbybabe_, @glitterandlasers, @thechristinecho.
  2. Clothes that you're keeping for when you finally lose those 10 pounds. We all have skinny clothes at the back of our wardrobes, hanging reminders of diet failures and bodies long outgrown. I had one jumpsuit that I'd only ever fit into once, after a serious stomach flu about 4 years ago, and I based my self worth on that piece of fabric far too many times. We hold onto them as motivation, and despite the fact that 95% of diets don't work and you have to literally fight against your body to maintain weight loss, we keep them there for that 'one day' moment that never comes. And it doesn't need to come, since we're all absolutely perfect as we are in all of our diverse, unique, beauty. Maybe we'd see that beauty a bit more clearly if we weren't always trying to stuff ourselves into 2 sizes too small jeans and seeing ourselves as failures for not having the 'will power' to starve ourselves. Throw the clothes out. Keep your self esteem instead.
  3. Toxic diet conversations. It's a sad fact that a huge portion of bonding between females is based on lamenting the dessert you had last night and promising to be good and go to the gym every night to make up for it. For those of us who've ditched diet culture, tried to cultivate a body positive mindset, or recovered from an eating disorder, those conversations are like navigating a minefield (you can read more about why here). If you're feeling emotionally equipped, you might want to start a body positive dialogue. For example, you might turn to a friend who's complaining about how fat she is and say 'but why do you see that as such a bad thing?'. You might talk about unrealistic beauty standards, being manipulated by the diet industry, health at every size, and how to accept ourselves as we are. Or you might be emotionally exhausted from having to deal with this never ending stream of toxic body shaming and food guilt and that's okay too. You are allowed to ask people to politely respect that you don't want to be involved in those conversations for your own mental health. You are also allowed to walk away if they choose not to respect that. Remember, your recovery, happiness, and self esteem, are more important than another conversation about which foods have negative calories.
  4. The bathroom scales. I know, this one is a big deal, and not everyone is ready to let them go. But for me it was liberating as hell. You might wanna give your scales a body positive makeover like this, or you might wanna be a total badass and take a sledgehammer to them (safety first of course). Whatever you decide to do, please know that your bathroom scales will never tell you anything valuable about you as a person. They can't capture your beauty, your compassion, your kindness, your intellect, your sense of humour, your life experiences, or even your health. So they definitely don't get to dictate your worth.

If you've ever been lured in by the empty promises of a detox diet, I hope you see now that the only thing you need to cleanse yourself of is the toxic culture they're a part of. And on that note, I'll leave you with a picture of my response to a Flat Tummy Tea sales representative, who asked me if I'd be willing to promote their laxiti - sorry, keeps happening, detox tea, on my page: