Nutritional Counseling and Mental Health
While the brain makes up about 2% of a person’s weight, it uses around 20% of the body’s energy. And the body, of course, gets its energy from food. It stands to reason that the higher quality of energy, or food, that the body receives, the better the brain will function. And that’s where nutritional counseling comes in. Every day, more and more studies are showing the huge impact food has on mental health. For those with mental health issues, a re-evaluation of diet or food intake can be a powerful tool in overcoming these struggles. A regimen of therapy and nutritional counseling is an effective holistic treatment for mental wellness.
Nutritional Counseling and Eating Disorders
An eating disorder is actually a matrix of issues. Some of these are only tangentially related to food. A psychiatrist or therapist will work on some of those underlying issues. However, it is up to a nutritional counselor to help a patient build a new relationship with food. By teaching techniques such as intuitive eating, a nutritional counselor helps a client differentiate between physical hunger and emotional hunger. There is also the complex task of re-nourishment. Those who suffer from an eating disorder often have nutritional deficiencies, such as low levels of zinc, potassium, and other micronutrients. The nutritional counselor will work out a diet and supplement plan to quickly and safely correct these issues.
Nutritional Counseling and Addiction
Addiction is another arena of mental health in which nutritional counseling is making progress. People who abuse drugs or alcohol over a substantial period of time also suffer from nutrient deficiencies. Those who abuse stimulants are especially vulnerable as these suppress the appetite. It is a slightly different story with alcoholics. Because alcohol interferes with the absorption of nutrients, alcoholics are often deficient in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and a number of B vitamins. Deficiencies in a number of these nutrients can cause depression as well as a decline in cognitive function. This makes the task of overcoming alcoholism that much more difficult. Furthermore, anxiety, irritability, and a low, depressed mood are all triggers for cravings. All of these symptoms are associated with hunger, low blood sugar, dehydration, and a generally unbalanced diet. A nutritional counselor works in concert with a primary therapist to address these issues.
Nutritional Counseling and Other Mental Health Issues
The benefits of nutritional counseling to the field of mental health don’t end with eating disorders and addiction. For example, people who suffer from depression often crave foods high in fat and sugar in an effort to subconsciously self-medicate. Unfortunately, diets high in refined sugar and fat impair brain function. They promote inflammation in the gut along with oxidative stress. The crashes and after effects of this self-medication often lead into a downward spiral of deeper depression and more nutrient-poor foods. A combination of therapy and nutritional counseling is a powerful means to holistically end this cycle.
Ocean Recovery in Newport Beach, California features nutritional counseling as part of our holistic approach to treating eating disorders, substance abuse, and other mental health issues. If you are struggling with drugs, alcohol, or food issues, please give us a call today. Let us help you get started on your journey to a new life.