I Lost 8 Pounds in a Week on This Retreat by Learning How to Eat Properly

When I stepped off the plane at Salzburg Airport to a serene view of scenic snow-capped mountains, I was on the brink of burnout. I’d jumped at the chance to take myself away from my usual schedule to immerse myself in a full-on gut detox at Viva Mayr in Altaussee, Austria. The retreat is the brainchild of the late Austrian researcher and physician Franz Xaver Mayr, MD, and it entails 21 days of chewing every mouthful of food 30 times, in addition to writing off sugar and anything acidic in favour of alkalising, gut-friendly foods to give your body a rest. I spent seven days at Viva Mayr and then stuck to the plan for 14 days upon my return (more on that later).

Ahead of my trip, I had hungrily devoured a lot of food. Why? Because every review I could find made it clear that I'd certainly not be eating cake or sweets during the week ahead. I also read that there were lots of toilets because the program's diet and daily tummy rubs tend to cause bowels to loosen rather frequently. I noticed the reviews mentioned a chewing trainer (i.e., stale bread served to encourage you to chew each mouthful 30 times) and the fact that chatting in the dining hall was frowned upon, so I prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. I took more books than I could have possibly read in a week and enough leisurewear to host a fitness pop-up. Worst comes to worst, I’ll fill my time with reading, walking and swimming, I thought.