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Why Healthy Nutrition Is Key to a Successful Recovery from Addiction

The Role of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

With substance use disorder (SUD) rates in the United States rising, there is an urgent need for comprehensive treatment approaches. “The utilization of nutrition services in addiction treatment has not been standardized, but there is a growing trend toward incorporating registered dietitian nutritionists into the treatment team,” wrote David Wiss about the role of nutrition in addiction recovery in his 2019 book The Assessment and Treatment of Addiction

“Given the current crisis of addictive disorders, consideration should be given to prioritizing efforts to improve eating habits and overall health in recovery programs. By promoting positive recovery outcomes, nutrition may reduce costs and improve resource allocation.”

Founder and CEO Ward Blanchard wanted The Blanchard Institute to be more than just another treatment clinic. “We also wanted it to be a community resource, a teaching site, and a general wellness center.”  

Healthy nutrition is essential to overall wellness and an important component of a successful recovery from addiction. Blanchard nutritionist Corrie Thomas holds a master of science degree in dietetics and nutrition from Eastern Michigan University and has worked with people in recovery since 2012. 

Thomas chose this field after being motivated by personal experience. Her father suffered from an alcohol use disorder and she discovered early in her life that nutrition can be a key component to recovery. 

A HEALTHY DIET IS KEY

Working with Blanchard clients, she focuses on stabilizing blood sugar, the importance of hydration, gut health, healthy sleep habits, body movement, natural remedies to help with anxiety, and creating positive emotional eating habits. She enjoys working with clients and simplifying nutrition for their individual needs.

If you are in recovery from an SUD, good nutrition is a crucial part of healing your body. “Many of our clients were not properly nourishing themselves in active use,” explains Thomas. “Some even have an eating disorder.”

Misusing drugs and alcohol typically has a serious impact on metabolism, organ function, and mental well-being, and can prevent the body from properly absorbing, digesting, and using nutrients. This often leads to vitamin deficiencies and poor nutrition overall.

NON-JUDGMENTAL APPROACH TO HEALING MIND AND BODY

“You learn a lot about yourself when you slow down and listen to what your body needs,” she says. “Proper nutrition doesn’t have to be about taking food away—we just add healthy stuff into your diet that you should enjoy.”

People looking for a healthy diet on the internet often have difficulties finding the right one with millions of options on offer. “It can really be overwhelming for people,” says Thomas who favors simplifying this task. “Let’s listen to our bodies, let’s look at the pillars of health like your energy, or how you’re sleeping at night and plan your meals accordingly.”

She also likes to remove the shame factor from food. “Our clients really appreciate not constantly feeling bad about themselves while learning the basics about food, flavors, and their eating environment. In a nutshell, they like to simplify it and make it related to themselves and not what everyone tells them they have to do.”

Before any changes can be implemented, it is important to assess the client’s needs. “Every new client at The Blanchard Institute goes through a nutrition screen that is part of the initial assessment,” says Thomas. “We then reach out to the client and provide a nutrition consult. They may only need that, or they may require weekly follow-ups.  We work with all levels of care, patients in the partial hospitalization program (PHP), the intensive outpatient program (IOP), and the regular outpatient program.”   

The Blanchard approach to treating addiction is truly comprehensive. “It looks at everything from the clinical to the medical, the nutrition standpoint—it’s a holistic approach,” says Thomas.

The Blanchard Institute cultivates a safe, comfortable environment for clients and their families across North Carolina. Our recovery management and alumni programs support a life-long recovery. Your journey to recovery doesn’t end with day or outpatient treatment, once you’re with Blanchard, we’re always there for you.

Our admissions process is discrete, confidential, and non-invasive. We aim to provide support for every person who reaches out to us. Call us at (704) 288-1097—our experienced admissions specialists will guide you through the process and treat you with the dignity and compassion you deserve.

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