Spa

By Jean Railla

A new crop of spa treatments and cleanses offer the benefits of juicing without the deprivation. But do they work? We sample five fresh approaches for you.

1. The Food Lover’s Cleanse

Leave it to Bon Appetite to come up with a cleanse that allows alcohol in moderation and features delicious recipes like Pomegranate-Walnut Oatmeal and Black Cod with Swiss Chard, Olives and Lemon.

The Details
The Food Lover’s Cleanse is a two-week, three-meal-day-program with recipes, shopping lists and snack ideas. It allows one cup of coffee per day and up to four alcoholic beverages per week, while cutting out refined sugar, dairy and wheat.

Who Is It Good For?
People who love to cook and can commit to a two-week program.

What works?
This plan is solid and nutritious. Well-balanced, healthy and delicious, it’s the way we should be eating all year long.

Drawbacks
The Food Lover’s Cleanse requires prepping and cooking all your own meals, which can be hard, even for the seasoned home cook. For parents, it might not be easy to convince your children (or husband) to follow the diet, which then entails cooking separate meals for them, in addition to your own.

I found it easy to follow the Food Lover’s Cleanse for the first three days. The meals were delicious and I was full of energy. But on day four I fell off the wagon and right into my husband’s famous pasta carbonara. In my defense, his version, adapted from Marcella Hazan, is almost impossible to pass up. The dish is a perfect balance of creamy and salty, with lots of crisp pancetta and tons of parmesan.

2. The Raw Cooler Cleanse

The Raw Cooler Cleanse is the brainchild actress Salma Hayek and Juice Generation founder Eric Helms. More moderate than a juice cleanse, it includes real, albeit raw, food.

The Details
The Raw Cooler arrived at my doorstep with three juices and one meal, one snack and a dessert. My juices included Sweet Greens (good), the Essential Green (great) and Pineapple & Ginger (delicious and not too sweet). The meal was a collard-wrapped enchilada, surprisingly spicy and with 420 calories, satisfying. The snack consisted of a zucchini “linguini.” Raw zucchini strips with chopped sun-dried tomato, pine nuts and oregano sauce. I don’t usually like raw zucchini or fake food (I think pasta should be pasta) but again, I was pleasantly surprised on how tasty the meals and drinks were.

Who Is It Good For?
Busy people who want an intense cleanse but don’t want to do the whole juice fast thing. All Cooler Cleanses are customizable and you can cleanse from one to five days. Because they offer several meal options, you’ll never get bored with your food.

What works?
My favorite aspect of the Raw Cooler Cleanse was that I didn’t have to do any cooking. Let’s face it; it’s much easier to follow a diet plan when it’s all laid out for you. With colorful packaging and easy instructions, it’s a no-brainer for those who want to try out raw, vegan foods.

Drawbacks
I tend to feel fatigued on an all-raw diet and, even though I loved the juices and meals, I experience some sluggishness towards the end of my one-day Raw Cooler Cleanse. (The next day, however, I was back to my normal, just-sort-of-tired working-mother self.

3. Joulebody 2-Day Spa Menu Cleanse

Created by the downtown yogini Yvette Rose, Joulebody sells customizable whole food cleanses with raw juices and vegan, gluten-free meals.

The Details
After reviewing the different Joulebody options, I decided on the 2-Day Spa Menu Cleanse. My package arrived with everything I would need; neatly labeled with the day and time I should eat it. Day one started with the Energize You! Trail Mix for breakfast, a Cleansing Spinach Salad for lunch, a Grapefruit Mint Juice as a snack, and Simple Hummus with flaxseed crackers for dinner. For dessert, I ate a Brownie Detoxifying Meal Replacement Bar (good but didn’t come close to a real Brownie). Day two was basically the same but the salad was a kale and dinner was a Spicy Lentil Burger.

Who Is It Good For?
This is a healthy menu plan for people who are serious about cleansing but cannot tolerate an all-juice or all-raw diet. Joulebody can also be used by people looking to rid their bodies of possible allergens as all their products are gluten, sugar, wheat nut and preservative-free.

What Works?
Everything about Joulebody is positive and affirming. They send out pre-and-post supportive emails and allow coffee or green tea in moderation. Because the plan includes some cooked and high protein foods, it is easier to follow for someone like me, who is sensitive to too much raw food.

