The Nightmare of a January Detox for Reformed Clean Eaters

04/01/2016 17:23 GMT | Updated 04/01/2017 10:12 GMT

Anyone who is trying to overcome a fixation with healthy or clean eating knows that January is an absolute nightmare.

Other people are undertaking detoxes as a form of penance for sins they have committed in December. But people fixated on healthy eating do not see this.

They do not observe how much strain and sacrifice these mini-detoxers feel in January. How much they miss being sociable. How deep they need to dig in order to last the first few weeks of the year without the things that usually make their lives so full. The socialising. The eating. The getting out and living life.

Instead, a person who is trying to overcome an obsession with healthy or clean eating only feels jealousy and resentment. Just as the mini-detoxers feel that they are missing out on life by detoxing, the health food obsessives feel that by being denied this opportunity to cleanse themselves, they are missing out on the most important part of their lives too.

They spend hours locked in a cycle of back and forth arguments in their own minds. Of telling themselves that other people get to detox, so why shouldn't they?

That of course it's okay to want a rested body. A clean slate to start the new year with.

And it's true. There's nothing wrong with anyone taking a break who is feeling tired and overwhelmed from a month or so of constantly being out. It's only natural to want a change from doing the same thing over and over. To have a few weeks off so that they can return to their life refreshed. Revitalised. Ready once again to appreciate what they missed out on during their few weeks break from the norm.

The problem is that anyone who obsesses over healthy or clean eating to the detriment of everything else doesn't actually have a life to go back to.

They didn't go out every night over Christmas. They rarely go anywhere. I should know. I was that person for years.

I, like my fellow obsessives, shut myself away from other people. Refused to spend time with my friends. My world became a very small place. Just me and my perfect diet.

And whilst I absolutely relished jumping on the January detox bandwagon (whilst simultaneously judging the amateur mini-detoxers for making such a clumsy, half-arsed effort of it), I always shut my eyes to the fact that for them, this was a mere blip. That they would soon return their friends, families and social circles.

That they, unlike I, would actually be missed by people during a January retreat from the world.

So for everyone who is battling hard to overcome these obsessive eating patterns, whilst feeling like they are missing out on the January detox, let me say this:

•it's only worth doing if you actually went out in December and enjoyed yourself

•A detox is a temporary break from a busy life, not a permanent barrier to erect between ourselves and the world.

•Even during a bog standard detox, people can still leave the house and do things with others spontaneously, if required. If you can't? Then you are both undereating and isolating yourself. That's never healthy.

•Non-obsessive eaters are not afraid of the detox ending. They have no phobia of the food they will start to consume again. It's not a concept that fills their days with endless worry.

•They also don't have awful trouble digesting the salads, smoothies and other staples of a detox. Because they haven't damaged their digestion from only eating these things long term. Or become intolerant to them from years of consuming them exclusively.

Perhaps most importantly. Whilst most people undertake a mini-detox to refresh themselves and gear up for a wonderful year, they don't think it will save them. Or change their personality. Or transform their outer world into a wonderful, perfect place.

Because they recognise that being saved, or transformed, or living a wonderful life, is done by getting out of the house. By submerging themselves in the world. By saturating their minds with great conversations. By using their bodies to explore the world and every experience it has to offer.

These are the things that everyone trying to overcome obsessive eating behaviours are striving for. And they are there for the taking. It is possible.

Just keep going.