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