Women suffering from bipolar disorder, depression or other mental health issues often struggle with food and nutrition issues. Due to lack of interest or self-care, women may suffer from malnutrition or eat in ways that worsen mania, depression and mental illness.
Diet plays a critical role in mental health. Research has shown that poor nutrition contributes to greater a risk of anxiety and depression. Residential recovery centers can be invaluable to women who lack the self-interest or self-compassion to eat well.
Here are five ways residential recovery centers use nutrition to speed recovery:
Healthy Habits: A lifestyle that includes adequate exercise and proper diet supports a woman’s mental health goals. In Healthy Habits meetings, women work on creating a home environment that supports these lifestyle goals. Women also identify what foods trigger binge eating or deprivation habits and learn to avoid dieting in favor of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Positive Body Image
Self-esteem and body image heavily influence one another. Because depression affects self-esteem and a woman’s image of herself, women can suffer from a disjointed relationship with food that compromises mental health. Disordered eating may develop as an internal solution to external problems that result from trauma, low self-esteem or mental illness.
Group classes create a positive message about the body and help women work toward loving their bodies instead of thinking negatively about themselves. This promotes positive thought patterns and self-esteem that influence other aspects of treatment to help speed women toward recovery.
Diet directly influences the body’s ability to synthesize neurotransmitters, which play a crucial role in mood regulation. With the help of a dietitian, women learn to make healthy meals at home to maintain the healthy nutritional habits that support recovery.
Because many women come to treatment not knowing how to cook, or have busy lives that make daily meals difficult to plan, it is imperative that these options be simple and speedy as well as healthy. Classes teaching these skills are an invaluable part of residential treatment.
Many women feel intimidated at the thought of speaking with a dietitian one-on-one. Group discussions help alleviate this fear and ease women into discussions about health, body image and mood. Many women find it easier to discuss such issues in a supportive group environment and come to value diet and nutrition as an important aspect of their recovery.
Nutrition is an important foundation for recovery not only because it affects mental health but also because of its impact on a woman’s physical state. Individual consultations solve nutritional issues that are impeding recovery and create a new dietary plan that will support a woman’s emotional goals.
Nutrition plans also take into account any health issues that can be managed through diet such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, celiac disease and weight management. Healthy meal and exercise plans are tailored to each individual so that both body and mind are nourished and healthy.
A woman’s approach to food is indicative of her mental wellness. With help from a registered dietitian, women in treatment learn to take better care of their minds, bodies and emotions and use nutrition as a stepping stone to mental wellness.
Because mind and body are so closely linked, what enters the body affects the mind. A dietitian plays a key role in recovery from mental illness. With professional guidance, women learn what types of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to consume; when to time meals; how to limit unhealthy foods and how to take health concerns into consideration when meal planning.
Daily classes teach women the fundamentals of nutrition so that they learn to manage mental health through nutritional choices. As women learn about food, the mind and the body, they learn to love and treat themselves with respect.
Women receiving treatment for bipolar disorder and other mental health illnesses should search for a comprehensive treatment facility that targets nutrition as one of many aspects that influence mental health. Through treatment, women are able to make the nutrition changes necessary to support mental wellness.