By Mavis Teo

I would consider myself a veteran detoxer, if there is such a word. Master cleanse, juice cleanse; you name it, I’ve tried every detox diet that promises to reboot the system.
A believer of the adage that I am what I eat, I have always felt that the panacea to my ailments like allergies and indigestion lies in changing my eating habits. Though by no means reckless with my diet, I still find it hard not to indulge in foods proven to be inflammatory or allergenic for the body such as red meat, wheat and dairy. As a result, I have been living with these ailments for years.
Detox diets give me hope, but are never easy to follow because of the hunger pangs and sense of deprivation that always accompany them – the latter usually leading to binge eating straight after coming off the detox, completely reversing its short-term benefits. Lack of rest has also caused my digestive processes to be very sluggish. I decided to end this vicious cycle by going for a wellness retreat where experts would customise an empowering programme for me to set me on a path to healthy eating for the long term.

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No one-size-fits-all programmes

To fully reap the benefits of a wellness programme, I decided to get away from Singapore, where I am based, and head to an environment that supports healing. My choice was the Absolute Sanctuary in Koh Samui, just a 10-minute drive from the airport, on a hillside with views of the Gulf of Thailand. At first glance, the architecture and décor look more like they belong in Morocco. The pumpkin hues complement Absolute’s sunny vibes and the warm, caring demeanor of their staff, who always have a ready smile, even for a client experiencing the emotional swings of a detox.

To start my programme, I met Cherisse Yang, the resident wellness consultant after a bio-impedance analysis that read my weight, fat and muscle mass. From this, Cherisse designed a programme for me for the next six days. I was put on a semi-detox diet, which meant clean and vegan, so no processed food, dairy, wheat, sugar or meat. And she recommended lots of sleep, as she sensed that I was very tired. “Your body needs to be well rested for your metabolism to work properly,” she told me. Wise words, but so hard to adhere to in practice.


Though I was sceptical about the efficacy of Cherisse’s plan as I was not used to detox programmes that didn’t make me feel like I have suffered, I decided to trust her  since her suggestions meant that I could sample the offerings from Absolute’s Love Kitchen, which is well known for its delicious and creative creations. I started each day with a detox juice, chosen from a comprehensive menu of choices designed by Absolute to help the body, detox, heal and rejuvenate. I have a second juice in the afternoon. In between, I had green shots full of antioxidants and superfood goodness, and a coconut to replenish lost minerals. The latter is said to be hydrating and supports the kidneys in flushing out toxins during a cleanse. Being able to eat a solid meal at lunch and dinner meant that I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms such as headaches or lethargy, as one would usually with a detox. It also meant that I had the energy for exercise.


A rounded experience

For guests on the fitness programmes or for those who simply want to break a sweat, Absolute Sanctuary has classes for guests that include estate walks, yoga and pilates.

To further help move waste products along the system during a cleanse retreat, daily body treatments were included in my package at the well appointed spa, which offers a comprehensive range of treatments including reiki sessions (by external specialists).  I had daily massages, sometimes a deep tissue massage that releases muscle tension and moves toxins, or a gentle lymphatic drainage massage characterised by light tapping movements to get the lymph moving to filter and remove toxins. I also had a daily colonic session. Though intimidating at first, the sessions relieved me of an intestinal problem that had built up over the previous few days and would require a few sessions to ease.

Long-lasting impact

Though I had wanted to solve my digestive issues, I had also wanted to lose weight as a sluggish system means you bulk up very easily. I lost about 0.9kg of fat and o.2kg of water weight at the end of my five-night stay. At the end of my visit, Cherisse gave me advice on addressing my concerns for the long term, and I continued to lose weight slowly even a week after returning as I made a conscious effort to eat clean and include more raw vegetables in my diet. My intestinal problems were also a lot smoother than before.

I have found it easy to stick with my new dietary regimen. Once you have personally experienced the improvement in energy levels and quality of life, you will not look at foods that do your body no favours in the same way again.