For someone who lives a busy, exciting yet chaotic life, this was a much-needed getaway. I work with a digital ad agency and also run a food and lifestyle blog on the side. Since eating out is pretty much my reality, having a meal at home is a rarity. I don’t endorse this lifestyle, but this is just how it has been and after a point, I knew I had to do something. A detox program was my answer!
I checked-in at KARE—an Ayurveda and yoga retreat in the heart of Mulshi, near Pune.
Next stop: Detox destination
The programme promised a unique blend of traditional Kerala therapies, Iyengar Yoga and an Ayurvedic Diet. Founded by Dr Prakash Kalmadi, a practitioner of Western medicine for over three decades, KARE has a qualified team of experts to take you through the plan. I opted for Panch Karma or Detoxification. The recommended duration to complete this programme is ideally 14-15 days.
Over the course of two weeks, I was to undergo massage and yoga therapy, a prakruti or body constitution analysis and consult Ayurveda experts and diet consultants. I was expected to follow a vegetarian diet, and also pop some herbal medication and Pancha Karma treatments.
My unhealthy and stressful lifestyle was nothing to be proud of, but it was time to accept and face the demons. I decided to immerse myself in the treatment and address my concerns.
In ghee we trust!
To be honest, I had no idea about the major role ghee was to play in my detox process. That golden, fragrant saturated fat that’s as ancient as Ayurveda itself, but trending the world over as a wonder fat today.
I was given a specific amount every day, starting with 30 ml on day 1, (basically replacing my breakfast) that gradually increased to 240 ml on day 7! Yes, you read right. This was no ordinary ghee, but a medicated version, infused with medicinal herbs. The amount of ghee one consumed is customised by the doctors at KARE, for each participant.
The ultimate aim of all that ghee, I was told, was to collect all the toxins and carry it to the digestive system—for it to get out when the time is right—in this case, it’s usually the tenth day. Of course, there are some strict dos and don'ts on the ghee detox plan, including an Ayurvedic diet, regular walks, correct water intake and a long list of other instructions that need to be observed so your body responds in the most efficient manner.
Drinking this herb-infused ghee can be a challenging affair! There were people from all around the world at the retreat, and each had their own unique way to chug it down. And me? Well It wasn't exactly a pleasant experience, especially as the quantity increased with every passing day, but I pretty much surprised myself at how I handled it! It’s like a medicine, I told myself, no matter how awful it tastes, you just gotta gulp it down! On the sixth day, nausea hit me fair and square, and I threw up. Nothing to worry about, I was told.
Then there was Day 5 when I broke down for no reason. Mood shifts, I was told, was part of the process, a form of emotional cleanse. Shedding those tears made me feel lighter and at peace. I was ready for some more ghee!
More than just ghee...
I followed a diet that was light and easy on the digestive system for the first seven days—some salad and chaas (buttermilk) during the day and a well-balanced meal for dinner. I remember having a poor appetite on most days, so I stuck to small bites for meals. Some of my fellow detox-ers relished their meals, just goes to show how every individual’s body reacts differently to the ghee!
Day 8 and 9 are considered ‘rest’ days. I was given regular meals and I must say I haven’t felt so much joy in eating breakfast as I did on day 8. This is when you’re prepping your digestive system for ‘purge day’ - aka day 10.
The 10th commandment
Purge Day is when the doctors give you an Ayurvedic blend of herbs that work like laxatives and induce motions. Now as uncomfortable as it sounds, it’s a necessity, I was told. The body is purging all the accumulated waste. Day 10 was tough because one can go to the loo anywhere between 15-30 times or more in a day!
Towards the end of the program (when purging usually ends by evening for most), a whole new phase began—it was time to reintroduce food into our system. I began with rice water, dal water and runny, homestyle khichdi for meals. The idea was to gradually adapt the body, especially since my system is as sensitive as that of a newborn baby. Following this, I was advised to stick to a light, vegetarian diet for about 21 days to a month for my body to adapt to the regular onslaught of urban life.
The shining new me…
Woah! Two weeks of consistent Iyengar yoga, customised body massage therapies, an Ayurvedic diet and of course, the ghee therapy—I am 6 kgs lighter, healthier and happier.
Back to my daily routine in Mumbai, things have certainly changed. I'm making wiser food choices and prioritising my health over everything else, I know I’m on this journey for good. Of course, it does get challenging when eating out is part of your profession. But if you asked me what consuming a litre of ghee as therapy has taught me, it is this: Find your balance!