Eat Your Greens! A Healthy Diet Means Healthy Recovery!



I recently attended a yoga workshop on digestive health and was able to take a moment to pause and reflect on the relationship I have with food and my body. Four years ago, I had no idea that a healthy diet can mean a healthy recovery. Now I’d argue that fruit and vegetables can significantly enhance one’s recovery. Hopefully, this post will convince you of the vast array of benefits you might take away by making food as much a priority in your recovery as your recovery modality, such as a 12-step meeting, or SMART.


Eat Your Greens!

I recall being told to eat my greens as a child, but I would wonder why anyone would do that when you could eat ice cream and candy? Duh! Today, having overhauled my diet in order to lose weight, I make a conscious effort to ensure that food planning, shopping and preparing are a priority in my recovery. This often goes against the grain. Why?

Today, we live in an age of convenience. And a time of being overworked, overcommitted and overstressed. I certainly am. So much so, that it is much easier to buy a pre-made meal, eat out or buy takeout, than it is to find the time to prepare a healthy meal. Never mind taking the time to sit at a table to eat it. Really, who can be bothered? After a long day at work and working out, I certainly can’t. I want to sit on the sofa, stick on the TV and get a takeout. I’m beat.

I’d ask you to consider the following questions: Do you take the time to plan your weekly food menu; visit a store full of fresh, organic produce; cook after work; and eat it slowly and mindfully? How often do you stop to look at what is in the food you are eating, and make the connection between what you eat and how you feel? Are you aware that vegetables can impact your recovery?


But Veggies Are Dull, Right?!


Not necessarily. Unfortunately, we live in an age of hugely processed foods. Often you can walk around a supermarket, and only if you look closely can you see the fresh, whole foods (foods in their natural state and unprocessed: fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.) around the periphery of the store. Food has become so far removed from its original state, that we look at whole foods nowadays and balk. They seem uninteresting. Our tastes have become far more aligned to overly sweetened and salted foods, so when we eat clean, our bodies react. Our brain doesn’t get the sugar rush from the highly processed carbohydrates, and our digestive system reacts negatively to the increased fibre from fruits and vegetables. That’s hardly going to encourage you to eat more healthily. In fact, some foods contain chemicals that make us crave more. It’s crazy.

Did you know that fruits and vegetables contain such powerful properties, such as antioxidants and phytochemicals, that they can actually prevent certain types of cancer, enhance your immune system and give you more energy? Not only do they taste great, but they make you feel more vibrant, make your skin clearer and your eyes brighter. We don’t need to eat a plate of boiled broccoli or cauliflower, however. We can eat a really quick and tasty meal that leaves you feeling satisfied and energised. How?


fruit stand


Start Slowly…

What if you started slowly? What if you made one small change? Leo Babuta, of Zen Habits suggests, that instead of trying to make life change all at once, we try just one habit at a time and master that before making further changes. He promises that is the way of lasting change. I’d suggest any one of the following as a small change:

    • Try to ensure a third of your plate contains vegetables;
    • Research a tasty new vegetable recipe each week;
    • Get creative and challenge yourself to eat one vegetable based dish per week
    • Make time to cook your dinner from scratch two nights per week
    • Try to eat mindfully for a couple of meals during the week. Note how the food makes you feel: do you feel satisfied? Nourished? Energized?

I’d encourage anyone to make the time to implement a small change. You might find that with the increased energy, you’ll have more of a bounce in your step to take a new course, try that new exercise class, call a friend and catch up.

Its that bounce, that investing in oneself, that makes this a choice about your recovery.


Preserved Lemon and Harissa Baked Butternut Squash and Chickpeas




Here is a recipe for a really tasty vegetable dish, that can be eaten alone, or with a piece of chicken, fish or tofu.

Preserved lemon and harissa baked butternut squash and chickpeas


1 butternut squash, cut into small chunks

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 preserved lemons (if you can’t find these, you could use the juice and rind of a lemon)

1 tbsp of harissa

1 tbsp olive oil

Seasoning, to taste

Cashews (optional)


Heat the oven 400. In a food processor, or hand blender, pulse together the preserved lemon and harissa;

  • In an oven proof dish, combine the butternut squash, harissa and lemon paste and olive oil and mix thoroughly. Place in the oven for 20 minutes;
  • Take out and stir through the chickpeas and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes until the butternut squash is soft;
  • Sprinkle with cashews, season and serve. I added some steamed broccoli to mine and a little grated carrot for a whole meal.




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after marilyn head shot bio

Marilyn Spiller is a viral writer, recovery coach, and recovery advocate. She is the Marketing Director at Sanford, responsible for written and creative content, website design, new media, promotions, subscriber outreach, and SEO. Excursions Magazine is a particular source of pride; it serves a wide range of readers, and “excursion” has become part of the company vernacular, describing Sanford’s signature experiential outings for those in treatment. She also developed and hosts the podcast Anatomy of Addiction and is Vice President of the Board of JACK Mental Health Advocacy.