The Newport Academy’s Influencer Luncheon: The Meal As Medicine

I was fortunate enough to attend The Newport Academy’s recent The Meal As Medicine influencer luncheon at Habitas, a charming 1897 firehouse that has been converted into a loft-like, multi-level event space; the garden space had once been used to let the horses used to pull the old fire trucks roam around in. The Newport Academy is a rehab facility with several centers around the country all within two hours of major cities–and they are all geared for those struggling with addictions in the 12 to 18 age range. Their most famous facilities are in Orange, CA and in Bethlehem, CT, and what sets Newport Academy apart from other rehabilitation centers is that the focus is on “helping oneself by helping others.” Activities during the 30-day rehab process are not just the typical “daily meetings” that one would expect–there is an amazing diversity of activities including art, music and equine therapy. There is physical activity including yoga, hiking, paddle boarding and rope courses. Attendees also get to grow flowers and farm–some of what they grow goes into the nutritious farm to table meals served.One of the main people calling the culinary shots for Newport Academy is Jeff Zurofsky, a New York restaurant legend who co-founded ‘Wichcraft and Riverpark Farm with Tom Colicchio. He also stars in the Bravo TV reality series Best New Restaurant. Guests at the influencer luncheon sampled the family style meals that enrollees of Newport Academy have each day and we were mighty impressed! Dishes that were served to us included some of the best sautéed greens I have ever had (a wonderful mix of Collard Greens, Swiss Chard and Kale), mixed veggies with lentils, sweet potatoes over polenta, mixed field greens with artisanal shredded Parmesan cheese, roasted free range chicken, 90 per cent pure cocoa dark chocolate for dessert and more. Keeping with the Newport Academy’s theme of being selfless, we served others from the family style plates of food before helping ourselves.Before we started eating, Zurofsky talked about how he managed to keep the meal plans for the Newport Academy healthy yet highly flavorful. Newport Academy founder Jamison Monroe Jr. then discussed with the crowd of fifty influencers and fellow Newport Academy staffers how he decided to start the facility after his own teenage battles with alcohol and drug use. The native Texan also went into great details about the unique activities offered, and the mindful atmosphere at each meal. We meditated before our meal just like the attendees of the Newport Academy do and were told to be mindful of chewing each bite of food 20 times. We took deep breaths as we meditated and held handmade Mala beads that were conveniently put in burlap sacks on our plates–we moved a bead each time we took a deep breath. (By the way, the Academy deals with eating, anxiety and self-abuse issues, not just substance abuse issues.)For more info on the Newport Academy (pictured above is the Orange, CA location which has stunning grounds as you can see) go to: Activities as well as pricing are listed and treatment is covered by many popular health insurance plans. There are outpatient plans and high schoolers can can continue their studies while undergoing treatment. The Newport Academy has won numerous awards and offers its enrollees a full day with enriching and fun activities almost every hour from seven am to ten pm.

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