Canaan, CT – Mountainside Treatment Center has strengthened its Nutrition In Recovery curriculum, putting more emphasis on mindful eating and educating clients about making nutritional meals that support their sobriety.
Joyce Faraj, PhD, RDN, CDN, Mountainside nutritionist, said that by providing clients healthy diets and improving eating habits, they can better maintain recovery as well as bolster physical and mental health.
“A nutritionally balanced diet plays a crucial role in the everyday life of a person in recovery. It can help replenish lost nutrients, increase energy, improve immune defense mechanisms and reverse the damage caused by addiction. It can also help the person manage moods and reduce the risk of relapse,” she said.
Faraj says that the curriculum aims to educate clients in understanding the link between substance use and nutritional habits. “Lack of proper food can result in increased cravings, aggressiveness and impaired executive function. We want our clients to see how nutrition can affect their moods and mental health, and for them to know how to eat for a speedier and successful recovery. Additionally, we will also guide them on how to overcome any dietary barriers,” Faraj explained.
For the Detox program, clients focus on getting over immediate crisis, implementing healthy, regular eating habits and adding structure to their day through consistent meals. The nutrition team will also do individual nutrition assessments and hold nutrition education sessions.
In the Residential Program, on the other hand, clients take a long-term look at what a healthy diet is. “We want clients to learn when to start and stop eating. This is where mindful eating comes in,” she explains. The nutrition team individually assesses clients and conducts nutrition counseling. A unique highlight of the program is “grocery shopping,” where clients are shown how to select foods based on listed nutritional facts on labels, health benefits, and even price comparisons. Faraj notes that this helps instill a sense of accountability and that clients can use these skills when they finish treatment and become ready for independent living.
“Nutrition assessments, counseling, and education is a critical part of Mountainside’s holistic approach to alcohol and drug treatment. By teaching clients to fuel their bodies with nutrient rich foods, we help our clients achieve total wellness,” Faraj emphasized.