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 pretty close to being burned out. 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 Austrian researcher and physician Franz Xaver Mayr. So what does it entail? It includes 21 days of chewing every mouthful of food 30 times whilst righting 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, 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 about the place made it clear that I would certainly not be eating cake or sweets during the week ahead. I also read that there were lots of toilets because the diet and daily tummy rubs included caused bowels to loosen on a (very) regular basis. I noticed that the reviews mentioned a chewing trainer (stale bread served with each meal 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 was humanly possible to 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.