Tag Archives: nutrition

Recover and Thrive after Major Life Challenges

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Strive to recover after addiction or other life challenges

Those who commit to to it can recover from addiction or other life challenges. They have a priceless opportunity to thrive and create a better life. To optimize your life, you may need healthy lifestyle choices, a supportive social life, and the drive to take charge of your life.

Remember that in 2020, there were many more changes and challenges than usual for individuals, families, and communities.  The year 2021 continues to be difficult for people with addiction or with mental illness, but recovery is possible.  Be kind to yourself as you realize all you have been through and survived. Both good and bad life changes can sharply raise your level of stress.

Get enough exercise and rest

Whole-body wellness means balancing the right amount of activity and rest.  We need both physical and mental strength to fight for recovery every day and to replace bad habits with good ones. Exercise has proven to be an effective recovery tool because “working out” affects the brain in a positive way.

If you want to add exercise to your life during recovery, think small at first. The goal is to identify and start an activity that is sustainable for the long haul, so you can stay self-motivated. Hitting the gym hard for 30 days until you burn out is not especially helpful. But, walking a little bit every day is an activity that can last a lifetime. Other low-impact exercises could include lightweight muscle workouts using small dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands. If you don’t have weights, you could put water into milk jugs until they are the weight you want to use. Muscle exercises and the active movements are important to jumpstart metabolism and help to strengthen your core muscles.

Improve your nutrition

Besides adding physical activity, improving your diet also supports your overall well-being. Eating healthy foods and getting balanced nutrition are key. Destructive habits like substance abuse can take over your life if it seems like getting high or drunk becomes more important than eating. Recovery is an opportunity to start over and refuel the body with much-needed nutrients.

Switching quickly from an extremely poor diet to a healthy one can be difficult because your habits can be powerful. Consider small, impactful changes to your eating. Some healthy changes can include:

  • Eating regular meals on a schedule.
  • Cut down on caffeine, if possible. Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat foods that are lower in fat, higher in protein and fiber
  • Add vegetables to your plate. (Try covering half the plate in garden colors, then dividing the remaining half into a quarter of protein and a quarter of whole grains.)
  • Experiment with different flavors to add excitement to your meals. People often reach for junk food because it tastes good, but healthy food done right can taste even better.
  • Plan meals in advance and have a big cooking session. If you can spend a few hours in the kitchen on a Sunday, you can make your lunches and dinners for the entire week and avoid the temptation to grab a quick unhealthy bite during the week.

Find Positive and Supportive People

Healthy living includes spending positive social time with people and having fun. For instance, healthy cooking “parties” can be a way to meet new people or connect with old friends. The key to your social life— and the struggle — is to disconnect from negative influences that may trigger a relapse. To have a better “road to recovery”, you may need to find new friends. If you are an alcoholic, instead of going to bars, “hang out” at coffee shops or other places where they don’t serve alcohol.

Social support is crucial to recovery because you may not be able to manage triggers on your own. Supportive friends and family can help you stay on track and to keep busy enough so there is no room in your life for bad habits.

Take Control of Your Life

Taking your life “by the reins” is like steering yourself away from stress and addiction toward recovery. Problem-solving will be needed after you figure out what is bothering you the most. Perhaps your financial situation is the current source of your stress. Or, maybe you’re not totally satisfied at your job, but don’t feel financially comfortable enough to leave. Maybe you’ve recently lost your job and don’t know what your next move should be. Think about what you would most like to do in life, and then pursue it. This life change could be an opportunity to do something you love. You may want to start a “side hustle” or launch your own business.

If you are considering forming a business, a good way to protect your personal assets and qualify for more tax breaks is  LLC filing. Like most states, MN allows a company to be structured online with affordable services. First, you would need to spend some time brainstorming to choose a unique business name, and then start making a business plan.

Learn How to Cope

It could be scary to jump into starting a new business, a new job, or new relationships after a major life challenge. Your confidence is usually low, and your future may look uncertain. But, when you choose something you really want to do, it will help motivate you toward a more successful and stable future.  Make sure you talk about your plans with your family and friends, they can advise you and support you as problems come up.

In recovery, your emotions may change quickly, like an emotional “roller coaster”. It helps to have a coping plan to help you and your family deal with negative thoughts or behaviors.

Health Vista, Inc. has a Coping and Relaxation workbook you can download and print. You can also find many local and online addiction resources, and recovery resources to use.

Through healthy living, people in recovery can thrive. Rather than following a downward spiral, start making improvements in exercise, diet, positive social support. Follow your passion to help propel you to a better life as you recover from addiction or other life challenges. .

