citrus salad on white plate with pomegranate arils

I don’t make weight loss a focus in my practice, for many reasons – including the fact that I hate focusing on weight as opposed to true health. These days, I feel that “detox” is the new “diet”. From the spirit of restoring balance to the body, a new, socially acceptable way of trying to lose weight has been born.

Weight Loss and Self Worth

When we focus on a number on the scale, we are often coming from a place of self-loathing or ‘not good enough’ and see weight loss as a way to fix things. The trouble with the “punishment” approach to weight loss is that taking care of yourself is an act of great self-love – and requires commitment.

It is difficult to commit to self-care if you are starting at a place of hating your body (or yourself). You will do all sorts of terrible things – eat artificially sweetened garbage like diet soda or eat nothing but chalky, poor quality ‘nutritional shakes’ to try and beat your body into submission. It always fails. And then the shame or unhappiness of blaming yourself for that failure leads to more eating and weight gain. Luckily, the weight loss clients who come to me generally favour my approach – you won’t see this gal recommending calorie counting or sad, 40 calorie “yogurts”.

What I like about Dr Mark Hyman’s 10-Day Detox

I am a great admirer of the work of Dr Mark Hyman, because he takes a functional approach to medicine. His approach doesn’t simply medicate, it aims to use lifestyle to correct underlying metabolic issues to restore health. When someone close to me was diagnosed with type two diabetes, one of the books I gave him was Dr Hyman’s Blood Sugar Solution. So I was a bit skeptical when I saw that Dr Hyman’s newest book was called 10-Day Detox Diet. The title suggests all of the things I rail against: short term focus, dangling the word detox and diet. I am happy to say that after reading the book, I think it is a great option for those who have been struggling with weight loss and are ready to commit to true healing.

Even if you are coming to the book from a place of self-loathing, the psychosocial work required each day is going to help you address your self-talk and your relationship with food. True health will be impossible without diving into the emotional and mental aspects of eating and it is a core feature of the plan.

It is a dramatic plan that is going to work for the vast majority of people, if they can stick with it. It addresses the challenges that most with obesity and insulin resistance face on a typical diet by shocking the body into blood sugar control in a life without concentrated carbohydrates. And, it encourages cooking and eating real food.

What surprised me most about the book was a – spoiler alert! – section at the end of the book that encourages the reader to get active in advocating for healthy food options and change to our pathetically profit-driven food system. I strongly agree that while we must take responsibility for our food choices, our incredibly powerful food system literally crams all of this hyper-processed garbage down our throat.

What I don’t like about 10-Day Detox

The book’s mass appeal – it is already a best-seller – is that it promises a short-term solution. You can handle anything for 10 days, right? Over those 10 days, you will have to make this book your way of life. It is not just about diet; prescriptions for journaling, relaxation and exercise are also doled out that will take considerable energy. The food focus is on a core diet of vegetables, protein and healthy fats: no grains, no legumes, no sweets, no dairy. It will be a bit tough for some people to follow, but for those with the significant inflammation and insulin resistance of obesity, it is the kind of dietary approach that will snap your metabolism into attention. Also, for someone wanting to follow a vegetarian plan, you will be eating a ton of eggs and organic tofu as they are the only allowed vegetarian proteins on the plan.

The big question is: what to do after the 10 days are over? Given the dramatic nature of the plan, if you have stuck with it, it is likely you are ready for more. Dr Hyman guides you through both how to prepare for the 10 Day plan and offers three options for continuing the plan beyond 10 days – critical for long term success. However, I worry that many people will use this book to get ‘bikini ready’ before a vacation and then abandon their new healthy habits. Which is not something I recommend.

Also, I have yet to see evidence that convinces me that gluten is inflammatory for all bodies – and this is speaking as a dietitian with many clients who need a gluten free diet to control their inflammation. There is a growing majority of us with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome and autoimmunity but it isn’t 100% of the population.

An intact, well-functioning gut and immune system should be able to handle partially-digested gluten fragments. However, I realize that for many with diet-induced obesity, the gut barrier is likely not functioning well and so gluten could very likely be causing inflammation – so I agree with the short term reduction of it on a trial basis.

Should you try Dr. Mark Hyman’s 10-Day Detox Diet?

No dietary approach or book will appeal to everyone; however, if you have greatly struggled with weight loss in the past, this may be a good solution for you. It focuses on a whole body approach to true health: real food, relaxation, self-reflection and exercise. Explore this book as a commitment to a healthier you – not just a lighter you. However, I strongly caution against anyone with food relationship or body image challenges to follow this diet as it could make things worse. If you want to lose weight, I recommend you do so with the support of professionals who can help you make positive psychological and nutritional change for the long term.

Also, be sure to check with your doctor before starting the program, especially if you are on medications for blood sugar – because the dramatic change in your diet could amplify the effect of the medications.