Ask a Dietitian: How Can I Get My Nutrition Back on Track Without a 'Detox'?

Found yourself feeling guilty after a weekend indulgence or holiday? We’ve all been there at some point. As we gear up for the silly season, we know social media can often bombarded us with tips on how to stay on track with your nutrition among the parties and celebrations. 

While these tips might sound great on the surface, we do see a lot of misinformation out there that often encourages detoxes and unnecessarily restricting foods. This kind of advice can sometimes do more harm than good so we want to help clear up the confusion and share our realistic advice on how to get ‘back on track’ with your nutrition to help you stay healthy. 

Firstly, it’s important to note that guilt shouldn’t have a place in our diets or be a feeling we associate with food. Food is something that not only fuels our bodies and keeps us healthy, but can also be something that is used to celebrate special occasions and traditions. When we start to label foods as ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ it can create an all or nothing approach and ultimately a poor relationship with food.

A healthy balanced diet might look different on everyone, but in general we know that including foods from the core food groups (wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables, legumes, healthy fats, fish, poultry, dairy and small amounts of meats) helps our body to thrive. ‘Sometimes’ foods are foods that fall outside of those groups and may not have the same health benefits, but can still be included in smaller amounts from time-to-time because they are enjoyable and often significant for special occasions. It might sound obvious, but really, balance is key!

Below, we've pulled together a few simple tips that don't involve guilt, dieting or detoxing post-indulgence. 

1. Don’t restrict or detox

While it might be tempting, we don’t recommend detox diets or supplements. Detox results are always temporary and in most cases are just a result of lots of fluid loss. Once the detox is over and normal eating is resumed, you might find yourself on the bandwagon of indulge, detox and repeat, without finding balance or long-term results. If our liver and kidneys didn’t already rid the body of toxins, we would be very ill, so there’s little evidence to support the need for detoxing. Instead, support your mindset and wellbeing with a more positive approach to nutrition and trust that your body can detox itself. Easing back into normal healthy eating habits after a few indulgences will help you to feel better in no time!

2. Plan out your meals

Sitting down at the start of a new week to plan out meals is a simple but very effective tip to help you get back on track. Plan out your meals and don’t forget to plan snacks too. Keep your plan handy so you can create a shopping list and buy all the items you will need for a healthy and balanced week. Having a plan in place will help you to recalibrate and also ensure that you've got healthy and easy food options on hand throughout the week.

3. Get started today

What healthy behaviour can you incorporate into your day today? Instead of saying "diet starts Monday" or "I’ll eat this now and then cut it out of my diet from tomorrow" which creates an all or nothing type of mindset, try to focus on healthy behaviours you can incorporate straight away. Small steps really do add up and the more you focus on what you CAN do for your health, instead of what you have to cut out, the more positive your mindset towards health will be. A health behaviour can be as simple as setting a goal to drink more water, eat more vegetables or to include some movement into your day. When you’ve mastered this, you can add on another healthy habit and so on.

4. Don’t skip meals

Skipping a meal to make up for food you’ve eaten might be tempting but we recommend the opposite! Even if you feel you have eaten more food than normal, or eaten more of the higher energy density foods that are ‘sometimes foods’, it is still ideal to continue your normal meal patterns afterwards. Skipping meals may result in feeling overly-hungry later on which can lead to extra snacking. Instead, resume your normal meal patterns and choose healthy options when you can.

Explore more content like this in our series, Ask a Dietitian.

Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney Dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.

Enjoyed this? Is Eating at the Table Really That Important?

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