• Germany edition
 
Boozy dieters shed kilos the 'Schrothkur' way
Shots of Schnapps for the Schrothlers. Photo: private.

Boozy dieters shed kilos the 'Schrothkur' way

Published: 18 Sep 2012 12:15 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Sep 2012 12:15 GMT+02:00

How do you convince thousands of middle-aged, ‘robust’ Germans to give up bratwurst and bread and agree to being wrapped in freezing towels every day at 4 am? The answer is alcohol, Jenny Hoff discovered.

While some pay for life coaches and personal trainers to shed unwelcome kilos, the Germans have figured out a way to make a detox program that resembles a wild spring break. The secret lies in few calories - accompanied by a few beverages.

The setting is Oberstaufen, a bucolic fantasy resort town in the Allgäu region of Bavaria, where cows dot the hillsides, flowers burst from every windowsill and pavements look clean enough to sleep on.

Almost every day, locals put on a concert or dance performance, where red-cheeked children and their parents, all in dirndls and lederhosen, entertain visitors with some foot-slapping, old world Bavaria charm. It harks back to a time when people were healthy, fit, hard-working and spiritually content.

Yet under this glossy veneer of traditional Bavaria lies the genius of a wellness empire that keeps its dieters happy with free glasses of Schnapps and one-litre bottles of wine to go with a dinner of about 200 calories.

Get drunk enough to forget hunger

Yes, the Germans have discovered that the secret of a successful weight-loss program lies in getting people drunk enough to forget about their hunger.

This town of 7,000 inhabitants is officially ‘Schrothkur certified,’ meaning it has the monopoly on a diet invented 180 years ago and brought to Oberstaufen in 1949.

The inventor, Johann Schroth, was a naturopath who came from a region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is now a part of the Czech Republic.

After observing that horses refrained from eating when injured, he developed a wellness program for humans that he believed would not only heal their injuries but also detoxify their bodies.

The Schrothkur has four basic principles: consuming a few hundred calories a day in the form of vegetables, cooked fruit, and salt-free crackers; a packing or wrapping of freezing cold sheets which are covered in hot water bottles and blankets at around 4 in the morning; interspersing moderate exercise with rest and relaxation; and finally - the little gem of this regimen - alternating dry and ‘drink’ days.

Alcohol supposed to spur immune system

“They said the alcohol was to help spur on our immune system,” said Gina Hoff, the author’s mother who was eager to finally go on a vacation that would bring her home thinner than before.

“But, I think it is really just to keep us happy with only eating a few steamed vegetables every day. But, hey, it works!”

Upon arriving at one of the dozens of Schrothkur hotels in Oberstaufen, wellness seekers are immediately sent to a ‘kur’ doctor for a check-up.

A few pokes, prods, and €50 later, they are sent out the door with a prescription to start the program.

As can be expected, the first night is a drink night with half a bottle of kur wine to accompany the puréed plum soup.

This assists in numbing the hunger pains enough to descend into a deep slumber - until 4am when someone comes into the room with the rather unpleasant wrapping.

Early morning wrapping

It is supposed to help get poisons out of the body and probably assists in preventing a hangover the next day – which is a ‘dry’ one. Beverages are limited and wine is prohibited, though the Schnapps flows freely.

The wrapping is also supposed to stimulate circulation and the body’s metabolism, while the change of fluid intake on the dry and drink days is claimed to activate the body’s immune system, which results in detoxification.

Another important element of the program is group support. In some hotels, like Hotel Kronenhof, ‘Schrothlers’ are sequestered in a separate dining room for their meals so they are not tempted by the smells of freshly brewed coffee and oven-fresh croissants that the hiking guests are served.

“The first thing I noticed was that everyone kept saying that they weren’t hungry,” said Anne O’Donnell, a friend of the author’s who joined for the detox week.

“I’m sorry, but when I looked at my plate of 5 prunes, I knew there was a lot of group-think at work here. Luckily, I had sneaked some marzipan into my room.”

Hours between meals filled with activities – and booze

The hotels also organize activities to keep the ‘Schrothlers’ busy and their minds off food. With skiing in the wintertime and Nordic walking in the summer, the hours are filled until the next mealtime.

If one is lucky, this will also include a guided Alpine hike with 76-year-old Georg Sheerer, head of the hotel – and his bottle of Schnapps that turns the hungry and downtrodden troop into a gang of happy, singing, drunk, middle-aged school-kids. The booze also increases enthusiasm for the next meal of puréed carrots and vegetable soup.

