We have a saying in recovery that can be applied to everything in life: keep it simple. We use this phrase repeatedly because addicts and alcoholics in recovery tend to over complicate things. That extreme complication causes stress in the brain, rather than finding a solution; they turn to their solution, which is drugs and alcohol. In a way, the brain becomes prone to overly complicating things because that’s what it does to create chaos- thereby creating stress and creating a “reason” to use drugs and alcohol. Nutrition, strangely, is one of those areas. Complicating nutrition might not make sense to anyone who hasn’t experienced an addiction and then experienced recovery. Yet food is one of those areas that can become gray- nutrition can matter a lot or not matter, depending on how complicated someone wants to make their nutrition as part of their life. It is easy to keep nutrition– and anything in recovery- simple by simplifying it. Here are the simplest simplicities about nutrition in recovery.
- Learn what balanced meals are and eat them: Entire package of french fries and nothing else: not balanced. A serving of french fries with some vegetables, a healthy protein, perhaps a carb, and fruit for dessert: balanced. Balanced meals are not complicated. For addicts and alcoholics in recovery, balance is complicated. Addiction is not a matter of balance- in fact, it might also be the definition of imbalance. Balanced meals mean including a little bit of everything instead of too much of just one thing.
- Eat regularly, as in, regularly: People think eating regularly means just eating every day. Days are long full of many hours which could be filled by eating. Most nutritionists suggest eating three “square” (balanced) meals with three snacks in between.
- Don’t use food to cope: One of the biggest mistakes people in recovery for addiction make when it comes to food is using food as a new coping mechanism. Food is used for many celebrations and traditions. Food is used to celebrate in many traditions for many occasions, but the food is also used for mourning, like in Jewish traditions. Food certainly can be medicine, but not when it is abused. Use food to feed your body, your mood, and your brain in healthy ways.
- Cook your own food: this is pretty simple when it comes to nutrition. Whole foods are healthy. Processed and packaged foods generally are not, unless they are just packaged whole foods. The more you engage with cooking your own meals, the more encouraged you will be to make your nutrition part of your active life in recovery.
Life skills are important to develop during treatment so that each client can thrive in their independence after long-term care. We know that addiction affects the mind, the body, and the spirit. That is why we help clients learn how to change each area of their lives, one step at a time at Design For Change.