Our bodies are not self-sufficient. We need vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from outside sources to supply the energy that keeps our bodies going. When those sources of energy are clean, constant and complete, our bodies run smoothly: our hearts beat, our blood flows, our muscles are strong and our senses are sharp. We feel healthier and more alert, which in turn improves mood and mental well-being. Good nutrition forms the foundation for total physical and psychological health: when we give our minds and bodies high-quality fuel to run on, we can function at the top of our abilities.
Of course, the opposite is also true: poor nutrition leaves our bodies without the essential materials they need to achieve physical strength and mental balance. An unhealthy diet has been linked to a broad range of long- and short-term concerns, from increased risk of heart disease to exacerbated symptoms of depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to fall into poor nutritional habits, and many of the effects of poor nutrition create a cycle where an individual feels unmotivated to change their diet. Processed foods, foods that are salty or sugary and foods that are high in calories but low in nutritional benefits are often easy options, like fast food, snack foods and prepared meals at many stores and restaurants. While not optimally nutritious, they are always accessible and require less effort than shopping for groceries and preparing meals at home.
The convenience of this kind of diet is dangerous, though. The more accustomed someone become to eating unhealthy foods, the harder it is to break the habit. They may build their schedule around grabbing quick bites instead of making time to cook nutritious meals. They may start to crave fats and sugars or feel unsatisfied by healthier options. And, over time, the health-related consequences of a poor diet can make them feel sluggish and unmotivated, trapping them in unwellness and an unhealthy lifestyle.
These effects of malnutrition are only compounded in the face of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. The toll that poor nutrition takes on the mind and body can leave a person without the strength to fight back against substance abuse or mental health symptoms. When it comes time to seek treatment for these concerns, nutrition becomes an essential piece of the healing process. At Pinnacle Recovery, we provide nutrition support for our clients as they regain their physical and mental health and establish lifelong sobriety.
Substance Abuse and Nutrition
A lack of proper nutrition is one of the most common problems faced by individuals who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction. This issue is multifaceted. Substance abuse itself is a form of poor nutrition — when an individual consumes drugs or alcohol, those substances are processed or digested just like non-intoxicating foods and beverages. But drugs and alcohol do not contain any of the nutrients the body needs; in fact, the chemicals they contain are specifically damaging to many of the body’s systems. Substance abuse automatically throws physical and psychological health out of balance.
Addiction is also all-consuming. When a person struggles with active addiction, everything in his or her life takes a backseat, including self-care and nutrition. Eating well is often simply not a priority. What’s more, the time and effort it takes to prepare healthy meals makes a nutritious diet seem too difficult for someone whose lifestyle is not centered around their health and wellness. Inexpensive, accessible food is much easier — it is available whenever hunger happens to strike, and it is cost-effective for someone whose finances may be tight due to a drug or alcohol habit.
And finally, the mental health aspects of poor diet and addiction feed off each other to create increasingly worsening symptoms. Once individuals struggling with addiction begin eating unhealthy foods, their overall energy decreases, and their state of mind declines as they feel fatigued, foggy or otherwise unwell. In turn, they become more and more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to feel better, and they will continue to eat foods that are not healthy as their substance abuse habit takes priority over their physical wellness.
Nutrition in Holistic Recovery Care
Since poor nutrition is so widespread among individuals who struggle with addiction, healthy eating habits have long been part of recovery care and sobriety management tactics. But research has changed the way recovery providers think about nutrition: today, we know that the benefits extend beyond fixing a common problem. A modern, holistic approach to treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders sees good nutritional habits as a way to heal the body and mind from addiction and keep relapse at bay for life.
Holistic treatment embraces the idea that the mind and body are deeply interconnected. Holistic methods integrate physical and mental therapies to treat the whole person instead of targeting specific symptoms. Nutrition is at the center of this mindset, as the physical act of eating and digesting food is what supplies our brain with the nutrients and energy it needs to process thoughts, sensations and feelings. Holistic recovery treatment therefore emphasizes good nutritional habits both during recovery and as a means of maintaining sobriety over time. When a person eats well, he or she will feel stronger, more capable and more confident, and in turn, can manage an addiction or mental health symptoms more successfully.
Nutrition Support at Pinnacle Recovery
Pinnacle Recovery is dedicated to providing our clients with evidence-based, effective treatments that offer long-lasting solutions for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Nutrition support is a hallmark of our residential program and is a strong component of outpatient programming — we guide our patients as they learn to make the best decisions for their well-being and as they build essential skills for living a healthy lifestyle.
In our residential programs, all meals are planned and prepared by a professional on-staff chef. Our menus are carefully created to provide all the essential nutrients for a recovery diet and to help show our clients that eating healthy foods is possible and can be enjoyable. We strive to incorporate examples of meals that clients can learn to prepare themselves once they leave our programs. We are also happy to work with individuals with dietary restrictions, food allergies or food sensitivities.
We firmly believe in the adage, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” At Pinnacle, our clients do not only have access to healthy options while they are in our programs. Instead, we teach them essential life skills that help them maintain a healthy diet on their own. Our inpatient and outpatient programming include education about the importance of nutrition in recovery and practical skills like identifying healthy food options, budgeting for groceries and time management for meal preparation. Our goal is to instill long-term lifestyle changes within our clients — we do not simply restore their physical health and send them back into independent life. We help them become truly healthy people — individuals who are in measurable good health, and who are motivated and equipped to maintain that health on an everyday basis.
Contact Pinnacle Recovery
Pinnacle Recovery provides top-tier residential and outpatient treatment for adult men and women with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our beautiful facilities are located in Holladay, Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City. If you or someone close to you is ready to take their first step away from addiction and toward a lifetime of sobriety, please reach out to us today. Our helpful staff is available to answer your questions and start the admissions process. Call us anytime, toll-free, at 1-866-301-0573.