Healthful Cuisine Redefined At Hilton Head Health

Everyone has a story at Hilton Head Health. They've all come for a variety of different reasons — weight loss, healthy eating, a diet re‐haul, to escape a painful life experience — but no matter what brought them there to begin with, once they arrived, everyone was in it together.

Hilton Head Health, located in the Shipyard Plantation on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, is a health retreat that has been open since the 1970s, which specializes in weight loss and lifestyle management that focuses on fitness, nutrition, and a combination of stress management, empowerment, longevity, and fulfillment.

The power of being around others who are working toward the same goal makes it even more effective. The program offers three separate formats, the first of which is H3 Jump Start, for those looking to build a sustainable and healthy lifestyle featuring nutrition programs, personalized fitness classes, and mind/body education. The second, Lose Well 4, is an intensive four-week weight loss program with features including health coaches and a support system that are essential to losing a significant amount of weight. The last, Living Well, is a collection of customized programs to help guests spark and maintain a more mindful lifestyle.

At the heart of what Hilton Head Health offers is the culinary and healthy kitchen track programs that offer cooking courses (like making salmon three ways) and live, chef‐led demonstrations showcasing quick and easy recipes. The main dining room, True, is run by Moroccan chef Hicham Elmadi, who infuses his Mediterranean background into every dish he executes. The food offered throughout the facility includes calorie counts on every dish, which are still packed with explosive flavor. Although the menu items are often simply executed, they are made with the freshest ingredients from top‐notch purveyors around the country.

The dishes include a combination of seasonal soups like broccoli or lobster bisque, each well under 100 calories per serving. Main courses include comfort dishes, such as chicken scaloppini, and filet mignon in a red wine reduction paired with garlic‐roasted potatoes and braised kale.

The​ culinary classes run by chef Karla Williams and chef Carrie Adams teach the guests about flavor profiles — specifically ​how to add ingredients​ like herbs and spices to make a relatively plain piece of protein transform into a showstopper of a dish. In certain instances, people go to Hilton Head Health strictly for the True Kitchen program to learn how to change their diets and cook for themselves.

Once a week, guests are treated to a Chef's Dinner orchestrated by Williams and Adams, which includes multiple courses prepared for guests as they dine. What's truly amazing about this experience is that it rewards those who have been working hard on their fitness goals throughout the week, but also intrigues guests who are interested in an amazing dining experience, all for less than 700 calories. There is a wine-pairing option as well, for additional calories, but each pairing is a modest two‐ounce pour.

Amidst the cooking classes and scheduled meals, Hilton Head Health offers a selection of "Fit Bites," which are low‐calorie snacks meant to be eaten on breaks and in between the intense fitness classes like treading, barre, or water aerobics. It also offers a selection of tea and coffee, as well as naturally-flavored waters and sparkling Perrier throughout the day.

When guests aren't learning how to have a much healthier relationship with their food, they are connecting, mind to body, in classes like beach yoga, or sunrise walks along the sand e​very morning. They can balance some of the more spiritually-minded classes with cardio‐centric dance classes, or strength classes using weights and bands.

Another unique aspect to the program is the thoughtful seminars offered on a range of topics run by Bob Wright, the Director of Education. Wright's primary goal as an educator is to help guests make informed decisions on personal health habits, with targeted lectures focused on nutrition, weight-loss management, and disease prevention.

In addition to the fitness classes and healthy living programs, Hilton Head Health also offers a diverse menu of spa treatments at Indigo Spa, which are meant to help the body heal from intense exercise and to practice mindfulness throughout a guest's stay. Within the spa's meditation room overlooking a stunning pond and bright foliage, big welcoming chairs await guests who can enjoy an herbal tea and read a magazine or book while tucked into their warm, soft, purple throws before their treatments. Several of the treatments involve aromatherapy to soothe the spa goer while working tired and sore muscles. It's the quintessential way to say "thank you" to your body for staying active within the program.

Long after guests have completed their stay at Hilton Head Health, they maintain a new aura of wellbeing, and depart with an arsenal of practical tools that can keep their newfound healthy habits alive moving forward. Whether they remember to cook three new dishes per week or practice portion control when dining out, hopefully, they have all learned to carry the teachings of the program with them long after they return home.