Finding success involves planning and a high level of self-knowledge, but it is easier than you might think. Get active and healthier. Laugh with good friends. Manage your life and learn to cope with the stress that comes with big and small life changes.

Blog # 24  Added 2-11-21 written by guest contributor Dylan Wallace.  Edited by Mary Knutson, Health Vista, Inc.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

 

 

Reflections on Emotional Eating

Red geranium flowers on white outdoor background

Wanting to eat when not physically hungry:

I have a problem with emotional eating. I have the urge to taste almost any food that is around, and to eat too much of the “comfort foods” that I love. Sometimes when I am upset, I have been known to have a “binge” by eating way too much of something. In the past, I have eaten several servings at a time of cereal, chips, pizza, candy, or cookies. I used to take a bag of chocolate chips, out of the freezer to eat.

But I can control it better now that I recognize what is happening and I cope with the problems that are making me feel like bingeing.  I also avoid keeping “trigger foods” in the house.  Those strategies  helped me to lose weight and to stay at a healthier weight for several years.

This Emotional Eating Handout describes what I learned about how your mood can affect what you eat.

Food and feelings go together:

  • We tend to link food with enjoyment, affection, and nurturing
  • Food is usually part of emotion-filled events, either happy or unhappy ones
  • Eating for comfort is a common behavior that comes from a deep connection within us
  • Some people eat in response to emotions rather than hunger
  • If you are overweight, ask yourself if emotional eating is an issue for you

Mindfulness skills can develop ways to cope:

  • Cope better with the daily ups and downs of daily life
  • Recognize and avoid black-and-white thinking (where things and actions are looked at as being good or bad, right or wrong)
  • Avoid thinking that things should be perfect
  • Use coping skills for self-control when dealing with food temptations and relapses
  • Get the help you need for problem-solving

Mood and weight changes:

    • Food choices affect mood in positive or negative ways
    • Learn how to eat healthier to improve your mood
    • Hormones affect mood – Examples are cortisol (from adrenal glands) or estrogen (a female sex hormone)

For a more wide-ranging discussion of nutrition, also see https://healthvista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ExploringNutritionIcebreakersDiscussionGuide.pdf

“Triggers” for emotional eating:

  • Recognize and avoid any “triggers” you have
  • A trigger food can set off a “binge” of eating, no matter what your mood is – Examples include ice cream, cookies, nuts, potato chips
  • Trigger foods are not the same as favorite foods, comfort foods, or food cravings
  • A trigger feeling is an emotion, good or bad, that leads to overeating – Any available food will do
  • A trigger environment is a specific place or setting that leads to overeating – Examples include movie theaters, buffet restaurants, sporting events or social gatherings
  • Eating triggers do happen – They are a sign to stop and think about how you can avoid them from happening in the future

Understand the connection between emotions and eating, to help you succeed in maintaining a healthy weight

Weight Watchers Research Department. (2009). Emotional eating, Mind skills for lasting weight loss, Mood and weight, and Eating triggers retrieved from www.weightwatchers.com

Mindfulness instead of emotional eating:

People tend to eat mindlessly most of the time. When “chowing down,” we are usually thinking about other things and not really tasting our food.

We often respond to the sight of food with the impulse to devour it – whether or not we are actually hungry.

We miss the subtle feelings of fullness if we don’t slow down to finish chewing and swallowing before we pick up the next bite

It takes 20 minutes for your body to signal its fullness. By eating fast, you are likely to overeat.

Try eating mindfully by savoring the sight, smell, texture, the color and light on the food, the connection to the outside world, the taste and feel of the food as you eat it slowly.

In mindfulness retreats, the meals are usually served in silence. That way, you can think about the food and the efforts that went into growing and preparing it.

You may feel satisfied without eating as much food as you have been eating. You can practice mindful eating when you eat alone or in silence.

Siegel, R. (2010). The mindfulness solution: Everyday practices for everyday problems, p. 261-264. New York: Guilford Press

Being mindful and aware of emotional eating can really help you make healthier habits. Call a friend when you feel like bingeing. If there is something upsetting you, figure out what to do and write it down (or do it). Take a walk or do some exercises. Take a bath or shower. Get busy doing something that takes your mind off your cravings.

You can get past it if you resist for a few minutes.  If you are physically satisfied and no longer hungry, push away from the table and put the food away.  The urges will weaken and go away.  You are more in control than you think!

Blog #6  By Mary Knutson RN, MSN for Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20