Skip to main content

Easy and Nutritious Meals to Make For People In Recovery

It's not always easy to find the motivation to cook or eat healthy meals during recovery. You’re already doing a lot of difficult work as you heal, and cooking can feel like a burdensome undertaking. 

However, nutrition is an essential component of the recovery process. Healthy food fuels positive mental wellness and optimizes your physical condition. Never underestimate the significance of the impact nutrition can have on your healing.

Eating well doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you’re in recovery or want to support a friend through the process, you’ll love these low-effort recipes for healthy meals we’ve gathered. 

The Importance of Nutrition in Recovery

Your brain uses 20% of your energy every day. It requires calories and nutrients to do its job correctly. During recovery, your brain works hard to understand its new reality and build healthy new pathways. Healthy food is essential to fuel this hard work.

Science has proven that food also affects your moods. The area of your brain that controls your appetite is called the thalamus, which tells you whether you’re hungry or not. The brain also contains neurotransmitters that carry messages between neurons about your mood and level of physical hunger. 

The Link Between Food and Neurotransmitters

Serotonin and dopamine are two critical neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. They also play a massive role in your recovery as you grapple with the complex emotions and mood changes that typically accompany detoxing and healing from substance use. 

Low levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine can result in a negative mood, while higher levels will result in a positive one. Research shows that foods that are high in antioxidants can help increase the production of serotonin. 

Antioxidant-rich foods include:

  • Vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, peppers, and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits like citrus, cantaloupe, and grapefruit
  • Seeds, nuts, and legumes
  • Fish such as salmon and tuna
  • Eggs
  • Grains like oatmeal and brown rice

There’s also evidence that foods containing healthy fat and amino acids boost serotonin production. Some example foods containing high levels of amino acids include:

  • Quinoa
  • Mushrooms
  • Turkey
  • Cottage cheese

Other Impacts of Nutrition on Your Brain

Neurotransmitters aren’t the only chemicals in your brain affected by what you eat. Endorphins, known as the “feel-good” chemical, are released into your brain by various activities such as exercising. Eating certain foods can also trigger endorphin release, including:

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla bean
  • Spicy foods

Endorphins and other mood-boosting brain chemicals are necessary for your recovery to keep you optimistic about your journey. It’s also great news for chocolate lovers!

Some foods can increase or decrease mental alertness. Carbohydrates, for example, can lower your alertness, which may calm you down. High-protein foods typically increase mental alertness by producing more neurotransmitters.

Our Top Recipes to Fuel Your Recovery

Now that you fully understand the importance of nutrition in your recovery, it’s time to dive into some easy, tasty recipes that will keep you healthy throughout the healing process. 

You don’t have to break the bank or prepare a gourmet meal to eat healthily. These recipes can be the groundwork, but don’t be afraid to venture out and try new things as you gain confidence in your cooking.


Some of the best breakfast recipes are highly customizable. Whether you’re a fan of a hot meal first thing in the morning or prefer something cold and light, you’ll find a fit in our favorites. 

For a healthy breakfast, we love:

  • Smoothie Bowls – They’re not just a fad for juice bars. Smoothie bowls are an easy and delicious way to start the day with a variety of fruit options. If you cringe at the idea of a smoothie, never fear! Smoothie bowls dress up the smoothie with other ingredients such as fruit, seeds and nuts, granola, chocolate chips, and more. Check out a few of our favorite variations and start customizing!
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal packs a powerful nutritious punch. It’s famous for its cholesterol-lowering qualities, among others. It’s also super versatile. You can make it warm, save time by concocting overnight oats, or even try savory versions. Try out some of our favorite oatmeal recipes and see what you like best!
  • Loaded Toast – Avocado toast is the obvious choice, and for good reason. But you don’t have to stop at avocado. You can top a slice of whole-wheat bread with eggs, hummus, sweet potato, and much more.


We love a lunch high in protein and healthy fats to give you the boost you need to get through the rest of your day. Leftovers make an excellent lunch, but if you’re not a fan, you have plenty of options for tasty and nutritious lunches. 

  • Sandwiches – These are lunchtime classics for a reason. You can switch up almost any sandwich element to keep it fresh. Pair healthy whole wheat with chicken salad or spring for a delicious veggie option. The possibilities are endless!
  • Salads – If you don’t consider yourself a fan of salads, we invite you to try something new. There are many creative and delicious ways to toss a salad, and they’re simple to prepare and take on the go.
  • Homemade Lunch Boxes – If you need an option that involves minimal cook and prep, try making a lunch box. These can include almost anything you want, such as fruit, cheese, nuts, crackers, or you can try a variation on a bento box. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, so to speak.


Many people consider dinner their main meal; if that’s true for you, ensuring you eat a healthy one is extra important. 

  • Soups and Stews – Soup can be both comforting and nourishing, and it can range from creamy bisques to clear broths to stews bursting with ingredients. Bone broth has become especially popular for its nutritional properties lately, but there are plenty of other delectable recipes.
  • Stuffed Potatoes – Both potatoes and sweet potatoes contain many healthy nutrients and pair well with many ingredients. We love them because they’re satisfying and a great way to sneak in some veggies. 
  • Buddha Bowls – Buddha Bowl is the popular term for a bowl that contains many different ingredients, usually grains, protein, vegetables, and various toppings. You can make a bowl from almost any ingredients or style of food, from Mexican to Japanese to the Mediterranean. If you play with your options, you’ll likely land on a new favorite.


When hunger strikes in-between meals, you’ll wish you had a snack to tie you over. Keeping healthy snacks available will help you avoid reaching for something less nutritious when in a pinch. That’s why we love snacks that are easy to prepare, store, and carry.

  • Energy Bites – Also known as power bites or energy balls, energy bites are small snacks that usually contain high-protein and healthy ingredients designed to give you a burst of energy. They’re portable and the perfect size—plus, they are incredibly easy to make!
  • Veggies and Hummus – A snack that’s high in protein is perfect for keeping you going. Keep it simple with veggie sticks like carrots and celery dipped in your favorite hummus. You can also pair your hummus with a whole wheat cracker.
  • Yogurt – If you don’t want to do any prep for your snacks, yogurt can be the perfect option. The grocery store stocks many healthy choices and flavors; you can easily store them in your fridge at work or at home.

Embarking on Your Healing Journey

Nutrition is only one aspect of many that form the recovery process. All parts of your lifestyle are essential, as is your continued commitment to your treatment, counseling sessions, and support group meet-ups.

If you need more support to get you started or continue down the road to healing, reach out to Jackson House Rehabilitation Center. We’ll help you find what you need to make your recovery possible.

Back to top