With more than a million visitors a year, many who come strictly for the diet, it is no wonder Oberstaufen has almost become a sanctuary to Johann Schroth and his ‘kur.’

With the kur museum, weekly kur talks, free Schnapps-tasting nights, and restaurants with a kur -approved drinks list, there is no lack of outside reinforcement to convince the dieters that every growl of stomach and dream of pasta is worth it.

Groovy night-life too

The night-life isn’t bad either. While most of the Don Juans at the bars sport white hair and dentures, there is just as much energy of anticipated romance as in Berlin on a Saturday night. After all, with their new svelte figures and uninhibited demeanour, single Schrothlers make for a fun night out on the town.

However, at the end of the day, the real measure of success is the number on the scale. And we were not disappointed. A week of wine, Schnapps, a few crackers and some broccoli had done its work: three kilos gone for Gina Hoff, two for the author and two for her friend, Anne O’Donnell.

Schrothlers who stay the entire three weeks often report a loss of more than eight kilos depending on their initial weight.

“After cruises, where you come back unable to fit into any of your clothes, this is a wonderful alternative,” said Gina. “Will I come back again? If my liver can take it, you bet I will.”

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

16:30 September 18, 2012 by The-ex-pat
How do you convince thousands of middle-aged, ¦#39;robust¦#39; Germans to give up bratwurst and bread and agree to being wrapped in freezing towels every day at 4 am?.......................

Tell them the Meister said it has to be done that way..........................................lol
17:51 September 18, 2012 by IchBinKönig
'making meals out of marzipan, making love with black and tans'
08:58 September 19, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Sign me up. I'll come back out when all this austerity crapology is over. In the mean time I will drink my way to happiness and pay my share of taxes via alcohol tax.
Today's headlines
Ex-minister jailed over F1 race track scandal
Ingolf Deubel in court on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Ex-minister jailed over F1 race track scandal

A former state finance minister was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on Wednesday, having been found guilty of embezzling money in the scandal around the failed sale of the Nürburgring Formula One race track. READ () »

Upper Bavaria boasts lowest EU unemployment
A Bavarian worker works hard Photo: DPA

Upper Bavaria boasts lowest EU unemployment

Southern and central Bavaria have the lowest unemployment in the EU, according to figures released on Tuesday, with one business leader boasting the area has “de facto full employment”. READ () »

Thousands of tax evaders come forward to declare
Uli Hoeneß was jailed last month for tax evasion. Photo: DPA

Thousands of tax evaders come forward to declare

The number of German tax evaders who have self-declared to avoid prosecution trebled in the first quarter of 2014, figures published on Wednesday showed, with the rise put down to the "Uli Hoeneß effect". READ () »

Petition fails to remove WWII Russian tanks
One of the WWII Russian tanks near the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA

Petition fails to remove WWII Russian tanks

The German government rejected on Wednesday a call by two newspapers to remove Russian tanks from a World War II memorial in central Berlin in protest against spiralling tensions in Ukraine. READ () »

Germany warns Ukraine talks must not fail
A Ukrainian policeman at a checkpoint in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Germany warns Ukraine talks must not fail

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday that scheduled four-way talks on the Ukraine crisis must not fail, warning of "the threat of more dead and injured". READ () »

Olympic stadium could be giant polling station
Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Photo: DPA

Olympic stadium could be giant polling station

Berlin's Olympic stadium could become the world's biggest polling station if the Turkish community gets the go-ahead to vote there in Turkey’s general elections. READ () »

The Local List
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: DPA

Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German

From rolling wheels filled with burning hay down a hill, to waiting for a fox to bring eggs, The Local List this week looks at the nine best German Easter traditions. READ () »

Biology pupils find horse in kebab meat test
Horse? Photo: DPA

Biology pupils find horse in kebab meat test

Schoolchildren in western Germany came across horse meat while testing doner kebabs in a biology experiment. It comes a year after the horse meat scandal which showed much meat on sale in Europe had been mislabelled. READ () »

Private health insurance not worth it for workers
Photo: DPA

Private health insurance not worth it for workers

Thousands of employees paying into private health insurance in Germany get poor value for money, according to consumer experts - who recommend going private for just one group of workers. READ () »

'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers
Free range? Photo: DPA

'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers

UPDATE: A major producer of ethically certifified meat has admitted to defrauding thousands of customers for years by passing off conventional chicken as free range. But the brand said it took swift action to deal with the case. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
'The mafia has infiltrated every sector in Germany'
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The week in pictures: April 5th - April 11th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Advertisement:
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo:ESL
Sponsored Article
How to integrate successfully in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,115
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd