Individuals who struggle with mental health conditions will inevitably have a difficult time caring for themselves. Those who battle depression, for example, will likely experience harshly decreased motivation, leading to a decline in exercise and adequate nutrition. Those with substance abuse disorders will prioritize obtaining and using their drug of choice, and in doing so, they will predictably neglect self-care. Those grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder will likely be so consumed by their psychological symptoms that they will overlook basic self-maintenance. Because nutrition is often disregarded when it comes to mental health disorders, men and women who struggle with addiction and trauma may need to relearn how to take care of themselves; how to nourish and protect their bodies and minds through healthy eating.
Next Chapter Treatment – Our Nutrition Program
We at Next Chapter strongly believe that adequate nutrition plays a vital role in the healing process, and contributes greatly to the maintenance of long-term recovery. For this reason, we have put a huge amount of effort into developing a comprehensive nutrition program; one that will teach our clients the skills they need to maintain adequate nutritional practices for years to come. Upon admission, each of clients will receive a detailed nutrition assessment, completed by a Registered Dietitian. Clients are encouraged to work closely with the kitchen coach during their time at Next Chapter Treatment. Our current kitchen coach, Lauren Bickford, MS, LDN, RDN, has extensive experience working as a professional dietitian. She works closely alongside clients both individually and in a group setting, helping them develop their nutrition skills and determine creative ways in which to meet their goals (goals are established during the initial assessment, and modified during follow-up visits).
The “Balanced Plate”
A big part of eating healthfully is learning to prepare balanced and nutrient-dense meals – an acquired that skill that many will overlook as a vital part of the recovery process. We at Next Chapter teach the concept of a “balanced plate”, and do our best to instill intuitive eating as a way of meeting nutrition goals. A “balanced plate” is made up of one-half fresh fruits and/or vegetables, one-third lean protein, and one-third nutrient-dense starch. We teach the importance of grocery shopping (and grocery shopping on a budget), by stocking in-house pantries full of fresh produce and other high-quality ingredients. Keeping pantries fully stocked allows clients to actively apply the “balanced plate” concept, and group cooking and meal-times help to instill the concepts of scheduled meals and ‘eating as a family’. Because grocery shopping can be overwhelming to those new to recovery, we avoid taking our clients to the grocery store. Instead, we stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other vital ingredients. As a special treat, we have a chef come in every other week and prepare a meal for the residents. This allows them to experience a live cooking demonstration from another industry professional. As of the beginning of this month, we have implemented a new activity to make preparing food even more communal and fun. The activity is called ‘The Clash of the Kitchens’ – men from each house will work together to prepare a meal, and one dish will be crowned ‘the top dish of the night’. The winning team will enjoy a meal specially prepared by a dietitian later on in the month.
Nourishing the Body and Mind
Restoring physical health is essential when it comes to recovery. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to worsened symptoms of anxiety, depression, and an overall lack of motivation. Nourishing the physical body leads to improved mental health, which has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of relapse. For more information on our program of diet and nutrition, or to learn more about our overall program of comprehensive recovery, please feel free to give us a call today.