Recovery Nutrition – The Rundown on Not Feeling Run Down

recovery nutrition with fresh vegetables


When someone begins treatment for a substance use disorder, “recovery nutrition” is not at the top of their priority list. The importance of nutrition often gets lost in the process of attending counseling sessions, finding local meetings, adjusting to new environments, and doing the exhausting work of forming better habits in every area of life. Plus, when you’re trying to manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms – such as mood swings, nausea, and trouble sleeping – eating that bowl of ice cream for dinner starts to sound like a harmless way to cope with all this new stress. Wouldn’t it be nice if ice cream could really solve all our problems?


recovery nutrition tomato pesto

What’s cookin’ Mackenzie? How can nutrition taste this good?


Recovery Nutrition

But those entering addiction treatment might already be lacking some vital nutrients as a result of their substance use – this is why prioritizing nutrition during recovery is so beneficial. Individuals with addiction problems often struggle with fatigue in early recovery. Their bodies have been stripped of the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for energy production. 


Individuals entering treatment are already more likely than the general population to be stuck in some bad food habits. This is especially true when it comes to choosing foods with little nutritional value and skipping meals. When someone is struggling with substance use, other daily concerns – such as eating a substantial dinner – fall by the wayside. 


recovery nutrition steak sandwich

Steak and arugula? Thanks Mackenzie!


Feeling Run Down? Recovery Nutrition will set you right!

Luckily, learning to make wise food choices in early recovery can help initiate damage control by replenishing some of the key nutrients the body has been missing. Increasing the intake of key nutrients early in treatment can improve overall health and wellness for the future. Those who eat more vitamin-rich foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains are better positioned for success both during and after treatment. These individuals will have more energy to be active and engaged in the recovery process. Plus, nutritious foods help us avoid “hanger” and other less than pleasant moods. Conversely, excessively sugary and fatty foods (like ice cream) tend to have the opposite effects. 


Fatigue is a problem in early recovery. This can come from lack of nutrition, sleep or exercise. It’s even hard to get out of bed and get dressed! But after our clients start supplying their bodies with nutritious foods, exercise and care, I have noticed a big difference. Energy boost, stabilized mood, improved memory, better sleeping habits, and more. 


As the house chef and wellness specialist at Sanford, I have been lucky enough to witness the life changing effects of recovery nutrition. Recently, a client visited me who had relied on fast food for most meals. She barely touched anything green before entering treatment. And she was constantly feeling tired and run down. Now, she reports higher energy levels – and feeling more alive. Plus, she uses my zucchini burrito boat recipe for her sober parties! 


Love and recovery nutrition …

I have a goal at Sanford. I want to create dishes that are both delicious and nutritious for recovering clients. And to teach each person who walks through our doors how to care for their bodies. And through food and self-care, begin to love themselves again. 



We can help.

women holding knife

House Chef Mackenzie is responsible for all aspects of nutrition and wellness programming at Sanford. Her smiling face is a bonus to the delicious food she provides. Her groups on nutrition, exercise and wellness are some of our clients' favorites. Mackenzie has her Culinary Degree from Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. She also has a certificate in Hospitality Management. And was awarded 2019 Junior Culinarian of the Year from the American Culinary Federation. Mackenzie writes about all aspects of wellness, nutrition and the importance of eating healthily in early recovery. In her free time, Mackenzie coaches Special Olympics. She is also Marketing Chair on the board of directors of the American Culinary Federation of Grand Rapids.