Should I Try A "Reset" Diet or Cleanse?
Should I try a “reset diet” or cleanse?
Leading off last week’s post about changing your taste buds, I often get this follow up question: “I heard that doing a “reset” can help me get rid of cravings and change my taste buds faster. Should I just try a reset diet or cleanse and get it over with?”
The creators of reset diets claim that they can “reset” your taste buds in a short period of time by eliminating all processed foods and sugar (and, yes, that includes natural sweeteners like Stevia!). The idea is to get your taste buds completely off of anything that tastes super sweet or salty.
Can this work? Yes. Eliminating hyperpalatable foods from your diet for a month or more can be useful, but in my opinion, only works well for certain people…I’ll get into that in a minute…
First, let’s go through the drawbacks of doing a reset diet or cleanse
You must stick with it for at least a month, and preferably longer…no mistakes or slips.
You absolutely must cook all meals at home. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can trust restaurant food.
Planning and prepping food are essential skills for success on a reset diet. If you are super busy or tend to struggle with organizational skills, this will be a tough obstacle.
You’ll be a social outcast during the reset. You need to make sure you choose a time with no holidays, birthdays, vacations, or other food-centered gatherings. Dinners with friends and other social outings will need to be rescheduled.
You may lose weight, but most of it will be water.
Many people experience quick rebound weight gain after the reset is over. Again, mostly water.
You may feel very deprived, especially if you are accustomed to eating a lot of processed junk foods, fast food, or restaurant food.
Reset diets can cause binges. I’d go so far as to say they can cause binge eating disorder due to their restrictive nature.
While a reset diet can reduce cravings for sweets and processed foods, the effect quickly diminishes when you start eating those foods again, often requiring multiple “resets” per year.
Who might benefit from a reset diet?
This may sound counter-intuitive, but a person who is already eating healthy is best suited to try a reset diet. Why, you ask? Because for someone who is already eating healthy, a reset doesn’t represent a huge shift in what they’re already doing. They have a good foundation of healthy eating and won’t feel massively deprived. A reset diet can be a great way to get yourself back on track after a holiday or vacation. But you must have the foundation of healthy eating in place or it will certainly lead to feelings of deprivation, and often, subsequent binge behavior.
Who should NOT do a reset diet?
People who struggle with disordered eating habits should not do reset diets. Any sort of diet will typically make an eating disorder worse. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, you should seek professional assistance.
Kids should not do reset diets. I’m not saying reset diets are necessarily unhealthy for children. But you must remember that a child’s nutritional needs are different than an adult’s. Additionally, restricting a child’s food against his/her will is just a good way to create disordered eating behaviors.
Lastly, folks who have never tried eating healthy and are at the beginning of their health journey should stay away from reset diets. I know, I know! A reset diet sounds like the best way to dive into healthy living, right? Not really. If you are used to eating the typical American diet of hyperpalatable, salty, fatty, sugary foods, you’re going to feel ultra-deprived on a strict reset diet! And chances are good that you’ll binge on all the things you eliminated as soon as the reset is over. It kind of defeats the purpose if you eat kale for 30 days and then fall face first into two large pizzas and a liter of Coke on day 31! The experience of doing a strict reset can be so miserable for a “nutrition newbie” that they decided never to try eating healthy again!
I really want to eat healthier and change my taste buds. Is there a better way than doing a reset diet?
Yes! There is a better way! If your current diet is full of highly processed foods, fast food, and restaurant food, I highly recommend easing yourself into healthy eating by:
Adding nutrient-dense foods to your current diet. Nutrient-dense foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and lean proteins. Add something healthy to every meal. Don’t take anything away…just add in the good stuff.
Do this consistently, even if it means travelling with salad greens, apples, carrots sticks, or almonds in a cooler.
Choose healthy foods that you actually like. Kale may be the healthiest food in the world, but you won’t keep eating it if you absolutely hate it! You can work up to loving kale…but start changing your palate by first focusing on vegetables and fruits that you like.
To best train your taste buds, eat the healthy foods first. Keep doing this every time you eat – always add something healthy, and eat it first.
You won’t get overnight results from doing this, but adding nutrient-dense foods will do three awesome things for you:
Nutrient-dense foods help you feel full. Fruits and veggies are often high in fiber and take up space in the stomach. You’ll get full faster and will naturally eat less.
Nutrient-dense foods cause positive shifts in hunger hormones. This takes a bit more time, but once your body begins receiving the vitamins and minerals it needs, it will turn down those hunger signals. You’ll feel less hunger overall and will probably eat less.
Eating nutrient-dense foods will train your taste buds. Again, it takes some time, but once you begin consuming healthy foods on a regular basis, you will develop a palate for those foods. And very soon you may even find yourself craving a salad or an apple!
Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer
Learn more about the author here.