Entries tagged with “Recovery education”.


7 tips for healthy eating in recoverySubstance abuse has long been linked to nutritional deficiencies. The empty calories in wine, beer, and liquor reduce the desire to consume a healthy diet, while the urge to seek a high from illegal drugs often causes substance abusers to skip meals in search of their next fix.

If you’re in recovery, following a balanced diet can help repair the past damage caused by substance abuse. Proper nutrition will also help alleviate symptoms of withdrawal (such as headaches and stomach upset), reduce cravings, and boost your energy levels.

Here are seven tips for healthy eating in recovery:

1. Drink Lots of Water
In detox and the early stages of recovery, dehydration is a common concern. It’s recommended that you drink 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound of body weight. For example, a 150-pound woman should try to drink 75 to 150 ounces of water per day.

If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try making infused water by adding fresh fruit and herbs to a pitcher of water and chilling it for several hours. Watermelon and mint, citrus and cucumber, or strawberry and basil are a few popular combinations you can try.

2. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Current federal dietary guidelines recommend that you fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables for each meal. This is great advice for everyone, but it’s particularly helpful for people in recovery.

Citrus fruits are rich in antioxidants, which help boost your immune system, restore the appearance of your skin and hair, and protect the body from free radical damage. Grapefruit is especially beneficial during detox and early recovery because it helps regulate your digestive system while lowering cholesterol and preventing kidney stones.

Any vegetable you enjoy is a good choice, although leafy greens like kale, spinach, romaine, bok choy, swiss chard, collards, and dandelion provide a source of chlorophyll to help rid the body of harmful toxins and promote detoxification in the liver. If you’re not a salad lover, try adding leafy greens to a smoothie. Combine 1 cup greens, 1 cup liquid, and 1 ½ cups fruit. The fruit will give your finished drink a sweet taste that masks the flavor of the greens.

3. Choose Whole Grains
Whole grains are those that contain the bran, germ, and endosperm instead of losing nutrients while being refined. Whole grains are packed with insoluble fiber, which keeps you from being constipated and helps control your appetite. They’re also high in antioxidants and packed with essential nutrients.

Whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and air-popped popcorn are the most common types of whole grains. However, more adventurous eaters may want to branch out and try options like quinoa, bulgur, millet, and buckwheat.

4. Add Wild Salmon as a Source of Lean Protein
Protein helps recovering substance abusers repair damaged cells. Wild salmon is an excellent protein source because it is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon can be baked, broiled, or grilled and paired with a side of mixed veggies or brown rice for a filling and delicious meal option.

5. Snack on Seeds and Nuts
Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are wonderful choices for snacks since they have enough protein to regulate your blood sugar and keep your mood stable throughout the day. Try making your own homemade trail mix by combining your favorites with dried fruit and a bit of whole grain granola. One serving of trail mix is approximately ¼ cup. You can keep premeasured portions in plastic sandwich bags to avoid overeating.

6. Limit Consumption of Fast Foods, Sugary Sweets, and Caffeine
During recovery, one common mistake that people make is replacing their abused substance with fast food or sugary sweets. These foods create temporary feelings of satisfaction, but can result in weight gain along with making you feel bloated and sluggish. It’s best to reserve these items for special occasions only.

You may also want to avoid beverages containing caffeine during your recovery. Caffeine provides a temporary energy boost, but can result in mood fluctuations that make it harder to resist cravings for alcohol or drugs.

7. Keep a Food Journal
Nutritionists often recommend keeping a food journal to learn more about how different foods affect your mood and energy levels. This exercise can be useful in identifying areas where you need to improve your nutrition, as well as strategies that work well in reducing your cravings.

By: Dana Hinders


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By: Aspen Stoddard/staff writer

After more than a decade of using substances to avoid my “self,” one of the hardest parts of transitioning into sobriety was learning new tactics for dealing with the cycle of anxious thoughts spinning constantly in my mind.

Sure, I understood the idea of living one day at a time, but the fear of having to sustain this thought-battle in my mind permanently taunted me. How would I ever get through? It was right around this time period that my therapist suggested meditation.

“Have you ever tried?” she asked. I had not. I started to get a little angry: I needed real help. Being inside my mind was part of the problem.

“It works for me,” she said. “I find I have more energy afterward.”

I tried not to laugh. I imagined myself sitting cross-legged on some maroon rug trying to keep my eyes shut. I wouldn’t last ten seconds. My thoughts churned inside my head like hurricanes. There was no way I would be able to quiet my mind. In fact, I believed trying to sit still would only make the thoughts worse. I also thought that meditation was a practice that one needed to grow up with in order to efficiently perform. I’m a small-town girl who has experience in self-destruction. What did I know about meditating?

So instead of taking my friend’s advice, I returned to the chaos of my mind and continued struggling within the way I had grown used to.

After a few weeks, and at a point where I was feeling worn out and on the verge of running back toward drugs to ease my mind, the idea of meditation returned to me. I decided to give it a shot. I began with guided meditations, which allowed me to listen to someone tell a story.

If you have ever listened to a guided meditation, then you can probably imagine the soothing voice suggesting: find a place to sit down. You can choose a soft pillow or a cushioned-chair. Just find a place to sit down and be comfortable and then close your eyes. Concentrate on the cool air streaming through your nose. Just stay right there. Breathe. Think only of the flow of oxygen moving in and out. Allow thoughts to enter and exit your mind without attempting to interpret them. In other words, relax. Allow yourself to be.

I sat with my eyes pinched closed, my body taut with tension, and a voice in my head telling me that it was time to relax (not telling—more on the verge of panicking). I could only think about how I didn’t know what I was doing.

But then slowly something strange happened. After about five minutes into the session, I was suddenly only aware of the muscles in my body and the woman’s voice who was guiding me. I felt the circuit of energy moving in waves through me. When I finally opened my eyes, tears streamed down my cheeks. Not so much because I had an out-of-this-world spiritual experience (though, that would come later after more practice) but because of the relief my brain felt. I had, if only for that short moment, escaped from my anxious thoughts.

I escaped without poisoning my body.

One of the common misconceptions about meditation is that you must force your mind to empty. The reality is quite the opposite. Rather than forcing the mind to be silent, meditation asks that you allow thoughts to freely flow without judging them. For the addict in recovery, I think this is one of the most essential terms-—judgement. As addicts in recovery, we are professionals at judging ourselves. We are not so expert at acceptance. Meditation allowed me to begin to forgive myself for hurting myself and others. Through a steady practice of meditation, I could allow those thoughts to enter my mind and let them pass.

It has been a few years now since I started practicing meditation. I find that I am more stable when I am practicing. When I get off track and start skipping sessions, I feel myself spiraling. Meditation forces me to sit with myself, to be aware of my awareness, to allow a maelstrom of thoughts to appear and disappear without trying to over-analyze them.

But don’t just take my word for it; in a recent study by Harvard in 2011, researchers found that an eight-week program of meditative practice changes the gray matter in the brain, the region that controls stress, memory, empathy, and our sense of self.

Again, keep in mind that meditation works best as a daily practice. It’s best to find a way to incorporate meditation as part of your lifestyle than to see it as time-absorbing exercise. You don’t need a lot of time. In fact, I started with just ten minutes a day.

Check out these websites for a variety of specified guided meditations:

 

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 


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Advice for parents of addicted children.

Do you remember the first time you held your son or daughter? Becoming a parent is a great joy, but it’s also a great responsibility. You probably felt a weight of responsibility in that moment, not only to provide for your child, but also to guide him to make choices for himself.

Guiding a young child to do the right thing is certainly difficult, but it can be much harder to parent an adult or older teenager, especially when that adult is addicted to drugs or alcohol. As the mom or dad of someone who abuses substances, you may feel many emotions at once: fear, resentment, sympathy, and a feeling of complete loss as to how you might convince an adult to change his or her behavior.

First of all, remember that you are not alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as much as 6 percent of Americans have an alcohol dependency problem. For every person who abuses drugs and alcohol, there is a network of loved ones and friends who are just as affected by that addiction. Feeling isolated and powerless will not help you assist your son or daughter, and it will not help you find peace in your own life.

Instead, here are some ways that you can take a proactive approach when interacting with a loved one who abuses drugs and alcohol.

For you and your family members:

  • Don’t blame yourself: Many parents of addicts feel a profound sense of guilt, going over every second of the past to find the one moment they could have done something differently. The truth is that every parent makes mistakes. Whatever your faults, you must accept that your son or daughter has free will. Working through difficulties in family relationships can be an important part of rehabilitation, but don’t allow your son or daughter to use your mistakes to avoid taking responsibility for her behavior.
  • Learn as much as you can about addiction: Every year, researchers conduct scientific studies about the causes and effects of addiction. We’re learning more about how drugs and alcohol interact with the body and how addiction is caused by chemical changes in the brain. Knowing that addiction is a physical problem can help you better understand your son or daughter’s actions, and give you hope that recovery is possible. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence are useful resources for learning more about the way addiction affects the body.
  • Seek support: You do not have to go through this alone. There are many other parents and families who are experiencing or have experienced the same struggle. Joining a support group can help you meet friends who can relate to your experiences and offer advice about how to support your child. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous family groups are a great option. You can also use Mental Health America’s online tools to find groups in your area.

For your son or daughter:

  • Love your son or daughter without enabling: No parent wants to see their son or daughter suffer. You may prefer giving her money, regardless of what it might be used for, instead of worrying if she has enough food or a safe place to sleep. But helping without caution only contributes to the problem. Hold yourself accountable to loving your child without enabling: buy groceries instead of offering money, tell her that you love her without letting her make excuses.
  • Find your son or daughter professional rehabilitation services: Addiction is a disease. You wouldn’t try to cure yourself or your loved one from cancer, and you can’t fight the physical and emotional causes of addiction without the expertise of professionals either. St. Joseph Institute offers residential services for people ages 18 and up, which includes a family program that helps family members work through the emotional issues surrounding addiction together.

Dealing with a son or daughter who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is extremely difficult, but it does not have to be impossible. Make use of existing networks and resources to help you support your son or daughter through a successful recovery.

 
To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 


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