When I mentioned in my year-end video that I wanted to discuss the over-use/incorrect usage of the words ‘detox/toxic/clean’ much more in 2019, I thought we might make it past Twelfth Night. No.

It may not come as a surprise to see that the person I’m referring to in this instance is Gwyneth Paltrow. But obviously, it is.
Here’s the thing: I like Gwyneth. I really do. I mean sometimes she makes it really hard to even say her name, but I like to think her intentions are good. No matter the seemingly constant promotion of jade eggs and ‘inventing’ yoga, I would like to think that ultimately, she is coming from a good place.*

The problems start when Gwyneth and her mammoth PR machine introduce her celebrity as credibility and present her opinions as facts, something she does on a regular basis – and when the Sunday Times, one of the biggest newspapers in the UK (if not the world), gives her free reign to their huge platform seemingly without any constructive responses from actual qualified professionals, the results are pieces like this: thetimes.co.uk/gp (the article is behind a paywall).

First of all, although GP wrote the article, she didn’t pen the intro, which states ‘we could all do with giving our systems a detox at this time of year’. Something that has been repeated so often that we (or The Sunday Times) don’t question what it means anymore.

In reality, using the word ‘detox’ outside of addiction, is at best, marketing, and at worst, and all-too-frequently in the food arena, targeted marketing designed to sell you product based on fear-mongering and/or making you feel ‘bad’.

The definition of ‘detox’ reads:

  1. a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification.
    “he ended up in detox for three months”
  1. abstain from or rid the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.
    “he checked into a hospital to detox”

Ian Marber, nutritional therapist, author and health journalist, says ‘The notion of detox has been repeatedly debunked by people who know their stuff. Yet some people live in an alternative universe where they think they know better – better than people with PHDs, better than professors etc – and promote their own notion of health.  I fully respect that we are all individual yet why are the Sunday Times magazine, one that has earned a sterling reputation, allowed this? I know the answer, it’s celebrity.  Celebrity is the trump card it seems.’

In relation to certain foods, which at a stretch you could file under ‘unhealthy substances’ (although I sense the medical world would class that as narcotics/alcohol), all too frequently proponents of the words ‘detox/toxic/clean’ talk about food in terms of restriction and ‘good/bad’ choices.

This is Gwyneth’s (and therefore her new cookbook’s) restriction list:


Ian says ‘Gwyneth’s idea of what’s off the menu is risible. Obsessive, controlling and, to my mind, the opposite of the life-affirming positivity that many clean eaters profess.’

Assuming you have a functioning digestive system, and therefore no need to ‘detox’, something else to consider is the amount of money and the sheer time needed to sustain this lifestyle.
Wouldn’t it be great if just once, one of the celebs that endorse this restricted way of eating said ‘our chef makes all our meals while our housekeeper cleans the house and our nanny picks up the kids from school. The children all like different things but that’s ok, chef does a full week’s meal planning so that the nannies can carefully plan around their idiosyncrasies!’ Such fun!’

Is it time to redefine ‘clean’? Ian doesn’t think so – ‘I don’t think clean should be redefined. It’s one dimensional and of course if there’s clean, then there’s dirty and we know which one hopes to be better. In truth the basics haven’t changed – lean protein, plenty of produce, fibre, good fats, some indulgence and moderation too. That’s maybe the definition of what to eat.
Neither dirty nor clean, neither good nor bad, just plain old realistic with pleasure and enjoyment included too.’

Amen. Just don’t eat a spud.


Gwyneth’s article again: www.thetimes.co.uk/gwynethpaltrow

Ian Marber’s site: www.ianmarber.com

NHS info about ‘detox’: www.nhs.uk/TruthDetoxDiets




*If anyone happens to know her position on vaccines all of that could change in an instant. Thanks muchly.