Proper nutrition is essential during recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). Often, individuals struggling with substance misuse have unhealthy eating habits. According to Nutrition Reviews, “Chronic substance use affects a person’s nutritional status and body composition through decreased intake, nutrient absorption, and dysregulation of hormones that alter the mechanisms of satiety and food intake.” The body cannot function properly if it doesn’t get the right balance of vitamins and minerals each day. The Redpoint Center provides clients with nutritional meals and nutrition coaching to ensure people remain healthy, energized, and focused during treatment.
Why Are Nutritional Meals Important During Recovery?
A person’s eating habits and mental health significantly impact their physical well-being. According to Nutrients, “[C]hanges in diet may influence psychiatric disorders through direct effects on mood, while the development of psychiatric disorders can lead to changes in eating habits.”
Eating regular nutritional meals during recovery improves overall health by doing the following:
- Encouraging healthier eating
- Reducing the severity of withdrawal and symptoms of SUD
- Decreasing the risk of physical health issues by strengthening the body
Physical health directly affects mood, cognition, and emotion regulation. People who eat nutritious meals daily experience fewer side effects of SUD and reduce the risk of developing health complications.
Maintaining Nutritional Meals During Non-Residential Treatment
Individuals participating in non-residential treatment spend their free time at home, away from the controlled environment of the treatment center. Maintaining a healthy diet requires more effort when clients must prepare the food for themselves. Some people feel overwhelmed or uncertain about how to create nutritional meals at home. Clinicians at The Redpoint Center ensure clients cultivate a healthy relationship with food and feel confident monitoring their own nutrition outside of treatment. Some clients may be referred to an outside nutritionist if they request additional support in establishing a healthier diet.
5 Benefits of Eating Nutritional Meals During Recovery
The Redpoint Center teaches life skills, including identifying and preparing nutritional meals. The care team works with clients to ensure they have the knowledge they need to keep their bodies nourished and healthy. Below are five primary benefits of eating nutritional meals.
#1. Nutritional Meals Increase Focus
Essential vitamins and minerals keep the brain functioning at total capacity. Gut health is critical for mental health and emotional stability. According to Nature Reviews Neuroscience, “In addition to the capacity of the gut to directly stimulate molecular systems that are associated with synaptic plasticity and learning, several gut hormones or peptides, such as leptin, ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and insulin have been found to influence emotions and cognitive processes.” Nourishing meals positively affect gut health and other body systems.
A healthy diet increases focus by doing the following:
- Reducing fatigue
- Improving focus
- Decreasing stress
Increasing brain function through healthier eating makes it easier to focus during treatment.
#2. Nutritional Meals Increase Energy and Physical Healing
Nutrients energize the body and facilitate physical healing. Many people with SUD have health issues caused by their substance misuse. Eating healthier foods gives the body the nutrients it needs to begin repairing damage caused by chronic substance abuse.
Some of the most common health issues reported by people with SUD include:
- Severe and prolonged infections
- High blood pressure
- Compromised immune system
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Respiratory problems
- Damage to the liver, kidneys, or heart
Nutritional meals can reverse some damage to the body and increase energy levels. People in recovery face many challenges. Feeling healthy and energized makes it easier to overcome those challenges.
#3. Nutritional Meals Reduce Stress Levels
Stress is a leading cause of diseases in America. Misusing substances influences how the body reacts to stress. In addition, many people with SUD have a history of trauma and chronic stress. Trauma also affects how the brain manages and responds to stressors. Nourishing meals help the body cope with environmental and emotional stressors.
People who struggle with co-occurring disordered eating have a higher overall stress level and benefit from adjusting their meals to include more nutrient-rich foods. The Redpoint Center does not treat primary eating disorders (EDs). However, the care team provides additional support and nutritional guidance to individuals with non-active EDs.
#4. Nutritional Meals Decrease Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety-related disorders are the most common co-occurring conditions for individuals with SUD. The types of food a person eats affect serotonin levels and other neurotransmitters. According to Missouri Medicine, “Several nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, B9 (folate), and zinc, can cause symptoms of depression . . . low mood, fatigue, cognitive decline, and irritability.” Eating healthy meals helps people recover from long-term nutritional deficiencies.
#5. Nutritional Meals Reduce the Risks of Developing Additional Health Issues
Nutrition affects long and short-term physical health. According to Advances in Nutrition, “From a medical and psychological standpoint, deficiencies in several micronutrients have been associated with several physical and mental disorders.” Proper nutrition reduces the risk of developing physical health issues like heart disease, obesity, and some cancers.
Nutritional meals improve physical and psychological health by ensuring the body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. Many people in recovery from substance misuse have unhealthy eating habits due to the side effects of their disorder. Treatment programs at The Redpoint Center provide clients with healthy meals and nutritional coaching to ensure they continue to eat healthy after transitioning out of care. Eating nourishing meals daily is the first step toward repairing physical issues caused by an unhealthy diet. The care team collaborates with each client to determine what changes to their diet may be necessary to support long-term recovery. To learn more about The Redpoint Center and our programs, call (303) 710-8496.