A woman drinking water from a bottle

In order to maximise the beneficial effects of your in:spa retreat we suggest that you undertake some gentle preparation.

Generally speaking, seven days of pre-retreat preparation is ideal and there are two main steps needed to prepare your body to ensure that you get the most out of the programme. And the good news is that many of our guests say they begin to look and feel significantly better with these steps alone!

Keep yourself hydrated

Many of us are dehydrated to some extent. Symptoms include constipation, dry skin, dry eyes, headache, low energy, poor concentration, irritability and immune dysfunction. Even mild dehydration can slow down the body’s metabolism, through inhibiting temperature regulation. Lack of water is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. Recommendations:

Start the day with a glass of warm or hot water with a slice of lemon. This will aid both the bowel and the liver function.

Throughout the rest of the day, drink a minimum of 1-2 litres of water. You will need more if you exercise or are often in a warm environment. If you don’t enjoy plain water, try herbal teas, or add a squeeze of lime or a splash of fresh fruit juice.

Cut down (or cut out!) on drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, as well as cutting down on alcohol – more on this shortly.

Sugar and refined carbs

The less dietary stress you place on your body the better! So, if you take steps to cut down or cut out the most common ‘problem’ foods the better off your body will be.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are generally high glycemic index (GI), which means that they promote weight gain, whereas low GI carbohydrates can help you maintain or even lose weight. Examples of high GI carbohydrates include fruit juice, honey, molasses and maple syrup, as well as many refined foods. These are often hidden within ‘diet’ or ‘low fat’ products, so you must get label-savvy in order to detect them. They’re broken down and digested very quickly, and contain few essential vitamins and minerals.

Cutting down on refined carbohydrates means avoiding biscuits, most types of bread, cakes and white pasta, and learning to read the labels on the food you buy, because refined carbohydrate is found in many processed foods.

Even brown and seeded breads are almost always refined, which means that any goodness has been extracted and replaced by chemical additives and preservatives.

Try to cut down on added sugar and refined carbohydrates before you attend the retreat. Things to look out for on food labels include ingredients ending in –ose or with the word ‘syrup’ in them, e.g. glucose-fructose syrup.

Healthy carbs and dairy

Examples of healthier low GI carbohydrates include vegetables, oatcakes, wholemeal or rye breads, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt and wholemeal pasta. These take time to digest and are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals – all of which are helpful for blood sugar balance and sustained weight loss. Try to include plenty of these, especially green vegetables.

Dairy products are often the cause, hidden or otherwise, of food intolerances and allergies. Dairy means products from a cow such as milk, cheese, and ice cream or cream.

You may wish to take the opportunity to try soya milk, rice milk, oat milk or almond milk as dairy alternatives if you have not done so already, but be sure the product is not sweetened. Sheep’s or goats’ products, such as feta cheese, can still be used sparingly as they may be easier to digest. Finally, natural, unsweetened yoghurt is fine in moderation. Using small amounts of butter, organic if possible, is fine and organic milk is preferable to other types.

Don’t worry about your calcium intake – you can get lots of calcium from green vegetables!


Salt affects water balance, so after consuming high-salt foods you are much more likely to feel thirsty. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger so – guess what – you eat more! Excess salt is also known to contribute towards high blood pressure.

No salt is added during your retreat programme but plenty of organic sodium is consumed via fresh fruit and vegetables. The cuisine will use a diverse range of herbs and spices to create healthy, natural flavour. Try to get a head-start by cutting down on processed foods and you will start to eliminate bloating and cravings before you arrive on retreat.


We are all familiar with the ‘buzz’ that caffeine can give. Many products are marketed solely on the basis of this false energy kick, but that lively feeling is actually the sensation of adrenaline being pumped around the body as a result of the caffeine hit.

However, the adrenal glands tire of constant stimulation and when the inevitable adrenal fatigue kicks in it leads to a slow-down in the conversion of stored fats (and proteins and carbohydrates) into energy.

We experience this failure in the energy chain as a craving for more stimulants in the form of more caffeine from another cup of tea, coffee, cola drink or caffeinated beverage or a quick sugar hit. Caffeinated drinks are often the cause of mineral depletion in the body and can adversely affect bone density.

If you find caffeine a difficult habit to break, cut down gradually to one cup of coffee or two cups of tea a day, or switch to good quality decaf. Dramatic caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, so it is helpful if you cut down before you arrive at the retreat, to make side-effects less severe during the retreat itself.


As far as your body is concerned, alcohol is chemically similar to sugar, so drinking any form of alcohol will set off the blood sugar seesaw that promotes weight gain. And that’s before you even begin to consider the calorie content of the drink itself, which is likely to be a very high and devoid of any nutritional benefit – so called ‘empty calories’. What’s more, alcohol acts as a potent appetite booster, so more alcohol = more food consumed!

However, excessive calories are not the sole reason behind alcohol’s ‘beer belly’ effect. What alcohol does is reduce the amount of fat your body burns for energy, while preventing the absorption of many of the essential nutrients needed for successful weight loss, particularly vitamins B and C.

Try to cut out (or certainly cut down) alcohol from your diet in the days preceding your retreat – there’s no booze at all when you’re on the in:spa retreat!

If you’re in:spa retreat is a long way off, you may like to give your body a bit of a detox before then. If so, please see: