What would you say if we told you that good food is part of the treatment programmes offered at UKAT? Hopefully, your response would be positive because good food is part of what we do. Our clients are treated to delicious and highly nutritious meals cooked on site using fresh ingredients sourced daily.
This may sound like a restaurant advertisement but it’s not. Our philosophy about food is rooted in our knowledge of nutrition and its effects on mental health and addiction recovery. Good food and proper nutrition are so important to recovery that we are surprised more rehab providers do not pay sufficient attention to it. Be that as it may, good food and proper nutrition are as important in our treatment programmes as any of the therapies we administer.
The old adage that says you are what you eat is certainly applicable to addiction and mental illness recovery. What most people do not realise is that those suffering from addictive or compulsive behaviours are almost always suffering from nutritional deficiencies as well. Often, those deficiencies are directly related to the troublesome behaviour being treated.
As an example, chronic alcoholics tend to start out by gaining weight due to the fact that they derive as much as 50% of their daily calories from alcohol. As alcoholism wears on, everything is reversed. The alcoholic stops eating real food and tends to drop weight quickly. Many chronic alcoholics eventually get to the point where alcohol is the only thing ingested on a daily basis. Not only does that make it impossible to maintain a healthy body weight, but it also robs the alcoholic of the essential vitamins and nutrients the body needs to maintain good health.
Other drugs have similar impacts. For example, opiates tend to cause gastrointestinal distress that makes it uncomfortable to eat. Sedatives suppress the appetite to the point that food becomes repulsive.
Even mental illnesses can have devastating effects where nutrition is concerned. Someone with an eating disorder is obviously not maintaining healthy eating habits while another person suffering from depression or anxiety may neglect the diet as well. All of this has an adverse impact on the body and mind.
We look at nutrition in recovery from two aspects, the first being what we call short-term, emergency nutrition. This short-term aspect concentrates on restoring proper nutritional balance in the early stages of recovery in order to help the body in its own efforts to heal itself. Once again, we can use alcohol as an example here.
Alcohol consumption significantly impedes nutrient breakdown and assimilation. The alcoholic who comes to us for a 12-week rehab programme will likely have to start with a 7-to-10-day detox. We could feed the client during detox by choosing items from our regular kitchen menu. But it would be better to include aggressive vitamin and mineral supplementation. Infusing the body with high doses of vitamins and minerals is like supercharging the detox process by immediately replenishing what alcohol has stolen. This makes it much easier for the body to tolerate detox and to flush itself of alcohol and its associated chemicals.
A person with an eating disorder would also benefit from aggressive vitamin and mineral supplementation in the short term. Regaining and maintaining the proper level of those vitamins and minerals makes it a lot easier to deal with the eating disorder at hand.
The diet and nutrition team at UKAT are dedicated to providing good long-term nutrition to our clients – not just in the rehab setting, but also after they leave to return home. We accomplish this by feeding our clients well AND teaching them how to feed themselves once they leave our care. This is so important for preventing relapse. People do not realise the value of good nutrition in maintaining overall physical, mental and emotional health.
In the kitchens of our clinics, you’ll find certified and fully trained staff who are experts in good nutrition. They spend their days preparing exceptionally healthy meals that serve clients well. Some of the staff also spend time with clients outside of the kitchen teaching them the basic principles of good nutrition. Those who are interested may even learn how to prepare menus and cook the meals they will enjoy while in treatment.
By teaching clients about the necessity of good nutrition, we also teach them how to live a healthier life. This pays huge dividends for them long after they complete residential treatment. Embracing good nutrition leads to:
In summary, good nutrition aids in short-term recovery by equipping the body with the right kinds of nutrients it needs to get well. It aids in long-term recovery by teaching clients how to maintain a healthier lifestyle long after they leave treatment. Including good food and proper nutrition in our treatment programmes has proved so successful that we would never think of doing things any other way.
UKAT is one of the UK’s leading providers of treatment for substance addiction, behavioural addiction, eating disorders and mental illness. We are here to help you regardless of the scope of your problem. You need only contact us to get started down that road to recovery and wellness.
When you contact us, be sure to ask any questions you might have about our nutrition programme or the great food we serve at our rehab clinics. We want you to fully understand our philosophy. Again, we believe proper nutrition is an integral part of long-term recovery that you cannot afford to do without.
When people eat well and practice good nutrition, they are more likely to maintain a healthier lifestyle overall. That’s what we’re after. That’s why we include good food and proper nutrition in our treatment programmes.