Spring is coming (cue loud cheering from the Northern Hemisphere!), and for many, that heralds a time for cleansing out the winter funk. As detoxes and detox retreats grow in popularity and accessibility, so too does the vast and often conflicting information about how to do it, for how long and of what type. We want to help you, as the participant, to find the perfect retreat and feel confident going into whichever event it is that you choose. If you’ve started doing your own research, you have likely stumbled into an abundance of opinions. There are many proposed detox and cleanse regimes that seem just downright torturous! Extended periods without food? In-depth treatments like colonics? Why do people do this stuff?!
It all depends on your intention for the process. There are a few approaches you might wish to consider based on what you’re seeking. So tell us: what is your motivation for seeking out a detox or cleanse program?
“I want a gentle boost to help me establish healthy eating habits.”
You’re not looking to detox on a major level, just to re-establish (or newly establish) a healthy way of eating – ideally in a beautiful and relaxing setting, because your kitchen just hasn’t been particularly inspiring lately.
Look for a retreat that emphasises “wellness” – this may include the support of a registered nutritionist, a health coach, or other wellness experts. They may provide introductory nutrition classes around raw eating, Ayurvedic diet, plant-based cooking, or juicing; movement classes like yoga, Qi Gong, or guided time in nature; spa treatments to help support and nourish the body and mind; and of course, relaxation in an incredible locale. These retreats can range from quiet and inwardly-focused to a more social approach, particularly if there are a lot of group activities. The overall emphasis on food relationships is only one part of a broader theme.
Avoid: Retreats with a significant emphasis on “detox”, juice fasting, or strictly regimented diet.
“I want to reset my cravings for sugar/caffeine/junk food/etc.”
You have enough self-awareness to know: you’ve got a habitual craving, and you’re ready to ditch it to find more freedom in your body and mind. You’re willing to dive into a moderate level of detoxification and you desire efficacy from your retreat — cravings, be gone!
Look for a retreat that is staffed with naturopathic doctors, nutritional experts or other health professionals who offer one-on-one guidance, which includes an emphasis on detoxification. Overcoming the physiological aspects of craving patterns requires some intentional focus on mental/emotional triggers too, so pay attention to the retreat description to see how this is addressed. Are there group practices and exercises to help you meet those elements? This might be in the form of group coaching, yoga and meditation, or other workshop-style activities.
Avoid: Retreats that make big promises without programming to support you every step of the way.
“I want a deep cleanse to clear out the junk and toxins in my system.”
You’re ready to commit: cleanse me! There are many different approaches to a detox program, all the way from eating an abundant amount of raw foods, Ayurvedic cleansing with kitchari and panchakarma treatments, to a strict juice fasting protocol with colonics. Which treatment is ultimately right for you depends on your constitution: if the thought of limiting your food intake feels anxiety-inducing or too harsh, you might choose a program that offers plenty of high-quality, nutrient dense, cleansing foods like a raw food detox retreat. If you desire a deep inner scrub, a well-supported juice fast may be the best approach. There may be yoga, movement, or other supportive activities offered, but expect to spend a lot of time resting as your body rebalances.
Avoid: Programs that don’t have clearly qualified staff and plenty of support for your cleanse; anything that seems too “extreme”, or pushes too much activity on a cleansing individual.
Above all? Follow your gut. You know your body better than anyone else does. Start out with something gentle and light and then maybe the next year, take it up a notch! Follow your intuition to the retreat option that best fits your lifestyle and desires and then ask a lot of questions to be clear about your expectations. You’re beautiful no matter what retreat you choose!