By popular demand, nutrition, fitness and meal planning in early recovery were the focus of this month’s Facebook live event, in deeper exploration of a theme we first addressed in a conversation earlier this year.
Beach House Community Director Micah Robbins, who also directs special projects for the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, led and facilitated Friday afternoon’s panel discussion with two experts in the field:
- Phil Scuderi, an addiction-certified chiropractic physician and the founder, owner and CEO of Basis Whole Body Wellness
- Lauren Scuderi, Certified Holistic Health Coach and Wellness Coordinator/Chief Operations Officer for Basis
The one-hour conversation—get the full video recording here—was replete with practical advice regarding nutrition and exercise in early recovery and eye-opening insights from addiction science. We invite you to explore the highlights below.
What to Eat in Early Recovery
“What you’re putting into your body is huge and directly correlates with how you feel”— even “the thought process,” Lauren said. She therefore encouraged the audience to “be mindful of simple, whole foods” when creating a meal plan and choosing what to eat on a daily basis. By “whole foods,” she meant minimally processed food sources. “Think simple … If you’re eating almond butter, there should be one ingredient, almonds.”
In addition to eating whole foods, Lauren recommended the following:
- Eat “balanced meals” that consist of a protein (whether a fish or lean meat or vegetarian option like tofu, quinoa, or chick peas), dark, leafy greens or vegetables seasoned with coconut oil, a “clean carb” like sweet potatoes, and a “healthy fat source” like avocado.
- Prepare meals and snacks at home, to ensure you are eating whole foods.
- Incorporate smoothies for breakfast or as snacks: “if you don’t like spinach, put some spinach in there with a banana and you won’t even taste the spinach.”
- Avoid processed sugars, which contribute to “the root of disease” inflammation. Here Lauren noted “there’s a difference between processed sugars and a banana.”
- Manage sweet cravings (a common issue in recovery) with more nutritional sweet snacks. Examples she cited: fruit like dates or watermelon; or toast with almond butter, raw honey and a little cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Exercising in Early Recovery – What the Research Shows
Dr. Scuderi stressed the importance of exercise in early recovery, citing new findings into how physical fitness can benefit the brain by boosting the feel-good neurotransmitter GABA. (Low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety and other mental disorders.)
“When you’re in the midst of addiction and alcohol abuse, the feel-good neurotransmitters … in your brain are really depleted,” Dr. Scuderi said, “and so with exercise, it’s a great way to increase those—and specifically … there’s a neurotransmitter called ‘GABA.’ Simply put, with addiction [GABA] is greatly reduced, and with exercise, it’s greatly increased. Exercise is a really easy way and safe way to increase that feel-good neurotransmitter.”
To get the maximum physical and mental health benefits of exercise, Dr. Scuderi recommended exercising one hour five or six days a week. He and Lauren also threw out some helpful suggestions for making exercise fun, accessible and workable even when you’re traveling.
Explore other great tips from our two panelists to take your recovery to the next level. Or, check out these related articles in our Learning Center: