The old adage — you are what you eat — has more truth to it than you might expect. We all know we should eat healthily, but new research and a focus on holistic care are illustrating the full scope of impact diet has on our overall wellness. Our bodies need sustenance from varied, healthy sources for optimal mental and physical well-being. The nutrients we receive from food nourish and fuel every cell in our bodies, providing a foundation for their structure, function and growth. When we eat well, we feel focused and energized — our bodies run smoothly and our minds are balanced.
However, many individuals seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders have poor nutritional habits that make it difficult to maintain physical and psychological health. Those struggling with mental illness can become malnourished without the time, energy or motivation to plan healthy meals. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to break the habit of eating convenient, processed foods such as frozen dinners, unhealthy snacks and quick bites. These calorie-rich foods are high in refined sugars, fats and carbohydrates, creating fluctuations in mood and appetite that can lead to cravings and other health-related consequences. Once an individual is accustomed to an unhealthy diet, incorporating whole foods such as fresh fruits, leafy vegetables and lean meats becomes more challenging. For many, this creates a cycle of unwellness that is difficult to escape from.
Unhealthy foods aren’t ideal for anyone, but for those struggling with mental health and addiction, their symptoms can become exacerbated by improper nutrition. A consistently poor diet means our bodies aren’t receiving an adequate amount of the essential vitamins or minerals it needs to stay strong. Over time, health starts to decline and it becomes more difficult to find the energy to battle psychiatric or substance abuse issues. When it’s time to enter treatment for these concerns, proper nutrition becomes an integral part of the healing process and helps residents find the strength they need to improve their mental and physical well-being. At Alta Loma, we understand the importance of healthy eating and provide residents with dietary support and nutrition education as they work towards long-term, sustainable recovery.