Drawbacks
Although I really enjoyed all the Joulebody items (the Grapefruit Mint Juice was exceptional), I can imagine some finding the hummus and flaxseed crackers, which is made with the anti-inflammatory herb turmeric, unfamiliar. Commonly found in Indian cooking, turmeric has a slightly curry, unexpected flavor. On the other hand, it does have known healing powers. I was also a little hungry during my two days and needed to add mid-morning smoothies, which owner Yvette Rose said was not only acceptable, but wise. She encourages cleansers to listen to what their bodies need and supplement with healthy foods as needed.

4. Tequila Sunrise Detox Massage at Haven Spa

From the downtown favorite Haven Spa comes the Tequila Sunrise Detox Massage. During this ninety-minute treatment, massage oil infused with tequila and sage (used for their antiseptic qualities and cleansing ) is applied to the body, followed by a light lotion.

The Details
I’ve had several excellent deep-tissue massages at Haven that were quite good, so I was really looking forward to this massage. Before the treatment started, my masseur placed a little of the tequila-sage oil on my hand for me to test; thankfully it did not smell like a margarita, more like the warm sage tea served in Greece after a large meal—citrusy and herbal. Once on the table, the masseuse massaged the oil into my skin with slow, flowing movements. Unlike most massages, the Tequila Sunrise Detox utilizes gentle circular motions, said to aid in the body’s natural ability to detox. Of note, is the ample time spent on the abdomen to aid in digestion. Warm towels finish off the treatment.

Who Is It Good For?
Spa-lovers who want a relaxing, indulgent way to feel good.

What works?
People have been using massage and spa treatments to maintain their health for centuries. I found the Tequila Sunrise Detox Massage completely enjoyable and felt a little boost of energy afterwards. It’s hard to say if it was the healing properties of the tequila and sage, or just that my body responds really well to massage. But I left Haven feeling lighter and more energized.

Drawbacks
Because the massage incorporates somewhat gentle movements, it doesn’t offer any of the benefits of a deeper tissue massage. If you really need to get the kinks out of your back and shoulders, I would go for Haven’s Swedish Massage.

5. Ionic Foot Detox Yelo Spa

The decidedly modern and pristine Yelo Spa in New York City offers an Ionic Foot Detox , a forty-five minute treatment said to remove toxins by drawing out negative ions through the feet.

The Details
At the start of my treatment, I was lead into a small, private room with a zero gravity chair. I was asked to sit in the chair and my feet were placed in a weird-sounding IonCleanse Foot Spa, a small bath filled with warm water and attached to electrodes. A heating pad was placed on my lower back (to heat up my kidneys), while a strap was attached to my wrist. My masseuse then turned up the electrodes and added salt to the water. As the treatment was administered, the bath water turned colors, going from clear to orange to brown, which according to my masseuse indicated that I was detoxing my liver (see more on color changes below). Afterwards, my feet were cleaned with tea tree oil, the chair was tipped back, and I was given a fifteen-minute foot rub.

Who Is It Good For?
Of all the treatments discussed, the Foot Detox is the most “out-there” and thus will appeal to more adventurous travelers down the detox path. Fans of acupuncture might like the treatment, as Ionic Foot Detoxes seems to work along the same principals as Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The Good
I admit I was skeptical about this treatment. Detox with a 30-minute foot soak? Really? However, I did feel relaxed during my treatment and even experienced some mild “detox” side effects the next day (headache and nausea are said to be common and caused by the release of toxins).

Drawbacks
A foot detox is unlikely cause any damage but it will put a dent in your bank account. There is, I should mention, some controversy surrounding the treatment. Evidently the water in the footbath changes color because of the chemical interaction between the electricity and the water and not, as often advertised, because of any detoxification. I have also read a few convincing articles on foot detoxes by licensed acupuncturists that combined with my own experience, convinced me that they do indeed work.

Small Changes for a More Healthful You

Start your day with a Green Ginger Peach Smoothie from Martha Stewart.

Don’t skip lunch. Instead indulge in one of Urban Remedy’s tasty Meal Replacement Drinks . Made with fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, these easily digestible elixirs are packed with protein and at 300-400 calories each, they are ideal for a quick meal or post-gym snack. With flavors like pineapple coconut and chai, they’re lively and satisfying.

Eat more green salads. How about this Sweet Roast Beet Salad from Green Lemonade?

Sweat out the toxins in a sauna or steam room. According to Dr. Weil, using a sauna cleanses the skin, soothes sore muscles and can take some of the workload off the liver and kidneys.

Originally published July 2013
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