How Does Nutrition Affect Mental Health?

How Does Nutrition Affect Mental Health?

Food and mental health, how do they relate? There is actually a very close relationship between the food we eat and the way we feel mentally. The truth is, how we feel can affect our decisions about food, just as the food we eat can affect how we feel.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, making healthy food choices can become second nature once you develop a habit of making them. When it comes to mental health, eating a nutrient-dense balanced diet can contribute tremendously. There have been countless studies on the ways in which various diets affect functioning and overall health. Fad diets come and go, but organic, balanced, and nutrient-dense foods will always be your best bet.

Life can be hard, and everyday stressors can take a toll on your mental health. Even more difficult can be the challenges faced as a result of substance abuse. There will be many ups and downs along the path to recovery, but there are ways to ensure you are in your best state to cope with them. You have to eat, right?  Why not make choices that support good mental health?

Planning Ahead

Sure, it’s easy to pull through that drive-through and grab something quick on your way to work or to run errands. Sometimes, it’s not as convenient to actually cook or prepare something a little more nutritious. Meal prepping is always a good idea. This takes the guesswork out of it and allows you to grab and go. Planning ahead and creating meals and snacks ahead of time can feel like a little extra work upfront, but it makes things so much easier throughout the week and on busy days.

Impacts of Unhealthy Foods

Eating healthy makes you feel good. When you feel good, you’re more likely to be more active, focused, efficient, and productive overall. Eating unhealthy foods that are filled with processed sugars and ingredients can leave you feeling less than your best and significantly impact brain health. Unhealthy foods, or junk food, can often increase levels of stress hormones and result in a lack of energy, motivation, and focus. As further explained in the article “Food and Mood: How Do Diet and Nutrition Affect Mental Wellbeing?” by Joseph Firth, James E. Gangwisch, Alessandra Borsini, Robyn E. Wootton, and Emeran A. Mayer, "Although mood itself can affect our food choices, plausible mechanisms exist by which high consumption of processed carbohydrates could increase the risk of depression and anxiety—for example, through repeated and rapid increases and decreases in blood glucose.”

Good Nutrition During Treatment

Good nutrition is important for everyone. It’s particularly important for those who are trying to heal from substance use disorder (SUD). Addiction takes a toll on your mental, physical, and spiritual health. It takes time and intentional efforts to repair the damage caused by abusing drugs or alcohol. Eating healthy, organic foods during treatment and throughout recovery can help promote more complete and faster healing.

Maintaining a healthy diet throughout treatment and recovery is important for a variety of reasons. In order to get the most out of your treatment experience, you need to feel your best. A lot goes into feeling your best, but a large component of that is determined by what you put in your body. Drinking enough water and choosing to eat healthy foods and balanced meals can make a huge difference. You are better able to focus on learning during your therapy sessions and group meetings. You will be more motivated to stay on track and will stay aware of your goals. You will also have more energy to try new things and engage in other health and wellness activities that also promote better mental health.

Healthy eating can actually be fun! As you become more comfortable with trying different healthy foods, it can be fun to create new recipes using more organic and nutritious ingredients. You may find that you really enjoy cooking and preparing healthy meals. Engaging in cooking classes and wellness activities during treatment can help you develop habits and hobbies to carry with you throughout recovery.

Like anything else, healthy eating can sometimes take practice. Your appetite may have been significantly impacted by your substance abuse. Often, you develop an unhealthy relationship with food during this time. It could be that you were eating way too much of all the wrong things, or maybe you weren’t eating enough. Either way, treatment is an excellent time to allow your body to reset and fill it with healthy organic foods.

After eating this way for a while, it can become second nature. Habits, good or bad, can be easily formed and difficult to break. Once you break habits of poor eating and make it common practice to make good food choices, it becomes easy to maintain and implement into your routine throughout recovery.

Good mental health is so important. Achieving good mental health and maintaining it can certainly be challenging at times. Eating healthy can help. By making good nutrition a priority, you can feel better, look better, and function at your best. When you feel good and are in a good space mentally, you can better focus on your recovery and making the most of life. You can achieve a healthier lifestyle and promote better healing by choosing a treatment center that prioritizes organic and nutrient-dense foods. Enlightened Solutions offers a full menu composed of locally grown organic foods, many of which are grown on-site at the Enlightened Farm. Healing begins from the inside out. Let us help you restore your health and begin your journey to recovery. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.


Foods That Help with Anxiety

Foods That Help with Anxiety

You may have heard of that popular expression, “You are what you eat.” The stomach and the brain have a connection where if our bodies are not given essential nutrients, this can have an effect on the production of neurotransmitters and brain chemistry that impacts our mental health. By being wise about what foods you are incorporating into your diet, you will be able to see a difference in your anxiety.

Asparagus

Asparagus has a great amount of the ingredient folate which has a tendency to boost your mood. Instead of having fries as your side dish, try having asparagus instead that you can saute, grill, or steam. You can also have asparagus as a snack that you can dip into salsa, hummus, or salsa.

Avocado

Avocados are filled with vitamin B6 which can help the body make serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter. Deficiencies in these vitamins have a tendency to increase anxiety. Other than vitamin B6, avocados also have healthy fats that can help lessen anxiety. Instead of eating ice cream for dessert, you can have an avocado treat where you blend avocado with a ripe banana, vanilla extract, almond milk, and sweetener. Once you freeze it for a few hours, you will have a mood-boosting dessert. You can also add avocado to salads instead of fatty dressings and omelets instead of cheeses. 

Blueberries

Blueberries have antioxidants and vitamin C that will help repair and protect our cells. These fruits can help prevent and reduce anxiety for those who have it. Instead of having desserts that are high in sugar, which can throw off a healthy bacterial balance in the stomach, have a bowl of blueberries. 

Turkey

Turkey is filled with tryptophan which the body uses to produce serotonin to regulate sleep and mood. This nutrient can also help reduce feelings of anxiety. Instead of eating fried foods, which introduce unhealthy fats that can worsen your mental health, add turkey to quinoa or brown rice with veggies to provide good nutrients and nice sleep. 

Almonds

Almonds are filled with magnesium which increases serotonin in the brain. 12 almonds have 75mg of magnesium which is 19% of your daily recommended amount. Instead of having cookies for dessert, which are filled with unhealthy trans-fats and sugars that disrupt good bacteria, have nuts instead to promote stomach health. If you really need something sweet, you can throw in some dark chocolate chips into your mix. 

Yogurt

Fermented probiotic foods have a tendency to lessen social anxiety and fix damaged nerve tissue in the brain that leads to anxiety. Probiotics is a friendly bacteria that live in the GI tract and defends against harmful pathogens and microbes. Plain Greek yogurt has 100 million probiotic cultures per gram or 25 billion in a cup. Instead of having milk with your cereal, have milk with it instead. If you have a genetic risk of developing social anxiety, yogurt can be the best thing for you to include in your diet. If you do not care for yogurt, you can have sauerkraut or pickles in your sandwich for lunch which also has probiotics. Instead of having parmesan with your pasta or soups, sprinkle miso on top of it.

Kale

Having lower antioxidants in your system can lead to increased anxiety symptoms. Dark, leafy greens like kale are rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin E to boost antioxidant levels and support the best brain function. Instead of lettuce in your salad or your sandwiches, use kale instead. If you feel like kale is too bitter for you, add it to an omelet, soup, or smoothie. 

Salmon

Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids which help with anxiety. Having enough beneficial fats will support a healthy brain and stomach connection. Salmon helps keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking when you feel tense. Studies have also shown that fatty acids can reduce inflammation and prevent brain cell dysfunction that can lead to developing mental health disorders. One study in PubMed showed that men who ate Atlantic salmon three times a week for five months had less anxiety than those who ate chicken, beef, or pork. They also had an improved heart rate. Instead of having a big, juicy steak for dinner, substitute that with seafood. You can try adding different spices to your salmon like salt and pepper, garlic, rosemary, etc. 

Tumeric

Tumeric contains curcumin, which is a compound that promotes brain health and prevents anxiety. This compound also has a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that prevent damage to brain cells. This could be because curcumin reduces inflammatory markers like cytokines which are responsible for anxiety development. Curcumin can also increase blood antioxidant levels which are low in those with anxiety. Tumeric is easy to add in meals as it has minimal flavor. You can add it in smoothies, curries, and casserole dishes.

Dark Chocolate

We may be quick to go for milk chocolate because of its sweet flavor. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, can do more for your anxiety as it contains flavonols which are oxidants good for brain function. Flavonols improve blood flow to the brain and can help adapt to stressful situations. Eating dark chocolate can also increase serotonin which can reduce the stress that leads to anxiety. By incorporating any of these stress-reducing foods into your diet, your anxiety levels should decrease and you will feel a whole lot better.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12-Step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Should We Be Told To Love Our Bodies?

Should We Be Told To Love Our Bodies?

We receive thousands of messages a day which instill ideologies about our body image. These messages tell us how we should feel about ourselves, which is usually some form of negative perspective. We could always be better. We can always do more. We should be better and we should be doing more in order to be better. Consequently, we never feel like we are enough because we don’t feel like we are doing enough to feel good enough about ourselves. The result has been generations riddled with eating disorders, poor self-esteem, body image issues, and complex mental health problems.

The body positive movement which has steadily been rising on social media platforms is a long awaited and necessary revolution in body image. Rather than promote negative messages, the body positive movement promotes positive messages of acceptance and self-love. However, the movement does make an assumption: that we should love our bodies and that loving our bodies is better. On the one hand, the assumption is logical. Positivity and self-love must be better than negativity and self-criticism. There is a place for both. Truly holistic living understands that there is a balance between both, embracing both the yin and the yang. Should we be told to love our bodies. Arguably, what we should be hearing is to meet ourselves exactly where we are without any kind of aversion. Perhaps we don’t have to be negative or be positive but recognize the fact that we are being- and that our being happens within our physical form.

Body neutrality is a budding buzz term for the body image movement. As cited by New Zealand’s Stuff, cllinical psychologist Bryan Karazsia explains that “Body neutrality goes a step further [than body acceptance] to as an important question: Why all the fuss about the body?” Instead of focus on being body positive as an antidote to body negativity, body neutrality means practicing equanimity. Equanimity is a largely Buddhist concept which broadly means creating a foundation from which you cannot be shaken by either good or bad. Being present in your body can mean mindfully acknowledging moments which feel either negative or positive, but do not let either define how you feel or see your body. It is easier said than done, however, it isn’t said enough by advocates for transformational body image.

The best move to make for recovery from drug abuse is the quickest move by calling and asking for help immediately. Recovery is possible and healing will take place in mind, body, and spirit. Enlightened Recovery Solutions offers a holistic based, 12-step inspired, clinically proven program for alcoholism and co-occurring disorders. Call (844) 234-LIVE today for information on our partial care programs.


Clean Eating Is Healthy Unless It Becomes A Problem

Clean Eating Is Healthy Unless It Becomes A Problem

Clean eating is all the rage in the health and wellness world. Organic lovers and those lucky enough to be educated on the necessity of eating whole foods as opposed to genetically modified or processed foods, have been eating clean for decades. For millions of others, however, the boxes, bags, cans, and containers lining grocery store shelves have sufficed. Today, thanks to the internet and some successful documentaries like the groundbreak Food, Inc, there is a wealth of information available on how to eat clean. Clean eating means maintaining a diet that is as free as possible from allergens, harmful chemicals, genetically modified ingredients, preservatives, and other ‘junk’. Mostly focused on whole food ingredients, clean eating reduces sugar and additives by focusing on nutrients, vitamins, and minerals instead. Eating clean can be as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, clean eating can become incredibly complicated, full of rules and strict regimens. “Orthorexia” is a term which has been created to describe when someone becomes unhealthily obsessed with clean eating. Clean eating is healthy and better for you unless it becomes a problem and starts taking a toll on your health.

Addiction swapping is a risk for anyone who enters recovery for a drug and alcohol addiction. The brain deeply craves the pain and pleasure caused by addiction. Needing to fixate and obsess, almost anything can step in as a new addiction. Recovery comes with a focus on health and wellness, particularly in the areas of diet and nutrition. Learning how to nurture the body through food is both a life skill as well as a form of self care. However, the pleasure of eating clean, losing weight, getting into shape, and feeling good can trigger old obsessive patterns in the brain.

Signs to look out for

If you’re concerned you or a loved one might be getting carried away in the clean eating lifestyle, here are a few warning signs to look out for.

  • They verbally emphasize what food is “good” and what food is “bad”
  • They won’t admit to “restricting” their diet because they are “eliminating” or “staying away” from certain foods
  • They display peculiar behaviors toward food or food situations which they believe threatens how clean their body has become
  • They do not feel good about themselves unless they are adhering to their diet
  • They eliminate entire food groups from their diet
  • They use unsubstantiated arguments like allergies or intolerances to avoid certain foods
  • They experience anxiety or discomfort at the idea of dining out or eating in areas where they can’t be in control of their food

The best move to make for recovery from drug abuse is the quickest move by calling and asking for help immediately. Recovery is possible and healing will take place in mind, body, and spirit. Enlightened Recovery Solutions offers a holistic based, 12-step inspired, clinically proven program for alcoholism and co-occurring disorders. Call (844) 234-LIVE today for information on our partial care programs.


partial care program

A Balanced Diet Is A Balanced Life

According to a UK mental health website, “Nearly two thirds of those who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day, compared with less than half of those who do report daily mental health problems. This pattern is similar for fresh vegetables and salad.” Those who experience adverse mental health issues on a daily basis are eating unhealthy foods high in saturated fats, unhealthy oils, and tons of sugar.

The brain, the body, and even the soul run on food. If you don’t believe the soul enjoys food, pay attention the next time you feel as though you’ve walked through cloud nine after eating a favorite comfort food. Food is a sensual experience which integrates all the senses and perspectives. You think food, you feel food, you experience food, you remember food. You also completely rely upon food. Food is more than calories, flavors, and recipes. Food is the fuel to the body’s engine. Without food, the body will not survive. What we give our bodies in food is what we have to work with, to live off of, and use to grow. Would you water a plant with a sugary, carbonated soda? Feed your garden potato chips and chocolate cookies? What we grow is food, and food nourishes us. Yet, we wouldn’t feed what feeds us what we often feed ourselves!

It is because of this imbalance that the brain often suffers. Essential nutrients like omega acids, amino acids, and fatty acids only come from food. The brain needs healthy oils, fats, and acids to recover and function at its highest capacity. When our diets are full of unhealthy foods, our brain is not capable at doing its best, which translates through us in many different ways.

Ongoing evidence shows that a healthy diet is critical for long term recovery. Depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other co-occurring mental health conditions can be supplemented with specific diets. For example, avocado, eggs, and whole grains give depression the fats and oils needed to balance mood and regulate emotions. High amounts of protein help sustain ADHD and create more focus. Addiction needs a full spectrum of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and complex carbohydrates to replenish malnourished bodies. Chemical dependency tends to set priorities on the consumption of drugs and alcohol rather than fruits and vegetables.

Food is healing. Learning how to heal the mind, body, and spirit with food is a lifetime tool for recovery. Enlightened Solutions emphasizes the importance of personal nutrition and healthy living through organic meals, cooking classes, and experiential learning with budgeting, grocery shopping, and more. For more information on our treatment programs for addiction, alcoholism, and co-occurring mental health disorders, call 833-801-5483.


Can’t Sleep? Eat (And Don’t Eat) These Foods

“I’m going to sleep so good tonight,” we grunt and groan, rubbing our bellies and slowly sliding further into our seats. A good meal at the end of the day is comforting. Eating just enough, perhaps too much, or having the exact food we have been craving all day puts us at ease.

Then, something happens. We’re wide awake. The promise of of an epicurean induced slumber slides away as we did earlier in our dinner table seats. Our stomachs might be grumbling, our insides might be burning, and most certainly our minds are wide awake.

Food is fuel. What we put into our bodies affects our energy and our minds in addition to our digestive systems. We know that there are herbal teas like chamomile and lavender to help us go to sleep. Certainly turkey and foods containing tryptophan and melatonin cause an easy transition into sleep land. Did you know there are other foods which will help you sleep or keep you wide awake?

 

Foods To Sleep

  • Complex Carbs: there’s little doubt that a big bowl of pasta can tucker one out for the night. Rather than eating simple starches or bleached starches, opt for grains and wheat. Complex carbs take longer to digest, allowing you to fall asleep while your body does the work.
  • Fatty Fishes: Fish like salmon and tuna which can have a high fat count are great sleepy time foods. Both fish contain tryptophan and vitamins to help your body naturally produce melatonin
  • Leafy Greens: spinach, kale, and chard, all have calcium. Combining calcium rich foods with tryptophan rich foods is an extra boost for producing melatonin.
  • Simple Fruits: Fruits with high fiber and sweet taste will satisfy your late night sugar cravings without the negative consequences.  

 

Foods Not To Sleep

  • Fried Foods: eating a deep fried meal can certainly make you feel lethargic, but it probably won’t help you sleep. Salty, fatty, fried foods are going to cause bloating and gas. It will be hard to find a comfortable position, breathe deeply, and sleep soundly.
  • Sugary Sweet Desserts: nothing tops a rich meal like a sweet dessert. Sugar is a stimulant, yet we often choose dessert as the last meal of the night. Too much sugar after dinner can wake your body up even worse, as you stay up all night from the sugar high, you’ll eventually experience a sugar crash- usually right in time to wake up and start your day, exhausted.

 

Enlightened Solutions emphasizes the importance of a holistic and balanced diet. As part of our treatment programs we offer nutritional guidance, educational courses on food and eating, as well as cooking classes. For more information on our programs for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders, call 833-801-5483 today.


Going Sugar Free is Easy

Going sugar free is easy, though sometimes easier said than done. Sugar is a major part of the American diet, popping up in the most unsuspecting places. With various names as disguises, sugar can appear in almost any food. In fact, read the nutrition label on most grocery store bought processed foods and find sugar or a similar ingredient. Sugar, Cane Juice, Fructose, Dextrose, High Fructose Corn Syrup...it is all the same thing. For years American culture has largely ignored the blanketed presence of sugar. Recent documentaries like  Fed Up, That Sugar Film, and Sugar Coated reveal the “dark” side of sugar.

Sugar is addicting.

Scientific research has proven that sugar is not only highly addicting but acts identically to cocaine once it enters the bloodstream. Sugar changes the way our bodies and brains act on their own, as well as interact with each other. Too much sugar is known to lead to poor dental health. Sugar can cause a wide array of health problems, largely because sugar damages the immune system.

Choosing to go sugar free is no easy choice.

The experience of taking sugar out of the diet is similar to detoxing from drugs like cocaine. There are mood swings, irritability, changes in appetite, and even obsessive cravings for sugar. Overtime, the symptoms of sugar withdrawal lessen and, like sobriety, the benefits take over. Getting there takes time.

Here are some tips for starting the journey toward going sugar free:

  • Clean: Do a sweep of your refrigerator, cabinets, and pantry. Help you help yourself by getting rid of all the sugary foods in the house, as well as things with added sugar.
  • Read: While cleaning out your house and grocery shopping read the labels. Looking at the ingredients and nutrition facts will show you just how much sugar is in your ketchup.
  • DIY: Instead of buying pre-sweetened food sources, opt to make food and food additions yourself. If you don’t have time to prepare everything at home, look for sugar-free or unsweetened varieties.
  • Snacks: Eating multiple small “meals” throughout the way staves off hunger which can cause craving for sugar. People tend to snack on candy and sugary items during the day. Reach for any whole, real food instead. Fruits and vegetables are great snacks.
  • Spices: While you’re learning to eat without added sweetness, you might find yourself lacking in flavor. Spice everything up using herbs and spices.
  • Soda: A great tool for reducing sugar is cutting out soda. If you’re desperate for a fizzy drink try natural sodas sweetened with agave or sparkling flavored water.

Enlightened Solutions is proud to offer comprehensive education in food, cooking, and nutrition as part of our holistic program of healing from addiction. Call us today for more information on our programs of treatment for men and women seeking recovery 833-801-5483.