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Health and happiness; they’re what we all seek, but the path to finding them isn’t always easy. For centuries, different cultures have been using food to unlock the secret to living well, through local ingredients, diets and remedies. Follow in the footsteps of master practitioners to find the key to a better you.

Words: Ellen Millard

Sunshine state of mind

A positive outlook comes easy in Los Angeles, where wall-to-wall sunshine inspires a vibrant and active lifestyle. Sink into that easy, breezy mindset with signature macrobiotic dishes set against a calming backdrop of Californian coastline.

M Café  is hailed as an original pioneer, championing the macrobiotic principles of using organic and locally-sourced ingredients for a casual lunch. It was founded by Lee Gross, who has travelled the world, absorbing and adapting the best of local cuisines – he was also Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal macrobiotic chef. Cold pressed juices and the grilled ahi tuna burger are firm favourites.

Meanwhile, at Shojin, the diet gets a fine-dining makeover, with Japanese vegan dishes, such as truffle maitake mushroom tempura and hakusai dumplings served in a bamboo steamer. Equipped with renewed vigour, you’ll feel your energy levels spike as you take on the surf or navigate LA’s picturesque hiking trails.

A Mayan balancing act

The ancient Maya used to see ‘health’ as ‘balance’, which they achieved through a series of holistic herbal, massage, acupuncture remedies alongside fresh food. Embrace these historical teachings at Mexico’s Chablé Maroma to find your own equilibrium.

Begin with mindfulness through soothing sound baths and restorative stress relief massages before tipping the scale back to focus on your body. You can seek to improve the physical side at restaurant Bu’ul, where traditional tacos and tostados are made with detoxing ingredients: fibre-packed avocado, cholesterol-lowering jalapeño and mineral-rich onions will leave you feeling revitalised from top to toe.

Finish with a Oaxacan cacao pot, cooked over coals for a warming – and harmonising – finish.

A digestive detox In Thailand

A robust digestive system is integral to your body’s overall wellness, which is why Thailand’s Chiva-Som has designed a detox programme dedicated solely to gut health. In a one-to-one consultation with an expert nutritionist, you’ll discover what your body really does (and doesn’t) need, with a bespoke plan to flush out impurities. Surrounded by golden sands and rich jungle, you’ll be left feeling rejuvenated thanks to a menu of nutritious, probiotic and fibre-filled dishes, inspired by Thai flavours and made using ingredients grown in the hotel’s organic gardens.

Italy's secret to a longer life

A plant-led diet, reducing dairy and introducing a daily dose of beans – these are all characteristics of the diet followed by the world’s five “Blue Zones”, where people live longer than anywhere else. Uncover their secrets at Italy’s Borgo Egnazia, which offers a veritable masterclass in the science-based Blue Zones living.

This is not just a retreat; this is about recalibrating to a new way of life. Cook local dishes of stuffed aubergine and broad bean flan, rich in immune-boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and even enjoy an afternoon glass of Puglian wine on the calcar limestone terraces. Learn how to stop eating when you feel 80 per cent full and wake up in the morning knowing your purpose is worth up to an additional seven years of life.

This kind of moderation is the key to cultivating the tools that lead to a fuller, happier existence.

Historical remedies in India

There’s something incredibly soothing about watching one of Amanbagh’s physicians grinding up organic ingredients from the home-grown apothecary.

These remedies play a part in Amanbagh’s Wellness Immersion experience, which is like pressing refresh and starting again – your body, renewed, from the inside out. Their restorative methods take cues from India’s ancient principles of purification, known as Panchakarma. 

Cleanse yourself of impurities, tension and emotional clutter as your bespoke itinerary sets out to target the toxicity of any unhealthy patterns at home. A single pause with a herbal tea or a breakfast seasoned with cinnamon and cardamom, will give you moments to marvel at how far you’ve come – a new you, in every sense.


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