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What Does Nutrition Have to Do with Recovery?

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Substance use takes a toll on our physical health as well as our mental health. During active addiction, many individuals may not have regular meals or balanced diets. When a patient enters Encore’s addiction treatment center in Virginia, we begin working on how to live a more balanced and healthier lifestyle, physically and mentally. With the support and guidance of Encore’s nutritional coach, who is a registered dietitian, patients develop healthy mindsets and behaviors around food and nutrition, and taking care of their bodies as a whole. Our nutritional coach helps patients understand the connection between nutrition and recovery and how taking care of their physical bodies provides them with the strength they need to take care of their mental and emotional health.

In terms of nutrition, the nutritional coach works with patients to:

  • Help them understand why balanced eating is critical to treatment and recovery.
  • Educate them on how substance use disorder negatively impacts eating habits.
  • Determine each patient’s specific nutrition-related needs.
  • Develop a plan for regular and balanced eating.
  • Help them understand the importance of behaviors such as regular sleep and physical activity.

How Nutritional Coaching Works at Encore’s Addiction Treatment Center in Virginia

Patients meet regularly with the nutritional coach to address their specific issues and needs in order to recalibrate their relationship to food and eating. The first step in that process is to evaluate their nutritional status, which includes their physical health and eating habits.

In addition to using drugs or alcohol, many patients use food as a coping mechanism to manage stress or other challenging emotions. This can range from restricting food intake to binging to compensatory behaviors such as purging or over-exercising. Encore’s nutritional coach, based at Encore’s addiction treatment center in Virginia collaborates with staff therapists and other members of the treatment team to ensure all pieces of a patient’s care are seamlessly integrated.

Good nutritional coaching extends beyond talking to include experiential activities. Those vary depending on each patient’s needs and include journaling about their feelings related to eating and nutrition; keeping a food diary; and filling out worksheets that help them better understand the role of nutrition and healthy eating in treatment and recovery. Much of the experiential work done with patients in our treatment programs is aimed at helping them to better understand and recognize their body’s cues around hunger and eating.

Finally, as part of their treatment plan, the nutritional coach helps set patients up for success with outside resources should they need additional long-term support.

Nutrition is vital to good health. Understanding the role nutrition plays not only in good health, but in helping patients do better in treatment and build healthier lives in recovery should be an integral component of a treatment program. At Encore, we take that need seriously, ensuring that the patients who come to our addiction treatment center in Virginia understand what healthy eating entails and have a plan they can follow to ensure a balanced diet and healthy physical fitness.

Vanessa Terry is the nutrition coach at Encore. experienced dietitian passionate about coaching individuals to reconnect with their body and get on a path to learning how to have a healthy relationship with food. Vanessa earned her Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics at Arizona State University. She completed her Clinical Dietetic Internship with a focus on eating disorders at the University of Minnesota.

Lisa Kaufman is the program coordinator at Encore. She has a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from the University of Maryland, an MBA from American University and is also a Certified Personal Trainer.

For any questions about our addiction treatment programs, contact Encore Recovery today.

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