Maintaining Nutrition During Recovery


Most of us have heard from doctors, gym teachers, or Instagram fitness enthusiasts the importance of healthy eating and exercise. While one workout routine or eating plan won’t work for everyone, an exercise regiment and nutrition plan can have several positive physical and mental benefits. At Lakehouse Recovery, one of our curriculum topics includes mindful eating.

Throughout this topic, we teach how to recognize if you’re receiving proper amounts of nourishment, nutrients, and water. We also teach how to develop an overall sense of how the body signals to you what it needs and how to respond appropriately. Our staff has the means and resources to refer dietitians while creating a support system behind you throughout your treatment program. Living mindfully includes eating and moving your body mindfully; through this mindfulness, you can make your way toward recovery.

Health Benefits of Nutrition

Nutrition and exercise aren’t just about body image or weight loss; it’s about cultivating an overall healthy lifestyle regardless of how our body may look according to destructive social stereotypes or stigmatizations. Some of the health benefits of a nutritious eating plan, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), include:

  • Overall prevention or delay of health problems
  • Lower risks of heart disease and diabetes
  • Promotion of healthier bodily function

Some prefer the term eating plan to diet plan, as a diet plan implies a temporary solution to a potentially greater problem. Your eating regimen is best when it’s science-based, meets your needs, and is manageable long term. The key to success requires making small gradual changes.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

The term “physical activity” may be preferred to phrases like “working out” or “exercise routine” because physical activity implies a variety of activities that simply get the body moving. Sometimes people forget that walking, going for hikes, or dancing are great ways to move around and stay active. Working out and exercising does not just refer to time spent in a gym or running around a track.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discuss the immediate and long-term benefits of physical activity. These benefits include:

  • Improvement in brain health, improved thinking and learning, reduced short-term feelings of anxiety, and improvement in judgment skills
  • Reduction of risk of depression and other mood disorders  
  • Improved sleeping patterns
  • Increased muscle and bone strength
  • Weight management
  • An overall increase in quality of life

Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Mental Health

People sometimes forget how effective physical activity is on mental health. According to research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), exercises such as jogging, walking, dancing, and even gardening are proven to reduce anxiety and depression. They speculate that these mood improvements result from increased blood circulation to the brain and “an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis,” affecting the physiological stress response.

The research suggests that making changes focused on increasing “moderate-intensity activity throughout the day” is fitting for most patients, while structured group programs are more beneficial to those experiencing more serious cases of mental illness. Reduced anxiety, depression, negative moods, as well as improved self-esteem and cognitive function are being seen in these patients. The NCBI also suggests that mental health professionals should emphasize to their patients the importance of regular exercise.

Nutrition and Substance Use Disorder Recovery

A high risk of malnutrition accompanies many cases of a substance use disorder, and in other cases, malnutrition can intensify substance-seeking behaviors that delay substance use disorder recovery. The National Library of Medicine did a narrative review of the importance of nutrition in aiding recovery from substance use disorders. Their results showed an overwhelming amount of patients with substance use disorders were more often than not suffering from nutrient deficiencies. These nutrient deficiencies had several other potential negative impacts such as:

  • Alcoholic myopathy
  • Osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • Increased mood disorders
  • Altered body composition and metabolic regulators
  • Decrease in brain processes

Getting Started

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) believes choices can be made today to start living a healthier tomorrow. These changes delay age-related health concerns in addition to overall physical and mental health. Some ways people start making healthier lifestyle choices include:

  1. Setting short-term goals that help to maintain a long-term exercise and eating plan
  2. Moving the body for 30 minutes at least three days a week, if not every day, including activities like walking, dancing, or whatever feels good for the body
  3. Having a well-rounded eating plan that targets various nutritious food groups and a physical activity plan that targets endurance, strength, and flexibility.

Changes that involve both getting the body moving, and conscientious planning about what we put into our bodies, have to do with living mindfully. Recovery is also about living mindfully. Interestingly enough, some of the practices towards living a healthier, nutritious life resemble many of the practices that can help with recovery. This, in turn, most likely explains how nutrition and recovery can often go hand in hand.

Getting the body moving and being cautious about what we put into our bodies is all about being mindful of nurturing ourselves. Recovery is about reconnecting with your body, yourself, and living a mindful life. Implementing changes to eating habits or physical activity plans involves setting manageable short-term goals that can be maintained long-term. That is what being in recovery is about too. The road to recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. At Lakehouse Recovery, we want to help you achieve all of your goals. Our program’s curriculum is designed to teach about the importance of nurturing our bodies, understanding our bodies’ signals, and responding appropriately. Other mindful programs we offer include yoga, meditation, and breathwork, which can also help you reconnect and learn to live more mindfully. Our qualified staff are equipped with various resources and will work with you to help achieve your healthy, life-changing goals. Call us at (877) 762-3707 to learn more and embark on your healthy lifestyle journey today.