If you, for example, start out by eliminating refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine, wheat and dairy for a few weeks and you feel better — but you really, really miss the morning cup of joe, then reintroduce the coffee and see how you feel. If the symptoms — for example digestive issues — come back, then re-evaluate, he says.
"You have to ask: Is the experience worth the symptoms?" he adds.
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Both Johnson and Haas hope that people will see detox as more than just a two- or three-week-long effort and incorporate the body-cleansing ideas into daily habits.
Suzanne Scruggs, who participated in Johnson's 14-day detox and healthful eating challenge at Whole Foods in January, says that's what she wants to do.
"It's made me look at food differently," Scruggs says, adding that she knows now how to use dates as a sweetener, make cashew milk from scratch and cook without using oil.
"I definitely have more energy," she says.
So, although detoxing for many is triggered by a wish to lose weight, it can be much more than that.
Haas says that detoxing can pave the way for changes that go well beyond food, because when you look closely at your relationship to food, other habits tend to surface. Do you eat when you're stressed? Do you eat when you're sad? Do you drink to feel socially accepted? The list goes on.
"It's about eliminating destructive habits," Haas says. "And that means dealing openly with emotions."
Vanessa King, a nutritionist and guest speaker at the cleansing-foods talk, connected the dots:
"If we're able to let go of people who don't love us back, maybe we can do the same with food. Love the foods that love you back."
Boston is a fitness trainer and freelance writer.