Mealtimes on a Quest for Life program are eagerly anticipated and always a source of pleasure. Read our top tips for mindful eating and experience
the difference they make.
Participants who attend residential programs at the Quest for Life Centre are often facing significant challenges in their lives. Many of our guests are
living with life-threatening illnesses or neurological disorders and have special dietary requirements.
Other people come to make meaning of grief, depression, trauma or anxiety or to regain a sense of identity after some significant loss. Some people are
at a crossroad in their life and attend a program to deepen their self-understanding and clarify their values and direction.
Regardless of why people come to Quest, mealtimes are eagerly anticipated and are always a source of pleasure.
Though the dietary needs of our guests may differ widely, the philosophy of SLOW – seasonal, local, organic and whole foods – underpins every dish. The
serving of fresh, healthy, seasonal food is integral to the Centre’s programs and it’s gratifying to see the physical improvement in our guests’ health
over the space of a few days.
Good food really does nourish the spirit as well as the body.
Following are practical tips we encourage to incorporate into every lifestyle. While it’s not always possible to follow all these, you’ll notice the difference
when you do …
1. Eat without distraction
Have you ever glanced down from your phone, tablet, computer or TV, only to wonder where all the food went? Distractions in any form make us less aware
of what and how much we are eating. Our focus can be on the taste, texture and enjoyment of the food as well as awareness of all the sensations of
2. Practice gratitude for what you are about to eat
Before you start to eat, pause and take a moment to acknowledge the labour that went into providing your meal — be it thanks to the farmers, the
factory workers, the animals, mother Earth, the chefs, those who transported the food to you and/or your companions at the table.
3. Do not eat when you are upset
Many of us, when we were young, were offered food to comfort us if we were upset. It might have been something sweet or savoury – it may even have been
a piece of fruit. That may well have served to quieten us physically – help mend a scratched knee – but it may also have created a habit that now serves
to mask the reason why we’re upset. When you become aware of thoughts, feelings, or other sensations, be mindful of them, acknowledge their presence,
and then allow them to pass as if they were floating by on a cloud. Do not distract yourself with food when you’re upset.
4. Always sit down to eat
Don’t eat on the go. Sit down. You’re less likely to appreciate your food when you are multi-tasking. It’s also difficult to keep track of how much you’re
eating when you snack on the go.
5. Eat only when you feel hungry
Listen to your body and feed it when it signals that you’re hungry. If we’re constantly eating, we aren’t allowing our body to process the food we eat
before we’re eating again. The stomach needs to empty and cleanse itself between meals.
6. Don’t talk while chewing your food
While you’re chewing, your brain and stomach are working diligently to establish the variety and quantity of enzymes needed to digest each mouthful you
take. Enjoy each mouthful and eat slowly. Let your body do its work so your digestive system can do its job.
7. Eat at a moderate pace, chew well and savour the flavours
Take time to enjoy the flavours and textures in your mouth before you swallow. This also helps prevent overeating by giving your stomach and gut time to
send messages to the brain to say when you’re full. Overriding these signals leads to over-eating and obesity.
8. Eat freshly prepared meals whenever possible
Whenever you can, use SLOW ingredients: seasonal, local, organic and whole. For millennia, human beings have lived according to those principles. They
ate what was in season and what grew in their local area. They didn’t use herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and chemical fertilisers to grow their
food. They didn’t deconstruct their food and process the ingredients into different food stuffs. They didn’t add preservatives, flavourings, emulsifiers,
colourings or stabilisers to their food. A general rule to live by is: If man made it, don’t eat it. Eat food that grows!
9. Don’t drink with your meal
Don’t dilute your saliva and gastric enzymes by drinking water – or anything else – with your meals. Drinking with your food may decrease your capacity
to digest and absorb the nutrients from the food. The exception is wine! Drinking a small amount of wine with, or just before your meal, will stimulate
your appetite and increase the production of saliva and gastric enzymes.
10. Sit quietly for a few minutes after your meal
Make your meal a leisurely affair. Spending 5 to 10 minutes in silence can be refreshing and help you appreciate the meal you’ve just finished as well
as give your body a good opportunity to focus on digestion.
These are some of the tips from Petrea King’s book Food for Life – Recipes to enhance life.