What is Nutritional Counseling?
While it might seem like Nutritional Counseling belongs exclusively to the realm of physical health and wellness, the practice is actually a crucial component of the mental health field. Nutritional Counseling is aimed at treating the chemical imbalances that lead to mental health issues through a combination of diet, supplements and the development of nutrition-related life skills. At Guardian IOP our nutritional program was designed by a team of dedicated professionals with combined decades in the field of substance abuse and mental health.
How Does Diet Help Facilitate Recovery?
Nutritional counseling does not simply work to heal the body. This recovery-oriented service focuses on emotional regulation and psychological balance. There are numerous benefits that go hand-in-hand with Nutritional Counseling, including:
- Repairing the damage done to vital organs and tissues – Active addiction does a number on every part of the physical body, especially the vital organs – including the brain, the lungs, the liver, the heart, the stomach, the bladder and the kidneys. Eating well can also help repair damaged tissue and restore the body to a state of proper functioning far more quickly and effectively than abstinence alone.
- Bolstering the immune system – Substance abuse weakens the immune system, and men and women who struggle with substance dependency are known to get sick more frequently than members of the general population. Eating a nutrient-dense diet helps bolster the immune system, reducing the severity and duration of illnesses.
- Helping to regulate mood – Mood swings are a common symptom of post-acute withdrawal, and most individuals who are new to recovery will feel on edge and irritable more often than not. Eating well can work to regulate mood – in fact, according to a study published by Harvard Medical School, 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. Eating foods that improve gastrointestinal health helps boost brain health, ultimately improving mood.
- Increasing energy levels – Resorting to fast food in the middle of a busy day might seem like the only option, but focusing on getting three nutrient-dense meals every day is essentially to the maintenance of lasting energy levels. We teach our clients how to swap out junk food for convenient and healthy options so that they can be as productive as possible throughout the day.
- Improving sleep patterns – Men and women who struggle with addiction rarely pay attention to what time of the day they are eating, or how much they are eating at any given time. Eating three balanced meals – breakfast, lunch and an early dinner – helps regularize sleep patterns, and can even help ward off insomnia.
- Decrease risk of relapse and drug-seeking behaviors – In many cases, men and women who are new to recovery actually mistake hunger for drug or alcohol cravings. Knowing how much food to prepare in order to stay satisfied throughout the day can work to prevent relapse by warding off psychological cravings.