New year’s resolutions usually focus on losing weight, being more active and starting a new diet. As we start this new year, dietitians from Leicester’s Hospitals advise why it is important not to become obsessed with ‘detox’ or ‘fad’ diets.

Detox diets encourage cutting back or avoiding some of the important food groups. These diets can be tempting as they offer a quick-fix to a long-term problem, but they usually have one thing in common; they are restrictive and difficult to follow for any length of time. They can also be a risk to your health and should only be followed based on advice from a doctor or dietitian.

Making small sustainable changes to your diet is the best start you can make this new year.

The whole idea of detox is nonsense, say dietitians from Leicester’s Hospitals. The body is a well-developed system that has its own built in mechanisms to detoxify and remove waste and toxins. Our body constantly filters out, breaks down and excretes toxins and waste products like alcohol, medications, products of digestion, dead cells, chemicals from pollution and bacteria.

The body has numerous organs, such as the skin, gut, liver and kidney, that continually ‘detoxify’ the body from head to toe by responding to signals, in the form of hormones, to remove any waste products. There are no pills or specific drinks, patches or lotions that can do a magic job. If you have over-indulged on alcohol, for example, the liver works hard to break down the alcohol into products it can remove.

Making small sustainable changes to your diet is the best start you can make this new year. If you have a well-balanced diet and include all the food groups as recommended in the Eatwell Guide then there is no need for any detox or fad diets.

The Eatwell Guide

Losing weight is challenging and keeping it off is too, but it is not impossible. A weight loss of 0.5-1kg (1-2lbs) per week is a safe and realistic target and you are more likely to keep the weight off over the long term by losing weight at this pace. This can be achieved by making small changes to your diet and being physically active.

Choosing healthier foods is easier than you may think. By changing just a few eating habits you can make a big difference to your diet.

Smart snack swaps

Unhealthy snack Smart choice
Muffin Low fat greek yoghurt with an apple
Sausage roll Two oatcakes with low fat cheese or hard boiled egg
Chocolate bar Handful of nuts/seeds (eg almonds, brazil nuts)
Bag of crisps Small bag of popcorn (preferably unsalted)
Crackers and cream cheese Carrot sticks with reduced fat hummus
Chocolate biscuit Piece of fruit (eg apple, banana, orange)
Fizzy soda drink Water or sugar free option