Food and spas may seem like a contradiction in terms, but in fact the one is very much at the heart of the other…and not just the forbidden aspect. Jo Foley shows how the two work together to boost health and wellbeing.

We have all met the joker – you know the funny guy who the minute you mention the word spa makes a glib declaration about lettuce leaves. And indeed he is right, there are many lettuce leaves available in spas…but there are many other things also. We all know that one of the main reasons anyone gives for visiting a spa is to lose some weight…and often that can happen, as it would if you stayed at home and kept away from the biscuits, snacks, cola, gin, chocolate or doughnuts for a few days. Most spa visits last between three and five days and if you simply eat what is on offer you can indeed lose a couple of pounds. To lose weight you really need to stay for longer, or restrict your intake for longer. If
you choose the weight-management option, you may well lose another one or two pounds…but be assured that you cannot and will not change your weight in three days. What you might well do…is see a shift in attitude to food, and learn how foods work.

The simple rule of spas and weight is that the one teaches us about the other. We all know that fried potatoes, delicious though they may be, ain’t great for the waistline, while steamed or baked are fine, filling and nutritious. All we need to acquire is the self discipline to have the occasional helping of chips and enjoy them…and the rest of the time head for something a little less calorific.

Spas take the relationship between their guests and food very seriously which is why nutritional advice and lectures are always on the menu, as are individual consultations with nutritionists and dieticians. Menus offer advice on what each dish contains, whether it’s gluten free, lactose light or vegan worthy…and this is a practice that is no longer just in spas, you will find this information in symbol form on many a restaurant, hotel or ship’s menu now. We have all become much more interested not just in our weight, but on what we are putting into our bodies.

Spas have always been in the forefront of healthy lifestyles and healthy eating, which is why everybody leaves a spa with notes on how to keep up the good work at home – whether you do or not is your choice, but most of us take something back into our daily lives and eating patterns. To help us along the way many spas also offer cooking classes, so that the delicious low calorie, healthy mouthfuls we have been enjoying can also be continued. Chiva Som, the iconic Thai  destination spa were the first to offer these classes, even taking the guests to market, and to their own vegetable gardens to choose and then prepare the dishes. They also realised that many of us love Thai food but some its ingredients are heading for a cholesterol crash, so experimented until they found substitutes for many dishes using stocks and purees instead of the traditional coconut creams and peanut oils without impairing the taste. At Chiva Som, like many other spas you can enjoy a glass of wine with your evening meal, it’s all to do with a little of what you fancy.

You can read the rest of Jo Foley’s article in the April/May 2015 edition of World of Cruising magazine available here. You can subscribe to our cruise magazine here.