Nutrition in recovery is a personal thing.
The age-old saying is true: we are what we eat. However, what we eat affects us in different ways. Our bodies produce varied responses to the food we eat, both on an individual level and between people. If you are lactose intolerant, for example, you may enjoy the taste and experience of eating a large cheesy pizza but loathe the hours of bloating and indigestion that follow. The same pizza that causes you so much pain will have little or no effect on people who don’t struggle to digest dairy. Put simply, what fuels my body and brain may be harmful to yours. Because of this, it is important to take stock of how different types of foods impact your health and personalise your nutrition to optimize your wellbeing.
Research indicates that there are sometimes vast differences in the way our bodies respond to foods, and this even includes foods that are thought to be integral to a healthy diet. Take a tomato for example. In most people, eating a tomato should lead to changes in your blood glucose levels that fall within a certain range -blood sugar levels above this range can put you at risk for diabetes. However, one study discovered that for a participant with obesity, eating tomatoes wasn’t the “healthy” choice after all; her blood sugar levels spiked and remained elevated whenever she ate tomatoes. In other words, eating tomatoes increased the risk that she would develop diabetes. In fact, when this participant ate “unhealthier” foods like bread and butter, her blood sugar levels were restored to their normal levels.
At Heritage Treatment Foundation we understand the importance of diet and nutrition in the recovery process, which is why we take great care to ensure that our clients each are given the attention needed to personalize a diet that supports their individual recovery process. Our staff educate our clients on the importance of diet and nutrition in a healthy lifestyle and ensure that they are given the tools and information needed to take this all-important tool, proper nutrition beyond the centre into their new healthy lives as part of our aftercare.
How nutrition can play a key role in your recovery.
Keep Track of Your Eating Habits
Generalized statements about “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods can fall short. To ensure the best health outcomes for you, a personalized nutrition plan is important. The good news is that it is easier than ever to track what we eat and make connections between eating habits and our health. Food journaling can take a few different forms, but the basic idea is simple; keep a record of every single thing you eat in a day. You can do this using a physical notebook and pen, or take the digital route and use an app.
To really make your nutrition work for you, you can take the journaling a step further and ask yourself how you feel after you eat. Did that superfood sandwich give you the boost of energy you needed in the middle of your workday? Or was it more difficult for you to focus on work for the rest of the day? Or how about that breakfast smoothie: were you buzzing or bloated after you drank it? Work to create a profile for the foods that you eat, and it will become clearer which eating habits you should cut out.
Seek and take professional guidance.
As powerful as intuitive eating is it can be helpful to take guidance from a specialist. A nutritionist will be able to run tests to learn exactly what nutrients your body is deficient in and suggest ways to supplement them. At Heritage Treatment Foundation, we employ talented and compassionate nutritionists who will help you to develop a dietary road map that works for you both during and after your stay with us.
Remember, nutrients play an important role in your Mental Health
There is a clear link between the food you eat and physical symptoms, but the link between food and mental health has historically been overlooked. Your brain is the control centre of your body, so it’s a good idea to keep all its functions working well. Certain foods can help us think clearer, increase our alertness, and improve concentration. It follows that a lack of some key foods can impair these processes and lead to mental health issues.
Here are some general tips to boost your mental health. As always, you should take this advice and make it work for you. What works for some may not work for you!
Eat your vegetables!
You probably knew this tip was coming, so we probably don’t have to spend too much time explaining why. Simply put, fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Also, they reduce the risk of heart disease and keep your digestive system running efficiently (did we mention the fiber?)
Keep it complex
Reduce the number of simple carbohydrates you eat and switch to complex sources of carbohydrates, such as brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. They have more nutritional value and can keep you satisfied for longer periods of time.
Your brain is mostly fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for your brain’s function; your brain uses fatty acids to build brain cells. Omega-3s also support learning and memory and help to reduce the mental decline that happens as we age. Fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and plant oils are all excellent sources of this brain-boosting food-group.
If you are looking to adopt any of these changes into your diet, make sure to keep track of how each food affects your physical and mental health. This way, you can truly personalize your nutrition and take it into your own hands. This is especially important for those of us who are trying to recover from addiction disorders. If you are trying to begin your journey of recovery, please contact us today to learn how we can support you.
A large part of our recovery program involves nutritional therapy, where our dietician works with you to design a meal plan that is right for you and your recovery goals.